Thursday, September 08, 2011

Wayne Allyn Root, Breakfast Cereal Huckster

You can't make this stuff up.

Libertarian Party embarrassment Wayne Allyn Root is now leveraging his Libertarian Party Vice Presidential nomination to sell breakfast cereal:

Root also claims to make "thousands of appearances a year" on radio and TV. Plural. That would mean at least 2000 media appearance a year.

But on IRP, Root claims (at post 39) to have "done somewhere in vicinity of 3000+ interviews in media in last 3 years..." That would mean less than "thousands" of media appearances a year.

Root also repeats his talking point of being a "bestselling author."

Based on what?

Traditionally, "bestselling author" meant that your book appeared on The New York Times or Publishers Weekly bestseller lists. Appearing on the Washington Post or Los Angeles Times lists was also good. But only The New York Times and Publishers Weekly were deemed to be the gold standard -- official confirmation of a book's bestseller status.

Yet I'm not aware that Root's books have ever appeared on any of the above lists.

Granted, with the rise of Amazon, the terminology has gotten sloppy. Today, hordes of authors claim to be "bestselling" based on sheer nothing. If challenged (which rarely happens) some will point to a relatively high ranking in one of Amazon's categories.

But as Victoria Strauss explains:

[Author's Claim]: My book was #2 in the Spiritual Vampire Novels for Teens category on Amazon!

[Reality]: These Amazon categories don't mean much. Not only do the more esoteric ones contain a limited number of books, the rankings are comparative, and therefore don't say much about actual sales. If you're #2 in a category where the other books are selling poorly, your book is also selling poorly--just, maybe, a bit less poorly.

[Author's Claim] My Amazon ranking jumped 200,000 points in one day!

[Reality]: That could mean one sale. Or it could mean no sale--Amazon rankings are comparative, and a slow day for top-selling books can boost the rankings of lower-selling or even non-selling books.

Amazon rankings are irresistibly obsession-making, but they are not a reliable way of judging sales.

(For a fairly helpful elucidation of the perpetually mysterious issue of Amazon sales rankings, see this explanation of print rankings and this explanation of Kindle rankings from Morris Rosenthal of Foner Books.)

As always, Wayne Allyn Root exaggerates his "greatness," trying to leverage his spin and puffery and LP titles into whatever marginal info-huckster gig he can scrap up. A few years ago it was sports betting. Today it's an obscure cereal company. Maybe tomorrow it'll be something to shed those pounds or tone up your abs.