Monday, October 8, 2012
My Secret Addiction
I DO have a NOT-so-secret addiction to chocolate and coke (the legal kind), but that's a wwwhhhooollleee other story.
My secret addiction?
Specifically... my manic checking of the dreaded Amazon sales ranking for my book. This tells you how "well" your book is doing compared to other books out there... on Amazon anyway. It doesn't count sales from other websites or in-store sales.
Now, I know you are all running to go look at it. HA HA HA
Before I was "published" I'd heard authors talk about it. Some would discuss its merits, others would warn about its power over you and how you needed to JUST STAY AWAY.
Kinda how I really should just stay away from brownies as when a pan is set in front of me, I could probably finish it off in five minutes flat. (then be utterly miserable 20 minutes later.)
So once pre-orders started showing up on my book, I started checking my sales ranking.
I'm a number persons by nature. I've been training to look at trends and see cause and effect of how things we are doing effect the numbers. I worked in the "business" world since I was 18. One of my first bosses was a former cost accountant and taught me how to ensure that everything I did "added value" otherwise why are we doing it??? And at my most recent job, proving "hard dollar" savings and costs was of extreme importance.
So numbers have always been important to me.
And really, I never saw an issue with that. It was smart business.
But at ACFW a few weeks ago, I had a fantastic conversation with author Katie Ganshert (you may remember her from my mention in last week's post...) who spoke truth to me and opened my eyes to my "addiction."
Here were the issues she pointed out with being a manic checker of numbers... (and a few others pointed out to me)
IT'S A MOOD KILLER
Being as obsessed with numbers as I was makes the numbers become a part of who you are.
A good number that day/hour? (the above is from a bestselling, chart topping book) GOOD MOOD!
(note, I'd faint if I got this number. The best my number EVER was was 9,8xx for one hour after my in-laws ordered their 20 copies at one time! That tells you how many books you have to be selling to achieve THAT level of success!)
Is the number rising way too fast... BAD MOOD. (the above was from an older book that I knew hadn't done the "greatest" even during its prime. Still... out of like 8 million books or something like that, it could be worse. But yeah, sales ratings in the millions after book release are pout-worthy!)
I didn't think it was effecting me. I really tried to let it ENCOURAGE me to do better and to start and think more outside the box instead of depress me. But I can look back and see that I was much more likely to have a "bad" day on a "bad" number day than I was to have a good day. And I really don't want numbers to have that much control over me!
IT'S A TIME KILLER
Amazon updates that particular number hourly, using some algorithm that many have tried to figure out but no one has. So during waking hours, it was not uncommon to see me log on at the beginning of an hour "just to see" real quick. While it might take all of 2 minutes to do so... 2 minutes times 12 hours a day equals almost a half hour a day, just in checking sales numbers. I can do a log of editing in a half hour people! And when you times that by 7 days in a week... that's over 3 hours a week!
IT'S A FOCUS KILLER
Publishing is a business. I'm well aware of this. I'm also well aware that my prayer is to be able to help support my family, even if only in a small way, to help prevent me having to go back to work. BUT... selling books SHOULD NOT BE MY FOCUS. Not really anyway. My focus as a child of God is to spread Jesus' love to those around me. And that's what I want my books to do. To make people smile, so prod people forward in their relationship with Jesus, and to introduce people to a God who loves them unconditionally.
Yes, to do this, I need to sell books. For publishers to thrive and continue to publish books that do this, they need to sell books.
But for me, focusing too much on those numbers was taking my focus off God's kingdom and putting it more on my own kingdom. And that is NOT GOOD.
After some prayer and self-searching, I decided I needed to "control" my addiction to numbers. One way I'm doing that is limiting myself to "looking" at my amazon sales ranking once per week. Kinda like having one 'cheat' day a week on a diet. Fridays... I check my numbers. That's it. Once a week.
I'm currently two weeks "numbers-sober." It isn't easy... I resist the urge frequently. But I'm proud of myself. I'm doing it. And I'm MUCH more productive for it!
there are other numbers I need to control too. Blog view numbers is one of them. Yes, I want to be aware. If they start dropping it's a good indication that I might be going down a not so swell path in my blog writing and need to rethink it. And publishers look at such numbers when they are deciding if an author is "worth" taking a chance on. Same with Facebook "friend" or "like" numbers, or even twitter followers.
But I don't blog to the numbers. And I don't Facebook to the numbers either. There is a fine line between being obsessed and being aware.
I'm working hard on finding that balance.
Discussion: We all have our vices. With me, it's number's obsession. What are some unhealthy addictions or obsessions that you really need to let go of, or have let go of in the past?