Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Playing the numbers game

Any author who tells you she doesn't check her Amazon numbers every single day is lying through her teeth. It's a compulsion. As soon as your book goes on sale somewhere, there is an Amazon ranking. Certain sites like this one consolidate your books into one link so you can check them all at once.

I hate it. But I use it.

I know it means nothing. I know there are other ways to sell books: store sales and library sales and other web sites like and Powell's and Barnes & Noble and Borders and so on. But those are not as easy to quantify as the tried-and-true at-a-glance constantly-updated Amazon rank.

I hate it. But I use it.

So whenever my numbers are particularly low at Amazon (and lord knows I have no clue why they change or what affects them and Amazon certainly doesn't want to divulge their complex algorithms), I go to World Cat or First Search for California Libraries. Both sites have links to libraries where my books are located. I can click on, for instance, Burbank, and see how many copies of ALL ABOUT VEE are available or when they are due back.

I love it.

Checking actual libraries to see there are actual copies in actual readers' hands is far more exciting and personally gratifying than the Amazon rank. I heartily recommend authors who are obssessed with their rank to instead look at library catalogs. It will remind you why you are writing in the first place.

Go, libraries!