Lately, I’ve received a large number of e-mails from people introducing themselves as ‘bestselling’ authors. Folks, this is a claim that is so simple to check out that you absolutely should not be lying about it.

Now…don’t get me wrong. I have no problem with you “spinning” your resume and credentials to sound a bit more impressive than they actually are, as long as what you say is still true. But if you’re blatantly disseminating information about yourself that is completely false, like saying you’re a ‘bestselling’ author when your book has never made it onto the New York Times or Wall Street Journal bestsellers lists, then you’re lying. Period.

According to Wikipedia, “a bestseller is a book that is identified as extremely popular by its inclusion on lists of currently top selling titles that are based on publishing industry and book trade figures and published by newspapers, magazines, or bookstore chains.” Wikipedia goes on to say, “in the United Kingdom, a hardcover book could be considered a “bestseller” with sales ranging from 4,000 to 25,000 copies per week.” Per week, people. So be honest: is your book really a “bestseller?”

The authors whose work appears on bestseller lists (and I’m not talking about Amazon’s lists, which change hourly and are micro-specific, but rather the real lists of USA Today, New York Times, or the Wall Street Journal) tend to be exceptional at marketing their books. They know that to be successful, you have to know how to market and you have to know how to sell, and you can’t just sell one book at a time. True bestselling authors are smart marketers who know how to leverage the right tools and professionals to build awareness about and visibility for their product.

Today, you can claim just about anything you want. You can say you’re an expert of any kind without anyone having to verify it. You can say you’re a speaker, a published writer, and yes, even a ‘bestselling author.’ But just because you say it doesn’t make it true. So before you say that you’re a “bestselling author,” make sure you know what that means, and make sure it’s actually true. Have some integrity in your self-promotion and you’ll gain more respect…and eventually, you actually might achieve that dream to be a real bestselling author.

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