News broke this week that soon three major publishers — including mine — will have an authors portal so we can view up-to-date sales information for our books. This just rounds out the recent move by Amazon to make sales data visible to authors, and not just sales data from Amazon.
As an author, it’s a kick in my stomach every time I see numbers that are measurable by man. Nothing but “Sorry, that book is selling so well we can’t process it…” would satisfy me. The truth can be… er, grounding, to say the least.
I wonder how any author can survive the magnitude of information available to us. Amazon and GoodReads reviews allow us to hover around actual readers while they read — many post updates as they plow through it. If they’re reading your book on a Kindle and highlighting, you can find out what they highlighted. The distance between author and reader isn’t just getting smaller, it’s disappearing. In a seemingly disconnected trend, authors invite readers to send pictures of new books “in the wild”, as they appear on bookshelves. So we can see our books before they’re bought, and we can monitor the readers afterwards…. I guess using Google Earth we could even follow the reader home from the bookstore… OK, not really. But I’ll bet if we could, we would.
WHY ARE YOU STOPPING FOR COFFEE?? OK, FINE BUT… NO! DON’T PICK UP THE ONION! YOU HAVE A BOOK RIGHT THERE YOU CAN READ WHILE YOU’RE WAITING! WHAT’S WRONG WITH YOU?
Some of my writer friends say they don’t check sales data or read the customer reviews, but I can’t stop myself. I want to know how the book is doing. I wrote the books so people would buy and read them, after all. But I understand that you have to let go of the book, like a child heading off to college. There’s nothing more I can do, I have to tell myself. If I raised that book right, it’ll make its way and be all right. I’m struggling with that, and my publisher doesn’t want to help by setting up a web-cam in the college dorm of my books’ success. NOTE: They mean well.
On the flip side, you don’t need to worry about Byron. He’ll head off to college in the battered hand-me-down jet car, unpack by himself, and tell his new roomie: My dad? Nah, he didn’t come to help. He couldn’t tear himself away from that new app that lets him watch the readers’ eyes while they read his ebook.