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  1. #16
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Again, Wert, I don't think these sales figures are reasonably accurate or that you do in fact have the top sellers in the field.
    But I do. And certainly I see nothing questionable about the Top 10 (except that Tolkien might have outsold King, just possibly and the Koontz/Crichton argument). The further it goes down, the more unreliable things get, as I believe I have said several times.

    The bottom levels of the list should simply not be there and authors who should be on the list are not, apparently simply because you couldn't get sales figures for them.
    If I can't get figures for them, where should I put them then? Best guesses? Make them up?

    Or are you saying that such a list shouldn't be attempted? Because the reaction to the list has been overwhelming positive across more than a dozen different sites and forums. Even taking the huge number of caveats on board, people are actually grateful to get a list like this - correct in every precise detail or fairly vague - because things like it simply do not exist from official sources.

    James Patterson outsells the bottom two thirds of your list
    His SFF work is a tiny fraction of his overall sales (it's restricted to one YA series, right?) and they're not written by him anyway, so no, they're not going on there.

    Barker and Koontz hold records.
    Does Clive Barker hold records? If so, I'd like to see them because he's one of the authors I spent some time looking up figures for and they just weren't easily accessible. Kontz is (200m, allegedly) but separating out his fantasy and non-supernatural horror seems to be impossible.

    Leaving off Arthur C. Clarke doesn't make much sense.
    It does when I have no figures for him.

    And as schoolteachers repeatedly explain, while Wikipedia can be useful as a general reference tool, when it comes to factual figures, it is not a reliable source in the least to be cited.
    That's why I looked at the citations for each figure where they were given.

    They are more likely to list copies shipped or even copies in print.
    But that is only a problem for low-level authors, where the publisher might have printed 15,000 copies and the author sold 300, meaning it's bombed but still registering as selling 15,000. That's why I don't go below 100,000. At the level of millions, you're looking at the in-print copies accounting for tiny amounts of the total figures, and millions of copies are printed generally because millions of copies have already been sold. So the print run/sale correlation is there.

    This is a random list of random authors with random guesses about their sales figures, as you yourself explain in the OP.
    I said it's a list with figures where they are available. The caveats speak for themselves: it's not an exhaustive, pinpoint-accurate list (and it's still a work in progress), but such a list is impossible unless someone goes around each publisher inspecting their figures going back a century. That is never going to happen. This - or something like it - is the only approach that's ever going to work.

    which might make more sense because Anne Rice is up there but your guestimate is clearly low.
    Apparently it's too high. I've found quite a few other sources saying she's sold 'only' 80 million books.

    I'm glad if Abercrombie is doing well, but there is no way that he has as yet outsold David Gemmell.
    There very clearly is. Gemmell's sales of a million books was mentioned very, very loudly when he died in 2006. If he'd sold more his publishers would have said that. He may have sold more by now, but probably not a lot more. During his lifetime it was often reported that Gemmell sold okay-to-good, but not outrageously so, and he survived from book deal to book deal. He was never able to stop writing or slow down his writing as he wrote to live. The reason for this is extremely simple: whilst a household name in British SFF circles, he never broke the States. And without breaking the States, it's very hard for an English-language author to achieve his full sales potential. Pratchett is the only author I know who became massive English-language phenomenon without breaking America, and he eventually did get across there much later on in his career.

    Abercrombie was published in the States from the off, benefitted immensely from his big online push and has also benefitted from being bigged up by numerous big American fantasy authors (including GRRM and I believe Rothfuss and Sanderson). He has hit both the UK and US bestseller lists (Gemmell would sometimes hit the Top Ten of the UK Times bestseller list, where in a slow week you only need 500 or so hardcover sales to get on). He's benefitted from the ebook revolution. Him outselling Gemmell is quite credible.

    This list is not a list of the all time top SFF sellers. It's not even a list of the current top sellers. Although I give it points for including a lot of the YA authors.
    No. But it's the best we are likely to get.

  2. #17
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    I saw an interview with Jim Butcher from 2011 in which it stated he'd sold 6.5 million books. Is that a legitimate citation?

