Wednesday, March 09, 2016

So You’re an Amazon Best-selling Author, Huh?

You may have noticed there are a lot of authors who claim this:



In fact, there are so many of them, they could probably hold a big conference every year and discuss their greatness.



I started noticing it a while ago, when some nutjob who asked me to help him with his whacked-out attempt at narcissism in book form posted on Facebook that he was already an Amazon best-selling author. He couldn't even write a legible email (asking for free editing help--because published authors love being asked to work for free, y'all!). How could he have written a book that the masses would want to read?



Drilling down, I noticed something. Dude hadn't sold more books than 95 percent of the other authors on Amazon. His ramblings were number one in some obscure subcategory of some subcategory of some other subcategory of some weird topic. Like books about beans-books about lima beans-books about the lima bean I ate last night. That would get him something like this for the ever-popular (and totally made up by me to make a point) "beans" category.

Fortunately, we have the Internet. A brilliant marketing guy set out to prove that "Amazon best-seller" status is a joke. He published a book that was nothing but photos of his foot. He sold three copies and guess what? He found his obscure category:



Which gave him all a person would need if he wanted to impress all the Facebook friends who ignored him in high school. "Take that, head cheerleader who wouldn't date me. I'm a best-selling author!"




Of course, if he really wants to impress them, he probably should write a more impressive book. Maybe it would even sell more than three copies.



So if you ever see the words "Amazon Best-Selling Author" on anyone's blog, website, or book cover, know it's pure B.S. The good news? Apparently this post about the foot book has gone viral on Facebook, so braggers may not be able to pull this lie off in the future.

Last chance to sign up to participate in my Dear Teen Me blog hop. Just add your link here and post a blog Friday, March 11 that includes a letter to your teenage self.

59 comments:

  1. Wow. I learned something new today. Thank you for making me feel better:) I'm definitely a long way off from being a bestseller anywhere.

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    1. I think I am, too! I was a bestseller at my local indie, but that was only because the week my book came out, a bunch of you guys ordered autographed copies and that made me one of their top sellers that week.

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  2. That's why there's so many Best Sellers on Amazon, lol. Thanks for shedding some light on this phenomenon. Everything is an illusion and there are suckers born every minute.
    Have a great day Stephanie.
    Hugs,
    JB

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    1. Yes, people will spin things whatever way they can...but things aren't always as they appear on the surface.

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  3. Never noticed that before.

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  4. Lol! Omg, people are so lame. I wouldn't even think to do something like that.

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    1. I've long thought, "How is it POSSIBLE that this book is an Amazon best seller?" This article cleared it all up!

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  5. so just a few tweaks and I could be famous! Who knew?

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    1. We're already famous. We just don't know it yet!

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  6. Holy crap. Thanks, Stephanie.

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  7. Is that all I need to do to become a best selling author on Amazon? Cool!
    Just kidding.
    I don't really need to go that route.
    My blog is the best read and loved blog on the entire internet. I know that because my mom told me so.

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    1. LOL, yes...we should all call ourselves "Top Bloggers."

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  8. I have occasionally held "best-selling" status in the Books > Children's Books > Fairy Tales, Folk Tales, & Myths > Arthurian category. Not that I brag about that much or put it on my website. Most of the time I am beat out in that category by a man who self-publishes books that are offered for free on Kindle and aren't even Arthurian. I assume he tags them that way to get a high ranking in a category. Heaven knows what other categories he puts himself in.

    I have checked out his reviews. They go like this: "Great story. Needs editing. One character's name changed to something else halfway through the book. 4 stars."

    Head. Thunk. Desk.

    I figure any category he is a best-selling author of is not one I want to aspire to. :)

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    1. I've done pretty well in the Valentine's Day for tweens category...I never got the "Best Seller" logo...I think I was in the top 5 but never number one? I don't remember. But yeah, your case is proof that people have learned to work the system and will always dominate those categories. It's hard to compete with "free," since there are people out there who will buy whatever book is free this week, regardless of its content.

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  9. Lol the foot book is hilarious!

    What bothers me more are the authors who actually are bestselling authors and their books are AWFUL. ::coughcoughnatashaprestonahemcough:: I am often tempted to write some total trash like 50 Shades of Grey just to make money....

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    1. The story behind 50 Shades of Grey is an interesting one. She was a fanfic author online and had a built-in fan base for her Twilight fanfic (which was what 50 Shades started out as). When you already have hundreds, maybe thousands of people who will pre-order your book before it's out, it's easy to get momentum going.

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  10. I didn't know you could count the bet seller in obscure category. I must go get my label!!!

    I assume Amazon will shut that down eventually. They seem to take a proactive effort to keep their readers happy. I know as writers we often groan at the fiery hoops for reviews and such, but it's because people like that take advantage and tick off readers. No one wants to buy a book that says best seller and then it be garbage. They will lose faith in the brand.

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    1. Yeah, I have a feeling after this foot book brought attention to it, Amazon is already working on a way to create a REAL best-seller list that reflects what people are actually reading. I think they should do away with obscure categories.

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  11. I hadn't heard about the foot book, but that's hilarious! I've often wondered about those Best Selling stickers and such around the web--there's definitely a reason I don't use them, and not because I haven't been in first place in a category or two over the years :)

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    1. Yeah...when you see a book of questionable quality earn that honor, it devalues it for the deserving books who earn it. It's a shame that you and other authors haven't been able to tell the world about it!

