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MysteryRiter
12-26-2011, 06:07 AM
I have seen this a lot recently (mostly on twitter): self-published authors claiming to be bestselling authors. I'm always interested when I read this and when I look up their "bestselling" book, all it is is ranked in the top horror, romance, etc. I really don't consider these books bestsellers, personally. The only books I consider bestsellers are the ones ranked in NYT, USA, etc. and the Amazon top 100 in paid I also consider bestsellers. But does being reasonably ranked in, say, the romance category of Amazon paid (if you aren't in the overall top 100) make your book a bestseller? I never thought so and still don't really but I see so many self-published authors nowadays claiming to be bestselling authors it gets really confusing. I assume they're saying this to look good and for promotion but I am not sure anymore...
Thoughts?

IceCreamEmpress
12-26-2011, 06:33 AM
I think that if people don't say on what publication or organization's list they are a bestseller, they are just blowing smoke and should be ignored.

That said, I think you're drawing the net too narrowly. The ABA Book Sense, the IndieBound, the Library Journal, and the Christian Booksellers Association lists can be meaningful and worth bragging about, as well as topic-specific lists (if someone's book about trout fishing is the #1 bestseller on Field and Stream's list, that's meaningful).

Also, other highly thought-of national publications do bestseller lists. The Wall Street Journal list is usually much closer to Bookscan figures than the New York Times list, and newspapers like the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, and so on do well-researched local lists.

And then, of course, there are all the bestseller lists in the other English-speaking countries of the world.

But the people who don't say what list they're bestsellers on generally don't because the prestige of the list is underwhelming. Being a bestseller for one day in one sub-sub-sub-category on Amazon.com isn't a big whoop-de-doo.

MysteryRiter
12-26-2011, 06:51 AM
Yeah, well, the people I'm referring to don't say what kind of bestseller they are but when you look them up, you see their book ranked #99 in horror<paranormal or whatever and you're like. Umm, ok, so you're a bestseller now? :)

I know there are a lot of those lists. That's why I added the "etc." but thanks for letting me know of a few more and thanks for the input.

IceCreamEmpress
12-26-2011, 06:59 AM
Whoops, sorry, I missed your "etc." because I was reading on my iPad. :shame:

Susan Littlefield
12-26-2011, 10:19 AM
Generally, best selling books are the ones everybody is talking about and reading and on bestseller lists. However, I'm sure self-published books can be best sellers in whatever chosen venue they are published (i.e. Smashwords, IUniverse, etc.).

Polenth
12-26-2011, 11:13 AM
I think being bestselling in a major category on Amazon could be worth a mention. If someone is #1 of the romance section, that's pretty hard to do. But usually, they were top of the romances-about-people-dressed-as-bees-who-like-to-knit category for a day. Then one of the other three books in that category overtook them. And that's why they don't want to mention the details when they say bestselling.

Another not-really-bestseller I've come across is they're the bestseller for their shady vanity publisher, who everyone warned them about, but they signed with them anyway because it was going to be different for them. They know everyone was wrong, because they sold a whole 50 copies which is double what anyone else has sold through the publisher.

This is why I assume anyone who doesn't give the details isn't a bestseller. Though I have to say, even if someone is, I don't take someone referring to themselves as "bestselling author Bob Smith" very seriously. It's the sort of detail to put in the waffle on a website, not in the name field of all your profiles.

Silver-Midnight
12-26-2011, 11:21 AM
So, it's more so a promotional thing than anything? As in "I'm bestselling, you should buy my books", right?

James D. Macdonald
12-26-2011, 11:35 AM
The Amazon sales ranks are mostly meaningless, and easily manipulated by folks who want to expend the energy to do so.

When I feel like it, I call myself a bestselling author. (Several Locus best-sellers.) Yeah, it's mostly promotional.

MDSchafer
12-26-2011, 06:20 PM
This is probably just the jaded reporter in me but whenever someone uses a superlative like "Best selling" to describe themselves its a bit of a roll eye moment for me. Like technically I'm an "Award winning investigative journalist," and an "Award winning writer," but I think when you start to refer to yourself in that way you lose credibility. If you can, you should let the work stand for itself. If the work can't stand for itself, then by all means, claim as many superlatives as you'd like in order to puff up the sales of a book that probably shouldn't be selling that much anyway.

Norman D Gutter
12-26-2011, 06:25 PM
When I began seeking publication, when I attended one of my first conferences, they explained that for a book to be called a "bestseller" it didn't have to be on a bestseller list; it just had to sell a certain number of copies. For a novel, the number was 5,000. For non-fiction, the number was 7,500. Don't ask me who established these protocols. I assume it's some kind of unofficial industry consensus.

If this is true, once a novel sells 5,000 copies, the author may claim it as a bestseller even though it's never been on any bestseller list. Then, of course, once an author had had one book hit that number, they can say they are a "best selling author."

Has anyone else heard this?

