From Walmart to the NYT Best Seller List: A Success Story

Many writers dream of seeing their book on the NYT Best Seller List. Few actually do.

Two of my writer buddies experienced that thrill recently, and I’m so happy for them.

Nine Barbour authors contributed novellas for inclusion in A Log Cabin Christmas, including Erica Vetsch and Michelle Ule. On the day of the Awards Banquet at the ACFW conference these lovely ladies learned that the book made the NYT Best Seller Lists in the Paperback Trade Fiction category. It appeared at the 34th spot on the October 2, 2011 list.

Erica Vetsch signing at the ACFW bookstore. The brown books are A Log Cabin Christmas.

I first met Michelle Ule at Sarah Sundin's launch party in August. Me with Sarah, her agent Rachel Kent, and Michelle.

I attended the ACFW conference, so I was able to squee with both Erica and Michelle in person and join in their celebration. They’re both so humble, though, that I think I squealed louder than they did. They were, however, sporting some mighty big smiles. 🙂

Erica has several books published, but this is her first time to hit a best seller list. And what a way to do it! Michelle made the list with her very first published story. She blogged about the incredible experience here.

Now, as Erica and Michelle were quick to point out, the fact that they soared to stardom is due in large part to the fact that Barbour’s top selling fiction author, Wanda Brunstetter, penned one of the novellas. Wanda is a regular on the NYT Best Seller List, but this time she took eight Barbour authors with her, and I’m happy for all of them.

A Look at A Log Cabin Christmas

I found A Log Cabin Christmas in Walmart a few days after its release and snagged a copy. Since there were only two left at that point, I didn’t want to delay.

The book flew off the shelves, and it’s easy to see why. It’s beautiful.

The book has an attractive cover, one with front and back flaps such as those seen on a dust jacket. Half the pages are uncut or rough, giving the book an old-fashioned feel.

The Advantages of Getting a Book in Walmart

As I shared in my last post, I learned that the book section in my local Walmart has been expanded and that I’d been visiting it frequently in search of a friend’s book. That friend is Erica Vetsch, and the book I sought is her first trade-length romance, A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas, the first historical in Barbour’s new Destinations Romance line.

The reason I’m eager to see Erica’s book in Walmart is that having a title appear there can help ensure that it earns out its advance, meaning enough copies are sold that the author’s portion of the royalties exceeds the advance on royalties she received. Her publisher will be happy, and her book will be considered successfully launched, which are good things.

At the ACFW conference in 2010 I attended a workshop presented by three members of the Thomas Nelson team. During that presentation Allen Arnold, head of the fiction department, said that if a book makes it to Walmart, it will sell more copies there than in all the Christian bookstores across the U.S. combined.

• • •

As of this writing, A Bride’s Portrait has yet to grace the shelves of my local Walmart, however I’ve not given up hope. If you see it in yours, be sure to let me know. And if there are any copies of A Log Cabin Christmas left, I suggest getting one before they’re gone.

• • •

How do you think you’d react if you learned that you’d make the NYT Best Seller List?

Did you know how much of an effect on sales getting a book in Walmart can have?

Have you spotted A Log Cabin Christmas on the shelves in a store near you?

• • •

Win a copy of A Bride’s Portrait of Dodge City, Kansas

My local Walmart might not have the book, but I’ve got an autographed copy to give away.

To enter the drawing, just leave a comment by midnight Thursday, October 6th.

On Friday, October 7th, I’ll list the winner’s name here and in a comment.

Congratulations to Wilma Metcalf, winner of the drawing!

No purchase necessary.
Offer void where prohibited.
Odds of winning vary due to number of entrants.
Prizes will be mailed to U.S. or Canadian addresses only.

