Friday, December 16, 2011

The Amazon Kindle Curse

Before you read any further let me just say that I love Amazon.  I have this love, hate relationship with them but I still need them like I need the air I breath.  This week I made the decision to not go to Amazon every single hour and check my books sales rankings.  That lasted an entire 24 hours and I must say I'm very proud of myself for holding out that long.  I'm a self-published author for those of you that don't know.  And if you don't know it's not because I haven't been promoting my book, A Night at Tears of Crimson, on facebook and twitter for a year now.  The only way I have of judging my books worth is by the sales rankings on Amazon, hence the love/hate relationship I have.

The obsession with those sales rankings has become more addicting than drinking coffee every morning.  I can actually prove that fact by saying I don't get my first cup of coffee until I've clicked on Amazon first.  I'm one of those people that really loves to see others succeed in life.  I follow about 3,000 authors on twitter and each time I see one of these incredible authors climbing up in the sales ranks I felt elated that they were getting the opportunity to have their work read.  When you start watching your colleagues numbers fly up the scale on sales you look at your own and the never-ending search for success begins.

My first thought was I must not be doing something.  I have a decent twitter following of almost 11,000 and my facebook friends are nothing to sneeze at, running almost to 3,000.  Don't get me wrong I love talking to all the wonderful people I've met on Twitter and facebook, these people have become my best friends.  That being said I still couldn't understand why my sales rankings weren't going up.  I had to ask the obvious question.  That question was, was my book worth reading?  So I sent my book to a few people that I knew could care less if I sank or swam and I got a good response.

I made the decision to drop my kindle book to $0.99.  I was really against that move for the first nine months that my book was out there, but at this point I needed to see if it helped.  My rankings started increasing, or decreasing since the lower the number the better your book is doing.  Within a week I had dropped from a ranking of 238,000 to at one point 44,000.  I have to tell you the first day my book hit that lower number I was filled with an elation that is indescribable.  After that first week my numbers started going back up again and the insanity with numbers became an obsession.

I found myself getting emotionally drained every time I saw an increase, which of course means loss, in my sales ranking.  After a week of this even my family was noticing changes in my normally cheerful outlook on life.  I started searching google on a daily basis looking for anything that might offer some insight in how to get more people interested.  I was blogging like a crazy woman and using google insight for trending topics thinking that maybe someone would run across my blog and hopefully want to buy my book.  I started sending out tweets 24/7 promoting and posting to facebook.  Hours a day I did everything I could to increase my odds and reach people.

Two days ago I came to the realization that you can't force your book to succeed.  My sanity is worth much more than a book making a number one best-seller list on Amazon.  I took an internal look and what I discovered was that if this book didn't go on to greatness I was going to be fine.  I have a husband that allows me to stay home full time with my five beautiful children, we aren't swimming in debt, those incredible kids of mine are healthy, and we have a great life regardless of what any sales chart says about my writing.  I've met thousands of incredible friends, which should be impossible for a woman who lives in Rockford, Alabama.  When I look back on everything in my life that I have been blessed with, a sales ranking on Amazon really can't compare at all.

I will probably keep checking on my Amazon ranking, but it won't be with the same doom and gloom mindset that I had previously.  I know that there are so many things in my life that I can be grateful for and if being a famous author isn't one of those things then so be it.  I took a chance, I followed a dream and that's something to be proud of.

Author Michelle Hughes

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