Example of Bestseller List

Can Authors Buy Their Way onto Bestseller Lists?

Can authors buy their way onto bestseller lists? Apparently, the answer is still yes.

Newspaper shot of articleAccording to a recent article in The Guardian, Author loses spot in Top 10 after buying 400 copies of his own book, author Mark Dawson admitted to purchasing 400 copies of his book to get a higher position on the Sunday Times bestseller chart.

After his admission, book sales monitor Nielsen BookScan revised their figures and booted Dawson from the list.

I guess we shouldn’t be surprised. This method of gaming the system isn’t new, The Wall Street Journal and Forbes wrote about the controversial practice back in 2013, but I thought new, improved policies had put an end to it.

More than a million books are published each year, and very few become best sellers. The reason writers strive for the coveted status is because it dramatically increases their credibility and establishes them as thought leaders. In addition to the prestige, becoming a “best-selling author” allows them to charge a lot more for speaking fees and consulting contracts.

BESTSELLER CAMPAIGNS

Thus, the “bestseller campaign” was born. Initiated by marketing firms, these campaigns enabled people with enough money and contacts to buy their way onto bestseller lists. The campaigns required authors to make bulk pre-sale purchases of their own books. Those sales were then counted on the publication dates and the titles were propelled onto the bestseller lists.

Authors would line up these sales by getting their corporate clients to purchase copies in lieu of their speaking fees, or by buying copies themselves to resell at public appearances.

After the Nielsen BookScan, New York Times, and Wall Street Journal list makers caught on, they implemented new rules and stopped counting bulk sales. So, the crafty “bestseller campaign” marketers learned how to break those orders down into small increments to make them look like organic retail sales. Although apparently The New York Times still counts them but puts a dagger symbol next to the title to denote bulk purchases.

The campaigns are very expensive. An author cited in the Forbes article said he paid $70,000 for his bulk books, plus a $20,000 fee to the marketing firm.

Sample of fake book sales
Photo Credit: The Wall Street Journal

One tell-tale sign that a best-selling title isn’t really legit is that it falls right off the list the following week. The Wall Street Journal created a chart showing three examples of this, Prescription for Excellence, Networking is Dead, and Leapfrogging. In each case, the authors freely admitted to hiring a firm to help manipulate the system with bulk presales.

Soren Kaplan, author of Leapfrogging, didn’t think he was gaming the system. “An executive at Harvard Business School Publishing said ‘everyone’ was doing it, especially for non-fiction business books like mine.”

Others assured Kaplan that “‘Guruship’ came from playing the game in a way that reinforced their personal brands as thought leaders. Ponying up the dough for the bestseller campaign was a small investment that would pay off later.”

BESTSELLER LIST INTEGRITY CONTINUES TO ERODE

And last year, The New York Times reported “R.N.C. Spent Nearly $100,000 on Copies of Donald Trump Jr.’s Book.‘Triggered,’ published Nov. 5, topped the best-seller list thanks in part to a big order from the Republican National Committee.”

Book cover for foot bookSome say Amazon has destroyed any remaining legitimacy in the “best-selling author” label. Brent Underwood’s brilliant and hilarious article in Quartz lays out how he became “a best-selling author on Amazon in five minutes with three dollars.”

He writes, “I took a photo of my foot, uploaded it as a book to Amazon, and in a matter of hours had achieved ‘№1 Best Seller’ status, complete with the orange banner and everything… How many copies did I need to sell? Three. Yes, a total of three copies to become a best-selling author. And I bought two of those copies myself!”

Underwood is a partner in the marketing firm Brass Check, where they’ve helped launch 30 legitimate New York Times bestsellers. He didn’t do this exercise to make his foot famous. He did it to illustrate that you should take any person presenting themselves as a “bestselling author” with a grain of salt.

He also wanted to “illustrate that the best marketing tactic you can use for a book is to write a great book that actually sells over the long term.”

“It’s easy to be seduced by best seller lists, sales numbers, speaking fees, and all the ephemera in this industry,” he cautions. “Don’t let all of that make you lose sight of the importance of quality and authority in your work. Anyone can be a one-hit wonder; focus on crafting a book that will sell for decades.”

Too bad no one told Mark Dawson.

Are you looking for a legitimate book publicity campaign? Call today for a free consultation to discuss your PR needs.

Call 510-426-4100 or send us an email.

Client Spotlight: catstudio

I’m thrilled to be providing publicity services for one of my favorite home decor companies. Catstudio, famous for their whimsically illustrated, geography-inspired home and gift products, is celebrating its 20th anniversary in 2020, and they hired us to help spread the word.

