The Best Seller List

Ok, we all dream of being a ‘best seller’ whatever that means. But, when you look at the bestseller list, does anyone else feel like the list is kind of rigged? It’s been proven that this is not just a crazy and insane thought of us little writers, its a real thing. Large publishers and brick and mortar bookstores have an invested interest in holding ‘best sellers’ because let’s face it, you will go out of your way for a book you love, and they know that. The process of rigging is noted in an article: The Agony & the Ecstasy of the Best-Seller List by S. Bonjack“Who would have guessed an industry exists simply to rig best-seller lists? There’s a name for this: it’s called “leapfrogging.” Leapfrogging is a highly strategized process of coordinating the right amount of sales within the first week of a book’s release, and making it look like individuals are doing the purchasing.” This effectively artificially inflates the rank of a book and places it higher than other books. This process is a bribe. The issue with this is that books that are more classified as ‘indies’ have a huge mountain to climb to even seem relevant.

Sales are important, but financial success does not mean something is ‘good’, we know this from the box office numbers that appear with new releases. These numbers are somewhat inflated to make movies seem to be a ‘must’ for us to go out and shell out the $9-$25 dollars to go see it. But, sometimes these movies are a huge and massive letdown. Maybe I am a curmudgeon but certain films just seem to fall grossly flat and disappointing to me. I don’t like ‘artist’ films and so I get annoyed with films that don’t have a solid story and don’t offer an actual ending. This might bring ire upon me, but I was kind of disappointed with the new Joker. The film is good, but there are so many holes in it, and I felt a lot of fodder was thrown in for no reason, it didn’t help the plot and it didn’t explain anything. Mostly, the thought of what is ‘good’ is sometimes not good, but someone’s opinion of it being good. It doesn’t mean we all have to agree with that review.

The same applies to books, people might read a book and wonder…why is this not on a bestseller list, and others read best sellers and wonder how they got there, my point is our view of anything is subjective to the person, so why are awards so sought after? Because we give them power that they don’t likely deserve. This does NOT mean that all awards are irrelevant or fake, some are real, deserved awards. The Hugo award, for example, seems to be very neutral in its picks and is very true and honest to some degree. Hugo is fan-based and accepts works that are voted in (hint hint) so if you wanted to help a little indie like us, your voice would be key in this regard.

Take with a grain of salt awards that seem to be ‘bought’ and perhaps deviate from bestsellers to the bins at your local stores filled with authors who may not be known to you, this helps smaller authors get out there and known. I think it’s unfair that you can buy your way into these awards, but the industry has never been ‘fair’ when it comes to trying to make a book relevant. Even Amazon’s bestseller list can be faked. It simply takes a few sales and bams your a ‘best seller’, as noted in an article: Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a ‘Best-Selling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes by B. Underwood; “Because of the high bar, the term “bestselling author” was a term with some meaning. It was seen as something that was earned through a lot of hard work. But today, that designation has changed—for the worse. It’s like when you see a food described as “natural.” The FDA doesn’t regulate that term, so it’s meaningless.” 

Reading awards, lists, reviews and such seems to be like wading through what is real and fake, which is impossible for most people to do. It’s difficult to know how to avoid feeling like all this is a giant conspiracy, but it’s not, it’s just the true work of large scale publishers that want to maintain a stranglehold on what we think. So, ignore the lists, read a book that’s under-discussed, under reviewed and maybe not even rated, and find yourself perhaps, with a book that has more worth to you than what some unknown circle of those who can buy into a list say.

References/Links:

  1. https://litreactor.com/columns/the-agony-the-ecstasy-of-the-best-seller-list
  2. https://selfpublishingadvice.org/author-awards-contests-rated-reviewed/ [Find out what Awards are legit]
  3. https://thehill.com/opinion/white-house/474662-the-myth-of-the-conservative-bestseller [An expose on the fake NY Times Best Seller List]
  4. http://www.thehugoawards.org/information-for-publishers/ [Hugo Awards]
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President of TLS, writer, mother, and wife. I love all things art all my life. When I am not busy writing or publishing, I really enjoy baking and cooking. My hobbies include gaming, crafting, and painting.

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