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Author Topic: I'll light the fuse  (Read 10479 times)  

Offline David VanDyke

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I'll light the fuse
« on: August 20, 2017, 06:41:42 PM »
I predict this thread will blow up soon, so read it and post (respectfully please) while you can.

A certain author made a FB post decrying Dominion Rising selling enough copies to make the NYT list, but the NYT did not put them on the list. That author did not make any inappropriate suggestions, just put out the disappointing (to them) info.

Fair enough.

But then Hugh Howey (public figure, publicly shared) shares the post and adds his suggestion that those authors should put "NYT Bestselling Author" on their covers anyway, because they "earned" it.

At the risk of starting a feud with a great friend and ally among us indies, which is not my intention, I have to vehemently disagree.

You can't claim an Oscar, a Masters win, Super Bowl ring or a Nobel prize if you didn't actually get the award. That's the simple fact. The NYT never promised anyone the award based only on the historical numbers other people needed to reach it.

The NYT list is a curated list. Recently, they have been disallowing these huge multi-author box sets. I have to believe it's because it's obvious to anyone that combining all the sales into one number is like putting 20 tennis players onto the court at Wimbledon. It's a perversion of the process and the principle. That's just a guess and my own opinion, of course, but at the very least, the NYT decided the new world of digital publishing makes it too easy to simply hit a number--20+ books at 99c.

Now we have authors saying and others agreeing they should lie and claim the award anyway. Every kindergartner in the world knows that's wrong. You can say all day you should have won the thing, but lying and claiming you DID is still a lie. Shame on anyone for suggesting this is somehow justified.

Should I claim I won a Hugo or Dragon (instead of merely being a finalist) just because I think I deserved to, because of all my hard work, blah blah? Nope. The process is the process, and unless you can prove that the process is somehow illegal, you can't claim to have won it. You can claim you SHOULD HAVE, sure, but putting "NYT bestselling author" on your books is an outright lie.

Also, how long after doing this will the traditional publishers or the media or any other opponent of independent and self-publishers use it to smear all of us indies as liars and cheats? In fact, I could see Amazon (or the other vendors) pulling accounts for violating TOS for doing so. Not that Amazon has a good track record in consistently enforcing its TOS, but it's certainly possible. I could also see authors being sued by the NYT for fraudulently using the NYT tag.

Even if you disagree with me and are completely onboard with the idea that these authors should get the tag, it's still a really, really bad idea for them individually or collectively, to lie about it or support lying about it.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 07:15:17 PM by David VanDyke »


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Offline C.D. Watson

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2017, 06:52:11 PM »
That sort of behavior is certainly unethical.

By the way, congratulations on being a finalist in the Dragon Awards. Good luck! We're rooting for you.

Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2017, 07:01:16 PM »
Agreed that they shouldn't claim the distinction if they weren't awarded it.


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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2017, 07:02:00 PM »
But then Hugh Howey (public figure, publicly shared) shares the post and adds his suggestion that those authors should put "NYT Bestselling Author" on their covers anyway, because they "earned" it.

At the risk of starting a feud with a great friend and ally among us indies, which is not my intention, I have to vehemently disagree.


What an odd thing for Hugh to suggest. To be honest I would have thought that falsely claiming to be an NYT Bestselling Author (even if you have the numbers) is illegal. Sort of like if Stephen King read your book and liked it, it wouldn't be okay to make up a quote from him and stick it on the front cover. NYT is a brand, so falsely endorsing yourself with that brand sounds like a real good way to get sued.

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Offline C. Gockel

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2017, 07:08:27 PM »
I'm going to believe that Hugh was just joking. No, I don't think they can claim NYT letters. That said, they could claim, "30,000 copies sold."



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Offline David VanDyke

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2017, 07:17:39 PM »
I'm going to believe that Hugh was just joking. No, I don't think they can claim NYT letters. That said, they could claim, "30,000 copies sold."



Here's an exact cut and paste. Evaluate for yourself:

"So here's what I think every one of these authors should do: They should start using the NYT Bestselling Author byline on all their books. No asterisk, no apologies. They earned it. Anyone who has sold 30,000 books on release will confirm how difficult this is. Anyone who has been in an anthology or box set can confirm that neither one is a short cut to any list."

"If the NYT doesn't have to explain their capricious and subjective reasons, why should these authors be punished? Give the list the middle finger and use the byline. You all kicked ass and earned it."

"(For those who say this is wrong, but don't see what the NYT is doing as wrong, I've reserved my other middle finger for you 😇)"


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Offline Cassie Leigh

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #6 on: August 20, 2017, 07:19:01 PM »
Was just coming here to say I tracked down Hugh's FB post and no, he was not joking.


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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #7 on: August 20, 2017, 07:30:16 PM »
Here's an exact cut and paste.

How... strange.

I mean, I can understand the disappointment at not being on the list. But slapping "NYT Bestseller" on a book when it wasn't on the list (regardless of whether it should have been) is kind of petty and really seems to be asking for a legal smackdown.

