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Gaming The System - A Shocking Story

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Mark Dawson was caught red-handed:

 

Author loses spot in Top 10 after buying 400 copies of his own book

 

I've heard many instances of large traditional publishers doing this to get their books into the NYT best-seller lists, but Mark Dawson? Just an awful lapse of ethics.

 

What bothers me even more is how this is being discussed by fellow indie (self-published) authors on another forum. Many pages of comments, half of which wonder why it's such a big deal. 

 

 

 

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Oh, dear! I could see maybe buying 100 to give away but that? Oh, wow! So sorry to learn this. :(

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27 minutes ago, carolinamtne said:

That cost him a penny or too, even at $0.99 apiece, and I doubt he was selling/buying them for that.

 

They were print books, so yes, at retail prices it was quite an outlay. Several thousand dollars, no doubt. 

 

Keep in mind that bigger authors (like Mark) routinely purchase many copies for various marketing events. But these are purchased at cost, and are specifically not counted as sales. So Mark found a way to circumvent this to make these purchases count as actual sales.

 

 

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Well, it's going to cost him in more ways than one. Even if he actually intended to distribute the copies he purchased.

 

How many books do you need for a signing anyway? I would seriously question 400.

 

That said, if (big IF) he's telling the truth (which I personally doubt) and that was his intention, it should have been done through the publisher. That would show distribution (shipping) to those he claimed they were for and payment collection. Unless he was giving them away and then they shouldn't count anyway. 

 

Still, I have serious doubts as to the value of taking that kind of action for any reason. 

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The author of a YA book called A Handbook for Mortals used a similar strategy and made it to the NYT #1 bestseller spot for 24 hours before the NYT caught on and took the book off the list. I understand that the NYT list is curated to some degree and not fully based on sales, but however anyone feels about that, it's never okay to game the system. 

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According to the author, it he was intent on gaming the system, he would have bought 10,000 and achieved #1 status.

 

To me, that sounds like trying to levitate, by pulling on your shoes.

 

I guess those lists are a pretty big deal, huh?

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46 minutes ago, Jeff Potts said:

According to the author, it he was intent on gaming the system, he would have bought 10,000 and achieved #1 status.

 

Apparently, he was just outside of the top 10, and had carefully calculated that only 400 sales would give him sufficient boost to get inside of 10. From there, the increased exposure is it's own sales/marketing multiplier. If he wasn't busted and withdrawn from the top 10, he would've likely climbed higher and higher on actual sales. 

 

From a pragmatic standpoint, it was a clever strategy. 400 to hit #8 was probably harder to notice than 10,000 to hit #1. It also minimized his outlay, and his investment would've have paid for itself many times over.

 

From an ethical standpoint it was awful, especially coming from someone who is big in selling book marketing strategy books/seminars.  

 

  

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