Artificial Rankings

You may remember this from another story, where the author of “Handbook for Mortals” got caught, (or her publishing company got caught), pre-ordering thousands of copies of the book then cancelling them to boost the sales rank. Then getting swatted down after the community found out.

I have nothing against ARCs, beta readers, and other promotional tools to get the early reviews in and rev up interest. But trying to influence sales rank or buy reviews is a shameful practice. Sadly when Amazon cracks down on this, they usually fail hard and end up targeting innocent people.

Quote via Buying & then gifting 1000s of books to influence sales rank is not the same as sending ARCs or gifting a handful of books to a few lucky readers.

If you’re an author who engages in this kind of behavior, I think you’re a disgrace.

Your opinion is that it’s perfectly fine? Good for you. Then you won’t be interested in my opposing opinion, so feel free to click away from this page. I’m not interested in hearing any whining about how “all the big 5 publishers do it,” or that’s how the industry “really operates”. Take that nonsense and stuff it where the sun doesn’t shine. And for those who think rank manipulation is the only way to hit the lists, I’ve had single-author volume books in the Top 100 (actually, the top 20) without gifting a single copy to manipulate sales rank- and so have MANY other upstanding authors I know.

FTR, we’re not talking about sending a handful readers ARCs via instafreebie, or sending readers a free copy of your book as a pdf or mobi file– we’re talking about authors BUYING thousands of copies through Amazon, itunes, B&N, and then gifting them with the express purpose of artificially inflating sales numbers with the goal of making USA Today and NYT Bestseller lists. Those authors then organize themselves to spread out the gifting over multiple accounts (remember, we’re talking about box sets with 20+ authors involved) so activity with massive numbers of gifted books does not trigger scrutiny by Amazon on one individual account. Those who engage in this behavior will write long-winded explanations to conflate the issues, but they are not the same thing. Per Amazon TOS, any activities that manipulate or artificially inflate sales rank are expressly prohibited. If you are buying thousands of books to gift in order to ensure those “gifts” are counted as actual sales in order to inflate your sales rank, then yes, you’re violating Amazon TOS & I think you’re an utter disgrace.


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