Thursday, September 25, 2008

Are you an Amazon addict?

In his blog, Andrew Crofts writes about Paranoia on the Amazon Roller Coaster. I've seen that condition, many times, in authors who are in the midst of book promotion campaigns.

The way it usually works is that an author who gets a book publicity media hit runs to the computer after a live radio interview to check his/her Amazon rank. If the rank hasn't changed, I get an email dripping with frustration. "The radio interview didn't sell any books," says the author. "What else can we do to promote my book?"

In the spirit of full disclosure, I"m not exactly sure how Amazon's ranking system works. I've heard rumors, but I don't know the facts. To the extent that Amazon's rankings reflect book promotion-related media hits, the relationship is not instantenous, nor is it permanent. I know that. The rest, as far as I can tell, is information that's more closely guarded that the Hope Diamond -- and perhaps rightfully so, since authors and publishers can drive themselves crazy by staring at those numbers, hour after hour, and trying to figure out how to change them for the better, and then how to maintain their rankings.

I always tell authors that Amazon rankings are probably a fine measure of something. The problem is, since we don't know what Amazon rankings measure, exactly, it doesn't seem to be a good investment of one's energy to focus them.

Focus on the book promotion campaign and on delivering the messages you want to convey, is what I tell authors. Get the word out. Let potential book buyers see your expertise for themselves. Woo them. Let them come to rely on you and respect your credility. Over the long haul, this focus on your mesaging and your brand usually help sell your book.

Check out Amazon's rankings, once in a while -- but not every hour, on the hour, and certainly not after every media hit when you're conducting a book promotion campaign. Checking out Amazon's numbers all the time when you're in the middle of a book promotion campaign is like weighing yourself constantly when you're on a diet. You'll drive yourself crazy, and you won't accomplish anything positive. So stop obsessing about the numbers, and remember the point of a book promotion campaign: to gain as much visibility for your book, and for you, as possible, and let people come to the conclusion -- over the long haul -- that they want to buy your book.

It doesn't always happen right away. But, if your book promotion campaign goes well, then it will happen. Have faith. And stop making yourself nuts with those elusive Amazon numbers.