Coping With SO-BAD (Sales of Books Affective Disorder)

Posted: December 12, 2013 in Self-publishing
Tags: , , , ,

Most everyone is familiar with SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder. It’s an insidious form of depression that strikes a sizable percentage of folks when the calender turns to December. Experts say it’s caused by the overcast skies, freezing temperatures, and harsh wind associated with the endless winter that lies ahead for those foolish enough to live in the northern hemisphere. I’ve recently discovered an ailment remarkably similar to SAD, and I thought I’d share it with you.

When I published my novel on Amazon almost a month ago, I had what I thought were realistic expectations regarding sales. I hoped to average one or two a day per month, and for the first two weeks of A World Gone Gray‘s existence, those numbers were met. And to make sure I had first-hand knowledge of each precious sale, I spent most of my post-work time with KDP’s “Reports” tab wide open in my browser and my pointer hovering over the refresh button. I never caught a sale in media res, but I did finally come to the conclusion that my behavior was obsessive at best, and reason for involuntary commitment at worst. I also learned that just like a watched pot never boils, a refreshed ebook never sells. Someday I’ll learn how to sew, and I’ll immortalize that nugget of wisdom on a sampler. Promise.

Fortunately, I recognized my budding addiction and took steps to nip it in the, well, bud. I approached my Reports addiction the same way I approached my nicotine addiction a few years ago. Rather than quit cold turkey, I set limits on the intake of my drug of choice. I refused to let myself refresh the Reports screen more than once an hour. Then, more than once in any two-hour period. Then once every four hours. I can now proudly say that I only check my sales numbers four times a day. Okay, maybe five.

I’ve done exhaustive research on self-publishing for years, but I never realized how easy it is to get addicted to your stats and how that addiction can affect your daily life. If I check the numbers when I wake up and don’t see a new sale, I shrug and begin my day. If I see no sales after lunch and before work (I work a late shift), I begin to stress a little. If I’m still shut-out mid-shift, I find myself dragging through the rest of the day. And if I’m sans sale by the time I go to bed, I no longer care because odds are I have a six-pack in me. But still, kinda hurts.

And I won’t get into the fresh (to me, anyway) Hell that is the “Yellow Bar of Stress” that appears on the Author Central page when Amazon is “experiencing a delay updating your sales,” though it does serve as a nice compliment to the “Brown Bar of Death” that indicates your lack of sales for the month in a given market. In my case, however, the yellow bar was merely a week-long buffer against the painful fact that I only sold two books. Thanks for letting me down gently, Mr. Bezos.

I’m almost longing for the days when a poorly-photocopied rejection letter was the only evidence of my suckitude as a writer. Almost.

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