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Friday, December 10, 2010

Bookscan: My One and a Half Cents

Most of you have probably heard about the latest news: Authors can now see their bookscan sales figures for free. I tweeted yesterday about not needing another reason to obsess/procrastinate, but trust me, I'm not any stronger of mind than any of the other authors who haven't navigated away from their Amazon page in the last twenty-four hours. In fact, in full disclosure, I did go to Amazon to check it out and see what all the fuss was about.

But while waiting for the little tutorial tour about reading sales figures to complete, a little voice in the back of my head whispered, "Remember GoodReads?" And yes, I do remember GoodReads. Very well. GoodReads and I have a very close love/hate relationship. It's not that I mind finding mixed reviews of my book. What bothers me is that checking GoodReads has become such a habit, harder to break than a crack habit (or so I imagine), and it really can affect my day/mood/writing.

So I walked away. I decided not to learn how to open and read the Bookscan section of Amazon. I need another bad habit like I need a hole in the head.

This is not to say I disagree with Bookscan numbers being available. Well, not completely. But if an author is on there out of fear that their book is not selling well enough, that's not a good reason, in my opinion.That's just one big recipe for crazy-making.

Authors are encouraged to put a lot of their time and effort into marketing and promoting our own books, and it only makes sense that we should be able to track whether or not various promotions are working. And that sounds great. And it probably would be great if we were created part-machine. But as novelists we are emotional people. We NEED those emotions to make our books great. The last thing we want to do is allow ourselves to become jaded and apathetic, or worse, heartbroken and only able to write about mopey, depressed characters.

While I agree that we are adults and professionals who should have all necessary information regarding our careers, I return again to the crack addict analogy. Is this simply a bad habit we will pick up that won't really help us at all? 

So how many of us can be detached enough to look at the return on work/investment of marketing and promotion without allowing ourselves to feel like failures or having those numbers make us more weary for the road ahead? I know I can't. And so I will be steering clear of checking my own sales numbers.

I say leave the study of "the numbers" to those who are clear-headed enough to interpret them properly, and without a trigger effect to the rest of their lives.


  1. I'm leaning this way, too. Enough to worry about already.

  2. Yes - we need to focus on the long run - success is measured by how we feel about our work (is it the best I can do? Can I make my next book stronger?)

    I don't look at my Goodreads comments any more. But I do like the ability to check Bookscan, even if I rarely take advantage of it.

    Nice post, Denise.