NDG

Terie
12-26-2011, 06:30 PM
When I began seeking publication, when I attended one of my first conferences, they explained that for a book to be called a "bestseller" it didn't have to be on a bestseller list; it just had to sell a certain number of copies. For a novel, the number was 5,000. For non-fiction, the number was 7,500. Don't ask me who established these protocols. I assume it's some kind of unofficial industry consensus.

No. 5,000 is NOT a bestseller by any meaningful definition of the word 'bestseller'. That's actually a fairly low number. As is 7,500.

Elaine Margarett
12-26-2011, 07:00 PM
I think that if people don't say on what publication or organization's list they are a bestseller, they are just blowing smoke and should be ignored...


...But the people who don't say what list they're bestsellers on generally don't because the prestige of the list is underwhelming. Being a bestseller for one day in one sub-sub-sub-category on Amazon.com isn't a big whoop-de-doo.

I guess proclaiming oneself a bestselling author has joined the ranks of those saying they are a published author. There's a whole range of (ahem) meaning within that scale.

MysteryRiter
12-26-2011, 07:17 PM
If this is true, once a novel sells 5,000 copies, the author may claim it as a bestseller even though it's never been on any bestseller list. Then, of course, once an author had had one book hit that number, they can say they are a "best selling author."

Has anyone else heard this?

NDg

I haven't heard this and it also doesn't seem right to me. I know Locke's feat is extremely rare but if he's out there selling a million copies in just a few months and calling himself a bestselling author, it doesn't make sense for someone with only 5,000 copies sold to call him or herself a bestseller. As said above, that seems like a fairly low number.

Thanks everyone for the input. :) I could also start a thread about the definition of being a published author because that's another thing I'm seeing: people with self-published books (or even vanity published books) claiming to be "published authors" when I only consider authors "published" if they have novels out with commercial presses. I guess these terms don't have real definitions and if they do, they seem to be often stretched. :)

Sue_L
12-26-2011, 07:22 PM
I've noticed this a lot too, especially on Twitter. I swear half the authors on there claim to be bestsellers, and some of them are hard to look up. I respect the kindle top 100 and consider that a valid list, but there are so many categories for stories on kindle that I've seen kindle books ranked in the 50,000's as bestsellers in a certain category. I've also seen books listed in categories that they shouldn't even be listed in (but now that I type this I can't recall a specific example).

Phaeal
12-26-2011, 07:27 PM
I'm a best-smelling author. It's all the flowers they throw at me. :thankyou:

James D. Macdonald
12-26-2011, 08:06 PM
For a novel, the number was 5,000. For non-fiction, the number was 7,500. Don't ask me who established these protocols. I assume it's some kind of unofficial industry consensus.

No, it isn't.

Almost any commercially published book exceeds those numbers, usually by a lot.

Jamesaritchie
12-26-2011, 08:38 PM
If I want a bestselling writer, I go to the NYT section of the bookstore.

Otherwise, I read a book because it looks interesting, or because trusted friends tell me it's a must read.

Though I will say I'm extremely likely to ignore a book purely because a writer calls it a bestseller when I know it isn't one by any real standard.

IceCreamEmpress
12-26-2011, 09:51 PM
When I began seeking publication, when I attended one of my first conferences, they explained that for a book to be called a "bestseller" it didn't have to be on a bestseller list; it just had to sell a certain number of copies. For a novel, the number was 5,000. For non-fiction, the number was 7,500. Don't ask me who established these protocols. I assume it's some kind of unofficial industry consensus.

No, it really isn't. Whoever said that at the conference was just blowing smoke.

AlwaysJuly
12-26-2011, 10:23 PM
The "best-selling" claim without any info on where it was bestselling, which list, sounds so meaningless to me. It reminds me of when I looked at an internet dating site and this one guy said "WORLD CHAMPION, NUMBER ONE RATED" on his profile, but didn't say world champion of what. Ok, dude, you just sound like a tool, and you're not fooling anyone.

Silver-Midnight
12-26-2011, 11:03 PM
I haven't heard this and it also doesn't seem right to me. I know Locke's feat is extremely rare but if he's out there selling a million copies in just a few months and calling himself a bestselling author, it doesn't make sense for someone with only 5,000 copies sold to call him or herself a bestseller. As said above, that seems like a fairly low number.

Thanks everyone for the input. :) I could also start a thread about the definition of being a published author because that's another thing I'm seeing: people with self-published books (or even vanity published books) claiming to be "published authors" when I only consider authors "published" if they have novels out with commercial presses. I guess these terms don't have real definitions and if they do, they seem to be often stretched. :)

What does "vanity-published books" means?

And the 5,000 copies thing doesn't sound right. That number is fairly low, if you ask me.

Terie
12-26-2011, 11:11 PM
What does "vanity-published books" means?

Vanity-published means someone paid a vanity press (such as AuthorHouse or Tate) to publish the work for them.