About Keli Gwyn

I'm an award-winning author of inspirational historical romance smitten with the Victorian Era. I'm currently writing for Harlequin's Love Inspired Historical line of wholesome, faith-filled romances. My debut novel, A Bride Opens Shop in El Dorado, California, was released July 1, 2012. I'm represented by Rachelle Gardner of Book & Such Literary. I live in a Gold Rush-era town at the foot of the majestic Sierras. My favorite places to visit are my fictional worlds, other Gold Country towns and historical museums. When I'm not writing I enjoy taking walks, working out at Curves™ and reading.
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43 Responses to From Walmart to the NYT Best Seller List: A Success Story

  1. Donna Pyle says:

    Keli, what a wonderfully supportive post of your fellow authors! Thanks so much for your insights. I’ll be looking for A Log Cabin Christmas at my local Wal-Mart. If I find it there, I’ll let you know!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Donna, I love happy dancing with my writer buddies. This news was so BIG that I was in danger of throwing some body parts out of alignment with my rather vigorous dance. =)

  2. Always looking to try an author that is new to me so would love to win this book.

    My Walmart does not have a good book section.



  3. Katie Ganshert says:

    So happy for Erica! She’s my hero.

  4. Gwyn says:

    If I found out that I was on any best seller list. I’d have a heart attack. I am so excited for all the ladies that have made a log cabin christmas such a great book. I regret now not getting it at conference.

    Much continued blessing

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Gwyn, it sounds like whoever breaks the news of your first best seller to you will need to do so very gently. 🙂

      The copies of A Log Cabin Christmas at the conference went quickly. A Bride’s Portrait sold out in no time, too. And yes, I did promote it during my bookstore volunteer spot. It’s a great story.

  5. Thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  6. Erica Vetsch says:

    Keli, you are so sweet and generous! Thank you for posting about Log Cabin and Portrait. I will never forget you holding your hat and skirts and running across that atrium to give me a hug when you found out that Log Cabin had hit the NYT best-seller list. 🙂

    You are a true friend, and thank you so much for your encouragement and generosity. I’m humbled and so very happy to call you my friend.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Erica, when Lacie told me the news, I was ecstatic. I just had to find you. I didn’t realize I ran like that, but it doesn’t surprise me. I might have been dressed as a proper Victorian lady that evening, but I’m not all that ladylike in real life. I get carried away all the time, which makes for interesting experiences when I’m shopping and such. 🙂

  7. I honestly can’t imagine what it would be like to hit the NYT Best Seller list! Congratulations to both Erica and Michelle! I love, love, love the cover of A Log Cabin Christmas Collection. I’ve been particularly looking forward to reading it because of two of the authors: Erica and Jane Kirkpatrick. Now I have a third reason . 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Carol, I’m looking forward to enjoying all the novellas in the Log Cabin collection, too. I’ve read Erica’s, but I’m saving the others for my Christmas reading. They’ll be just the thing for chilly evenings in front of the pellet stove with the piney scent of our tree filling the room.

  8. Wendy says:

    I’m so thrilled for these beautiful writers & I think it’s uber cool (see dots over u back there) that you have featured this news today!
    ~ Wendy

  9. Such exciting news for ALL of these ladies – – WOW!! 🙂 I’m heading to my local Walmart tomorrow morning and will look for both of these books. ~ And speaking of Walmart….I didn’t realize just how many books they actually sell! But I guess I shouldn’t be surprised, because it IS Walmart. 😉 Thanks for this post, Keli.
    p.s. If a book of mine ever made the NYT bestseller’s list, well…..I’d probably go into shock! 😉

  10. Lisa Jordan says:

    I’m going to Walmart tonight so I’ll look for both of Erica’s books!

    I was giddy over earning 4 stars from Romantic Times, so I’m sure I’ll be a complete dork about a NYT best seller. I just have to remember it’s not about me, but Him.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Lisa, congratulations on those 4-stars!!!! That’s awesome! I can understand why you’re giddy. Next will come the rave reviews from your readers. =)

  11. I look forward to each post becuase I can always feel your love, not just of writing, but of all the authors you enjoy reading. Thanks for the heads-up on the talented writers in this anthology. About how I would feel? I guess like any other writer who is still in the process of getting between the boards … I’d feel as though I had arrived at last! Great post from a great lady 🙂

  12. That was pretty cool to hear at conference, wasn’t it, Keli? Okay, who am I kidding? Not pretty cool…WAY cool! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Sarah, I was so excited for Erica, Michelle, and the others. What better place to receive such amazing news than at the ACFW conference surrounded by other writers eager to celebrate with them.

