I've had Greg Olear on my blog before to talk about his fantastic new book Fathermucker. (He's also the author of Totally Killer, which is totally killer, and the senior editor of the fabulous The Nervous Breakdown.) Now I'm thrilled that Greg is giving advice about how to deal with the release of a new book. Oh, and Greg? About the new Book Scan feature on Amazon? Be afraid. Be very, very afraid.
The Second Coming
By Greg Olear
With one novel under my belt—it’s called Totally Killer, and there are plenty of good copies still available—I’m now the world’s leading expert on how to approach the release of a new book. Here are five inviolable rules:
1. Thou shalt not obsess over thine Amazon ranking.
Yes, fine, it’s the only real metric we have. And the rest of the publishing world has access to it, so it’s sort of like having to publicly tape-measure your pecker in various stages of post-pool shrinkage—except with Amazon rankings, unlike priapic endowment, large size is not desirable.
But it’s just a number, man, and a fickle one at that; blink and you miss when it breaks 2,500. And it doesn’t take into account all those pre-orders. Or the legions of fine consumers who buy their novels from indie bookstores or the Nook. So don’t let it ruin your whole day when it plummets like lead to the high six digits. And whatever you do…
2. Thou shalt not buy thine own book on Amazon to improve thine Amazon ranking.
Do the math, dude. Just not worth it. But very, very tempting. In fact, I’m completely certain that the nefarious purpose of the Amazon ranking is to shame authors into buying their own books. Speaking of Amazon…
3. Thou shalt ignore thine Amazon reviews.
Although the volume of reviews, good or bad, is probably a better indicator of sales success than the aforementioned Amazon sales ranking—case in point: 151 reviews of a certain New York Times bestseller with a picture of a wingèd camera on its cover—you should read those things at your own peril. People can be mean. Sadistic, even. And in the same way that the über-conservative Republicans are always the ones who vote in every single election, the sadistic one-star-givers are always the ones who cross-post, so…
4. Thou shalt not visit Goodreads.
Seriously. Just stay away from that site. Block it with your parental controls. If being a working writer is like living in a 12-step program, Goodreads is a hideous bender from which you wake up a week later, in some Bangkok slum, with a gang symbol tattoo on your forehead and a bad case of the clap. There should be the Dantean warning on the splash page: abandon hope all ye writers who enter here. Yes, there are a lot of excellent, excellent people on there, and the site has been good to me…but it has also made my heart sink.
5. Thou shalt not visit thine bookstore.
I went a few days before Fathermucker came out and bought a stack of books to last the next few months, because once my novel drops, it fills me with dread to walk into a bookstore. What if they don’t have my book? What if they do, but it’s not prominently placed? Should I swallow my pride and explain to the friendly bookseller that they should carry it? No, no, better to stay home and try one more time to get through Swann’s Way.
Those are the rules. Break them at your peril. Now if you excuse me, Amazon has this new Book Scan feature I have to investigate…