Carmel and Terrell in PillowsFounders Carmel and Terrell Swan say their success weaves their love of world cultures, travel, and art into decorative textiles inspired by vintage souvenir pillows of the 30s and 40s.

Geography Collection

Juxtaposing local kitsch icons and historical monuments, each piece of artwork is hand-drawn and created with an insider’s perspective. They work with residents, mayors, friends, business owners, and customers, to create designs that locals can proudly display in their home, and visitors will cherish as keepsakes.

America PillowCatstudio’s colorful, uplifting geography pillows are hand-embroidered, made from organic cotton, and it takes over 40 hours to embroider just one. They have developed a cult-like following, and retailers report that fans include celebrities such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Julia Roberts, Martha Stewart, Lionel Ritchie, and Taylor Swift.

Alongside catstudio’s 20th anniversary, Glitterati Editions published Pillow Geography: Dreaming Across America, a stunning coffee table book celebrating their pillows’ status as fine art objects, not just home furnishings or decorations.

Collegiate Collection

While New York City, Texas, and California geography pillows continue to top catstudio’s bestseller list, their new Collegiate Collection is the fastest growing. Capturing the essence of each school, campus, and college community by working one-on-one with every school’s licensing department, the collection delights everyone from incoming freshman to athletic fans and far-flung alumni. Their original art embodies the spirit and uniqueness of each school – the architecture, education, sports, history, and traditions.

Plus a percentage of each purchase is donated back to each respective school – funding scholarships, student activities, or recreational programs.

Catstudio glassware

Glasses, Towels, Pouches and more…

Catstudio’s original artwork is also featured on glassware, dish towels, woven pouches, thermal bottles,  fine art prints, and more. This year, they also launched an exciting new modern astrology collection, a beach and travel towel collection made from recycled plastic bottles, collegiate collection fine art prints, and stainless steel thermal tumblers.

Globetrotting Swans

Now based in Petaluma, CA, Carmel is a native of Hawaii who grew up a globetrotter, visiting Canada, Mexico, Europe, and Asia, with frequent trips to the Continental US, by the age of 18. Settling down in Los Angeles after studying art in college, she initially pursued a career with the recording companies, Arista and CBS.

catstudio print and pillowTerrell was born in California and grew up in Texas and Mississippi before setting off on thrilling adventures around the globe. Channeling the sense of fearlessness he had― riding camels and elephants and catching old steam engine trains―into an entrepreneurial spirit, he opened Houston’s trend-setting fashion boutique Cotton Club in 1982, and in 1989, he and Carmel created Swan Magic, a women’s apparel company in Petaluma.

Catstudio is located at 1340 Industrial Avenue, Suite A in Petaluma, CA 94952, and can be found online at www.catstudio.com.

Here’s an example of the coverage our publicity services have generated during catstudio’s national PR campaign so far: Petaluma’s Catstudio makes products that evoke nostalgia and a sense of home.

Are you looking for a publicity specialist? Call today for a free consultation to discuss your publicity needs.

Call 510-426-4100 or send us an email.

Image of blood sample vials

Autistic Activist’s Publicity Campaign to Encourage COVID19 Plasma Donations

We recently had the honor of working pro bono on an autistic activist’s publicity campaign to encourage COVID19 survivors to donate their plasma.

Jesse Saperstein is a 38-year-old man with autism burdened by countless phobias including spiders, olives, and nonbiodegradable waste such as Styrofoam. But one thing he is certainly not afraid of is needles!

Jesse Saperstein donating blood
Jesse Saperstein donating blood

Jesse recently broke his quarantine during the apex of the Coronavirus to film a public service announcement at a blood drive near Albany, NY.  As soon as the needle was inserted, he began delivering a motivational speech asking society to join him in a dire, time-sensitive mission.

Jesse’s message is to encourage survivors of COVID-19 to contribute their antibody-enriched plasma. This plasma has proven to accelerate the recovery in even the most critically-ill patients.

Jesse reached out to Carney & Associates because he wanted a publicity campaign to help spread the word through the media. His ultimate goal was to launch a National Convalescent Plasma Drive from survivors willing to give back while using his poised speech as a means of assuaging the common fear of needles.

“The fear of needles keeps plenty of individuals from showing up at blood drives when the pool of plasma donors is already sparse,” explained Jesse.  “I created the public service announcement so the public could see someone engaging in public speaking while the blood products are being extracted.”

