Friday, May 6, 2016

The Farce of Fake Amazon Bestsellers

This is used by permission from Rob Eagar’s blog, The Wildfire Marketing Executive Minute, March 23, 2016.

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There’s a strange marketing trend among authors that is leading many people astray. It’s a sneaky little trick that some authors like to play on unsuspecting listeners. You may have heard it before. An author will say, “My book is a #1 bestseller on Amazon!” Their comment is meant to make you think their book is selling like hotcakes. But, if you look further, they really mean their book was temporarily #1 on an abstract bestseller list that Amazon makes up. Amazon has hundreds of ambiguous book categories, such as:

• Occupational & Organizational Popular Psychology
• Children’s Pig Books
• Teen & Young Adult Dystopian Fiction
• Christian Women’s Issues
• Quick & Easy Cooking
• Movie Biographies
• Credit Ratings & Repair

A book that is #1 on these lists isn’t anywhere close to the actual copies sold of the true #1 bestseller on Amazon. Secondly, Amazon only accounts for approximately 30 – 50% of total book sales in America, depending on the genre and format of the book.

Yes, it’s true that Amazon sells more books than any other retailer in America. But, telling someone you’re an Amazon bestseller is like telling someone you’re the fastest runner in your office building or church congregation. It’s not an official statistic and is based on theoretical data that isn’t reliable.

In addition, Amazon updates each book’s sales ranking every hour. Therefore, a book that is #1 today doesn’t mean it will be #1 tomorrow. Heck, it may not be #1 by the time you finish reading this article. The best judge of a legitimate bestselling book is the ability to sell thousands of copies consistently over a period of several days and weeks.

In reality, there are only a handful of national bestseller lists. These lists are based on weekly sales data captured from a wide variety of major retail bookstores across America (both online and offline). The most highly regarded lists include the following:

The New York Times
USA Today
Publishers Weekly
Wall Street Journal


So, the next time you hear an author say, “My book is a bestseller on Amazon!” don’t fall for their hype. Politely question their claim by asking, “Oh really, is your book also on the New York Times, USA Today, PW, or Wall Street Journal bestseller lists?” If not, they’re just trying to sell you a load of fiction.

1 comment:

  1. Rob & Cec, I have been noticing more and more writing/platform coaches sell their services by guaranteeing authors that they can rocket-propulsion-thrust their books to Amazon "bestseller" status, based on the fleeting moment in one or two Amazon categories like those delineated in this post. I'm glad you explained the context. I think this information needs to go out to more people.

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