Thoughts on Best-Selling Authors

Why I'm persnickety about this amorphous designation.
Jul | 23 | 2020

Jul | 23 | 2020


Now that Zoom For Dummies is out, I can claim that I’m a best-selling author.

It’s not hard, as long as I put my ethics on hold. I only need to my limit definition of best-selling author to a specific category on a popular website, as I’ve done below.

And here as well1:

Shame on authors who make such specious claims.

Sadly, plenty of authors don’t even do that much. That is, they prominently make this specious claim without a scintilla of proof. Here is one of them. Trust me: When it comes to book sales, this particular individual is no Michael Crichton, Michael Lewis, or Malcom Gladwell.

Not even close.

Simon Says

Look, I’m happy that Zoom For Dummies is finding an immediate audience. Seriously. You’ll never hear me claim otherwise. In fact, the promise of my two new books heavily influenced my decision to leave ASU a few months ago.

Still, climbing to the top of a niche category is a far cry from landing on the New York Times best-seller list. If Zoom For Dummies organically sells tens of thousands of copies and my BookScan numbers reflect that fact, then I’ll reconsider my stance. Until then, I’ll proudly go old school. I won’t make questionable claims about my book sales.

And I’ll sleep just fine at night.2 There’s more than enough dishonesty and shading of the truth these days.


What say you?


  1. I certainly wouldn’t put Zoom For Dummies in the computer-science bucket, but who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth? #drawbacksofalgorithms
  2. Well, at least what I consider sleeping.

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