  3. #18
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Wert, you are calling this the SFF All-Time Sales List while fully admitting that it is not a SFF All-Time Sales List and that it is very incomplete. If you wanted to call it a list of some of the leading authors in SFF, then yeah, the list is a list and best guesses on those whom you've been able to find some possibly partially solid sales info on. But the title of the list is hyperbole.

    Quote Originally Posted by Werthead View Post
    But I do.
    You've admitted the sales figures aren't necessarily accurate but the best you can do. So I don't think you feel the figures are that accurate either. King and Rowling are roughly accurate, although Rowling's is a bit low for other figures I've seen. And yes, whether Tolkien or King has sold more has been a question for a long time. Together with King, Koontz and Barker dominated horror in sales of mass market paperbacks, and Peter Straub was up there as well. Butcher, Harrison and particularly Armstrong have been on the top rungs of the lists for dozens of books over the past decade, which means quite large numbers, especially with e-book sales too. So if you are going to have an All-Time Sales List, they would have to be on it for it to be an All-Time Sales List. Ditto Clarke.

    If I can't get figures for them, where should I put them then? Best guesses? Make them up?
    You are already making it up by saying the list is an All Time Sales list when it is not and cobbling together a possible sales figure for them and ranking those estimates. Doing a different kind of list could provide the same information as best estimates, rather than implying these figures are facts and that Scott Lynch has outsold authors like C.J. Cherryh, Jim Butcher and Eddings to be in the top 100 SFF sellers of all time.

    Or are you saying that such a list shouldn't be attempted?
    I'm saying that the form of the list you've used basically offers misinformation by basically guessing about the sales figures of only one group of authors and declaring those to be sales record holders in the field. With good intentions, but misinformation.

    Even taking the huge number of caveats on board, people are actually grateful to get a list like this - correct in every precise detail or fairly vague - because things like it simply do not exist from official sources.
    Why? So they can have author races? They aren't going to be able to tell who won when many of the top sellers aren't even on the list. The top ten or so have reasonably accurate figures released and have appeared on numerous lists. The rest, though, are much harder for anyone to calculate. If someone wants to know how much a particular author has sold, the author/estate has the most accurate info from all their publishers. But they have very good reasons for not releasing that exact info. They tend to round upwards when they do release information. That information, if released, is readily available on the Web. It's as good a guess as any. Call them top sellers -- they are. But the all-time top sellers is a misnomer. If you can't get the data, ranking them numerically is misleading.

    His SFF work is a tiny fraction of his overall sales (it's restricted to one YA series, right?) and they're not written by him anyway, so no, they're not going on there.
    No, Patterson writes some books by himself and has for years and he writes others with co-authors as also a book packager. SFF he's written himself include the bestselling When the Wind Blows duology, the bestselling Maximum Ride series (which is the YA series you are thinking of and so is as like to be included as Riordin,) and the fantasy horror novels Virgin and Cradle and All. He is co-author on several more SFF series or novels, and co-authorships actually do count as sales. Or are you going to subtract the sales numbers for The Talisman with Peter Straub from Stephen King's total? Asimov collaborated a number of times with his wife and Robert Silverberg but he's on the list for total sales. (And how many of those sales include his non-fiction and his non-SFF mystery stories as well?) Sebold only wrote one fantasy novel. Chabon wrote several SFF works and has quite likely outsold her. Salman Rushdie has written several fantasy novels and outsold them both. Why is Sebold ranked All-Time and Chabon or Rushdie is not? Tom Clancy's SF makes him up there. And if we bounce off all of those on one grounds or another, you still have Butcher, Armstrong and Harrison, etc. missing.

