Fake It Til You Make It… My Best Selling Blog Post (sort of)
We get asked about the integrity of Social Media and influencers on a daily basis and why we select certain of them for amplification of activation or experiential content.
The “Number 1 Best-Seller” scam is a perfect example of why everything on the web needs to be clarified, and questioned.
A few South African “celebs” and “influencers” tried to boost their ego and social cred and in the process exposed just how easy it is to pretend to be something you really aren’t.
Here’s how it works.
A little known fact on Amazon is that you can pretty much publish ANYTHING. As long as it is shoved in a little know sub-sub-sub category and timed to perfection it will reach number one of that category.
How? The category listings are updated HOURLY, so as long as you sold more copies in that hour than anything else in that sub-category, you achieve number 1 status!
Ladies and gents – we have a hit on our hands! Just not really! I mean, it doesn’t need to have actually SOLD anything…
A while back a “Best Seller” hit the selves entitled “Business Mavericks” … please don’t panic for missing it in the shelves of your nearest Exclusive Books, it was never there. It never appeared in print prior to achieving said status. It never sold a copy either, but thats a different story.
Why bother with such complex levels of deception, Simple. Bankability and (ironically) credibility.
One of the South African “authors” in this trivial tome goes by the name of Alex Granger and bills himself as a “Global Public Speaker”. Tagging “Best-Selling Author” to the end if his bio could easily add a few zero’s onto the end of his annual appearance fees. You get the picture.
To better understand how the system is easily manipulated, read Brent Underwood’s blog on how he shot to “Number 1 Best Seller status” by submitting
to Amazon a book that contained nothing but a photo of his foot. That’s it.
Oh, he bought 3 copies himself. Yes. 3
So we have to accept that the desire to claim “Best-Seller” status is in such demand that people will pay around R60,000 as this particular book was marketed to the influencers by “Laughter and Happiness Professor” Shareen Richter (previous publishing experience unknown).
What gets me the most though is the manner in which the participants of this particular South African book are all feigning shock, surprise, humility at the sudden and populous sales surge?
Still think it’s a little far-fetched? Consider that the books arrived in print for the “launch” on 20 July 2016 (according to the authors own timelines). The Number 1 Best-Seller status was already em
blazoned boldy on the cover. A quick check on Amazon however shows the book was only launched in the store on the 12th July 2016. That’s a pr
etty impressive print turn-around of less than 8 days, unless the artwork was prepared and printed before the book had even been published on Amazon? But that wouldn’t be right, would it? Surely not?
For record keeping at the time of publishing, less than 3 weeks after the book was published, it is already down to #58 place in the random category, #197 in the ironic category of “Business Ethics”, and an impressive #377,979 overall-rank. Gues
s that wouldn’t be anywhere near as impressive on a Facebook banner ad?
Others like Pam Green, apparently a Social Entrepreneur and thought leader, in June was begging on the street corner for funds to keep her NPO afloat yet appa
rently dropped around R60,000 to secure her slot as a number one best-selling author?
It’s heart-warming to see charitable causes becoming so profitable, so quickly.
My final thoughts
on the matter, are really quite simple.
In a world increasingly dominated by social media churn where brands realise the need to align with influencers more than ever before, the opportunities to be real and relevant are more pertinent that ever.
This is neither.
We don’t trust those that buy Facebook, Twitter or Instagram followers, and this is the publishing equivalent of exactly that.
A Best-Seller no one read, or bought.
Whatever your area of expertise and however you justify your reasons to build an entirely self-promoted campaign as a self-proclaimed best-selling thought-leader around non-existent book sales does not make you influential or impressive in my book…and thats not even a number 1 best-seller, yet!