Sunday, February 14, 2010

Things Writers Hate To Talk About #1

The very first question that my friends and family ask is usually the most painful: "So, how's the book doing?" Sounds innocent enough, eh? Yeah. It's also the one question guaranteed to send the author into an emotional frenzy where we lay in bed staring at the little red numbers on the digital clock as they change from one number to another. All. Night. Long.

The honest answer is that we don't have any freaking idea. Okay, that's a little bit of a lie. We have a TINY freaking idea that has formed from the ridiculous amount of time we spend online gleaning as much information as we can. We look at Goodreads, we check our Amazon rankings (like five or six times a day), we search for the book's name on Twitter, we look at all of our Google Alerts and for those of us with a truly masochistic streak - we look at NovelRank over and over (if you're lucky enough not to know about NovelRank, consider yourself lucky and continue to live in ignorant bliss). From this we usually gather two things:
1. Some people are buying the book.
2. We have no idea how many or what it means in the long run.

All of the writers I know go through some degree of this - those who say they don't are either lying or we are just not able to be friends with them. After days of angsty meandering, writers who won't need therapy will probably come to one, logical realization: there isn't a whole heck of a lot you can do about it. You've written the best book you can, you've gotten an online presence/website, you've made as many contacts as you can and scheduled the signings/conferences/seminars - the rest of it is really out of your hands. This is a difficult realization for many of us who are control freaks and have spent every step of the way as the book evolved with our fingers right in it. Say it with me: There is nothing else you can do.

Truly zen authors are able to gradually wean themselves off compulsively checking every measurement of their book's worth. I've heard of writers who actually turn off Google Alerts and never read their GoodReads reviews. I'm working on becoming one of them. Just as soon as I open my Google Alerts. Oh, and make one more teensy pass on Amazon.

On this date: In 1929, Penicillin was discovered (on Valentines Day no less...coincidence?)


storyqueen said...

I don't have google alerts on and I don't read goodreads very much, but that's not because I'm zen...probably just lazy.

but I agree, I think the most annoying question is "how are are your books doing."

Seriously, I never have a good answer for it.

(And I'm sure your book is doing great!!)


Anonymous said...

Happy Valentine's Day!! I just finished reading you're book and I loved it. Congrats again!

Julie_c said...

I don't know about NovelRank. Do I want to?

cynjay said...

Short answer: no.
Long answer: NovelRank is at You register your book title and it tracks each and every sale on Amazon for you. Like you want that info?!? Let me warn you, once you know about it, you can't unknow about it.

Jessica Leader said...

Ah, another aspect of publication to look forward to! But forewarned is forearmed. And thank you for letting me know about the awfulness of novel-whatsit. I will never register--and I will transfer half of my happy karma points to you!!

Suzette Saxton said...

I had never heard of novelrank. Guess I can't "unknow" it. ;) Thank you for telling me about it!

I'm adding your book to my 2010 debut author challenge. Can't wait to read it!

cynjay said...

Thanks for the book love Shelley, Suzette and Anon. Hope you enjoy it!

Through deep breathing and a twitchy mouse finger, I'm down to checking only two or three times a day. Wish there was a patch or gum for it...