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My Predictions for the 2024 Bestseller Lists

Tuesday, December 19, 2023

Why Your Book (and Mine) Probably Won’t Make It

By Zibby Owens

My debut novel Blank is coming out on March 1, 2024. I’m really excited about it! Early readers have enjoyed it. I have some great press lined up. Notables have blurbed it. My publisher is prioritizing it. I even have a “platform” of almost 50K followers on Instagram, which has been built up, one follower at a time (!), over the past six years. Like many debut novelists out there a couple months before pub day, I’m doing my best to position my book for success: setting up a book tour, updating my website, and hopefully kicking off some word-of-mouth.

And yet, I already know my book won’t become a traditional bestseller.

Why? The lists have already filled up. And I haven’t even reached the starting line.

As Elisabeth Egan reported last week, only eight non-celebrity debut novelists made it onto the hardcover list in 2023, but five of those eight were major book club picks. Of the remaining three, two were Book of the Month Club selections. The one left standing, The Hurricane Wars, was a “romantasy” by Thea Guanzon, the first in a trilogy.


Looking ahead to 2024, there are many mega author celebrities who are releasing new books— think Kristin Hannah and John Grisham—and other major bestsellers like Emily Henry and Sally Hepworth. There are a handful of books that have already gained momentum pre-2024, whether through a celebrity or notable backing them, their publisher going all out and starting promotion early, or just from the undecipherable forces of the zeitgeist. These books keep coming up on the “Most Anticipated” lists over and over again from Good Housekeeping and Publishers Weekly to Goodreads rankings and individual bloggers.

Those books now also have a leg up.

What about the rest of us outside of these 100 or so titles?

What about the books I’m publishing as the CEO of Zibby Books, a boutique publishing house in New York? We have twelve fabulous books coming out in 2024, some currently being printed right this second. Our covers are gorgeous. The writing, the sense of voice and place, are top rate. We’ve been promoting them all for months and even have a full catalog out a year ahead of time. (Publisher promotion: check!)

Ironically, my novel Blank is about this very topic. A bestselling author can’t think of a second book to write by her deadline and decides to just hand in her book blank—empty!—as a thought experiment. Does it even matter what’s inside a book anymore or will readers buy it anyway off her name and the cover? Surprises follow.

I think the majority of bestsellers are decided before anyone reads a single page.

Take the list below. This includes titles coming out from January through May 2024 that I think the industry will push, promote, and probably succeed in positioning for placement on bestseller lists or in big book clubs. The promotion will lead to more word-of-mouth, and then more media and more sales until, bam! Bestseller.

To be clear, this is not my most anticipated list. (My original list from November is here, but now I’m excited for many others, too!) But I’m curious. Will I be correct? Can “the list” be guessed? If so, are these truly the best books if no one has read them yet?

I wonder what the New York Times list would look like if authors were only allowed on it once, for one week, allowing room for everyone else?!

The moral of the story: If, in fact, we readers are only reading bestsellers, we’re not necessarily reading the best books for us. Everyone should think critically about the books they’re being fed. Give other authors a chance, especially debut authors. I know there are too many books to sift through. That’s part of why I created Zibby Media and Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books —to help curate in a new way.

Take a look. Let’s what happens.


Bestseller Predictions



Bestseller Predictions



Bestseller Predictions






Bestseller Predictions