Friday, February 24, 2006

My Ego and Amazon

I've made the mistake of monitoring the Amazon Sales Rank for AoaN.

It's addictive, it's disheartening, it's a complete waste of time. This started on Friday, February 17th. I was ranked 97,630th in sales. Out of the millions of books that they sell, and the fact that I had shown no record of sales through Amazon, that number didn't mean much. The next day I looked again. I was 176,304th. Dropping 78,674 places in 24 hours held more meaning than a static number, because I can feel movement. And it felt funny. It felt like more of a blow. It felt as though my online marketing efforts were just not cutting the mustard. Little did I know how difficult the mustard is to cut.

By Saturday I had dropped to 243,243th and on Tuesday I was 327,387th. Later in the week I was 504,467th and 567,264th.

Zero to One

Obviously, the ranking system is based upon how many books you sell. According to Dan Poynter's Publishing Poynters, if you're selling 15 books per week, your ranking will vacillate between 2000 and 9000. If you are selling 265 books per week, your ranking will come in somewhere around 75 to 100. He has no poynter as to how many you must sell to be under 75, but his point is made. According to my weekly sales accounts, I'm somewhere in the range of 0 to 1 book.

This is not necessarily a bad thing. The book has been selling, just not through Amazon, but through the publisher, I prefer this because Booklocker and I receive a better payoff. Still, I can't deny that Amazon is booksales in our world today. Unlike how Al Gore invented the Internet, they actually did create the vast realm of Ecommerce as we know it today, and did so with an otherwise poorly selling product: books. Yet for the person behind the book, the world they hatched is very public, completely instantaneous and can make one feel exposed, as though all focus is on the growth-end of the "warts and all" disclaimer.

I needed a little consolation as I was being exiled to the hinterlands of Amazon's ether, so I looked to see who I was sharing the ether with.

Sublime to Infantine

Last Sunday I was at 891,136 right behind "Bronco Buster (Take Ten: Thrillers)" by Susannah Brin, a 96 page paperback for reading level 9-12. Fortunately, I found I was ahead of the apparently brainier "Teaching and Learning Personality Assessment (Lea Series in Personality and Clinical Psychology)" by Leonard Handler and Mark J. Hilsenroth. Oddly, there could be a pattern forming. Yesterday I was 933,552nd, right in front of "Commentary on the Psalms" by Allan Harman - and yet trailing "This is the Bear" by Sarah Hayes and Helen Craig. Again, I seemed to be bookended by the sublime and the infantine. Given the nature of AoaN, there is an obvious poignancy here.

Today I am 979,630th, a mere 20, 370 spots below a 1,000,000th ranking. One million books above me. That's kind of nice, actually. I can visualize it as a ladder to the moon, so I'm going to try to celebrate the million mark. And I'm going to hope that some more exposure through book reviews (which could take months), this blog and other efforts might give me one or two sales through Amazon so that I might dip back down to the 700,000nds.

Meanwhile, I'll turn my attentions to, where today I'm a coming in at a more palatable 368,901st.


Blogger Jonathan Foster said...

I did it.

Today I am 1,013,787th.

To the moon.

March 02, 2006 6:31 AM  
Blogger Gerric Duncan said...

Jonathan, how can you expect to sell AoaN by calling it a "novel"? Hardly the way into Oprah's Book Club. Remember, selling is all about selling yourself.

Another lesson from James Frey: AoaN just doesn't sing with prose like, "I look at my clothes and my clothes are covered with a colorful mixture of spit, snot, urine, vomit, and blood." No character in AoaN has that flare for fashion.

By the way, if I read my stats right, Frey's book currently ranks about 1815 at Amazon.

1815 struck a chord. A note from one of my classes tells me that 1815 marks - roughly - the beginning of the Industrial Revolution. Which led to cheap printing. Which created a mass market. On to Amazon and Frey.

Thinking about writing and pre-1815, I googled Shelly and the year and got the other Shelly. Mary miscarried her first child in 1815 and had a dream about bringing it back to life, which led to a novel.

I do have a point to all this, but I just looked at my clothes and noticed that on my clothes were snot and urine on my clothes, so I must take my clothes home to wash my clothes in the Laundry.

March 04, 2006 3:12 PM  
Blogger Jonathan Foster said...

I'm a sucker for a good dose of synchronicity, and the eerie Shelley coincidence kept me awake for two nights.

As for the James Frey debacle, it's not too late to have AoaN published as an autobiography as opposed to a novel. The arrangement with a POD publisher is I still hold exclusive rights. All the cards. And exclusivity means I control its history. Fortunately, I didn't put Oprah anywhere in the footnotes.

I'll register it here: I'd like to repost your description above as the first review/response to the book. Am I given permission Mr. Duncan?

March 06, 2006 6:35 AM  
Blogger Jonathan Foster said...

Yesterday I was 1,125,382nd.

Coming in at 1,125,383rd? 100 Meditations for Advent and Christmas: Selected from the Upper Room Daily Devotional Guide.


March 06, 2006 6:38 AM  

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