Breaking Free of the Ranking Obsession

When you self-publish, or probably even when you traditionally publish, you become obsessed with stats and sales ranking.  You check Amazon every hour on the hour to see if your ranking changed.  If it shot up, you celebrate.  If it shot down, you become morose, like some kind of special author variety, rapid-cycling bipolar disorder.  You cling to those screen shots of high numbers because, dude, you need PROOF THAT IT HAPPENED!

Needless to say this is a big time suck.  And all the non-writer people in your life are totally like “Huh?”

I don’t know about you, but it TOTALLY interferes with my ability to write.  My focus is totally outside my creative self, and it’s SO easy to get mired in a place where you measure your worth as a writer by this hour’s ranking.

I am happy to report that, for now, I’ve broken free of this habit.  It’s not like I did it on purpose.  When I started the $2.99 experiment, I was tracking pretty steadily to see how that impacted my ranking on FBS.  And then I had to watch it on DE for comparative purposes.  But…eh, it is what it is.  Neither is a new release anymore.  They aren’t FINISHED by any means, as there is always room to attract new readers, but the focus really has to be on producing something NEW.

I still log in every day to check my sales and update my spreadsheet, but mostly I’ve stopped looking at the rankings.  Because right now, they don’t matter.  I’m still making sales, albeit less than I was (really MUST get back on the marketing train), and it means I’m spending way more time with my head in THE STORY than in statistics.  Which, considering I ripped out over 2k yesterday is a GOOD THING.

I think it’s a natural response when you have a new release to obsessively track it to see how well it’s doing.  You want to know that the platform you’ve built, and the fanbase you’ve acquired is actually there supporting you.  Whether this, that, or the other thing you’re doing for marketing and promo is effective.  So when Red releases, when Riven releases, I’m sure I’ll hop back on that train for a while.  But until Red is finished, I’m trying to do everything in my power to STAY FOCUSED.  I’d love to get to a point where that’s the norm rather than the exception.

What about you?  Are you ranking obsessed?  What do you do to break yourself free?

16 thoughts on “Breaking Free of the Ranking Obsession

  1. I would love to know how many readers follow these lists. I know I don’t and I don’t know anyone but writers who seem to be obsessed by it. 😀 To me it seems readers really don’t pick their books based on the ranking list – I doubt many even look at it.

    1. A lot of it is an issue of findability. You are much more likely to show up in searches with a ranking of 1k overall in the Kindle store than with a ranking of 100k. The more you sell, the higher you rank, the more Amazon’s algorithms (and, in theory, B and N’s) will recommend you to browsers.

  2. Yeah, I think the sales ranking is more like a badge that an author uses to show how awesome he or she is. I don’t pay much attention to it anymore, because it became very plain to me that if I used the ranking as my measuring stick of awesomeness, I’d have to concede that I am not all that awesome.

  3. Well sadly my sales peaked at 6 (although looking back it wasn’t ready to be published and so I am planning a revision once my new novel is out) and my website visits have dried up completely in the last few weeks so I have been forcefully removed from that “I’m King of the World” mindset.

  4. I don’t pay much attention to rankings…I figure as long as the books are selling daily and somewhat steadily, that’s more what matters to me. All Romance doesn’t do rankings, and a couple of my books actually sell better there than they do anywhere else.

    I have no expectations of making decent money until I have a lot more books out, so “write & release” is more my focus. I figure the more books I put out, the more exposure I get, more people will buy, and the rankings will take care of themselves. Seems logical, anyways (and way less stressful than worrying about it).

  5. I should clarify – AR doesn’t do rankings on each book page. They do have “top ten” lists…and I was surprised when one of mine made that, but it was rather short-lived and altogether unspectacular, overall. LOL

  6. I understand how tracking ratings could become an interference in your writing life. Instant update make it more of a problem now than in the past when it took weeks to gather sales figures . Personally I am still gather rejections notices … no need to rank them as they are very pro forma

  7. Sadly, I used to be addicted to my blog stats here on WordPress (I don’t have any other stats to look at)…and I agree, I think it IS natural to check out how things are going, or if people out there even care. I’m referring to my old blog here, not my new one.

    The thing is, I also realised it was interfering with my creative side…so now, I just let them be. At the end of the day, what is more rewarding for me is to TRY to write something that I like…and others liking it is just a bonus 😀

    Chloe xx

  8. I know what you mean, sort of. Before, I was obsessed with checking my site stats in my blog. It feels good seeing how the ratings go up, but when it sinks, it feels bad. That’s why I refused to check my site stats. I check it once in a while but not everyday. Not sure if I’ll be like that once I publish my book but hopefully, I won’t be as obsessed.

  9. I obsessively check my sales but don’t pay a lot of attention to the stats. And checking the sales just makes me lose focus so I’m trying not to look. I’ve only published one book so it’s probably not going to do very well right away (it’s been a little over a week) and I try to remind myself that I’ll have better sales if I have more products out there to be bought. So I’m trying to get myself to finish my next project rather than worry over this one. I think in large part it’s out of your hands once you publish…You just try to set up the marketing apparatus and hope it works.

    I’d like to think if you have a good work, it’ll sell. But I guess that remains to be seen.

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