How To Measure Success? [8:58 am]
It may seem obsessive, but every day — sometimes hourly — Aaron Shepard checks the Amazon.com sales rankings for his 12 self-published books. He even created a Web site, www.salesrankexpress.com, that lets authors check their Amazon rankings instantly.
“People want to know where their book stands, just for the thrill of that score,” says Mr. Shepard, whose top seller, “The Business of Writing for Children,” clocked in at 1,834th during one random check last week, and at 2,070th during another one. He says it sells 250 to 450 copies a month.
Mr. Shepard is not alone. Forget writer’s block — many authors put their manuscripts aside because they cannot stop checking their rankings.
“There really should be a 12-step program,” said Harry Kirchner, a senior national accounts manager with Ingram Publisher Services, a book distributor that counts Amazon as a customer.
[...] When Amazon created the system 10 years ago, it could hardly have known how greatly its list would change the dynamics of the publishing business (much the way the company itself did) or how hard writers and industry executives would work to game the system. Today the Amazon rankings list — and, to a lesser extent, a similar list on the Barnes & Noble Web site — is the subject of great microanalysis and some mystery.