    Does Clive Barker hold records? If so, I'd like to see them because he's one of the authors I spent some time looking up figures for and they just weren't easily accessible. Koontz is (200m, allegedly) but separating out his fantasy and non-supernatural horror seems to be impossible.
    Barker, Koontz, and King were the big three of horror in the times when mass market paperback bestsellers sold millions of copies and horror was the bestselling fiction category, yes. Barker is not as prolific as the other two and so would be lower down, but he's definitely outsold numerous people currently on your list. And he's still publishing. Koontz published fantasy horror but also science fiction horror and science fiction thrillers. The majority of his work is in SFF. If you have other authors who did non-SFF such as Asimov, Orwell, Lewis, King, Rice, Galbadon, Sebold, Atwood, etc. and don't have their sales totals separated out, why is it required for Koontz or Crichton for that matter, since Crichton wrote again mostly SFF and is certainly up there in the top twenty fiction sellers? From 1986-1996, American bestseller lists were dominated by the big six: Tom Clancy, Danielle Steele, Stephen King, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, and Michael Crichton. They wrote 63 of the 100 top bestsellers of that decade. And that again was when the wholesale market sold millions of the top sellers in mass market paperbacks. You had to sell that high often to get on the top of the list, and you usually had to sell over 200,000 to get on the top of the hardcover list. So if Koontz, Crichton and Clancy, who all worked mostly in SFF, are major record holders along with Stephen King, how do you have an All-Time list without them?

    It does when I have no figures for him.
    So if you have no sales figures for him, Clarke is no longer one of the all-time bestselling SFF authors? The godfather of science fiction whose work has been in print for decades, whose work is studied in universities on a regular basis and has been published all over the world? What you are saying is that you will give us a list of the 100 All-Time top selling SFF authors, while at the same time saying that you can't actually do that because you don't have the data to do the actual list. So again, it is a list of random bestselling authors with best guess sales figures with a reasonably sound top five sellers.

    But that is only a problem for low-level authors, where the publisher might have printed 15,000 copies and the author sold 300, meaning it's bombed but still registering as selling 15,000. That's why I don't go below 100,000.
    If you want to have a list of All Time bestsellers, you shouldn't be going below 1 million or at least 500,000. If you give an author who only sold 150,000 copies a slot, while ignoring authors who have sold higher because you can't get data on them, then again, it isn't a list of the All-Time bestsellers. Because of the problems you have to make your list, you can't actually make that particular list. You can make a list of top sellers that is incomplete, not an all-time list.

    At the level of millions, you're looking at the in-print copies accounting for tiny amounts of the total figures, and millions of copies are printed generally because millions of copies have already been sold. So the print run/sale correlation is there.
    Not really, no, if you are trying to rank them numerically, which is what you are doing. If the amount bandied around is say "over 45 million" and it's actually 30 million, then their ranking on your list would drop. And that does happen, those general numbers.

    I said it's a list with figures where they are available. The caveats speak for themselves: it's not an exhaustive, pinpoint-accurate list (and it's still a work in progress), but such a list is impossible unless someone goes around each publisher inspecting their figures going back a century. That is never going to happen. This - or something like it - is the only approach that's ever going to work.
    Then don't give the list a title you can't deliver on and don't rank the authors numerically when the rankings don't really mean anything. Because the caveats aren't in the title, and despite you listing the caveats, what's going to happen is a lot of people will quote items off your list as fact or pass the whole list along as fact. Look, I wasn't going to make a big deal about this. All I said at first was, it's not a very accurate list (as an all-time list,) and I wasn't the first to say it either. There is a difference between a Working List of Top Sellers in SFF, which is what you have, and The SFF All-Time Sales List, which is what you are calling it and what you don't have. It's not a matter of being pinpoint-accurate as an All-Time list because the list isn't even vaguely accurate as an All-Time list beyond the tippy-top. And as you have outlined, there are real, hard reasons why it would be difficult to be accurate and name all of the all-time top sellers. That doesn't mean you can't compile data on sales. But it isn't hard data, it's limited data, and so you might want to reterm the list so that it is less likely to be misquoted. Or at least do so next time you update it.

    Apparently it's too high. I've found quite a few other sources saying she's sold 'only' 80 million books.
    Given her dominance on the lists in the 1990's, that seems unlikely.