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  12. I never did understand the whole best seller, best selling, best author, NYTimes, etc. To me, all I want is to sell a buttload of copies and make some dough. You know? lol

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    1. NYT status is tough--requires quite a few sales at once...and there are systems in place to make sure some rich person can't work the system by buying thousands of copies of his book.

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  13. I recently read that article about the Foot book. Too funny. It certainly proved a good point.

    Thanks for visiting my site. Much appreciated!

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    1. It did. The guy went a long way to make his point, but it worked!

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  14. "He published a book that was nothing but photos of his foot." Hysterical! I actually looked the book up on Amazon (it has all 5* reviews, lol). Any author who ever felt bad about their Amazon ranking should definitely read this!

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  15. I didn't know this either, but I know nothing about being a best selling author. Thanks for the lesson.

    Have a fabulous day. ☺

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  16. Just saying... I always enjoy reading your posts. You're one of the most consistently interesting bloggers out there.

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  17. Hey if people want to write about feet that's their business. His cover is honest so I say let him be. Asking you upfront for free services though was not cool. People will boast about just about anything.

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  18. I have noticed that the ones who heavily promote themselves as "Amazon bestsellers" on Twitter are the first to ask me to do stuff for them. Them and the ones who are "NYT bestsellers."

    That last one always puzzled me. If I made the Times list, I would not need to ask random strangers to like me on Facebook. Hell, I don't do that now!

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  19. It seems everyone is a best seller these days.
    I was number one in science fiction and under number two hundred overall. Those matter more. And I did sell a heck of a lot more than three books.

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  20. Lol, that foot book title totally made me...well, lol! It annoys me too, the Amazon Best Selling thing. I notice it gets printed on a lot of books here lately (particularly small press/indie books). The only way I want best selling on my books, is if it's NYT or USA Today. Which other ppl might not feel that way, but hey, that's what makes the world go around. ;)

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  21. Delusions of grandeur are everywhere. Legends in their own minds.

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  22. LOL! Yes, a bunch of us were poking fun at the 'Amazon Best Seller' status and categories a while ago. Sad that it doesn't mean anything now when some of the first people to earn it- earned it. Eh, there's still the NYTimes' list to impress folk. :)

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  23. Oh this is too funny! :-) Either these are examples of true idiots or they think the rest of us are. Thanks for the giggle!

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  24. I've read about this happening too and that claiming "Best selling author" doesn't mean much. Now, I don't even give it any consideration.

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  25. I had seen this the other day and thought...wow..in my ignorance so now I know. I shall have some lima beans tonight

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  26. Even though the New York Times and other are much more legitimate, I don't really choose a book because it is on any list. The cynic in me have seen so many of number one folks in different fields chosen with sheer politics and not ability.
    I love to rifle through books donated to a local charity. I never purchase a "bestseller". I gather books that look like someone opened the book and read it. I'm still an old fashioned book reader. My kindle is full. I need to find it and read some of my downloads.

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  27. When I saw this link on your Facebook page I read it and had a good chuckle. Actually the Foot Book has a pretty decent cover!!

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  28. I had no idea. But then again, I take any "bestselling" label with a grain of salt, anyway. I'm not picking up the book because of the label, I'm picking it up because it's garnered my interest.

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  29. Ha! Feet. I've seen so many people with that best seller status. I don't even take notice of it anymore.

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  30. I know someone who calls herself an Amazon best-selling author. I think she's best-selling to her family and friends that she can bully into buying her book.

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  31. After reading your post I feel kind of silly because I was so thrilled to get the Best Seller flag from Amazon in 3 countries. I danced around the house and hooted about it for days. I wanted to shout it from the roof top, but needless to say they only stayed in that spot for a few days. Amazon has thousands of weird categories which I can't figure out, and the foot book is pretty funny.

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  32. LOL to the Amazon Best Seller authors!! I've noticed most print authors are New York Times Best Selling authors too! Always intriguing. But the foot book does prove a point,,,:-)

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  33. I know what you mean about being asked to help edit or write for free. People always say, "I have this great idea, I just need someone to write it." And I want to say - ideas are the easy part! I have a million ideas I can't follow through on...the hard part is actually figuring out how to make something of them. There was a great article in the Times a few years back
    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/27/opinion/sunday/slaves-of-the-internet-unite.html
    Tim Kreider.

    Thanks for the interesting post!

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  34. Thank you for this! You see so many claims at being a "such and such" best selling author and, quite frankly, all that does is make me feel like a loser because I haven't put anything out there yet (on Amazon or otherwise). Social media is a good thing in some respects but in others it definitely plays with your mind and your confidence! Especially where book publishing is concerned.

    A foot book. That's hilarious!! But I"m not surprised :)

    Thanks for stopping by my blog! I've enjoyed reading your comments and appreciate them :)

    ~Jen

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  35. I'm an Amazon Best Spending Buyer.

    Love,
    Janie

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  36. I've seen this myself and can't stand it. Some people really do think we work for free.

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  37. I learned a lot. I would love to be a best seller- but it would be nice to have it mean something. :)
    ~Jess

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  38. First of all, I can't he sold three copies. Second of all, I always wondered about the best selling author. There were just too many of them that I had never heard of before. Thanks for the filling me in. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  39. Is it wrong that I kind of want to buy that foot book now just because?

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  40. Seriously, I've never trusted Amazon best-selling rank ;-)

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  41. Seriously, I've never trusted Amazon best-selling rank ;-)

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  42. The foot guy is actually being paid to write the actual book now. Hooray for going viral.

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