Buying Your Way To The Top

February 27, 2013

Song of the Day: Empire by Queesnrÿche

What would you do to get on the New York Times bestseller’s list? How far would you go? How far is too far?

Oh, sure. Many of us have tried to manipulate the algorithms and sales numbers in various ways to our favor. We might offer a book for free for a limited time. Loads of people will take advantage of freebies, not thinking twice about downloading a book. It’s free, for crying out loud. We beg shamelessly, if not apologetically, for ‘Likes’ and ‘Tags’ to maneuver us to the top in genre specific search engines. We’ve had our family, friends, writing pals, and street teams do buying blitzes to get our names up on the board. These efforts are in hopes to reaching a prestigious list and inching our way up the Top 100 or Top 10 lists. These lists validate us, offer recognition, and generate interest, thereby increasing our book sales organically—preferably in a snow ball effect which launches our careers into the stratosphere. Look out JK, Nora, Stephen, and James. There’s a new kid in town.

getty rf top tenWe explore endless marketing options, participate in blog tours and book signings, deliver our souls to social media, lug ourselves to conferences and conventions, invest our hard earned pennies in ads and swag. And even some of us hire PR assistants. All in the name of success. It’s what we do to build our enterprises. Who doesn’t want to be a household name,  lounging on a private beach with muscular, oiled, deliciously bronzed gods fanning us with palm fronds, massaging our tired shoulders, feeding us grapes and adult beverages, and whispering in our ear how wonderful the movie-version of our book is doing at the box-office, or at least make a comfortable living as a writer?

But what if you could buy your way onto the New York Times bestseller’s list at the debut of your book upon your release date? Got deep pockets and a guarantee of 11,000 pre-orders of your unreleased book? You can purchase a spot. The practice is termed the bestseller campaign.

In short, you hire marketing firm ResultSource (cha-ching!) which specializes in bestseller campaigning and secure a pre-selling commitment of bulk sales that reach into the thousands.

Read more on how one author did it here.

And here’s another article in Forbes on the subject.

The argument is the same for those of us who have done freebie days or book bombing or any one of the multitude of ways to reach a list—getting your name out there long enough to glean status and interest  It’s an investment into your career.

This is surprisingly not a new practice, nor is it exactly a secret. But it seems to be one that isn’t widely discussed. And while I can’t say for certain, I would wager that burning a hole rf gettypublishers aren’t rocking the boat if their clients decide to hire a firm to catapult them onto the bestseller’s lists. It is business, after all.  And business good for the author is good for the publisher.

That said, I do want to point out that the articles I listed above are focused on business non-fiction books. However, the methodology could be applied to anyone who has written a book, has spare change burning a hole in their pockets and 5,000 Facebook friends who aren’t afraid of commitment. For me, I’d rather make a list based on my talent and merit.

So is this practice moral? Is it fleecing book buyers into thinking a title is popular and in demand?  To an author, should it matter, so long as they get their ROI and, possibly, a fan base? Is this business savvy or deception? Does this make the bestsellers lists a sham? If you were able to work the system, would you?

Let’s hear your thoughts.