    There very clearly is. Gemmell's sales of a million books was mentioned very, very loudly when he died in 2006. If he'd sold more his publishers would have said that. He may have sold more by now, but probably not a lot more. During his lifetime it was often reported that Gemmell sold okay-to-good, but not outrageously so, and he survived from book deal to book deal. He was never able to stop writing or slow down his writing as he wrote to live. The reason for this is extremely simple: whilst a household name in British SFF circles, he never broke the States. And without breaking the States, it's very hard for an English-language author to achieve his full sales potential. Pratchett is the only author I know who became massive English-language phenomenon without breaking America, and he eventually did get across there much later on in his career.
    Gemmell wasn't in the tippy-top ranks in the U.S. but he was a lead title bestseller in the U.S. some twenty years ago. The figure for Britain for Gemmell is 1.5 million. I have no idea if that's anywhere near accurate or not. But Gemmell did sell widely in other countries, including the U.S., which would then be added on to 1.5 million. And he produced an awful lot of books and did so in part back when there was a big wholesale market. He was a working author like Glen Cook, but by sheer mass, he sold a lot of copies. (And number of copies are what you are measuring, not the amount of money from those copies. Prices now are higher, so monetarily a more modern author can get more money for fewer copies sold.) Abercrombie didn't break the major lists in the U.S. until Red Country and only in the lower ranks. He's done really well and will continue to do well, but he also is much better known in Britain, where the market is smaller as you note, and his number seems pretty inflated. (On the other hand, if he comes in and says Germany went crazy for him and pushed his sales numbers up, yay!)

    No. But it's the best we are likely to get.
    So it's again a list of top sellers in SFF, not the SFF All-Time Sales List.

    Quote Originally Posted by RobB
    I thought the disclaimer of the list being an estimate based on the data available to Adam and not fully exhaustive was sort of an understood things.
    And yet the title of the list doesn't make room for disclaimers. And SFF fans have a habit of quoting best estimates as facts, especially when they are listed numerically that way. That's why Adam is having trouble getting accurate sales data in the first place. So it's top sellers with reasonable estimates for those particular, selected top sellers. Rowling may be #1, logically, but Hugh Howey (as impressive as he is,) is not the 68th bestselling SFF author of all time. (Yet.) But Hugh Howey will get quoted as being in the top 100 bestselling SFF authors of all time because that's where Adam put him on his widely passed around list. We all know this happens.

    Adam agrees that his list isn't accurate and that he can't make it accurate and include authors who should be there. You agree the list isn't accurate. Everyone agrees the list isn't accurate. There are disclaimers -- if folk pay attention to them -- that the list is not accurate. So why is it a problem if I say that the list is inaccurate as an All-Time list when everyone agrees that's the case? I am also pointing out that some authors for whom he can possibly get the same sort of estimates he's using for those already on the list -- Koontz 200 million, Patterson somewhere between 250-280 million -- have been selected out for reasons that are not consistent with other authors included in the list -- Sebold, Atwood, etc. And that the contemporary fantasy side of the list seems a bit short (Harrison, Butcher, etc.,) though that may simply be that Adam can't get the info.

  4. #19
    Registered User Loerwyn's Avatar
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    How can Adam put Clarke in if there's no figures for Clarke? That would just be an assumption, and you'd drag him over the coals for that.

    And Adam isn't saying X author is the Y best selling author, what he's saying is that with the data he has, he's ranking the data he has in order by minimum confirmed sales figures. So yes, some authors will be lower than they are. He can't be accurate because no accurate figures exist at that size - audio deals, translation deals, giveaway copies, box sets, etc., etc., and when you're talking a career as long as Barker, King, etc., that's just an enormous amount of data. If you asked the author or their agent, chances are they wouldn't know, either.

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    I'm very much in support of Kat G in this.

    It would be great if we could have a reasonably accurate list to look at, but we don't and it sounds like we can't, at least for now. This attempt could be 5% correct, or 17% or who knows? But it seems to be nothing close to 100%.

