Wednesday, August 8, 2007

A Recovering Amazoniac

OK, this doesn’t really have a lot to do with career advice, but then again, maybe it does. It’s more a note to myself (and maybe someone else can learn something from it).

When my book was published, Feb. 7, I did the first thing any author does: I checked my ranking. When I wasn’t No. 1, I checked a few hours later. Hmmm…still not No. 1.

Thus began my downward spiral on that cold winter day into what I called Amazonitis. For those of you who are not book authors, you may not be familiar with the term. Let me explain: It’s the habitual, debilitating checking of your book’s rating at all hours of the day or night. Doesn’t matter what else is going on – giving birth, winning the Nobel Peace prize or having Oprah on the line – you have the overwhelming urge to check your book’s ranking.

Of course, the more smug book authors among us will say they never check their rankings, or only do so every once in a while “on a whim.” They’re lying. No book author who cares about his or her work can resist logging onto from anywhere in the world and checking the ranking.

Think I’m making this up? Just Google “Amazon book rankings” and see the number of stories and opinions and philosophies devoted to rankings. The general consensus is this: The rankings mean NOTHING. Next to nothing.


To book authors, they mean a lot. They represent what the world thinks of our endeavors, of our dreams to enter the realm of “book authors,” to be forever linked with the profession that turned out Edgar Allen Poe, Jane Austen and Donald Trump.

Still, after months of sneaking around to check my rankings day and night (“You’re not checking that *&^% ranking again, are you?!!” my husband would yell from the other room), I’ve finally reached my saturation point. I need help. I know I need help, and thus I’m posting these 12 steps for anyone who becomes obsessed with his or her book rankings or any other work-related matter that really doesn’t really matter a hoot.

With inspiration from various 12-step recovery programs, here is the process for Amazonics Anonymous:

1. I admit I am powerless over book rankings – and that my life has become unmanageable.
2. I have come to believe that a Power greater than myself can restore me to sanity. My book agent informed me that those rankings don’t mean anything. If a New York literary agent says it doesn’t matter, then it must be so.
3. I have made a decision to turn my will and my life over to the care of God as I understand Him. Well, at least I’ll always rank No. 1 with God.
4. I have made a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. OK, I admit it. I’m pathetic. I bet J.K. Rowling never checks her ranking.
5. I’ve admitted to God, and to myself, and to another human being the exact nature of my wrongs. I told my husband that one night when I couldn’t sleep I checked my ranking at 3 a.m. “You’re a whack job,” my soul mate surmised.
6. I am entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Want to hear something truly sad? I nearly ruined my computer trying to check my rankings while brushing my teeth. Crest doesn’t remove easily from between the keys, let me tell you.
7. I humbly ask Him to remove all my shortcomings. At the very least, take away my high speed Internet until I get more control.
8. I’ve made a list of all persons I have harmed, and have become willing to make amends to them all. That includes my family, the PTA, my dog, two cats and the two Jehovah’s Witnesses I ignored at the door while feeding my addicition.
9. I have made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. My family, the PTA and the animals all were gracious – the Jehovah’s Witnesses surmised I was a “total whack job.”
10. I have continued to take personal inventory and when I am wrong I promptly admit it. I admit I also check Barnes and Noble’s rankings, although they don’t update as often and so don’t feed my ranking fetish nearly as well.
11. I have sought through prayer and meditation to improve my conscious contact with God as I understand Him, praying only for his knowledge of His will for me and the power to carry that out. Hey God, it sure would be great if I knocked Harry Potter off the bestseller lists…
12. I have had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, and have tried to carry the message to other Amazonics Anonymous members, and to practice these principles in all my affairs.

FYI: The next meeting place of Amazonics Anonymous has yet to be determined. There will be plenty of coffee, however, and a Wi-Fi connection….



1stbioblogger said...

Believe it or not, Anita, it has never occured to me to check the rankings for my BIOBLOGS book. I neither expect a high ranking nor fret over not achieving one. I think of my book as a marketing tool, an educational aide, in presenting an idea and a concept. I read your book and think it is a fine piece of work, thorough and practical, and is much needed by countless "clueless" workers. But you need to think of it as a marketing tool, not an end in itself, to maintain your sanity. And from someone who has been in the business of words for a long time, remember: to most folks, its just ink on paper. Nothing to go crazy over. There's lots of it out there these days.

Anita said...

You sound just like the little voice in my head. I tell myself this all the time, and I'm getting better, I really am. But I have a competitive side to me that I'm not always able to control. But I know I just have to take it one day at a time....

Anonymous said...

I once had an e-doc at Number 1 on amazon's best-selling-e-doc list. It was a kick. Number two was something by Steven King, and number three was the bible. Wow! It stayed at the top for about a week. It sold a whole twenty copies. Reality is tough.

Love your twelve steps.

Unknown said...

I have the solution for you. Substitute your obsession for Amazon by checking Technorati for your blog. This worked for me. Think of it as methadone.

Anita said...

Gee, thanks...I hate to think I'm missing out on a new obsession. I'll get started right away...!

Anonymous said...

Hi Anita

You know it took me (as POD/self-publisher) months to figure out how to 'place' my own book as re-seller on ;-)

(So there's still hope for me then - the only habit I'm trying to quit now is checking my stat.counter hits on the to my business novel dedicated website ;-))