TV Coverage

We were pleased to schedule a TV interview for Jesse with Anya Tucker at ABC News10 in Albany, NY. Her beautifully produced segment ran May 11, 2020.

Guilderland man with autism asks others to donate plasma amid pandemic

Autism Advocate

Cover of Getting A Life bookA national autism advocate, Jesse is the author of two books with Penguin Group (USA), Atypical and Getting a Life with Asperger’s, and has appeared on Dr. Phil. As a result of a lifetime of bullying and rejection, it is also Jesse’s mission to help others and change the stigma of the autism spectrum.

Jesse added, “On a personal note, my much of my 38 years of life have not been pleasant even though I am fully aware that many others have been through worse obstacles.  Nothing about me is normal or has made it possible to “fit in” most places.  Being kind, considerate, and trying to make a difference has not always been enough to earn acceptance.  (Most typical youths are not entranced by blood drives and phlebotomy machines, for example.)  For the first time in a long while, there is a chance to justify this flamboyant oddness by making a difference in plasma collection endeavors.  Everybody has the ability to battle this pandemic despite their challenges and lack of certain abilities that society deems to be necessary.”

Jesse recently met with the American Red Cross to discuss possibilities of partnering on a campaign later this year.

If you’re looking for publicity services, such as interviews on TV, radio and podcasts, and articles in print and online media, please contact Kathlene Carney at Carney & Associates for a free consultation.

Call 510-426-4100 or send us an email.

WAMC radio logo

Comedian Jessica Holmes on National Radio 51%

Our fabulous client, comedian and motivational speaker Jessica Holmes was recently featured on national radio show 51% to discuss her battles with depression.

Jessica has opened for comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Leslie Nielsen, and Ellen DeGeneres, as well as hosted events for such visionaries as Deepak Chopra, Tony Robbins, and Oprah Winfrey.

Jessica Holmes

Recently Jessica has become an advocate for women’s mental health. After battling both post-partum depression and “regular, run-of-the-mill garden-variety depression” (her words), she became a Life and Career Coach, and now tours regularly on motivational speaking circuits in addition to her work as an in-demand comedian. She has performed wellness keynotes for such companies as 3M, Allergan, Carstar, Deloitte, Genworth, Atlific Hotels, and Habitat for Humanity. 

Above all, Jessica urges communities to de-stigmatize mental health, and offers a healing message for all: when we acknowledge the inherent humor of our human condition, we can begin to accept ourselves for who we truly are—jokes, junk-food and all.

About 51%: In America, women make up more than half the population. Worldwide, women are expected to outnumber men within the next fifty years – and every issue we face is one that affects us all. Whether it’s the environment, health, our children, politics or the arts, there’s a women’s perspective, and 51% is a national radio show dedicated to that viewpoint.

The program originates at WAMC Northeast Pubic Radio and airs throughout the U.S. on public and community radio stations, some ABC Radio Network stations, Armed Forces Radio stations around the world, on the internet, and as a podcast.

Are you looking for a PR firm for your business, practice, products or books? Whether you’re looking for a San Francisco publicist or a national PR campaign, please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

Call 510-426-4100 or send us an email.

Natural Practitioner Features Bauman College Faculty

Natural Practitioner magazine featured our client Bauman College several times this year. Their editors came to trust Bauman College’s faculty as valuable news sources, available to provide expert commentary for their health and nutrition articles.

Bauman College, located in Berkeley and Penngrove, CA, is at the forefront of the holistic health movement. Their renowned Nutrition Consultant and Natural Chef programs are grounded in a scientific, evidence-based approach to nutrition, and they were some of the first in the world to develop and champion ideas now widely accepted in the whole foods movement.

Natural Practitioner is an industry trade magazine specifically for natural and alternative health care professionals, therefore a key target for Bauman College’s demographic.

In the June/July 2019 issue of Natural Practitioner Madeleine Buchanan, nutrition curriculum researcher with Bauman College, was quoted extensively in an article about pain management entitled, Toppling the Reign of Pain.

In the same issue, Jodi Friedlander, curriculum researcher, writer and editor at Bauman College, was featured throughout an article entitled Righting the Ship of Weight Management. In addition to discussing the science behind weight gain, Friedlander also discussed Bauman College’s Eating for Health program.

Bauman College was featured in other issues as well. This is another example of how building strong relationships with the media benefits both the journalist and the client. Journalists know they can trust our clients for accurate, professional information on short notice with a fast turnaround, and in turn our clients receive valuable third-party endorsements which builds authority, awareness and recognition for their institution, product, book, or practice.

