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Guest Post by Robert Swartwood
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  • May 28, 2013
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Joe sez: Robert Swartwood wrote this for me at my request a few weeks ago, and time got away from me (finishing Haunted House and Hit.)
Here’s Rob:
The term “bestselling author” is bandied around a lot these days. I’ve seen a large portion of writers online call themselves bestselling authors. Many of them are self-published. Their books have been ranked on an Amazon Top 100 genre bestseller list, or on a sub genre bestseller list, or even a sub sub genre bestseller list. I’ve seen writers joyously announce that their latest book is #X on Amazon, which sounds great, but most times it turns out that that particular book is really ranked #X on a genre bestseller list, and some genre bestseller lists are slower than others. It’s possible to have an Amazon ranking of over 100,000 and still be ranked on a sub genre list.
I’ve even seen several writers proclaim themselves #1 Amazon Bestselling Authors, which, quite honestly, is very disingenuous. Sure, it looks nice on the cover of your book, but is it true? Maybe #1 of a genre list, or a sub genre list, but #1 in the entire Amazon store? Hardly. If that were the case, it’s a very good chance the book would also have been a New York Times bestseller, and if that’s the case, it would make more sense to call yourself a New York Times Bestselling Author, no?
But these are all things we struggle with as writers, no matter if we’re traditionally published or self-published. We have to take whatever we can get. We have to make ourselves — well, our books — as appealing as possible to potential readers. Because, let’s face it, there are a lot of books out there — a lot — and we need to do whatever it takes to set our books apart from all the rest.
About a year and a half ago Joe let me ramble on his blog for a bit about why I decided to self-publish. I was doing pretty well then, and I’m doing even better now. But this being publishing, sales are always up and down. My bestselling book last year is far from being my bestselling book this year. Speaking of bestselling, my supernatural thriller The Calling was in the Kindle Top 100 for horror in both the US and UK for several months. It was, by that definition, a bestseller — hell, an international bestseller — and yet I just couldn’t bring myself to add “bestselling author” to my bio.

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