I will never forget my first experience selling my book Powder Necklace to someone other than a friend or family member. My publisher had sent me to the annual Afr’Am Festival, and I sat behind a table piled high with my books… waiting. And waiting. Meanwhile, the authors around me were up and at ’em, basically shaking hands and kissing babies, fighting for each and every sale. I took note.
It’s an understatement to say it’s really hard to move books. Even some award winners see relatively modest sales, depending on whose analyzing the numbers. So, I wasn’t surprised to read that some authors spend upwards of $20,000 to buy their way onto the bestseller list. The Wall Street Journal reports that many authors hire book marketing company ResultSource to buy enough copies of their book to make the title a bestseller.
Though the investment can be steep, the authors see the dividends in paid speaking engagements and residual opportunities reserved for “bestselling authors” not to mention press and exposure on multiple lists. In essence, the bestseller list doubles as prime ad space for a title, and an amazing marketing tool for the author.
Though understandable, the phenomenon is disappointing — more evidence that money can skew what’s supposed to be a genuine barometer of the books people are reading. It also makes true bestsellers even more impressive.