  6. #21
    Registered User Werthead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KatG View Post
    Wert, you are calling this the SFF All-Time Sales List while fully admitting that it is not a SFF All-Time Sales List and that it is very incomplete. If you wanted to call it a list of some of the leading authors in SFF, then yeah, the list is a list and best guesses on those whom you've been able to find some possibly partially solid sales info on. But the title of the list is hyperbole.
    It should be noted that, on probably a monthly basis for the past five years, I have been repeatedly asked to update the previous list and to do so more thoroughly. This is what I have done with the figures to hand. Is the title hyperbolic? Maybe. But then so are the list of the most popular films of all time, or the biggest-selling albums (arguably much moreso in those cases, as piracy or taping off the radio or TV means that the number of people to watch a film/listen to an album may be out by orders of magnitude) and people are happy to have those lists.

    The list is what it is and I've been fully transparent about the process used to make it. It remains incomplete, vastly so in the lower reaches, and is a work in progress.

    Butcher, Harrison and particularly Armstrong have been on the top rungs of the lists for dozens of books over the past decade, which means quite large numbers, especially with e-book sales too. So if you are going to have an All-Time Sales List, they would have to be on it for it to be an All-Time Sales List. Ditto Clarke.
    And when figures are available (someone's mentioned a possible one for Butcher upthread) they will be added. This is the Internet, we have the power to update and change things as new info comes in. They do not need to remain static forever.

    Doing a different kind of list could provide the same information as best estimates, rather than implying these figures are facts and that Scott Lynch has outsold authors like C.J. Cherryh, Jim Butcher and Eddings to be in the top 100 SFF sellers of all time.
    If people are taking it as 100% fact, then they lack basic reading comprehension. The explanation for how the list works is very clear.

    I'm saying that the form of the list you've used basically offers misinformation by basically guessing about the sales figures of only one group of authors and declaring those to be sales record holders in the field. With good intentions, but misinformation.
    Where did I do that? When I very clearly said the list was made up of estimates because 100%, totally reliable hard sales figures do not exist?

    The full list, incidentally, which I am prevented from linking because it would allegedly trigger a mass-exodus of people from SFFWorld to comment on my blog (funny how this hasn't happened at all on each of the other dozen or so sites and forums I've linked it on), has explanations for each entry and notes where the reliability of those figures is questionable.

    If you can't get the data, ranking them numerically is misleading.
    Yet we numerically-ranked lists of the 'most successful' movies and albums or the most popular TV series of all time quite regularly, all on data about as reliable (or far less so) than this list. Hell, TV ratings are coallated in a manner that is not even as remotely as accurate as this list and they get cancelled or renewed (with consequences for hundreds of workers each time) on that basis.

    Barker is not as prolific as the other two and so would be lower down, but he's definitely outsold numerous people currently on your list. And he's still publishing. Koontz published fantasy horror but also science fiction horror and science fiction thrillers. The majority of his work is in SFF.
    I'll look again at Koontz. As I've said, I believe multiple times now, Barker is an author who certainly should be on the list and an author whose figures I've tried looking for. If you can find such figures, please do so.

    If you have other authors who did non-SFF such as Asimov, Orwell, Lewis, King, Rice, Galbadon, Sebold, Atwood, etc. and don't have their sales totals separated out, why is it required for Koontz or Crichton for that matter, since Crichton wrote again mostly SFF and is certainly up there in the top twenty fiction sellers? From 1986-1996, American bestseller lists were dominated by the big six: Tom Clancy, Danielle Steele, Stephen King, John Grisham, Dean Koontz, and Michael Crichton. They wrote 63 of the 100 top bestsellers of that decade. And that again was when the wholesale market sold millions of the top sellers in mass market paperbacks. You had to sell that high often to get on the top of the list, and you usually had to sell over 200,000 to get on the top of the hardcover list. So if Koontz, Crichton and Clancy, who all worked mostly in SFF, are major record holders along with Stephen King, how do you have an All-Time list without them?
    Crichton has written 27 novels, of which 8 are SF (The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man, Congo, Sphere, Jurassic Park, The Lost World, Timeline and Prey). The rest are adventure novels, contemporary thrillers or historical novels. The majority of his work is definitely not SF. However, his SF work is probably his most famous work (I think most would agree that Jurassic Park is by far his most famous novel?) and probably his biggest-selling, so I may reconsider in the next update.

