Saturday, December 17, 2011

Amazon's Instant Gratification

Today is my free day on Amazon. If you're reading this blog and you haven't already downloaded A Gift of Ghosts from Amazon could you please go do that? Pretty please? I'll wait right here, I promise.

Okay, so yes, it's not quite 7 AM east coast time. And I'm not sure what time Amazon's promotion starts, although I could probably find that out pretty quickly, but I'm going to guess that it starts at midnight Pacific time, since that's where Amazon is located. (I'll go check after I finish writing this just to make sure.)

I'm super anxious about today's free day. I wish I could say that anxious wasn't the right word; I mean I really long for the day when I am so healthy that anxiety isn't my default switch. I believe in the possibility of that day, I really do, and it's why I spend so much time working on mindfulness and relaxation exercises and trying to learn to live in the moment. But anxious is still the right word for today.

I love my book, I love Akira and Zane, and I want some geeky teenage girl who likes science to find Akira and decide to be a physicist. The only way that geeky girl finds it is if it sells enough that it's visible, and so today's free day matters. Not a lot. Not as much as a free day when there are more reviews posted. Not nearly as much as a free day next year when I have three books written and a fourth on the way (although if I don't get back to writing every day, that goal starts to look a little ambitious).

So, I tell myself, I need to set a goal. I know that if you're reading this and you're not an anxious person, you think I'm crazy. I actually could tell a funny story about that, but it would be a serious digression and take a while, so I'll save it. Suffice to say that goals and anxiety work together like bagels and cream cheese, red wine and marinara sauce, ice cream and hot fudge, and yes, I am hungry, why do you ask? Anyway, I decide to set a goal. That way, when I know that my goal has been achieved, I can relax and let go of my anxiety.

But what's a good goal? Dean Wesley Smith said first book, first-time author, 30 sales in six months. Realistically, I always expected to do better than that. Not because I know more about the market than he does (I don't, nowhere close) but because I was pretty sure my first 10 sales would be friends and family. I thought probably 10 sales in the first week and five reviews. I hoped for 20 sales and 10 reviews in the first month. Then they'd slow down, of course, and maybe then I should expect 5 sales a month and 2 reviews? At the end of six months, I would have sold 45 copies, and had 20 reviews. And yeah, that sounds pretty reasonable to me for six months, first book, first author. Then the second book would come out, and I'd be on my way to my long-term goal. I think I want to write more about that long-term goal, but I'll save that for later, too.

But that goal -- 45 copies in six months -- doesn't include free days. So the question is then, what to expect on a free day when no one really knows the book? I decide that 20 downloads is the reasonable goal, and 50 is the happy goal. More than 20 is the number that will make me say, okay, that was good, right choice to make a free day this early, and 50 is the goal that will make me say, yay, yay, yay, let's dance with the dog around the living room and eat another Christmas cookie to celebrate. It's never been about the sales, not for this book, just the readers.

Of course, I need to know how many copies I've already sold in order to know whether I've reached my goal at the end of the day. If I've already sold 14 (which I had), I'd need to reach 34 for the good goal, 64 for the happy goal. So I decide to look at the Report page of Kindle Direct Publishing and find out how many copies are already sold so that at the end of the day, I'll know whether I've succeeded.

Yeah, can you believe it took me this many words to get to the point? Amazon has these reports. You can look at the report and find out exactly how many copies of the book have sold. There's another report that tells you royalties, but it goes week by week and I'm not at the end of my first week until the end of today, so it's currently useless to me. And yes, I am starting to drag this out. But I'm scared to write it.


86 units sold.

It's now 7:35 AM on my free day, and I am 22 units ahead of my goal. Should I change the goal (I will, I have to, I can't help myself) or should I go dance around the living room and eat a Christmas cookie? (And yes, that's going to come first!)

If you downloaded my book, thank you, thank you, thank you for giving me this happy morning! If I could email you a Christmas cookie, I would. :)

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