What if I told you that I’m the “#1 Book Marketing Consultant in the World”?
Sounds preposterous, right? Who sets the global standard for marketing consultants? How would anyone know the difference? I could display that misleading title on my website, but you’d probably think I was a phony and question my ethics.
How would you know if I was lying or telling the truth? Frankly, would you care? No, because it’s a silly claim that sounds ridiculous.
Yet, too many authors make similarly ridiculous claims about their books and lie to readers. How do you lie to a reader? By claiming that your book is an “Amazon bestseller.”
There’s no such thing as an “Amazon bestseller.”
It may not be intentional, but authors who claim to hit #1 on Amazon look foolish, because they take an unverified number and make a big deal out of it. However, the unknowing public doesn’t know whether the author is telling the truth or making up a fake award. No one can check your sales data.
Authors who profess to be Amazon bestsellers never reveal that their book was #1 in a meaningless abstract category, such as “Women’s Issues,” “Advertising Books,” or even “Children’s Pig Books” (yes, that category actually exists.)
These arbitrary categories are a distant cousin to the only legitimate bestseller list on Amazon, which is called the “Amazon Charts.” This list is limited to the 20 top-selling titles out of all 15 million books available on Amazon’s website.
Yet, I’m shocked by the number of authors who display “#1 Amazon bestseller” on their websites, social media pages, and marketing copy. Worse, our industry is full of hucksters who trick authors into paying them money to guarantee their book becoming an “Amazon bestseller.” This behavior is unethical and inconsiderate of the reading public.
Friends, have we become so desperate for accolades that we resort to making up random awards with no basis in fact or substantial sales data? Do we not realize that hitting #1 in an arbitrary category on Amazon means nothing?
To prove my point, I tested the “Amazon bestseller claim” on myself.
I conducted a focused marketing campaign on one of my books that led the title to hit #1 in the Amazon “E-Commerce” category for two straight weeks. Though, here’s what might surprise you. During those two weeks, I only sold around 10 books per day. Let me say that again: Only 10 books per day!
That tiny amount isn’t enough sales to claim any type of bestseller status. In addition, attaining the Amazon bestseller badge during those two weeks didn’t increase my sales.
As you can see, spending efforts, energy, and money to be an Amazon bestseller in an arbitrary category is a waste of time. Furthermore, claiming to be an “Amazon bestseller” is deceitful to the public.
Let’s treat our readers with the respect they deserve. Focus on the truth, and the truth will set you free. The truth is: If you want to be considered a genuine bestseller, don’t make bestselling claims until your book hits the industry-accepted lists, such as:
The New York Times
Wall Street Journal
Los Angeles Times
Publishers Weekly, etc.
Are these bestseller lists biased or completely accurate? No, but the public trusts these lists, and they are much more legitimate than claiming to be an “Amazon bestseller.”
As a side note: If you’re concerned that the bestseller lists don’t accept self-published books, you’ll be happy to know that the USA Today bestseller list routinely includes self-published titles.
How do you sell enough copies to earn a place on the national bestseller lists?
There are a variety of solid marketing tactics that any author can employ, such as:
- Build a large email list
- Create joint partnerships with other successful authors
- Secure a lot of speaking engagements or podcast interviews
- Conduct a pre-order sales campaign
- Advertise where avid readers gather in large numbers
Marketing a book requires hard work. All of the effort involved can drive an author a little crazy. Believe me, I feel your pain. But, let’s not make things worse by creating silly claims about Amazon.
Selling a book on Amazon is a rare achievement by itself. Be proud of yourself. We get the unique opportunity to educate, inspire, and entertain the world. Thus, there’s no need to work ourselves into a frenzy and manufacture false accolades.
You might be thinking, “Get off your soap box, Rob. Why make such a fuss?”
I’m a consultant. It is a consultant’s job to ruffle feathers in order to maintain the integrity of our author community.
If I ruffled your feathers, my apologies. I mean no harm. But, let’s save any bestseller claims for the legitimate bestseller lists.
Otherwise, we all look like fools.
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