Is it cheating the system or gaming it?

An author in the UK bought 400 copies of his own book to push it onto the bestseller list. Brilliant idea or dirty pool? I’m asking this question sincerely. I went to a literary festival many years ago and had a killer reading of my book of aphorisms that resulted in hundreds of sales that night (and into the rest of the week) and an unexpected appearance on a bestseller list was my reward. Seriously. Poetry on the fiction best seller list because there was nowhere else to put it. So I my publisher now calls me a “bestselling poet”. Debatable, but sounds great. But could I crow so easily if I (or hell, if my rich family/the Republican Party) were the one who bought them? Personally, I couldn’t sleep at night. But bestseller lists don’t make or break poetry books. I mean, because, you know, they’re all pre-broken, in terms of sales. Any takes on this?

Mark Dawson, a British writer who just over a week ago hit No 8 on the Sunday Times hardback list with his thriller The Cleaner, released by the independent publisher Welbeck at the end of June. This is a great achievement for any author or small publishing house, but Dawson had done something remarkable: he bought 400 copies of his own book, at a cost of £3,600, to push his sales high enough to make the top 10.

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