Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a ‘Best-Selling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes.

The Bluestocking

Bloody Mary in Blue
Feb 20, 2014
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. - Brent Underwood, Book Marketing Consultant

A thought-provoking read (with a few hilarious bits). Complete article here.
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Ray McCarthy

Sentient Marmite: The Truth may make you fret.
Jul 16, 2014
The Mid West (of Ireland)
I'm reminded of UK pop music Singles charts, which I think could be mostly fiction by 1980s. Album sales made them a poor guide anyway by 1970s.

I know a guy that is an "Amazon Bestseller" and what he earns wouldn't pay for his coffees.

Jul 24, 2008
I think that is a bit of a useless experiment. There are a lot of very hard working authors clawing their way to the top of competitive categories and they are selling a lot of books to get there. Just because a guy did something stupid in a category that probably sells 1 book a month, doesn't mean anything. I don't think anyone should waste their time de-valuing the Amazon Bestseller sticker. But that's just my opinion :)

Ursa major

Bearly Believable
Staff member
Aug 7, 2007
His dreams of a best-selling franchise have been cut off... er... below the knees:
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.

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Nov 23, 2002
Someone managed to rank well in an obscure category. Well done that man. But it doesn't invalidate the fact that Amazon owns ebook sales. All those agents and editors I've seen reTweeting the article with glee are simply mice mocking the lion.

J Riff

The Ants are my friends..
Apr 11, 2010
Sleeping in Lab
Yes, singles, that was the ticket. Then it wasn't. You still hear the same ones, here - 40 years on they are flogging the singles playlist which was indeed non-representative of anything at all by about 197?.

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