A Bestseller’s Tarnished Award – Part 3
A Bestseller’s Tarnished Award is, as you read in Parts 1 and 2, an allegory – a story using symbolic fictional people to express a true event in my life as a writer.
You already read why I wanted my sixteenth book, Date with Responsibility, to earn an award as a bestseller.
If you haven’t yet read the book itself, why not click the picture on the left to order your own downloadable copy. Go ahead, and order it now before you forget. Just click the book photo.
Now let’s complete the allegory I wrote – finding out what happened as the poor pauper and his old wife followed the two wizards’ plan:
A Bestseller’s Tarnished Award
~ The Allegory (continued)
At midnight, the poor pauper and his old wife fixed their eyes on the screen. Pulses quickened as they imagined life changing from drab to delightful.
They found the book on the web page and looked carefully.
Beginning, sad ranking of 444,094
Oh no! It would be a long climb to #10 on the list – but they knew it would happen. The two wizards had said so. They had followed the two wizards’ instructions as closely as possible.
The only thing left to do was watch for 24 hours, and see the book become #10, or #9, or even higher on the bestseller list of the kingdom’s giant bookseller.
There would be a celebration once the book became a bestseller. The wizards had said that they must plan a celebration, so they had. They had bought a plane ticket for their daughter to fly home from a far part of the kingdom, and their son had arrived from another kingdom. It would be a glorious celebration!
The old pauper and his wife did not sleep that night. They sat before the magic screen, watching and waiting. They got up for a glass of water now and then, and sat again before the magic screen.
In the first hour, the book’s ranking fell from 444,094 to 446,998. An hour later, it sank again, to 450,023. In the third hour, it sat where it was at 450,023, but in the fourth hour, it rose – 60,415!
“Hooray,” they shouted. “Here it goes!” They had a happy snack, and returned to the magic screen. No! The book had sunk to 64,553.
It continued downward through the long night, reaching 70,660 before finally turning upward again at 7:00 AM. They sighed relief.
Good! People at the farthest edges of the kingdom were awake. Now the book would become a bestseller!
Unable to sleep or nap, the old couple watched throughout the day, but by bedtime, the book had not become a bestseller.
- The 24 hours had expired.
- The strategy had failed.
Quickly, the old pauper made a hurried change to the sales letter, extending the campaign for another 24 hours. They tried to be upbeat for one another, and decided to take turns sleeping through this night. Whoever was awake when the book hit the bestseller list would awaken the other. Together, then, they would watch it climb to the upper rankings.
Slowly they passed the night, snatching 40 minutes of sleep at best, recording each hour’s ranking at the changing of the guard.
Alas. When morning of the second day dawned, the book still had not found its way onto the bottom of the bestseller list.
The old couple contacted the wizards and asked what they could do to make it happen. It had to happen. They had spent so much time – so much money. The book just had to become a bestseller.
The wizards had no answers.
“It is,” admitted one wizard, “very disappointing.”
The old pauper tracked their supporters. Fewer than half had sent their notices. Commitments had meant nothing to the majority of supporters. One was too busy doing more important things, but after hearing from the couple, he sent out his notices 24 hours late. One had chosen to send other notices – in behalf of his paying customers. Delays. Excuses. Broken promises.
By noon of that second day, 36 hours from the campaign’s launch, the book remained unknown, efforts unrewarded. Every hour on the hour, the old wife returned to the magic screen to see the newest rankings. Every hour on the hour, she snapped a screenshot of the discouraging results.
At 3:00 PM, the wife returned to the magic screen for the 39th discouraging screenshot. But wait! What was this? The book was ranked #100.
Date with Responsibility was a bestseller!
She yelled for the old pauper, and together they gazed at the screen. They snapped another screenshot, and talked merrily about their success. It had taken 39 hours – it wasn’t great – it was the very bottom of the top one hundred – but they truly had reached the bestseller list! Now all they had to do was watch the book climb, just like the books about which the wizards so often spoke!
The man clicked a few buttons on the magic screen, and saw something else.
“Look!” he exclaimed. “Date with Responsibility is ranked #1 in the teen romance novel category! .
The book found the downward ladder again instead of the upward. The next hourly ranking was not #1 teen romance novel bestseller. Its ranking was no longer in the top 100. The book had been a bestseller – for the blink of an eyelid.
“Well, at least it hit,” they comforted each other.
The profit would begin to pay off those credit cards. After all, they had sold 500-600 copies, hadn’t they? That’s what the wizard had said it would take to make the list, so they must have sold that many. They would know how many when the giant bookseller’s initial order of 500 was gone and he ordered more. That would pay the printer.
The old wife sent out her press releases, and they prepared for their daughter’s arrival a few days hence – prepared for their celebration.
By the end of the week, however, the news was worse – and perplexing. Customers had ordered fewer than 40 copies, and some of those orders were already being cancelled. Orders sank as the book’s ranking had done. The 38 copies ordered became 36 copies, which became 35 copies.
But the wizards had said hundreds of copies were needed to make bestseller, not tens of copies. How had a book even reached the #100 spot with so few copies sold? It seemed impossible. It seemed unexplainable.
And indeed, the wizards had no explanation.
“The minimum number of copies we cited to get onto the top 100 bestseller list is around 200 copies and we’ve seen even that vary significantly,” said one wizard. “Unfortunately, your experience is a first time one,” he added, and explained that you couldn’t go by a first-time effort.
But the wizards promised, didn’t they? And even if it took a minimum of 200 copies instead of 500 copies … 30 copies was a number nowhere near that minimum! How had the book hit the bestseller list?
The repeated question brought no answer from the wizards.
The old wife was embarrassed – distraught. She was disillusioned. It wasn’t supposed to be this way. It was supposed to be a time of rejoicing. To friends’ requests to know how they did, the wife wrote briefly: “We made bestseller.” That was all. She had a splitting headache. So did the old pauper.
When their daughter arrived, exclaiming, “Congratulations, bestselling author!” the old wife wanted to cry out, “Bestselling author? What was bestselling about it? Only 30 copies were confirmed sold. A mere 30 copies! What’s bestselling about that?!”
They had spent every penny from the old crock, had maxed out every credit card.
Hundreds of books sat unsold in a fulfillment house.
They would have to pay for hundreds more to be shipped back to the fulfillment house from the giant bookseller. Where would they get the money?
Would the wizards return the cost of the mentoring course?
Their guarantee had been nothing more than to help authors reach bestseller status. That had happened, although the old couple wondered how one could rationalize it when sales had been less than the stated minimums.
Still, the old woman could legitimately claim the “bestseller award” – could legitimately call herself a best-selling author. With hard work over the next ten years, they could sell enough copies of the book to make it a fact.
They remembered the wizards’ tantalizing offer to “help you avoid those terrifying pitfalls that can cost you thousands of dollars and endless amounts of headaches.”
Ah, but the wizards had led them directly into those terrifying pitfalls.
And now the campaign was behind them. Disillusioned, with hundreds of unsold books, maxed out credit cards, an empty crock, and many headaches, the old pauper was much poorer, but much wiser. He would never repeat the bestseller strategy. Nor would his wife, international bestselling author – owner of a bestseller’s tarnished award.
There are many meanings of the term “bestseller” and I’ve been assured repeatedly that my book fits the one Merriam Webster gives: “an article (such as a book) whose sales are among the highest of its class.”
Most publishing studies show that a book, when new, will sell 200 – 250 copies, and no more than 2000 copies in its lifetime. Since that’s what most books do, then selling more than that makes your book a bestseller.
Date with Responsibility became a bona fide bestseller.