Don’t Watch The Scale or The Psychology of A Sales Ranking

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So, today I reached another milestone in my venture into self-publishing. My books are no longer free. Both Books 1 & 2 in the Grace & Witherbloom series—The Girl Who Died Backwards and The Flood Lily—will now set people back a whopping $.99 each (or the equivalent in other countries.)

Now, I was fully aware of what was coming next. After a surge of downloads of well over a thousand books for the first story and hundreds and hundreds of downloads for the second book, things would slow down. Also, the books would go from being listed in Amazon’s free book rankings (where they sat comfortably around #1,000 of all the millions of Kindle books and occupied the top 10 and top 20 of their subgenres, reaching #1 a couple of times) to being listed in the paid section. In the paid section, all of those downloads would no longer be counted.

What I wasn’t quite ready for was the psychological effect of going from about #1,000 or so to #280,000 in the rankings. Kindle provides this little graph of your sales rank, and there was a VERY long red line indicating the plummet in rank of the books. It felt as if Amazon had cast my books out into a deep and dark pit.

I had been obsessively checking the downloads, reveling in shock at the huge number of people snapping them up. Now, things have gone quite a bit slower. But I realized something. When you are trying to lose weight they tell you to not check the scale every day. With weight, this is because your weight can fluctuate a lot from day to day due to water weight. It’s better to only check your weight once and week so some of these fluctuations are smoothed out and you can concentrate on the accomplishment of the full week. I realized that by checking the sales of the book constantly I was really only driving myself crazy in the same way as someone jumping on a scale every day. And I was letting the heady (and artificially inflated) rush of free book downloads get in the way of enjoying my REAL accomplishment.

As of today, about 12 or so copies of my book have sold for money. Now, that’s small potatoes compared to the numbers I was getting, but they are no less special and important than the hundreds and hundreds of downloads that came before. They mean that someone saw the description and perhaps read the sample on Amazon and decided they were worth spending real, hard-earned money on them. And that’s an amazing feeling.

Now, I should point out that this doesn’t mean I’m not eternally grateful for the people who downloaded the first or second book for free. Quite the opposite. They helped get the book exposure. They are reading them now. They are writing lovely reviews on Amazon and rating it highly on Goodreads.com. They are all wonderful people who saw something completely new and gave it a go. And now hopefully they’ll keep wanting to read the books. And they’ll tell their friends. But all of these benefits take time to sink it. It’s a long game.

So it’s time to step off the scale. Sales ranking be damned, I say! I want these books to be successful. I’d love to be a writer full time, and I’m committed to making it happen. So sales are important. They are critical, in fact. But I think it’s good to keep them in the proper perspective and really enjoy even these early days, no matter how many red arrows and plunging graph lines Amazon might show me. Oh, and it should be pointed out that it only took a few sales and now the books have shot up to around #40,000 or so in the rankings. So a little goes a long way, and that all happened in a day.

To conclude with, I have posted the synopsis and title for Book 3, due out February 21st on Facebook. I thought I’d share it here too.

Grace & Witherbloom: The Village That Sleeps, Book 3 in the continuing series. What happened to the residents of the picturesque Welsh village of Ddubryn? And why have the authorities closed it off to the rest of the world? Josiah Witherbloom must enter the village alone to uncover its secrets, but finding answers to the mysteries of the village that sleeps will become—quite literally—a matter of life and death.

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