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Not all ‘Bestsellers’ appear to be bestsellers

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A Bestseller… in Tough Guy Lead Character… in Spine-Chilling Thriller… in Romantic Suspense in Toronto… in New Adult… on Thursday…. at 1:00 pm ET.

Far be it for me to criticize fellow authors.  By most accounts, I am a rookie in this game, and I probably shouldn’t be making trouble for folks of my ilk trying to make a buck or two in the publishing world, but I have to ask, what’s with all these authors claiming to be bestsellers? 

I won’t name names, but I’ve come across a few blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter profiles, top secret NSA files… oops, I mean public bios of authors claiming to be bestsellers.  These authors don’t identify the lists where they’ve reached such lofty heights, so it’s impossible to verify their claims, and I find that… suspicious. 

I have a sense that some authors are claiming bestseller status based on a momentary appearance in the top ten of a sub-category of a sub-category of a category on Amazon.  In other words, they haven’t reached the tops of any mainstream or new-stream media list.  Can you really claim to be a bestseller if you sell a handful of books in an hour, a feat that can temporarily catapult you into the top ten of a narrowly defined sub-sub-sub category?

Am I being too old school?  Is this just the new publishing world in which we live?  I know it is much more fragmented than it once was, but I’m wondering if there’s a point where we need to take a step back and ask ourselves if we’ve gone too far.  It seems to me that we run the risk of diminishing the quality of books as a whole by using the term “Bestseller” so recklessly.   

Here is my pledge. My book is not a bestseller in any form or fashion, and I won’t claim it is until it either appears on a list somewhere in the media (old or new), or it remains in the top ten of a sales list in a main category for at least a week.  And, WHEN that happens, I’ll provide the name of said list, category, and/or media outlet.  This is my part to save the term “Bestseller” so it will actually mean something to the consumer. 

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