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How a billionaire’s mediocre pump-and-dump “book” became a “bestseller”

🌈 Abstract

The article discusses the significance of becoming a New York Times bestselling author, the tactics used by some authors and publishers to manipulate the bestseller list, and the broader challenges facing the publishing industry.

🙋 Q&A

[01] Becoming a New York Times Bestselling Author

1. What are the benefits of becoming a New York Times bestselling author?

  • When a book becomes a New York Times bestseller, it leads to increased orders from booksellers, more foreign rights sales, and interest from movie studios.
  • It is a significant achievement that can boost an author's ego and reputation.

2. How did the author find out they had hit the New York Times bestseller list for the first time?

  • The author's editor called them and jokingly said their new first name was "New York Times Bestselling Author".

3. How did the author's books become New York Times bestsellers?

  • The author's books became bestsellers through organic reader interest and word-of-mouth, with booksellers writing positive "shelf-talkers" to display alongside the books.

[02] Manipulating the Bestseller List

1. How did the Church of Scientology try to manipulate the New York Times bestseller list?

  • The Church of Scientology was caught buying truckloads of L. Ron Hubbard's books from booksellers, returning them to their warehouse, and then re-shipping them to the booksellers to create the appearance of high sales.

2. How did the author Chris Dixon's book "Read Write Own" become a New York Times bestseller?

  • Firms linked to Dixon and his venture capital firm A16Z placed massive bulk orders for the book, which they gave away to employees or random people on Twitter. This allowed the book to appear on the bestseller list despite lacking genuine reader interest.

3. How does making the New York Times bestseller list benefit crypto promoters like Dixon?

  • For crypto promoters, being on the bestseller list helps lend credibility to their arguments and can draw more "normies" into investing in cryptocurrencies, which benefits the crypto insiders who can then cash out.

[03] The Challenges Facing Publishing

1. What challenges does the author identify in the current publishing landscape?

  • Consolidation in distribution and publishing, the decline of social media as an effective promotional channel, and the rise of "book-shaped objects" that game their way to the top of bestseller lists.

2. What advice does the author give to readers who want to support authors they enjoy?

  • Actively recommend books you love to others, both in person and online. This helps authors gain more readers and visibility.

3. How does the author's upcoming novel "The Bezzle" relate to the themes discussed in the article?

  • "The Bezzle" is a novel that explores various scams and confidence tricks, reflecting the "golden age of scams" that the author sees in the current publishing and crypto landscapes.
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