February 26, 2016

Amazon's "Best Seller" Lists

[From article]
I would like to tell you about the biggest lie in book publishing. It appears in the biographies and social media profiles of almost every working “author” today. It’s the word “best seller.”
This isn’t about how The New York Times list is biased (though it is). This isn’t about how authors buy their way onto various national best-seller lists by buying their own books in bulk (though they do). No, this is about the far more insidious title of “Amazon Bestseller”—and how it’s complete and utter nonsense.
Here’s what happened in the book industry over the last few years: As Amazon has become the big dog in the book world, the “Amazon Bestseller” status has come to be synonymous with being an actual bestseller. This is not true, and I can prove it.
Last week, I put up a fake book on Amazon. I took a photo of my foot, uploaded to Amazon, and in a matter of hours, had achieved “No. 1 Best Seller” status, complete with the orange banner and everything.
How many copies did I need to sell be able to call up my mother and celebrate my newfound authorial achievements? Three. Yes, a total of three copies to become a best-selling author. And I bought two of those copies myself!
[. . .]
My company has helped sell over 5 million books and advised or managed book launches with every major publishing house, including Amazon.
We have important rules at my company about the projects we take on. We don’t work with authors whose books we wouldn’t read ourselves, and we don’t guarantee best-seller status. We say no to more work than we say yes to, but these principles help us avoid the gimmicky, one-hit-wonders who aren’t looking to write great books but instead are looking to trick people into thinking they have.
[. . .]
It used to be a real mark of distinction to hit the best-seller lists–because there were fewer lists and fewer authors
[. . .]
In most cases, your book not only has to be good enough for a legitimate publisher to publish it, but you have to outsell all the other books out there, past and present, even if you’re paying for it out of your pocket.
[. . .]
Because of the high bar, the term “bestselling author” was a term with some meaning.
[. . .]

Step 1: Writing my book (~2 seconds)
I didn’t feel like writing a book so I instead just took a photo of my foot. I called the book “Putting My Foot Down” and included one page with, you guessed it, a photo of my foot.
[. . .]
Gone are the days of having to be selected to put out a book. Gone are the days of having to go to a bookstore to see what is available. [. . .] These days, over one million books are published each year, with at least half of these self-published.
[. . .]
For the authors: I hope my story illustrates that the best marketing tactic you can use for a book is to write a great book that actually sells over the long term.
[. . .]
focus on crafting a book that will sell for decades.
[. . .]
Author’s update: Since writing this piece and making my debut, my book has inexplicably been removed from the Amazon catalogue. I have yet to hear from an Amazon representative on the matter, but it is clear that something is afoot.


Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a ‘Best-Selling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes.
By Brent Underwood
02/23/16 10:00am

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