  13. I would love to win a copy of this book. It sounds so good. Thank you.

  14. I agree, Keli, A Log Cabin Christmas is indeed a visual treat! And I can’t wait to read the stories inside, too! (It’s sure to get me in the Christmas mood!)

    Years ago, I had no idea the impact that Wal Mart could have on book sales. I was always under the impression that the big bookstores had the market cornered. Of course I’ve learned a lot since then! 🙂

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Cynthia, the book really is beautiful. My pics don’t do it justice.

      Walmart has become an important player in the publishing world, hasn’t it? I never would have believed what a role it plays back when our store came to town all those years ago.

  15. The rough-hewn pages of the book are such an authentic touch!

    If I made the New York Times Bestseller List, I think I would be in complete shock and disbelief for a few minutes. It would gradually sink in and then I would be squealing.

    Like Cynthia, I also had no idea book sales at Wal-Mart were greater than stores like Barnes and Noble and Lifeway. Impressive.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Brandi, when I first saw the rough-edged pages, I did a double take. I wondered if they’d made a mistake. I looked at the second copy to see if it was the same, and then I “got it” and laughed at myself. Sometimes I can be kinda slow on the uptake. =)

      Allen Arnold said that Walmart sells more copies than the Christian bookstores combined, but he didn’t mention Barnes and Nobles, Books-a-Million, or the other big box bookstores. I don’t know how their sales compare to Walmart.

  16. Mary Curry says:

    A Log Cabin Christmas is sitting on my kitchen table tonight thanks to Amazon and the mailman. I’m trying to hold off reading til it feels a little less like summer (still) but it’s so tempting.

  17. bethkvogt says:

    Keli, I just love how you support other writers and celebrate their successes.
    And, no, I had no idea how influential having a book in Wal-Mart is.

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Beth, I was surprised to hear the news about the difference having a book appear in Walmart can make. That’s why I rejoice when I see a friend’s there.

  18. Loree Huebner says:

    Looking forward to reading it!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Thanks for stopping by, Loree. I hope you can find a copy of the book since they’ve been flying off the shelves. Of course, there’s always Amazon. =)

  19. Marji Laine says:

    I love the idea of rough-hewn pages, too. Keli, you are so supportive. I look forward to meeting you in person, hopefully in Dallas next year?

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      Marji, the pages are way cool. I tip my hat to Barbour’s design team.

      I plan to attend the ACFW conference in Dallas next year and look forward to meeting you in person, too.

  20. Great post, Keli! Congrats, Michelle and Erica!

  21. michelleule says:

    Actually, Cindy Herron was the person who told me the book was on the NYT list–we were in the elevator and I just laughed in disbelief. I believed it when editor Becky Germany told me and then found the link on my T-touch–which I then showed to all sorts of people at the conference!

    Delightful to watch their jaws drop! 🙂

    One of my Navy wife pals wrote yesterday that she purchased the book at the military Exchange, which for this Navy wife means I really have hit the big time! Thanks for your congratulations and really, this is just SO MUCH FUN!

    • Keli Gwyn says:

      I’m sooo happy for you, Michelle! What a way to debut! And I can’t think of a better place to be when you heard the news than at the ACFW conference where you could confirm the milestone with you editor and celebrate with other writers.

  22. Keli Gwyn says:

    Thanks to all those who left comments. I’ve held the drawing, and the winner is Wilma Metcalf. Congratulations, Wilma! I’ll be in touch.

    Note: I intended to hold the drawing Friday, but I forgot to add that task to my To-do List. Sorry.

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