    Clancy writes contemporary military fiction. A lot of it is technically set in the future, but usually only as a way of enabling him to postulate various large wars without impugning on the present day (and many of his older novels have long been overtaken by real time). Usually there is little or no real SF meat to them.

    Atwood does have her figures separated out; the 3 million figure is for The Handmaid's Tale, Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood only, but combined.

    So if you have no sales figures for him, Clarke is no longer one of the all-time bestselling SFF authors?
    No, it means I have no figures for him at the moment.

    Please do not put words in my mouth, it is a dishonest debating technique.

    If you want to have a list of All Time bestsellers, you shouldn't be going below 1 million or at least 500,000. If you give an author who only sold 150,000 copies a slot, while ignoring authors who have sold higher because you can't get data on them, then again, it isn't a list of the All-Time bestsellers. Because of the problems you have to make your list, you can't actually make that particular list. You can make a list of top sellers that is incomplete, not an all-time list.
    If I was doing a one-shot list for a magazine, sure, but then I wouldn't go down that far. As I said, the list remains a work in progress and the list has more than doubled in size since I started coallating it two weeks ago because people, including some authors and publishers directly, have provided me with more information and been constructive.

    That doesn't mean you can't compile data on sales. But it isn't hard data, it's limited data, and so you might want to reterm the list so that it is less likely to be misquoted. Or at least do so next time you update it.
    No. The title remains, and the caveats remain as well. If people don't want to read the explanations, that is their problem.

    Gemmell wasn't in the tippy-top ranks in the U.S. but he was a lead title bestseller in the U.S. some twenty years ago. The figure for Britain for Gemmell is 1.5 million. I have no idea if that's anywhere near accurate or not. But Gemmell did sell widely in other countries, including the U.S., which would then be added on to 1.5 million. And he produced an awful lot of books and did so in part back when there was a big wholesale market. He was a working author like Glen Cook, but by sheer mass, he sold a lot of copies. (And number of copies are what you are measuring, not the amount of money from those copies. Prices now are higher, so monetarily a more modern author can get more money for fewer copies sold.) Abercrombie didn't break the major lists in the U.S. until Red Country and only in the lower ranks. He's done really well and will continue to do well, but he also is much better known in Britain, where the market is smaller as you note, and his number seems pretty inflated. (On the other hand, if he comes in and says Germany went crazy for him and pushed his sales numbers up, yay!)
    The number comes directly from Abercrombie on his website. I'm actually presuming it's worldwide, altogether, and not from Gollancz alone. The figure seems to be pretty solid.

    The figure given for Gemmell when he died was 1 million, given by his publishers and in obituaries. It's not impossible it was for the UK alone (Jordan's sales figures given on his death were for the USA alone). Could he have sold more than that and more detailed information has come to light (source for the 1.5 million figure, please?) since? Sure. Could he have sold an extra 500,000 copies posthumously? Maybe. The Gemmell Award has actually attracted a fair bit of attention and I can see modern fantasy fans going, "Who is this Gemmell guy anyway?" and reading up on him. Patrick Rothfuss certainly did. Maybe he's benefitted enormously from the ebook revolution as well. Gemmell selling more than 1 million is possible and certainly I hope is the case. Abercrombie selling 3 million seems to be pretty solid (he's sold 1 million copies of The First Law, I believe, in the Commonwealth editions alone as they made a big thing about it two or three years back), though.

    So why is it a problem if I say that the list is inaccurate as an All-Time list when everyone agrees that's the case?
    The problem is that your tone is unnecessarily hostile and, frankly, you are being argumentative for the sake of it because, as you just said, everyone agrees the list is not 100% accurate, as no such list is 100% accurate, whether it's for books, films or anything else.

    I'm sorry that I trust people to read the article and the bit which lists the caveats. Maybe I am giving them far too much credit for intelligence, but I don't think so.
    Last edited by Werthead; September 5th, 2013 at 05:42 AM.

  7. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by AmethystOrator View Post
    I'm very much in support of Kat G in this.

