“Behind the Scam: What Does It Take to Be a ‘Best-Selling Author’? $3 and 5 Minutes.”

“Last week, I put up a fake book on Amazon. I took a photo of my foot, uploaded to Amazon, and in a matter of hours, had achieved “№1 Best Seller” status, complete with the orange banner and everything…
The title of my fake book was “Putting My Foot Down” for a reason: I’ve become utterly exhausted with phony “authors” and the scam artists and charlatans who conspire with these folks–the cottage industry that has built up around them, selling courses, instructions and hacks…
If you’re in the Top 100 in your Amazon category, you will see a “bestseller ranking” below the title. A book at the #1 spot in any given category will get a “#1 Best Seller” banner featured next to the title. This lets potential customers know the book is the top-selling item in that category. If a book holds the top spot in a category for months, that’s saying something. Hitting it for an hour (which is how often Amazon refreshes its rankings), screen-shotting it, and calling yourself a “bestselling author” for life? Well…”

Interesting. It’s another curating problem in our “new media” world, where anyone can self-publish their media in a myriad of ways and the biases of the old gate-keepers are not silencing/erasing in the same way (good) but, as consumers, we are inundated with media and information from individuals and systems that don’t necessarily feel any responsibility or carry any accountability (bad).

I feel like this is like any time in our history when certain powers have transitioned from institutional to individual: as individuals, we also have to take a share of the responsibility and skill involved in engaging with that power. And then when it’s clear that this is a burden on individuals with negative outcomes, we will (hopefully) build some grassroots institutions to consolidate some of that power and responsibility. Like, in this case, maybe some group will pop up to do better analytics on Amazon and establish a list mechanism that has greater authority while maintaining transparency and flexibility.

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Jess Brooks’s story.