Are you looking for a PR firm for your business, practice, products or books? Whether you’re looking for a San Francisco publicist or a national PR campaign, please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

Call 510-426-4100 or send us an email.

 

 

The Quarterly Review of Biology Features JAWS

The September 2019 issue of The Quarterly Review of Biology features a positive review of our client’s book, Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic by orthodontist Sandra Kahn and  world-renowned evolutionist Paul Ehrlich (Stanford University Press).

The reviewer wrote, “Jaws‘ subtitle could have been ‘Just when you thought it was safe to feed your babies applesauce.’ … This thought-provoking book should be widely read by biologists and physicians who are interested in oral biology or child development. The ideas it presents are not yet accepted by the dental community but they should be.” Subscribers can read more here

JAWS: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic

Crooked teeth, undeveloped jaws, and narrow airways are a surprisingly modern phenomenon: up to 70% of children now need braces, while our ancestors did not.

Jaws is a breakthrough book about the growing epidemic of crowded teeth and the medical consequences (sleep apnea, high blood pressure, impaired cognitive abilities and more), all caused by “the most stunning environmental change in the last 66 million years.” 

Ehrlich explains, “The agricultural and the industrial revolutions transformed the entire biosphere. People settled down, moved indoors, and radically altered their diets. We moved with our hunter-gatherer genes into an entirely novel environment, and are now paying a high price for it.”

Cultural industrialization has changed how we suckle, chew and breathe as infants, which has led to a dramatic increase in crooked teeth and crowded jaws. Roughly one-third of children are now afflicted, as well as an increasing number of adults.

Symptoms include crowding, impacted wisdom teeth, and mouth breathing. What’s more alarming is that these issues are directly related to snoring and poor sleep, which in turn are linked to serious lifelong health problems including sleep apnea, ADHD, depression, cancer, and heart disease.

The book has already received dozens of endorsements from medical professionals, and the authors include approximately 400 endnotes citing the scientific literature supporting their statements.

Are you an author looking for a book publicist, an expert looking for a PR firm, or a small business in need of publicity? Whether you’re looking for a San Francisco book publicist or a national PR campaign, please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

Call 510-426-4100 or send us an email.

Inc. Features The Algorithmic Leader

Inc. Magazine recently featured The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines Are Smarter Than You by our client, futurist and global nomad Mike Walsh.

In 8 Principles to Drive Leaders in Today’s Digital Era, columnist Martin Zwilling says, “Leaders today need to understand and utilize the algorithmic compute power of artificial intelligence that supports the hyper-personalization in everything from shopping to news delivery to dating today.

“Some people call this the emergence and development of a new type of leader, called the algorithmic leader, who can steer the course through the world of big data, machine learning, and the constantly changing demands of new customers and social trends. I found some real insights on this direction in a new book, The Algorithmic Leader, by Mike Walsh.”

The greatest threat we face is not robots replacing us, but our reluctance to reinvent ourselves.” –– Mike Walsh

Instead of debating the merits of machine learning, Walsh offers core principles to help managers become algorithmic leaders. Mike spent a decade traveling 300 days a year, visiting thousands of cities and interviewing scientists, inventors, CEOs and entrepreneurs. His findings reveal the personal qualities, cognitive frameworks, and strategic approaches exhibited by a small but growing group of leaders who seem to thrive in this new environment.

The Algorithmic Leader offers direct and concrete information to leaders who want to harness the power of AI and succeed where others fail. 

MIKE WALSH is the CEO of Tomorrow, a global consultancy on designing companies for the 21st century. He advises leaders on how to thrive in the current era of disruptive technological change. Mike’s clients include many of the global Fortune 500, and as a sought-after keynote speaker he regularly shares the stage with world leaders and business icons alike. He has delivered nearly 1,000 keynote speeches around the world.

Mike is the author of the bestselling book Futuretainment, The Dictionary of Dangerous Ideas, and The Algorithmic Leader: How to Be Smart When Machines Are Smarter Than You (Audiobook January 17, 2019, Hardcover March 12, 2019).

Each week Mike interviews provocative thinkers, innovators and troublemakers on his podcast, Between Worlds.

Are you an author looking for a book publicist, an expert looking for a PR firm, or a small business in need of publicity? Whether you’re looking for a San Francisco book publicist or a national PR campaign, please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

Forbes Features Ara the Star Engineer

Many thanks to Amy Blankson for featuring Komal Singh, author of Ara the Star Engineer (Page Two Books), in her recent Forbes article about role models inspiring girls to study STEM.

