A self-styled “contrepreneur” and “demotivational speaker” has exposed Amazon’s self-publishing empire by getting a book that sold just 49 copies onto the #1 bestseller list.
To add insult to injury, Mike Winnet did it with a book titled How to get a #1 Amazon best-seller; and it comprised nothing but blank pages.
Watch the video above
It took the UK comedian and social media mocker just one hour to “write”, design and upload his book to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing.
You can watch Mike Winnet’s full step-by-step video here. Warning: Coarse language.
Winnet was then advised by Amazon that his book, which promised readers they would “learn how to make millions as a bestselling author”, would go live in 72 hours – after it was manually checked and met the publisher’s very strict publishing guidelines.
“Content published through Kindle Direct Publishing is held to the high standards customers have come to expect,” the multinational’s Guide to Kindle Content Quality states.
“We have a zero-tolerance policy for any book content meant to advertise, promote, mislead, or that doesn’t accurately represent the contents of the book.”
Winnet’s book was available for sale online and being touted by Amazon as a “hot new release” the same day.
The prankster then added a few fake rave reviews, slapped a reduced price sticker on the cover and began promoting it on social media.
Despite selling just 49 copies for 99p (AUD1.70) in the ensuing 24 hours, the book made it to the number one spot in the “niche” category of business, finance and law.
It was up there with a trove of get-rich-quick books – including one by the 45th president of the United States, Donald Trump, imaginatively titled How to Get Rich.
Amazon was alerted to the embarrassing prank and banned the book only when Winnet went public with what he had done on Twitter and YouTube.
The exercise cost Winnet nothing, because Amazon operates on a royalties system, collecting as much 70 per cent from every book sold, but only once a copy has been ordered, printed and shipped.
To date, the e-commerce giant has sold an estimated 500 million self-published books written by 20,000 “unique authors”, and the business model has earned Amazon billions.
Type “how to make money from self-publishing” into Google, and 781 million entries pop up.
So what was the point of the exercise?
Apart from making a multinational and its billionaire founder, Jeff Bezos, look foolish, Winnet wanted to expose the way self-promoters and self-styled business gurus use the “#1 best-selling author” badge to inflate their authority, exploit the lucrative speaking circuit and upsell other products they’re spruiking.
And that’s not even taking into account the unknown quantity of “best-selling authors” in the booming vanity publishing industry who have earned the title by buying up their own books, Winnet points out.
“So the next time you’ve got an expert trying to sell you something and boasting they’re an Amazon bestseller, just remember; if I can do it with a blank book in less than 24 hours, it’s really not as impressive as it sounds.”
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