Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The Best-Seller Label

One of my books was the Kindle Romance Daily Deal last week. (Oh yeah, for those of you who didn't know, I'm also Julie Particka. Surprise?) It was one of those awesome but really stressful things. You see, when you're a KDD, that means Amazon is promoting you--they're sending your title out to all their readers and saying "look what's on sale!"

What if it still doesn't sell?

That was literally my thought when I woke up that morning and looked at my 7:30 am ranking. I was stuck in this void of "OMG, I totally suck."

The universe must have liked me that day because the rankings kept climbing and climbing. (Bear with me here. I'm only showing evidence for the discussion to come.) Eventually I had this:
#19 overall in Canada!
And this:

#93 overall in the US
And this:

#1 in NA/College! WOOT! pretty fucking cool. I mean, between this and hitting something like #7 on the Australia iTunes with the book, I can technically call myself an international best seller.

But I don't.

You see, I know what kind of numbers people have to hit to make the NYT and USA Today lists. For most people, those are kind of life-altering sums of money. This? Not so much.

Don't get me wrong, I'm happy as a clam about doing as well as I did. However, I've been paying a lot of attention to how people use the best-seller label, and it makes me a little squicky.

There is an author I know who gave away one of her self-pub books on amazon for several days. Lowered the price to FREE! and then advertised the hell out of it. I don't remember exactly how high her book got on the free list, but she proceeded to start calling herself a best-selling author.


Now, don't get me wrong, I'm happy for her that she grabbed so many new readers. But I kind of have this thought that to be a best-seller you have to actually sell the books. I mean, if she'd lowered the price to $0.01, technically that would have been selling, but all those people who click on all the freebies might not have grabbed it. I don't know, but I don't count that.

I know another author who joked because their book hit #1 on some small, obscure sub-category that they were now a best-selling author. (Thankfully in that case, it was a joke, because I would have lost some respect for this particular person who legitimately deserves to sell enough to be a bonafide best seller.)

Now, in my case, the NA/College list isn't obscure. That's a pretty tough list (Colleen Hoover, Jamie Maguire, Jennifer L. Armentrout...the list could go on for a while), but until someone "in power" slaps a title on me, I'm not going to use one because it kind of feels like crowning myself mother-of-the-year or something.

Words have power, and people have used "best-seller" so deceptively (I won't say they are out-and-out lying, but making the best seller list at a specific publisher for a day or week is not the same as making an amazon list, is not the same as making the NYT or USA today.) that it's almost ceased to have meaning. If the time comes that my publisher decides they can legitimately put it on my books, I will probably start using it, but until then, this post is as close as it's going to get.

So my advice to all you aspiring authors, indie authors, new authors--choose to use the best-selling label with care. In order for it to have meaning to readers (which it's starting not to), it has to have meaning to us as authors.

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