Friday, September 12, 2014

That Way Lies Madness

Tracking sales? Noooooo. No! Step AWAY from the stats. You have a job and tracking numbers isn't the one that pays the bills.

Okay. If you're looking for full disclosure from me, neither does my writing - it's more a self-supporting hobby to date. But unless I obtain a job in sales and marketing (which will only happen if the pod people get me - as neither sales nor marketing are among my core competencies) writing is my sole avenue for potentially paying the bills. Some day.

Is there call to track numbers, ever? Absolutely.
  1. You're self-pubbing
In fact, if you self-publish, as you tinker with price points, sales (free to download, $.99 sales, etc) and/or different genres, keeping track of units sold is not only possible, it's necessary. It is your only metric for knowing how and what part of your business is performing. You know. You *thought* the sexy romps would sell like hot cakes. Heh. You pull up your sales reports from the different online vendors and discover that your true crime series is out performing sexy romps by a 2 to 1 margin and at a higher price point. (Totally hypothetical situation, btw, so don't set out to write true crime unless it sings torch songs to your soul . . . and you can't find a medication to address that.)

If you are pubbed by one of the big publishing houses, you aren't going to be able to accurately track sales numbers until royalty statements begin arriving. But when you're published by one of the big houses, sales benchmarks have a tendency to matter more than units sold. Did book x earn out? Did books 1 and 2 sell enough copies to justify a book 3? Then, when you're no longer concerned with those benchmarks (because the answers were all YES) the benchmarks involve hitting lists.

At the end of the day, though, the reason I don't stress book sale numbers is because once a book is released, nothing I do (beyond being a reasonably decent human being - social media, speaking, going to signings - you know - the normal stuff authors do) will make someone buy a book.  Driving yourself crazy, fretting over something you ultimately can't effect unless you're herding people into the book store at gunpoint to buy - it just seems self-defeating. Write. Edit. Copy edit. Publish. Promote within reason and then RELEASE. Take a breath. Start the process over again.

Maybe it comes down to a question. What do you love? The writing? Or comparing your Amazon ranking against your nemesis's and feeling small because you either don't rank as high, or you do and your short-lived sense of triumph is punctured by the misery of wondering whether you'll be able to stay on top? If it's not the writing, there *are* easier ways to get your nemesis's goat. Not that I have deep, personal experience.


  1. Dealing with sales and marketing sounds about as much fun as having a root canal, either of which I hope to never experience. So here's hoping the pod people never get you!!

    1. Sales and marketing is 100% alien to me - possibly a result of being a socially awkward introvert. The root canal? I'm with you. I would LOVE for that to be 100% alien to me, too. Forever.