Erotica and buying your way onto a Best-Seller list

BBHeron76-1 copyIf anybody is actually reading this, and not just clicking on it because you’ve been told that pretending to follow blogs will help build “your platform”, be forewarned – it’s yet another rant (and no, I won’t read your blog).

The author members of my publisher’s Yahoo group were recently all indignant about a story in The Wall Street Journal by Jeffrey A. Trachtenberg, entitled The Mystery of the Book Sales Spike, with the subhead; How Are Some Authors Landing On Best-Sellers Lists? They’re Buying Their Way.

The story details how for clients willing to pay enough, there’s a San Diego-based marketing consultancy that will guarantee a spot on The Wall Street Journal’s best-seller list. It does this by taking bulk sales and breaking them up into more organic-looking individual purchases, defeating safeguards that are supposed to make it impossible to “buy” bestseller status.

Soren Kaplan, a business consultant and speaker, hired ResultSource to promote his book “Leapfrogging.”  Here’s how Kaplan breaks out the economics of making the list.

With a $27.95 list price, I was told that the cost of each book would total about $23.50 after various retail discounts and including $3.99 for tax, handling and shipping.  To ensure a spot on The Wall Street Journal’s bestseller list, I needed to obtain commitments from my clients for a minimum of 3000 books at about $23.50, a total of about $70,500.  I would need to multiply these numbers by a factor of about three to hit The New York Times list.

So it would’ve cost more than $211,000 to get on the New York Times bestselling list and that’s before ResultSource’s fee, which is typically more than $20,000. Kaplan reached that pre-sale figure of 3,000 by securing commitments from corporate clients, who agreed to buy copies as part of his speaking fees – he discounted his fees to include the book price, and by buying copies for himself to resell at public appearances.

After the first week on the best-sellers list, sales of Kaplan’s book dropped 99% to less than one hundred a week. Other authors have employed the same methods only to have their books drop off the radar in the second week with more returns than sales.

In actual fact, this article referred to business books and not fiction, which would need bigger numbers to top the best-seller lists.

The response from the author’s group was one of moral indignation as if their books were superior but they would never stoop to such methods even if they had two hundred grand and three thousand friends to send their books to.

Of course, the bogus review swaps and all other manner of manipulating postings on Amazon and Goodreads that they participate in are totally beyond reproach.

But really, are they serious? Most books on my publisher’s site and any e-publishing site for that matter are erotica (porn with a plot but not much of one) for every sexual persuasion and ones you might not even be aware of. Then there’s a category that includes demons, dragons, elves, and fairy tales for adults; and, of course lots of werewolves, vampires, shapeshifters and so on.  Many don’t exceed one hundred pages and can hardly be called books.

Can’t imagine many best-sellers amongst these but what the hell, go ahead and mortgage the family home and take a shot at it.


If you’re writing for fame and fortune you’re likely going to be bitter, frustrated, disappointed and broke. Hmm… sounds like me.

Instead, write for the experience of writing. For the adventure your story takes you on as well as all those unexpected, and yes, enlightening things your characters tell you.

Write for the satisfaction of a finely crafted scene, the thrill of le mots justes – finding exactly the right word or phrase, the sense of purpose that comes from creating something that never was before.

Write for self-discovery, to make sense of the world.

Write to make the world a better place.

Find your voice, be authentic, make writing your ‘one true thing’. Don’t sully it with gimmicks, social media chicanery or other frauds to gain those few moments of tarnished fame.

As Emerson said; ‘A little integrity is better than any career.’

If you’re lucky enough to make some money and gain some notoriety, well, that’s not a bad thing.


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Visit my publisher’s website (Yes, it’s the same one with erotica on it!)  for excerpts from, and buy links to, my three novels, Spirit Bear, Eagleridge Bluffs, and Not Wonder More – Mad Maggie and the Mystery of the Ancients.



Read my current work(s) in progress at


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