    It would be great if we could have a reasonably accurate list to look at, but we don't and it sounds like we can't, at least for now. This attempt could be 5% correct, or 17% or who knows? But it seems to be nothing close to 100%.
    Ha! I'll take the opposite view. The list (by everyone's admission) is imperfect, but, with those imperfections in mind, it remains informative and clearly, at a minimum, interesting. What's more, some of the admitted imperfections actually make the list even more intriguing. Who knew that nobody knows how many books Arthur C. Clarke sold? Amazing!

    I also love lists and appreciate a good faith effort to compile information which is (apparently) notoriously difficult to compile.

  8. #23
    Would be writer? Sure. Davis Ashura's Avatar
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    I like lists. Most everyone does, and everyone likes numbers and farcical competition. It's why fantasy sports of any kind is so popular. I like Wert's attempt here, and clearly it is inaccurate, but so what? It's fun, at least for me, especially to figure out how to make it more accurate. And I get it's not really the all-time sales list, but that's also part of the fun. I see the title as being more tongue-in-cheek.

  9. #24
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    I also agree that the list is quite useful and Adam did a great job in explaining the methodology and being as clear as possible about what's in and not and stuff like "people will use it for this or that nefarious purpose" is frankly quite ridiculous, the only caveat I would have is the title where I personally would have put a (Known) in brackets to emphasize this aspect and the fact that missing famous names are precisely due to that reason - I am curious for example where Wells, Verne or Brussolo (who is a huge personal favorite and wrote so far 100+ books mostly sff or at least with supernatural elements if not pure genre, but sadly is not translated into English) stand...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loerwyn View Post
    How can Adam put Clarke in if there's no figures for Clarke?
    I found two very different figures:

    His fiction and nonfiction have sold more than one hundred million copies in print worldwide.
    http://www.amazon.com/Arthur-C.-Clarke/e/B000APF21M

    He is the author of more than sixty books with more than 50 million copies in print, and the winner of all the field's highest honors.
    http://us.macmillan.com/author/arthurcclarke

  11. #26
    Palinodic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Werthead
    The problem is that your tone is unnecessarily hostile
    You're confusing exasperation with hostility. You are the one who is being hostile to me because I said what other people were saying and what you agreed with -- that the list is inaccurate especially given what its title promises. But apparently, even though you agree with me, I have committed an unpardonable crime for saying that the list is inaccurate for its title, not for being a list of top sellers, and explaining where I felt there were holes. You are saying that you know that there are holes and you want the holes pointed out and how dare I point out that there are holes at the same time. So I did indeed get a bit exasperated that my one sentence remark was then receiving a lecture from you where you agreed with my one sentence remark and scolded me for it at the same time.

    As far as I'm concerned, the list is fine as a list of some major authors, but the title is dodgy and is misleading and yes, people will forward that list only and not read your caveats and they will take it as factual. (See every new member here who doesn't read the Guidelines they agreed to follow despite us posting them everywhere. They're perfectly intelligent people; they just don't read the fine print.) Yes, the "best" lists often do involve hyperbole in their titles; is that a good reason to emulate them? Would it be so horrible to call the list Top Sellers in SFF (accurate) instead of SFF All-Times Sales List (inaccurate)? It's just something for you to consider as it's an on-going project. As for nit-picking, every "best" list put out on movies, t.v., music, etc. gets nitpicked by people pointing out that films, actors, authors, etc. are not on the list when they should be or on the list when they shouldn't be versus someone else. It's how these lists work. So what you're getting here is normal.

    Quote Originally Posted by suicul
    the only caveat I would have is the title where I personally would have put a (Known) in brackets to emphasize this aspect and the fact that missing famous names are precisely due to that reason
    Not at all a bad suggestion, to my mind. The title is what makes the list inaccurate.

    Quote Originally Posted by Loerwyn
    How can Adam put Clarke in if there's no figures for Clarke?
    By either not listing specific sales figures for the authors on the list, which is not what he wants to do re information he is collecting, or changing the title of the list so the obvious lack of Clarke is not an issue. If he keeps it an All-Time Sales list, he could at minimum not include authors who clearly don't hold those records, even though he has sales figures for them, and put them on another list. It's not like it's impossible to improve the accuracy -- he's already working on that as an on-going project. Lastly, he can go and find sales figures for Clarke, such as what Jussi found, which while not necessarily totally accurate, are at least as accurate as the estimates he already has for other authors on the list. It's not as if it's a scientific study. But the easiest thing to do is to change the title of the list, particularly removing the word "all."

