My favorite newspaper, The Wall Street Journal, ran a fascinating article recently on how some authors are buying their way to best-seller lists. “Getting to the Top“* by Jeffrey Trachtenberg details how several business book authors contracted with ResultSource to get their books on best-seller lists published by the Journal and The New York Times.
The authors give ResultSource money to buy thousands of books in a very short period of time from retailers that include Amazon.com. The sudden artificially-created volume can land the book on a best-seller list for a week, after which sales typically fall off because there isn’t any real, organic demand for the book.
“My book is a best-seller! Pay me more!”
But the author can say he or she was on a best-seller list. This can supposedly generate income from higher speaking and consulting fees.
Or, as ResultSource explains it on its website, “. . . having a Bestseller (sic) initiates incredible growth—exponentially increasing the demand for your thought leadership, skyrocketing your speaking itinerary and value, giving you a national (even global) spotlight, and solidifying your author brand as the foremost leader in your niche.”
But where is the proof? There’s none in the article and I can’t find it on the ResultSource website. Common sense and experience suggest that higher speaking or consulting fees are likely to be generated by big buzz in general rather than by a one-week guest appearance on a best-seller list. (Not surprisingly, the company also provides speaker marketing services.)
Would you do this?
Still, I can see the appeal, especially for those who write business books and rely on speaking and consulting income. Would I do it myself? Nope. I’d get no satisfaction from telling my mother that I spent my way to a best-seller. Should you? Would you? Only you know the answers.
I was on the receiving end of a similar, but different, campaign for Get Rich Click. The hardcover appeared in my mailbox from Barnes & Noble with a message on the packing slip asking me to talk about it among my social networks. Not long after I received it in the mail, I attended a conference where it was a free give-away in the exhibit hall.
The book was self-published (first clue: the word “copywrite” on the copyright page), so the finances were probably different from those in the WSJ article published by traditional publishers.
Can you afford it?
The cost to work with ResultSource? Tens of thousands of dollars. You pay for the books the company buys on your behalf — and hopefully you can fund that purchase with pre-orders for the book — and you pay the company a fee for its services. One of the authors interviewed for the WSJ article spent $55,000 for books and an additional fee in the range of $20,000 to $30,000.
I think there were three interesting details in the article; each one tells us something about this approach:
- ResultSource owner Kevin Small declined to be interviewed for the article.
- Amazon has stopped doing business with ResultSource.
- Publisher John Wiley & Sons Inc. recommends the service to some of its business book authors. Wiley seems to be exploring more publishing options and models than its big publisher counterparts, so this didn’t surprise me. It offers a hint of some of the newer options that make the publisher appealing to successful entrepreneurs who don’t need an advance to write a book.
I’ve noted that I wouldn’t do this, but I’m wondering about you. If you could afford it, would you hire ResultsSource for a best-seller campaign? What’s your take on this approach?
*Special thanks to Susan Weiner for the article link.
Like what you’re reading? Get it delivered to your inbox every week by subscribing to the free Build Book Buzz newsletter. You’ll also get my free “Top 5 Free Book Promotion Resources” cheat sheet immediately!