Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Watching the Rankings....

Since I'll take any excuse to listen to a good song:

Indie authors are often advised not to check their sales rankings every day but to focus on getting their next book out. Since building a career is a long-term project, this makes sense. After all, very few of us are going to make a living from one book, and it takes time to develop a fanbase. So why is it so tempting to visit Amazon and Smashwords and ACX every day, sometimes more frequently?

I think perhaps it is the intermittent nature of sales that makes checking rankings so addicting, at least in the beginning. In fact, the random frequency of receiving rewards or sales makes it harder to break the habit of checking sales. Does that mean you're in trouble if you've already established this habit? I think it depends on how much it interferes with your writing. If you can manage to make the checks quick and do them at a time when you're not able to write, then it shouldn't be a problem. However, if you do it during your writing time or let yourself dwell on it, then checking sales is a distraction. Perhaps then it's time to find another way to motivate yourself either to write more or check less. For example, you can only check sales after meeting your daily quota, or only allow yourself to check sales when you're trying a new marketing technique.

Are you a ranking addict? How much are your emotions affected by your rankings? How often do you think an author should track sales?


J.L. Campbell said...

Hi, Sandra,

I check at least once daily and I'm trying to cut back. I don't usually do this during writing time, except when I feel the need to distract myself. However, I do understand that it's possible to get stuck obsessing over the numbers, especially if they're not growing. The numbers don't affect me emotionally. I know it takes time for a new book to get some traction.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

I rarely check sales rankings except when I give away free books on Amazon. I had one come up to like #9 for some free category. It's a bestseller! Mostly I check my sales on the KDP page and keep track of them on an Excel sheet.

Sandra Almazan said...

J.L., I try not to obsess over the numbers too, especially since 99.9% of the time, the sales rank goes down. ;) I think another reason why I check them anyway is impatience. That would be a good topic for another blog post.

PT, congrats on your bestseller status!

I use Excel to track my expenses and monthly sales for each project too. That's necessary if we're going to treat our writing as a business. And it makes sense to check ranking when you're trying a new marketing tactic.

Catherine Stine said...

It's an awful thing, akin to weighing yourself or any other sort of obsessive habit. I go through phases where I check frequently, and then long periods where I don't. I'm trying to get work done on a sequel, so I really need to not worry about that stuff, you know?
Catherine Stine’s Idea City

Sandra Almazan said...

Catherine, I weigh myself more often than I need to. And yes, I need to focus on getting the sequel out there. There's just too much non-writing time in my life.

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