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Offline brkingsolver

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #8 on: August 20, 2017, 07:39:23 PM »
I think you've said it, David. As to " I could also see authors being sued by the NYT for fraudulently using the NYT tag." This is entirely possible. And Hugh, I'll take the middle finger with pride. I've never considered the letters "earned" by multi-author boxed sets as being legitimate. I'm just always amazed at how many excuses people find to justify scamming the system.


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Offline Going Incognito

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #9 on: August 20, 2017, 07:47:39 PM »
Having been in a similar situation and seeing all the books that ranked below us on the USA Today list hit The NY Times list we knew we'd been curated off of it as well. It happens. A lot. We actually had bets going on if we'd be considered 'respectable' enough for them not to look down their NY Times nose at us or not and that was before they announced that our kind would not be gracing their lists. But never was I tempted to use it anyway. Wow.

My understanding is that putting letters you didn't earn on your covers has been happening anyway, tho. Often enough that Bookbub announced that they'd be actually checking author names against lists before accepting them if the covers claimed letters, so it's not like it's going to do them any good to claim the false letters anyway.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 07:59:15 PM by Going Incognito »

Offline vaughanwsmith

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #10 on: August 20, 2017, 07:49:02 PM »
That does seem a bit off. If you're going to do it anyway, do something like "too hot for NY Times bestseller list"  :P

Or

NY Times Bestselling Author*

* I was in a box set with 20 other authors that sold over 30,000 copies on release week and was ignored by NYT.

It's hard. I totally get Hugh's approach to ignore inconsistent gatekeepers that keep changing the rules. But at the same time, that award was not conferred.


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Offline Vaalingrade

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #11 on: August 20, 2017, 07:50:16 PM »
Some good old fashioned fraud will certainly raise the reputation of self-published authors!

What a boneheadedly irresponsible thing to say given his sway in the community. What if someone took that advice and found themselves reduced to radioactive vapor both by the media and the public before lawyers even got a chance to come off the leash?

Just having the numbers doesn't make you an NYT Best-selling Author. The NYT puts books on the list based on numbers they get from specific sources. For good or for ill, if your numbers aren't tracked by the sources it's just like if you broke a record and Guiness wasn't there. You did the deed, but it ain't official, hoss. Be proud of what you accomplished instead of lying about what you didn't.

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Offline Anarchist

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #12 on: August 20, 2017, 07:57:25 PM »

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

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Offline Crystal_

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #13 on: August 20, 2017, 07:57:44 PM »
Some good old fashioned fraud will certainly raise the reputation of self-published authors!

What a boneheadedly irresponsible thing to say given his sway in the community. What if someone took that advice and found themselves reduced to radioactive vapor both by the media and the public before lawyers even got a chance to come off the leash?

Just having the numbers doesn't make you an NYT Best-selling Author. The NYT puts books on the list based on numbers they get from specific sources. For good or for ill, if your numbers aren't tracked by the sources it's just like if you broke a record and Guiness wasn't there. You did the deed, but it ain't official, hoss. Be proud of what you accomplished instead of lying about what you didn't.

~ Landon Porter, Nobel Award Winner for Physics, Literature, and both Popping and Locking.

That isn't the issue. The issue is that the NTY list will remove any undesirable titles even if they sold more copies than the other books on the list. I was in a situation like this too, where we placed higher on they USA Today list but were curated off NYT. It didn't bother me because I don't care about letters, but it is deceptive of the NYT list to claim it truly represents the bestselling books.

Still, that doesn't give authors the right to use the title fraudulently.

Offline KMatthew

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #14 on: August 20, 2017, 08:09:30 PM »
Having NYT by your name, whether you earned it in a box set or solo, doesn't mean much these days with the constantly changing market. I've seen NYT best selling authors that had to go back to their day jobs because they don't sell anywhere near as much as they used to. That being said, I think that anyone who made the list prior, box set or not, deserves them. Not just anyone can put together a box set and hit a list. It takes a monumental marketing effort from those involved and/or tons of money to make it happen.

No, I don't think that people who have never been on a list should put that they have on their covers. And if the NYT wants to disqualify box sets from their list, that's all fine. But claiming that box set people making the list is scammy is just like saying those who got a BookBub and made a list are scammy. You're leveraging someone else's resources to accomplish something that you could not(or probably wouldn't be able to) do on your own. This is a business. People spend tons of money to hit those lists. Most of the spaces on them that aren't held by well established authors are pretty much bought these days.

Offline MaryMcDonald

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2017, 08:28:52 PM »
I agree they shouldn't do it, and if I was in the set, even if I felt I deserved to be on the list and put NYT Bestseller on my byline, I'd feel...I don't know...cheated? I guess? I'd just feel so guilty and that guilt would cheat me out of any pleasure actually being named a NYT Bestselling author would have given me. It would definitely be tarnished in my mind. Luckily, I'm in no danger of coming close to being on a NYT list or any other list so no worries.  :P I consider that a perk of being a mid-lister at best.  ;D

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Offline RightHoJeeves

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2017, 08:35:50 PM »
Is the problem that they don't allow box sets? Because I can see a situation under which they would be reluctant to include box sets.

