Sunday 5 May 2013

Tracking Sales - The After Process

It's something some writers do, in fact I'd go as far to say as a lot of writers do it. Both those who are self-published and those who went the more conventional route. You want to know how your book is doing, you want to know if it's selling and if it is, how many. The trick is to not fall into the trap of checking your sales every few minutes. Something those who are self-published have the ability to do.

As someone who has been there and done the refreshing and checking, it's hard to break the habit. Of course it's best that you never start in the first place but I think that's a rather unreal demand. If you're a writer, and you've published in some way, you're going to want to know that people are actually reading your works. And checking every few days for sales and possibly your rank on Amazon or other places is okay, it's when it starts to affect the work you're doing or your life that it becomes a problem.

So, you've decided that you're going to write a book and you get it published by some means or another. You then decide that you kinda like this writing stuff and so you'll write another. However, you want to be sure that your audience is captivated with your new work. For those of us who have decided to go the self-publishing route (for one reason or another) the big problem with tracking sales religiously is that unless you've done some self-promoting (a piece about this can be found here) then people aren't necessarily going to *know* that you even have a book out. After Blackout was first released as an e-book, I didn't do much promoting. People knew it was there, but they were usually my friends or family and there are only so many sales that are going to come from that. It wasn't until my third and fourth books were released that I realised I had to do some serious self-promotion. I'll admit it, I was an amateur and made a mistake.

Once I got the self-promotion started, it became a thing where I would check every morning to see if there were sales. In the beginning there weren't many, or any really. Then I did a promotion and my sales went through the roof (for me at least, maybe not for someone like Harlan Coben or Sue Grafton.) Suddenly I was seeing sales double by the minute and I realised that I needed to carry on with the promotion, which I did. However, I then fell into the trap of putting too much stock into how many sales I made that day.

As with all things, the huge surge in sales trickled down, people knew I was there but until I released book five and got some reviews that would convince others to try me out (I was, after all a very new writer on the scene) I wasn't going to be able to do anything myself. I started to think that it wasn't worth finishing the books I was working on, I got too fixated on sales rather than doing the thing I loved - writing. And there's the problem. If you're a writer, an author or whatever you want to call yourself, then it's obvious that you probably don't do it for the money, but because you like to create from nothing a story about characters you thought up. If tracking your sales becomes something you base your day's work on, you can lose that love of your work. And nobody should have to do a job that isn't fun. They do because the world works like that, but they shouldn't have to.

Anyway, I digress. Tracking sales is something you should check because you want to know that your book(s) are selling, but alongside that you should be tracking reviews, doing self promotion, interviews and interaction with the audience for your genre. It shouldn't control everything you do, it should just be something that is part of the job. Something that you do, but that doesn't have an effect on your general overview of your work. Some great books don't make that many sales, and others make so many you wonder how people can read them. It's all down to the audience.

So, by all means track your sales and your rank on stores and websites, but remember that writing is a joy and don't make it something that takes away part of that joy. Now I have to go read my piece on Distractions to remind myself that I do actually have a job to do :D

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