“Having positive female STEM role models in mainstream media is a gift that has been decades in the making,” writes Amy.  “For women of Generation X and even part of the Millennial Generation, female role models in science were few and far between.”

With women only making up 25% of the STEM workforce, positive female role models are more important than ever. And not just for young professionals–a heartbreaking study shows that girls start doubting their STEM intelligence by age 6. Enter Komal:

Komal Singh, a program manager in engineering at Google and a mother of two . . . was shocked when her four-year-old daughter announced, “Engineers are boys!” Singh and fellow female Google engineers decided to volunteer their spare time to start changing this dynamic. They wrote Ara the Star Engineer, a first-of-its-kind picture book that features real-life engineering trailblazers from diverse backgrounds with the goal of inspiring girls and children of color to explore STEM.

The book inspires kids – especially girls and children of color – to explore STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) as it follows a 6-year old girl, Ara, on a quest to build an algorithm to solve a big problem.

During her adventure, Ara is helped by a diverse set of real-life women engineering leaders of color — a Tenacious Troubleshooter, Code Commander, Prolific Problem Solver, Intrepid Innovator. The book teaches basic problem solving & computer science concepts  in a whimsical manner along the way. Ara also includes an attached mini-booklet with a deeper tech dive, as well as online activity sheets with hands-on tech activities.

All profits from the book sales will be donated to charities encouraging women’s and girls’ participation in STEM fields. This book is not an official Google product but a grassroots, passion project of Google employees in their personal capacity striving for an equitable future for all girls.

 

Are you an author looking for a book publicist, an expert looking for a PR firm, or a small business in need of publicity? Whether you’re looking for a San Francisco book publicist or a national PR campaign, please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

Publishing Sales Continue to Grow

A new report from the Association of American Publishers reveals that book publishing revenue continued its upward trend, increasing 5.5% January–April 2018, over the same period in 2017. While downloadable audio books had the strongest sales increase (up 36.1%), hardcover, trade paperback, and mass paperback also rose.

Publishers Weekly goes into more detail:

In the trade segment, sales of adult fiction and nonfiction rose 7.3% in the four-month period and sales in the children’s/young adult category rose 6.6%. Sales of religious presses increased 9.8%.

These figures are from AAP’s StatShot Monthly Report, which draws information from more than 1,100 publishers in the following categories: Trade – fiction/non-fiction/religious, PreK-12 Instructional Materials, Higher Education Course Materials, Professional Publishing, and University Presses.

This infographic from AAP shows similar sales increases in 2017:

Image by Association of American Publishers

Not all categories are moving upward. Ebooks continued their slide with a 5.3-percent decline in revenue during the same period.

I think the trend away from Ebooks and toward audiobooks reflects our desire to get away from our screens in our downtime and to pursue other activities while still enjoying a good book. All in all, this is encouraging news for those of us in the book industry!

Are you an author looking for a book publicist, an expert looking for a PR firm, or a small business in need of publicity? Whether you’re looking for a San Francisco book publicist or a national PR campaign, please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

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Top of Mind with Julie Rose features Sustainable Nation

BYUradio recently featured our client, leading green urbanist Doug Farr, on their excellent interview program Top of Mind.

Top of Mind is known for smart, informative conversations that go beyond mere headlines and sound bites, so we were thrilled to have our client interviewed by its host, Julie Rose. The show reaches a broad, national audience of 56 million listeners comprised of BYU alumni and people affiliated with Brigham Young University, as well as satellite radio subscribers looking for smart, informative and uplifting radio content.

Julie interviewed Doug about his latest book, Sustainable Nation: Urban Design Patterns for the Future (April 2018, Wiley Press), which asks the question: How can we make the world we want in the least possible time?

For people frustrated by slow government responses to climate change, the book offers dozens of plans that are actionable on an individual and community level. Farr inspires individuals to envision a more sustainable future at a neighborhood level, and work with other neighbors, friends, and community members to make it happen faster than ever before.

Doug and Julie discussed how cities can become more equitable, sustainable, walkable, and liveable one well-designed building and public space at a time. Give the episode a listen at BYUradio’s website!

Are you an author looking for a book publicist, an expert looking for a PR firm, or a small business in need of publicity? Whether you’re looking for a San Francisco book publicist or a national PR campaign, please contact Kathlene Carney for a free consultation to find out how our publicity services can contribute to your success.

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