You could theoretically release a box set with a short story from 500 separate indie authors. If they all promoted it, the box set could probably sell enough to be on the list. But then those 500 authors (who probably wouldn't be able to make the list by themselves) would be calling themselves "NYT Bestsellers", which (from the POV of the NYT) would dilute the value of being a NYT Bestseller.

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Offline TimothyEllis

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2017, 09:02:27 PM »
Interestingly enough, they did hit #4 on the Wall Street Journal list a couple of days later, and this was after Hugh's post.

I get where Hugh is coming from, since its aimed squarely at the NYT. I get NYT's side of it as well. But personally, I wouldn't be doing what he suggested. And actually, I find splashing that kind of thing across covers to be a put off anyway. It doesnt in any way effect if I read a book or not, and its very ego based and pretentious for covers. Put in your author central bio sure. And they should put "good enough to rank #16 on NYT if they only allowed big box sets on their list." On covers though, no.

I dont know if WSJ is as good as NYT, but its a legitimate claim they can make. And #4 is better than #16.  :D


Offline MattHaggis

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2017, 10:26:08 PM »
Do you really 'earn' the letters by being one of twenty authors in a 99c boxset? I don't think so, and neither do the majority of readers.

Offline loraininflorida

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2017, 10:42:06 PM »
Do you really 'earn' the letters by being one of twenty authors in a 99c boxset? I don't think so, and neither do the majority of readers.

This.

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2017, 10:54:40 PM »
Here's an exact cut and paste. Evaluate for yourself:

"So here's what I think every one of these authors should do: They should start using the NYT Bestselling Author byline on all their books. No asterisk, no apologies. They earned it. Anyone who has sold 30,000 books on release will confirm how difficult this is. Anyone who has been in an anthology or box set can confirm that neither one is a short cut to any list."

"If the NYT doesn't have to explain their capricious and subjective reasons, why should these authors be punished? Give the list the middle finger and use the byline. You all kicked ass and earned it."

"(For those who say this is wrong, but don't see what the NYT is doing as wrong, I've reserved my other middle finger for you 😇)"

To be honest, if I were just reading this comment, I'd assume he was being a bit venty, tongue in cheek, while trying to show support for their efforts.  You know like when something  p*ss es you off and you're all 'I should just do this' or 'I should just do that' etc, and while you're not joking, you also don't literally intend on putting the action in place.  (And by 'you', I clearly mean me, because I do this!)

Offline Seneca42

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #21 on: August 20, 2017, 10:58:18 PM »
Do you really 'earn' the letters by being one of twenty authors in a 99c boxset? I don't think so, and neither do the majority of readers.

They should force all these authors to put a "99c Best Seller" badge on the cover of their books  :P

I bet you each and every one of them would be too embarrassed to do so.




Offline Going Incognito

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #22 on: August 20, 2017, 11:22:15 PM »
If we could rank 'earned it' on a sliding scale I do think bundle authors 'earn' it more than all the spot buyers 'earn' their spots. At least real people bought it in the cases of most bundles that hit it instead of all the authors who spend $200k buying their own books to 'earn' their spot, or the marketing companies who 'buy' their authors a spot 'earn' it, but either way I don't think you should claim it if it wasn't awarded.

ETA I don't think they'd be embarrassed at all. I think you'd see "99c New York Times Bestselling Author" badges popping up everywhere if saying the 'how' was a requirement to be able to keep the letters.
« Last Edit: August 20, 2017, 11:49:39 PM by Going Incognito »

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #23 on: August 20, 2017, 11:42:44 PM »
I feel sorry for the authors in this set. They followed the rules set out by nyt to qualify, but were not put on the list. This must be really annoying for them. I think this is why hugh is so angry.

But what it highlights is that these list-building sets are devaluing  the concept of a bestseller. If you need 20 other people in your box set to be a bestseller then you personally are not a bestseller.

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: I'll light the fuse
« Reply #24 on: August 20, 2017, 11:57:54 PM »
Hugh Howey can say whatever he wants. I gather he has some street cred, but I haven't been around long enough to care what he has to say about anything. To me, he's just another author in the mix.

However, the point about whether you "earned" your letters or not is a fair subject to discuss.

I did earn USA Today letters this year, but it was from a single author 99c sale and a BookBub. Does that mean I can use the title in marketing? Sure, but I don't use it much. The day I make any list with a full price book then I'll be impressed. I do market the book as having made the list, but I'm not so delusional that I don't get how I got there.

So, yeah, if you make the list with a 99c multi author box set I think it's a bit of a fudge. By all means use it for marketing, but let's not delude ourselves about what it means.

Should they use the title if NYT didn't award it? Hell no, that's outright lying. They must have made USA Today's list and a few others so they should be happy enough with those.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2017, 12:12:32 AM by TwistedTales »