Thursday, January 13, 2011

Thoughts on: Can I Make Myself Any More Mental? c.anne.gardner

So, as most Indie authors already know, especially if you are on Twitter, that Amazon announced on December 8th that it would make weekly geographical BookScan results available free to any author who has an Author Central account. Now those of us who have had Author Central accounts for a while know that of late Amazon has been making some dramatic changes to its Author Central Portal and these are just some of the new ones...

Author Central News

See how your print books are selling across the U.S.!
December 8, 2010 5:24 PM

We're happy to announce that - for the first time ever - authors can see weekly sales trends of their print books as reported by Nielsen BookScan. On the new Sales Info tab you can view your print book sales geographically, as well as by paperback or hardcover. These features are on the same page as the existing Amazon Bestsellers Rank History so that you can view all your sales-related activity in one place.
Note that BookScan doesn't report every book sold. Though it's still widely regarded as the industry standard for tracking print book sales. And now, through Author Central, you have access to this data for free. Check out Sales by Geography and Sales by Week now!

Introducing the new Sales Rank and Customer Reviews tabs
October 27, 2010 2:57 PM

Many of you have told us you check your Amazon Bestsellers Rank often to see the changes in your books' ranks, so we thought we’d make it easier for you. Check out the new Sales Rank tab to see how your Bestsellers Rank trends over time.
We’ve also consolidated Customer Reviews across your bibliography on the new Customer Reviews tab. You can sort by oldest, newest, star rating, and conveniently add a comment to a review.
Let us know what you think with our Contact Us form. Enjoy!

Multiple Author Photos
July 22, 2010 4:10 PM

Some of you have asked for more than one photo on Author Pages and we're happy to say it's possible now. Visit the Profile tab, and add up to eight images in total. You can use the image editor to drag and drop them into any order you want. The first image will be the primary “full size” image readers see first on the Author Page. Smaller versions of the other images will be featured below it, waiting for readers to scroll over them for a looksy (look-see?)

...and I can say, in my opinion, that the changes for the most part have made the portal easier to use and much more functional for retrieving data. I can access reviews as they come in without accessing individual book pages, and now with ranking and BookScan information, I've got a lot of information twiddling around in the cyber-air right at my fingertips, as do many authors, and I am certain that for the Type A stat watching sort, this is the last thing we need. Oh yeah, I had my moments when I first started out. I was watching sales ranks and reviewer ranks and page hits and a whole bunch of other equally meaningless shite for no good reason at all other than I felt some sort of delusion that the ubiquitous cosmic forces had granted me magical power. Hoooo Wheee! I could actually see how popular I was -- or NOT -- just by gazing at a few randomly shifting numbers. For a while there, I felt like I was chasing marbles across a glass floor. I had become obsessed with the wrong thing, obviously, and for those who are terrible marketers and rather shy on the net like myself, numbers watching can send you spiralling into the depths of a whiskey bottle or worse. I had to strap myself in and take a time out a couple of years ago. I discovered during that break that I am an art writer, not a career writer, and trying to jack my vein with statistics was an addiction I just didn't want or need, and so I refrain from stat watching now. Sure, Amazon doesn’t make it easy on us with the nice new sleek look and all the information we can stand a click away. It's like walking by someone smoking when you are only a week or so into your New Year's resolution. That smoke smells so sweet, all the promise of relaxation and contentment billowing like a misty puff of hope on a spring breeze. The taste of the menthol on your tongue, the cool mintyness of it as you inhale a wish for inner peace and exhale a moment's worth of anxiety out of your life, but we all know, later -- when we've got the shakes and we are clawing at the walls because we feel like shit inside and out -- the full measure of our addiction.

I know, seems a rather dramatic analogy, but I also know there are a lot of writers out there right now reading this and nodding their head in understanding because they are fighting the addiction as well. When I think about every minute my obsession with statistics kept me distant from my writing, and more importantly, kept me mentally disengaged from my family and friends and peers, it makes me shudder with shame. Now I am not saying that we should completely disregard statistics. If you write for the art of it, then yes, statistics are not really important. If you want to be a career writer, then of course you should pay attention to your sales trends -- in moderation. Every minute you are slobbering over your computer screen, picking at scabs, you aren't writing your next book, or blog post, or press release, or review, or whatever. Your eye isn't on the right ball. And if your stats are depressing -- however the word depressing might be relevant to you -- just remember that there are a thousand million trillion different combinations of reasons why you might think that, and it's not always about your writing.

So Amazon, we love you and all that -- as much as we can within reason -- and we thank you for your continued support, especially when it comes to Indie authors, but some of us cannot manage the knowledge you have given us without gnawing our fingernails up to our elbows. And authors, if you find yourself saying: "Let me just quick check my stats first..." more than once a day, you might have a problem: that goes double for obsessing over Twitter Followers or Facebook Friend numbers. Shake it off man. Get to a meeting.

Cheryl Anne Gardner was a stat addict. She has been net sober since January 2008.


Kristine said...

Amen, sister.

Been clean and stat-sober for 9 months now :)

Cheryl Anne Gardner said...

Maybe we should start an online group: Stataddicts annonymous. I mean really, that shit made me certifiable.