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Are You Really a Best-Selling or Award-Winning Self-Published Author?

February 21, 2021
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I can walk down the street and find ten bars, restaurants, and other food service providers who claim to have the “World’s Greatest Burger”. Signs emblazoned with those words, blink in neon colored lights to grab our attention. Occasionally, someone is entranced by the message, steps into the establishment, and orders the “World’s Greatest Burger.”

When it comes, they realize it was far from being the world’s greatest burger—charred too long, dry from being pressed, overcooked, and covered with toppings that blend together into a color, not a flavor.

Authors Fall Into the Trap of Shiny Terminology.

It’s not uncommon for me to peruse social media, bookstore shelves, or a convention table and see self-published writers adding “Best-Selling” or “Award-Winning” to their book covers. They may use other terms as well, but those are the two I see the most.

When you pick up the book, you notice the cover isn’t professional, genre specific, or engaging. The cover formatting is skewed as though the image wasn’t sized properly to the print specification. Opening the book, you immediately find error after error inside.

Occasionally, you open a book and find a glorious manuscript hidden inside the pages of an unwelcoming cover.

As though it’s a passage into book sales, self-published writers want to make their works attractive to users. This isn’t the wrong idea.

  • Covers should be attractive.
  • Story should be attractive.
  • The writing itself should be attractive.

If a writer doesn’t have those three things, then their book sales will suffer. In trying to bypass those issues, self-published authors often place words, words used by the big leagues of publishing, on their covers.

They claim to be “Best-Selling” when they haven’t met the standards for a best-selling book. They claim to be “Award-Winning” when they have never received an award.

If you’re reading this, preparing to release your own book, don’t fall into the trap of shiny words. Shiny words won’t help you. They give readers the false impression that your book is more than it is.

It’s a lie unless you have reached best-selling or award-winning status. When readers find out, you break their trust whether you have a terrible story or a glorious, world-changing story.

Never break the trust of your potential readers.

100 Fantasy Prompts to Conquer Writer's Block

Are You a Best-Selling Writer?

“Best-Selling” typically describes a book making thousands of sales within a single week, not a trickle. If your book only has one review, and you claim to be best-selling, chances are that’s not the case in terms of industry standards.

The New York Times best-selling list requires somewhere between five-thousand and ten-thousand copies to be sold within a week to even qualify for the list. And those copies have to be sold through a variety of providers with low bulk sales.

Other lists have other qualifications, but it’s easy to tell if an author is best-selling by looking at their individual book pages, reviews, and other information.

Don’t fall into the trap of using the term unless you are a best-selling author.

Have You Won Book Awards?

Do you have an award-winning book? If you do, make sure you specify who gave the award. Awards are like reviews. They are praise for your book, but saying your book is award-winning is another trap if you don’t qualify the award.

Always list who gave it to you so readers can trust the label and your brand. Many books have local awards. The authors say “award-winning” to make it look more popular. There is nothing wrong with qualifying a local award. Build trust in your readers and let them know where your praise comes from.

Don’t Focus on the Accolades.

Best-selling and award-winning books do not mean someone will like the book. These terms do not mean you’ll become a best-selling or award-winning author by using them. It’s better to have long-term, sustainable sales than to be rated for a single week on the New York Times Best Seller List.

As an author, I’d rather know my books are selling consistently rather than one large chunk. It means I have continuous income and growing readership. It means readers aren’t buying the book because of the accolade, they are buying the book because they like it.

That is far more important than accolades.

Focus your writing on creating work your audience loves. The accolades come naturally later on.

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