“A book or other product that sells in very large numbers.” – Oxford Languages
“A popular product and especially a book whose sales are among the highest of its class.” -Merriam Webster
“A product that is extremely popular and has sold in very large numbers: The ‘Harry Potter’ novels were all bestsellers.” – Cambridge Dictionary
Notice none of those definitions mentions a book that sells well because somebody figured out how to game the system. People assume that a “best seller” is a well-written and very popular book, in demand by the masses.
I was contacted this week by an author who wanted to try a trick he learned from a “best selling author.” He went on to give me a list of the things he’d need to do to make his book a best seller on Amazon, too. He asked if “we” could do this. In far more polite words, I told him, “HELL NO.”
After I explained that we don’t participate in fraud, he understood what the “program” really meant and he opted not to do it, either. Unfortunately, there are far too many dishonest people in this world who don’t think twice about scamming others. And, those dishonest people include narcissistic authors who gleefully cheat in order to make people think their books are great. Shame on them.
Best seller lists are meant to portray an honest reflection of what the public in general is buying, not a façade of who is best at cheating the system. If anyone tells you his or her book is an Amazon best seller, you should know what that means (or doesn’t) before you believe them.
“The Amazon Best Sellers calculation is based on Amazon sales, and is updated hourly to reflect recent and historical sales of every item sold on Amazon.” – Amazon.com
I won’t give you the “secrets” that many authors and publishers use to trick people into thinking a book has attained best seller status. What you need to know is that, when someone orchestrates numerous sales in a short period of time, that means they have family and friends buying their books on a schedule. Sometimes, the author does all the purchasing him or herself! And, Amazon really doesn’t seem to care.
Claiming to have a best selling book after forcing sales to happen is, in my and most others’ opinions, FRAUD.
I previously covered this disturbing topic many years ago, and strongly criticized long-time book marketing expert John Kremer for promoting the practice. Worse, he was profiting from referring authors to that horrible program!!
One of John Kremer’s readers referred to the Amazon best seller method as a “parlor trick.” We agree!!
And, things got even more contentious in part II of the series!
His methods were different from recent ones I’ve seen recently but the the blatant manipulation of sales, with the intent to trick potential readers into believing the book is truly a “best seller” is still, in my opinion, outright fraud.
After we ran that article, we had a RECORD number of letters to the editor. You can read some of those RIGHT HERE.
And, you can find the link to John Kremer’s bizarre rebuttal RIGHT HERE.
If an “author” needs to cheat to sell books, he or she is not a real author. That person needs find a new hobby. It’s unfortunate that so many people cheat nowadays. From fake best seller status, to fake Amazon reviews, and other scams I have covered here in WritersWeekly over the years, the readers’ trust in almost all new authors has eroded significantly over the years.
If any author asks you to purchase his or her book during a specific timeframe on a specific day, know that you are being asked to participate in a game of deception. You should not only refuse to be a pawn in his or her activities, but you should also never buy a book written by that person again. When these cheaters are confronted, and outed, perhaps they’ll be ashamed enough to stop their deceptive ways.
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