I can make you an Amazon !!!BestSeller!!!” (definition confusion)

Two different “experts in Amazon marketing” have contacted me over the past few months. Their promise was the same: they could make me and/or my book an Amazon !!!BestSeller!!!.

One fellow said he’d need at least six weeks lead time, the other five days. The former charged only 12k$US, the other 6k$US.

And because I’m an evil prick bastard, I asked for the titles of the books they’d worked their magic on and the names of the authors of these books.

The first gent gave me three pages of recommendations.

Which only contained three books.

The last two pages were for the same book which had multiple contributors.

And proving I don’t understand things, I checked the Amazon numbers.

None of the books were bestsellers. At least not by my definition of bestseller.

Noun: bestseller
1. A book that has had a large and rapid sale.

But no, no, no, Joseph! That’s not the correct definition of an Amazon BestSeller!

No, no, no!

An Amazon Bestseller merely means it reached “bestseller” status on Amazon.

And it doesn’t have to stay there.

One hour is enough.

And don’t worry about being in a recognizable, easily identifiable category!

Ohhh no, no, no!

And the book can be for free!

Because it doesn’t matter if you make money!

Only that you hit that #1 spot!

Evidently there’s a lot of…individuals…who are thrilled to boast on their bookcover they had an Amazon BestSeller. Doesn’t matter how many books they actually sold. Or how obscure the category. Or if there’s competition for the #1 spot or not.

So long as they can boast about being an Amazon #1 BestSeller!

Sad, me thinks. I thought being a bestseller meant lots and lots and LOTS of people purchased a copy and genuinely liked it.

Idiot Moi!

The first fellow’s titles, when I looked them up, were far from in the bestseller leagues and lightyears away from the top 100 sellers…in any category.

And category is the key.

I realize now that often these book marketers create a category in which there’s no competition (or find a category with little to no competition) and promote your book there.

One of the second fellow’s titles was yep, a bestseller.

In a category in which only one other book existed.

And both were free.

Most of these books don’t survive bestsellerhood much longer than a few hours.

Just long enough for the book marketer to take a page snapshot of the “BestSeller” emblem so you can show it off.

And just think! For only 6-12K$US!

For bragging rights!

I’m sorry.

It must be exhausting for people to support an ego like that.

Or perhaps I’m wa-a-ay off base?
Having been in marketing for many years, I suddenly realize what’s actually being purchased for 6-12k$US!

Yes, these people are amazing salespeople and marketers!

They’ve managed to convince lots of people (according to their claims of satisfied customers) that getting a #1 spot on an obscure Amazon category where there’s no real competition for one hour or less means they and/or their book is a bestseller!

That’s what they’re selling!

(Idiot moi!)^2

Oh, and by the way…
Just so we’re all clear on what my bottomline is, none of these authors made back their investment with book sales. After market – classes, lectures, speaking gigs, … – I don’t know.

But in sales?

Definitely not!

An AI wrote this (and here’s why you have nothing to fear)

…we now have an AI supported service to check your Amazon book page, provided without charge, at…

A company contacted me about their new AI check of an Amazon book page.

Okay, like everyone else, I’ve been deluged with AI this and that for the past few months.

And before I go further, let me offer that I created a technology which people kept referring to as AI and I kept explaining wasn’t artificial so much as it was altricial intelligence because it learned by observation (and I received some patents on it).

Meaning, I have a background in these concepts and ideas and…well…frankly…bullshit.

Anyway, I was curious (I’m not anymore. At least I won’t be for a while).

My urban science fantasy Empty Sky was repubbed a few weeks back so I offered it to this company’s AI system.

Here’s what my publishing company’s editor, copy/continuity editor, and I came up as Empty Sky‘s description:
Continue reading “An AI wrote this (and here’s why you have nothing to fear)”

Gender Specific Marketing Discoveries

Long ago and far away I presented my company’s research at conferences far and wide.

One such presentation (from 2007, so dated, I’m sure) dealt with marketing to men and women, and specifically the differences necessary to get the attention of one, the other, and both.

Here’s a podcast of that presentation, ressurected because it’s mentioned in “Sex on the Beach” chapter of That Think You do.


First Rejections

I received a rejection on Meteor Man last week. The editor wrote

I can appreciate the attention to detail in your world, but without knowing about the world or characters or what’s going on, the terminology bogs me down a bit too much.

The comment intrigued me because no first reader commented anything similar. Even first first readers – those unfamiliar with my work – didn’t make similar comments. I often gets comments about my world-building but they tend to be more like “Amazing!”, “Rich!”, “Vividly detailed!”, and “Immersive!” (one of my personal favorites).

When I do live readings of works-in-progress, I sometimes get a comment along the lines of “You do more world-building in ten pages than most authors do in the first hundred” and I should spread things out.

I ask in return, “Would you continue reading? Do you want to find out more?”

Unanimous yeses often accompanied by listeners leaning forward in their seats and sometimes by outstretched hands seeking a copy.

All of which tells me I did an excellent job world-building. If people were overwhelmed to the point of being numb, they’d back away rather than continue forward.

Two Recent Classes…
I’ve long suspected that storycrafting and storytelling aren’t the paramount reasons work is accepted or rejected.

Sadly, this was confirmed by two different classes I took over the past few weeks. The classes were from different sources and a little over a week apart. One class had an agent and a publisher, the other had two magazine editors.

I take such classes because I want to understand what got Story A accepted and Story B rejected. A con panel with editors explaining what stood out pro and con in stories from their slushpiles would be gold to me. I’d pay serious dollars to attend such a panel session.

Me, I look for common threads in everything from character to theme, action to plot, … Sometimes the common thread is obvious, other times…?

And always it comes down to “How come this and not that? Give me a list of what works and what doesn’t so I’ll have a better idea how to perfect my own work for publication.” (by the way, two books that do a great job of this are Barry Longyear’s “Science Fiction Writer’s Workshop – I: An Introduction to Fiction Mechanics” and On Writing Science Fiction: The Editors Strike Back).

Want to know what I found out?

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