Book sales. For those of us trying to make a living as authors, that’s sort of an important thing, isn’t it? If our books sell, we make money we can use to buy peanut butter for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. If they don’t, we’d actually have to go back to working for a living. It’s hard for me to imagine anything worse, except maybe getting a courtesy water-boarding treatment.
The technology available today lets us know in near-real time (in some cases) how many books we’ve sold in a day, or an hour. Or in the last thirty seconds since we checked.
And therein lies the danger. Stats addiction. The irresistible impulse to constantly see how many books you’re selling. RIGHT NOW, DAMMIT!
This leads to three things: 1) euphoric highs when your sales are climbing; 2) depressing lows when your sales are moving down, with a proportional increase in your stress levels; and 3) the effective loss of a boatload of time that you could have been writing new stuff.
It really can be an addiction, and the tragedy of it is that knowing those numbers is, by and large, absolutely useless to you on anything more than a daily basis. And even that’s probably unnecessary.
Yes, you read that right: absolutely useless. Poof.
Why would I say such an outrageous thing? Simply put, the sales, good or bad, are gonna be what they’re gonna be. There’s absolutely nothing you can do to directly control those numbers.
Now, there are things you have control over that may help influence your sales, and that’s where you should be focusing your attention. For example, you could reach out to more folks on Twitter and engage them, or talk to X-number of new folks on Facebook, or run an ad, or whatever else that you have direct control over.
Sales, alas, isn’t one of them.
“But I’m running a targeted ad campaign on Facebook and need to know if my sales are going up!”
Well, maybe. But the real metric of the success of an ad campaign is the click through rate to your target page, right? And chances are your target page isn’t a direct sales page, it’s information to get the reader in the mood to buy. Information. A juicy sample of your novel. Whatever.
From there, they might buy right away. Or they might wait a while. Again, though, I have yet to see a direct impact on sales right away. Over the course of a few days maybe. Or not.
Another one is promotions and giveaways. While I personally have found them useful for helping to build fan loyalty, none of the ones I’ve tried thus far have had any immediate impact on sales. My checking sales stats every five minutes while those promotions were running was nothing but wasted time.
I’ve resolved to not check my sales stats and book ranks more often than once a day, and I only do that because I put together a spreadsheet calculator that gives me a pretty accurate projection of my royalties and sales figures for the month. So I plug in those numbers once a day and forget about it. I can use the time I gain to work on my next book.
If you’ve got a different experience, I’d love to hear it!