It differs from self-publishing in that with self-publishing, the author does (or hires) all the work him- or herself, and therefore receives all profit, not just a share of it.

juniper
12-27-2011, 04:04 AM
Add "award winning" to the list of claims made by oh-so many ... awards by bloggers, writers groups, hastily-assembled groups of unknowns ... meaningless ...

Nexus
12-27-2011, 04:24 AM
I'm a best selling author. I sold myself a pitch for a nifty novel that I wrote. It was tough to convince myself to write it, and even tougher to actually do it - but its done!

I have several super human powers. They are "the power of semantics" and "the power of mental gymnastics".

With my powers combined, I am "Best-selling Author Man"!!!

BenPanced
12-27-2011, 04:29 AM
When I went to RT Booklovers' Convention this past April, I noticed that all of the authors there using "bestselling author" had a qualifier attached. Usually it was something like USA Today or New York Times, but I really don't think I saw "bestselling author" by itself.

mscelina
12-27-2011, 04:38 AM
We have one legitimate bestselling author at Musa--Sharon De Vita, who is a USA Today Bestselling author and a RT Lifetime Achievement award winner. We have plenty of authors that have been #1 bestsellers on a third party site--heck, my first fantasy novel unseated Gaiman's Stardust from # 1 on Fictionwise the week the movie came out--but we don't claim those authors as "best sellers." Although it would be nice to have "# 1 bestseller in X genre on ARE" I don't allow any author to claim "bestseller" status when their book is REALLY "#68 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Fiction > Genre Fiction > Gay & Lesbian."

scarletpeaches
12-27-2011, 05:15 AM
Add "award winning" to the list of claims made by oh-so many ... awards by bloggers, writers groups, hastily-assembled groups of unknowns ... meaningless ...Exactly what I was about to say. There are countless authors who prefix their names with "Award-winning author..."

After investigation, you find out it's an 'award' from some no-mark blog written by someone in the back of beyond.

Yes, it's good someone out there likes your book but a blogger award that's little more than a mate backslapping you is hardly the Booker, is it?

Ken
12-28-2011, 03:26 PM
... any writer who misleads readers or falsely advertises should be flogged with a stick.

Axler
12-28-2011, 04:08 PM
Harlequin referred to my Outlanders series as "best-selling" several times over the years...I was never sure of their criteria, but I occasionally call myself "the best-selling author of" for promotional purposes.

I figure if somebody has a problem with it, they can challenge Harlequin.

elindsen
12-28-2011, 05:34 PM
To add the the award winning author debate...the bane of my existence is the readers favorite award winners. They run around saying award winner yet they paid $85 for that gold sticker.

Silver-Midnight
12-29-2011, 12:22 AM
I've seen that on a few publisher sites, like "Reader's Favorite". Now that I really think about I think I can count more times I've seen "Best Selling Author" than I can remember the actual author's name. I honestly consider it a marketing plot more than anything, no offense to anyone who uses it. Kind of like "A lot of people bought this, and you should too." type of thinking. Saying "Best Selling" is kind of like putting a "(Enter name of Book Club here)'s Favorite Novel/Novel of the Month/Week" in my opinion. Besides I think "Best Selling" is one of those it's good and it's bad type of things. I mean if you really think about it Stephenie Meyer is Best Selling Author because of her books. "Best Selling" doesn't guarantee it's a good book, just that a lot of people bought it supposedly.

And as someone said, unless it's USA Today, New York Times, Huffington Post, or so on, you really don't see where it says these writers are best selling, just that they're "Best Selling".

Richard White
12-29-2011, 01:42 AM
While I never made the NYT or USA Today BSL, I can lay claim to being the best selling media tie-in writer for my publisher for 2004. *grin*

I found that out when my former editor-in-chief wrote a recommendation for me for college and included that information. I was pleased (and aggravated that the publisher declined to go back for a second printing, even though we had more than enough orders to justify it.)

WriteMinded
12-29-2011, 02:11 AM
I am the best-selling author in my house.

The Lonely One
12-29-2011, 02:51 AM
I don't really give a flop if an author is a bestseller, so they aren't gaining any credibility with me.

skylark
12-30-2011, 02:18 AM
I recently found out that an online friend has sold over 35,000 copies of her self-published ebooks.

I thought that sounded like a heck of a lot.

If she describes herself as a bestselling author, she's never done so anywhere I've seen it.

IceCreamEmpress
12-30-2011, 02:37 AM
I recently found out that an online friend has sold over 35,000 copies of her self-published ebooks.


Go, your friend! That's a fabulous result. And like most actually successful people, she doesn't feel the need for fake laurels, as you point out.

Chekurtab
12-30-2011, 04:14 AM
Twitter - another medium for shameless self-promotion and marketing gimmicks. Everybody is a best selling author in their mind. Or even a legend. Too bad some don't even have a book...

Silver-Midnight
12-30-2011, 05:47 AM
Too bad some don't even have a book...

It took me a few minutes to realize that you were being funny. I was just about to ask why someone would think they were best selling and not have a book.