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III. Goodreads Readers > What makes a bestseller?

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message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

My book went to #3 in my genre during a free promo. My book was listed on Amazon as a free bestseller. There seems to be some conflicting opinions among authors on whether I can claim that my novel is a bestseller or not. What are your opinions on this matter? Can I say that my novel is a bestseller even though the copies sold during my promo were free?

I'm interested in seeing how readers feel about this, not authors. So far, all of the readers I have spoken to feel that my book can be called a bestseller and most authors feel that it can't. If enough readers feel that my book can be called a bestseller, then I'll go with what readers are saying, since I believe that they're the ones that really matter.

Michael Cargill Cargill (michaelcargill) | 217 comments It's a bit of a semantic argument really.

Chances are that many of the people downloading these free books won't ever read it.

If you start crowing from the rooftops that you wrote a bestseller, I'd imagine the mocking would come thick and fast if the 'truth' came out.

If you just keep it to bits of marketing blurb I doubt if many people will really care too much.

message 3: by C.M.J. (new)

C.M.J. Wallace | 193 comments I think the key part here is seller. If a book is free and obtains so-called best-seller status as a result, it's disingenuous to promote it with that label because it implies a popularity gained by sales, not giveaways. I believe that many people are aware of that particular ploy of Amazon's and therefore wary of any book touted that way.

message 4: by Mellie (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 541 comments A best seller is just that - a best SELLER. Free downloads don't count. Opinions vary on what the status means, some say you must be in the Top 100 PAID overall on Amazon and stay there for at least 3 days. Others say minimum of 10,000 sales over a week. Easiest guide is did you make the NYT list? :)

message 5: by Arabella (new)

Arabella Thorne (arabella_thornejunocom) | 354 comments I have to agree. The book has to sell...and sell meaning money comes in. I feel if people are willing to buy the book...not just get it free...then your book is a keeper. As some one said above most of those copies given away will never be read.I had a giveaway here on Goodreads. Over a thousand people added it to their to be read piles.
I still only have six reviews and my sales are limp.....
I want people to know what kind of writer I am so they look forward to a release...and then purchase it

message 6: by Christopher (new)

Christopher Bunn | 32 comments Even hitting one of the paid best-seller lists on Amazon for a while seems to be a shaky claim to best-seller status. Some of those lists can be hit with very few sales. Others take considerable numbers. But, even if you hit the top 20 on a list like Thriller or Historical Romance, say, for a week or two, is that good enough to convey best-seller status? I dunno.

message 7: by Mellie (new)

Mellie (mellie42) | 541 comments Some of the genre lists are so specialized you can have an overall ranking of 200,000, sell 1 book a month and still be in the Top 100. That is why you need to be in the Top 100 OVERALL to claim any sort of best seller status.

message 8: by Laurel (new)

Laurel Rockefeller (laurelarockefeller) | 144 comments When I see the label "best seller" my gut response is "hype" and then to be sure to AVOID whatever it is. The reason: if your book actually IS a true BEST SELLER you won't have to tell me that -- I will know already because its existence and presumed positive qualities will reach me without the artificial hype.

People are saavy. they know when someone is advertising to them and they can spot exaggeration.

So I let the quality of my work speak for itself -- and never use pepping buzz words.

message 9: by [deleted user] (new)

I think a bestseller book is a book which sells well on the paid store, is well acclaimed, and extremely successful... ;) Just a personal thought about! :)

message 10: by T.C. (new)

T.C. Filburn (tcfilburn) | 98 comments Laurel wrote: "When I see the label "best seller" my gut response is "hype" ..."
I agree. There are so many people making claims about being a 'best selling' author now that I suspect the term has lost most of its usefulness as a marketing tool anyway. You can't verify the claims, and at least some of them are likely to be fairly dubious (and I would put 'gave lots away on Amazon and got on their list once because of it' in that 'fairly dubious' category), so it's a term that I would always completely ignore as a reader/buyer (just as I would ignore terms like 'international smash hit' or 'critically acclaimed').

The only time I might take notice is if it specified something like being listed at no.1 in one of the New York Times best seller categories. Anything else could be from a free giveaway, or from an individual bookshop that had an offer on that week, or whatever.

message 11: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments Well I'm guessing very few people here on Goodreads are best selling authors so I'm pretty sure I speak on behalf of most of us when I say If my book was selling and I was a best seller I'd have an answer.

message 12: by Feliks (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) Yeah I've encountered these padded claims by over-eager authors. They're hurting themselves and others more than they realize. Doesn't anyone remember how used-car salesmen got their bad reputation?

message 13: by Heather (new)

Heather (clockwork_wings) | 67 comments I tend to describe mine as "Broken top 'whatever' under 'genre' in 'free.'" I'm always pleased with the accomplishment, but I recognize it will only be that high during the duration of the sale. I hope one day to climb as high in paid.

Were I to one day do so, I would only describe it as a best-seller while it was still on the best-seller list, and in past tense once that ran its course.

message 14: by Justin (new)

Justin (justinbienvenue) | 2165 comments Ha! Well maybe used car salesmen is a bad comparison since most car salesmen tend to come off as grimey and push crappy cars to unbeknown people. Although there are authors who will try to preach their book as a best seller when it's merely a drop in the water..

message 15: by Feliks (last edited Nov 26, 2013 12:23PM) (new)

Feliks (dzerzhinsky) My Bible, (the Feliks Bible) is the #1 bestseller in its genre this week on Amazon! #1 on Amazon, d'ye hear?! When it comes to revisionist Biblical tracts, I rule! You don't have to get this amazing bestseller from me off the corner of W 23rd st & 6th anymore!


message 16: by Gregor (new)

Gregor Xane (gregorxane) | 274 comments Feliks wrote: "My Bible, (the Feliks Bible) is the #1 bestseller in its genre this week on Amazon! #1 on Amazon, d'ye hear?! When it comes to revisionist Biblical tracts, I rule! You don't have to get this amazin..."

I wish that book existed, Feliks.

message 17: by T.C. (new)

T.C. Filburn (tcfilburn) | 98 comments The whole 'best-selling author' thing brings to mind the chorus of a song by a local rock band I know:

"I'm a rock star,
I'm a rock star,
I'm a rock star,
in my tiny little mind!"

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