    Quote Originally Posted by Werthead
    Clancy writes contemporary military fiction. A lot of it is technically set in the future, but usually only as a way of enabling him to postulate various large wars without impugning on the present day (and many of his older novels have long been overtaken by real time). Usually there is little or no real SF meat to them.
    You sound like the guys who whine that Dune shouldn't be called science fiction here a bit. Clancy writes science fiction, including science fiction weapons and near future settings. (In fact, he got in trouble early on for leaking tech in development.) Many, many older SF novels, particularly near future ones, have been taken over by real time. (See 2001.) Neal Stephenson's Crytonomicon has nearly no science fiction in it and yet we consider it a SF novel. So if you're going to start issuing purity tests rather than include all the SFF big sellers, then again, it's decreasing the accuracy of your list. (And with this in mind, The Time Traveler's Wife, Like Water for Chocolate, and Tess Garritsen and Robin Cook also come up as ones you probably need to look into. I have no idea if you can find sales figures for Jules Verne and H.G. Wells, but yeah, maybe them too if you're going to have Baum and other pre-20th century authors.)

    I'd be curious how you got the separated sales figures for Atwood. Many of these authors write non-SFF and SFF and as you've said, you don't always know if the sales figures are world or not and all their stuff or not. If publishers are giving you some info, that's probably going to help. They would probably still give you help if it was called the Top Sellers list instead of the All-Time list.

    (source for the 1.5 million figure, please?)
    The Google search said it was from the British Times newspaper.

    The number comes directly from Abercrombie on his website. I'm actually presuming it's worldwide, altogether, and not from Gollancz alone.
    But Gemmell you're not finding world figures on. That's going to be one of the on-going problems of your research. None of the figures are necessarily accurate, but they don't have to be just for a top sellers list. However, you will get a lot of carping from folks about the up and down of them, especially as the authors are numerically ranked like a bestseller's list.

    If you can find such figures, please do so.
    This list wasn't my idea. You could contact HarperCollins about it. Or you could talk to Barker directly: http://www.clivebarker.info/news.html Maybe he'd like to be on the list. And he knows Koontz, so maybe help there too. And surely Patrick Rothfuss could give you sales figures on his stuff. We must presume that he's beaten Lynch, if we're racing them. You might want to look into John Scalzi at this point after Red Shirts, but I'm pretty sure he won't give you sales figures.

    *Oh, and Deborah Harkness -- that's another one.
    Last edited by KatG; September 5th, 2013 at 10:19 PM.

  12. #27
    Are you going to include R@bert Stan@k?

    Here's the link to a source for 5 million sales by 2007!

    http://www.goodreads.com/author_blog...ome-other-comp

  13. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ94122 View Post
    Ha! I'll take the opposite view. The list (by everyone's admission) is imperfect, but, with those imperfections in mind, it remains informative and clearly, at a minimum, interesting. What's more, some of the admitted imperfections actually make the list even more intriguing. Who knew that nobody knows how many books Arthur C. Clarke sold? Amazing!

    I also love lists and appreciate a good faith effort to compile information which is (apparently) notoriously difficult to compile.
    I can respect your opinion (at least if I forget this is the Internet for a minute ). Personally, I don't agree that "it remains informative and clearly, at a minimum, interesting". To my mind that's a ymmv sort of a thing, but I can't deny that some here do share your view in that.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jussi View Post
    Perhaps they're two different authors?

    I wonder what shall be done? Perhaps the difference could be split? Or perhaps there could be a role playing game at a Con where the winner gets to pick which number sounds good to them?

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    http://tinyurl.com/363ogv DurzoBlint's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing the list Wert. I went into the list as a guestimation and nothing else. Found it interesting and at no point did I read it as if it were written in stone. Not sure why all the arguing.

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