"Have you seen that Heftig website?" asked my friend Alex, as we were sitting in a bar in Mitte.
"Funnily enough, I just blocked it from my timeline today" I said.
"I'm not surprised, I've had that one about old people's Tattoo's on my timeline about 74 times this week."
"Don't look at that one while eating. Also, most of the pictures in it are literally just old people with tattoos, there's no way of knowing if they got them fifty years or one week ago."
"I saw a report that said they now have more social traffic than Spiegel Online and Bild, combined."
"Old people? That seems unlikely, most can barely email."
"No, Heftig, you moron."
"Oh. Yeah. It's a sick, sad world." I said.
About three days after this conversation, by coincidence, I received an email from a Mr Sven Heftig, the batman of click-bait (since unmasked). He'd seen my original HTBG list post from 2012, which had gone viral again on this spam blog and wanted to post a German version on Heftig.
Heftig, is the German buzzfeed. At least in principal, since Buzzfeed has original content and while almost all of that content is rather dumb, it's a least trying. Heftig, at least until now is mostly just a German language spam content farm designed purely to harvest click-bait content perfect for FB timeline click-throughs.
Of course, I immediately forgot all my ethics and principals, because the principled writer very often becomes the principal former writer who now works in the Deutsche Bahn Service Center. So ,of course, my publisher and I said yes to the request and shortly after, this post was published Ein Engländer erklärt, wie man Deutscher wird.
In the article they linked to the books landing page, and not directly to Amazon, so I got to see the traffic passing through Here are the stats.
Amazon Sales Rank before post: 1250.
Peak Amazon Sales Rank after post: 14th
Time book stayed in Amazon Top 100: 7 days (17 days later, it is currently at 303.)
Spiegel Best Seller List rank before Heftig: 40th (the book had already been on the list for 56 weeks and was declining fast in the last few before the Heftig feature, for some reason Buch Report only shows the last five weeks.)
Spiegel Best Seller List rank after Heftig: 14th (it single-handedly jumped the book 26 places!)
Unique visitors to the books landing page: 10,150 (were referred directly from the Heftig feature).
FB shares: For some reason they deleted the FB post, last time I saw it there were around 10k likes, and 3k shares plus many amusing comments like "too long", "too much text", which help explain why it is hard to sell books in 2014.
You can say what you want about Heftig and I've said plenty of mean things, but they sure help sell books. I'll be interested to watch if they are able to move away from this type of click-bait spam towards original content, as they have promised in recent interviews. If so, I'd be more than happy to supply them more of it, or to put that proposal in more tempting speech "You won't believe what this guy will do to sell books! Look how shamelessly he markets himself to anyone who'll listen!