The green-eyed monster, that I like to deny even exists in me, has slithered to the surface more often than I want lately. It happens when I get all OCD on my book stats. The internet being what it is, makes it easy to not only obsess over your own numbers, but do copious amounts of comparing with other author’s numbers. Amazon is a statistician’s dream. The nerd number-cruncher in me gets caught up in cross referencing genre categories. It’s the part of me that wants an answer to the question, “How am I doing?” A question that guarantees a long time-wasting trip in search of an answer that doesn’t exist.
And worse, just posing the question sets up a me vs them scenario (that also doesn’t really exist). If one author sells a thousand books, it doesn’t mean that another author will then not sell a thousand. Her success does not equal my demise, but it can feel that way.
Our society loves number crunching comparisons and a lot of what Amazon does feeds that love. You can find out who has written the most reviews, whose reviews were voted most helpful, who sold the most stuff today or even the most stuff in the last hour. It all looked so helpful and cool, until I realized the toll it was taking on the part of writing that I love.
Most author’s don’t write that first book so that they can obsessively check their sales and rankings on Amazon. They write it out of love–for writing, for the topic, for the characters. They write it because they want to share that story and connect with other people through it. Then, after hitting that publish button, they are gobsmacked with the reality that they are now not only an author, but a small business. If they want any one to connect with their writing, they are going to have to make a lot of noise to get attention. Que up an army of gurus with advice on the perfect way to do just that. I won’t go into the mind-numbing details, but it is staggering the number of ways (with more coming everyday) that you can/could market your book and boost those numbers. As a rookie in this field, I’ve been researching and reading and trying to figure out which are right for me.
And that was how I discovered the question I need to be asking, “What is right for me?” That answer (and there is one) turned me around. It squelched the green-eyed monster and put a lot of the joy back into writing and marketing. Looking at my writing career from that perspective, I let go of the numbers crunching that gave me heart burn and could only give me a very fleeting answer to the “How am I doing?” question. It gave me a direction that includes working with and building up other authors and truly communicating with my readers.
My work reflects my mood and books written from a competitive perspective will smack of desperation and compromise. Passion and excitement die in that environment. However, I’m not going to lie. I’m on shaky ground for me. The place where I need to stand requires that I believe in my writing without numbers to back me up. It requires that I stand firm on my fledgling faith in myself. But I know that blindly pouring another story from my heart and gut is the right thing for me to do. It’s the action that will make me a stronger and better person, and not a frantic slave to the statistics of scarcity.