Bestseller Lists Are Suspect

Think that these lists represent some sort of "objective" truth? Think again.

With a big enough bankroll, you can become a bestselling author.

Really.

Companies such as Result Source effectively spend their clients’ money to get them where they want to be: on vaunted bestseller lists. Don’t want to fork over a large chunk of cash yourself? No bother. CEOs can gently suggest that their companies divert some marketing and PR dollars to bulk purchases of their books. Just ask Reid Hoffman.

Beyond that, it’s not hard to game the system even without the support of your lackeys. Check out this interesting and intentional “non-book” on a guy’s foot that achieved bestseller status on Amazon.

The Benefits Outweigh the Costs

Is this legal? Sure. What about ethical and/or moral? Not my call. I’m no ethics expert.

Like any system, it’s not that hard to game Book Scan if you’ve got the money and the desire.

Still, foolish is the author, publisher, or everyday citizen who believes that these lists are based alone on grass-root sales. That assertion is dubious at best. I’ve have 600-book orders processed outside of Book Scan for speaking gigs, as have many authors.

What’s not so dubious? The benefits of making these lists include higher speaking and consulting fees, greater brand recognition, and perhaps a bigger advance when pitching next book. In many cases, these benefits justify their costs.

Brass Tacks

Sure, many bestselling books attain that status because they are well-written and popular. Don’t mistake many for all, though. Like any system, it’s not that hard to game Book Scan if you’ve got the money and the desire.

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  1. Is a book really a bestseller? - […] not an easy question to answer. I’ve written before about how bestseller lists are downright suspect. Brass tacks: there’s no…

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