Prove Your Claims

May 15th, 2009 by Bob Bly

A motivational speaker just sent me a free review copy of his new book, published earlier this month.

A banner on the front cover proclaims the book is an “international best-seller.”

Yet when I check it online, the book is ranked #292,514 on Amazon.

Surely, if this just-published book were in fact an international bestseller, it would be at least in the top 100,000 on Amazon right now, no?

Does the author realize how silly, or at least unbelievable, his claim to bestsellerdom looks to the intelligent reader who bothers to check?

Or is his assumption that people today are so naive they will believe anything correct?

My experience, by the way, is the opposite: people are more skeptical than ever today, and their B.S. detectors have never been more accurate.

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This entry was posted on Friday, May 15th, 2009 at 3:45 pm and is filed under General. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

25 responses about “Prove Your Claims”

  1. John Soares said:

    I hope people are using their B.S. detectors more, and I think they are.

    Bob, I’d like to know your opinion of the tactic of getting a book briefly (an hour, maybe) to #1 in a category on Amazon so the author can claim “#1 bestseller” status. This process typically involves a major e-mail campaign among dozens of Internet marketers to use tons of freebies to entice people to buy the book from Amazon on a specific day.

    To me this is not a true measure of the actual popularity or merit of the book.

  2. dianacacy said:

    Not too long ago, I checked on who a certain author was. I saw this author’s name mentioned as being a scam by a watchdog group. Found a press release where she described herself as a “bestselling author”. Did a search and she’s not a bestseller anywhere. Not even a “local bestseller” as far as I could find.

    Now, I never take such claims for granted.

    Might fool people once, and that’s not that often, but most are smart enough to not be fooled a second time.

  3. Fiona Fell - websitePROFITS said:

    My B.S detector is well and truly up and running each time I read an obvious marketing piece.

    I am not sure if the ‘exaggerators’ are inflating their own egos, and really hoping to pull the wool over the eye of prospective buyers, but I think in the end their plan will come undone.

    Tell the truth, the whole truth. And come out on top.

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  6. Jim Logan said:

    John: I know you asked Bob the question – and I too would love to hear his perspective – but I’d like to offer my opinion…it’s pure BS.

    As a tactic to promote and sell the book? OK.

    As a tactic to claim bestseller? BS.

    I’ve seen several authors do this in email campaigns to later post on their blog how they’re #1. To me, it’s nothing more than a trick – deceitful.

    Other than that, I have no opinion :)

  7. Cathy Miller said:

    To me,one of the “negatives” of the internet is that anyone can claim just about anything and not have to face any consequences for false statements. If we were to believe everything we read, there sure are a whole lot of “#1″, “BEST”, “THE LEADER” companies, products, services…yada, yada, yada.

    The overstated (at a minimum) and outright lies have spilled over to all forms of marketing. As a person who really found the value of the internet when I went back to school, I also recognize that “Buyer beware,” is even more important today.

    Do I sound too much like the Baby Boomer I am? :-)

  8. Terrance Charles said:

    Bob, interesting post. This is something I see everyday too. And, I’m glad you called it out, I see people sometimes saying “how to make x amount of money etc” and when you actually check them out, they don’t even have their own domain name or product, but their telling you what to do.

    That’s another thing the internet marketing industry needs to cut down on, that will help lead people in the right direction when their really getting information from a expert that walks the walk.

    Terrance Charles
    http://twitter.com/TerranceCharles

  9. Bob Bly said:

    John Soares: In my opinion it is a legitimate tactic, and I have used it myself. For more info see: http://www.myamazonbestseller.com.

  10. Mele Williams said:

    What is the “true” definition of a bestseller? Or, perhaps better put: when can you call yourself a bestselling author? When you do it without the benefit of an email marketing campaign?

    I am not being smart-alecky. I really want to know.

  11. Mele Williams said:

    Correction on my last post:

    I posed this question: When CAN you call yourself a best-selling author? When you do it WITHOUT the benefit of an email campaign?

  12. Bob Bly said:

    Mele: Is James Patterson not a true best-seller because his books are heavily advertised in radio commercials?

    If your book is in the top ten best-seller list on Amazon.com, you can call yourself an “Amazon best-selling author.” Marketing your book to help it get there does not disqualify you in any way.

    If your book is in the top ten NY Times best-seller list, then you can call yourself a “NY Times best-selling author” or “best-selling author.”

  13. Kevin Stirtz said:

    Bob – I agree. People are more skeptical, or, as I prefer, smarter. We have more information and we have more confidence in using our smarts to accomplish what we want. There are still too many people who think the path to business success is paved with lies and manipulation. But the Internet will out them in due time, just as you outed this author.

    KS

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  22. Best Coffee | Chris said:

    Bob,
    Great article and it is a shame that we have to be so skeptical in this day and age. I believe like you that most people have their B.S. detector on and you have to be upfront, truthful and honest in all of your endeavors.
    Peace,
    Chris

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