People who know me might describe me as a wee bit obsessive. And nothing feeds that side of my nature quite like stats. Oh, the joys of Google analytics! The ability to pore over my clicks and how long people stayed on each page. Oh look, I finally have some readers in Scotland! But shoot, they only stayed on the site for two seconds. Wait, I can cross-reference everything with the cPanel report! Hey, I have four new fans on my Facebook page today, but page interactions are down. How can I better target my ads? And on and on and on.
And then yesterday, I found myself getting depressed. Now, it might have had something to do with working too many hours at my job despite having mono, but a big part of it was the endless racking my brain trying to figure out how to break into a wider market, to make the book go viral, to really give my book wings.
And that's when I realized the hard truth: the only thing that was flying away was the fun. And wasn't that what this was all about in the first place? How did I start out with such noble intentions and still fall prey to the lure of rosy fantasies of fame and fortune? It happened one statistic at a time, that's how.
I think stats are important. They help you see how people are finding your book and who your audience is, all of which helps you make better decisions about advertising. Also, searching the web every morning for my name and book title has helped me find reviews and be able to respond quickly when there have been mistakes. But stats are a tool, not a drug. Looking at them frequently in hopes of getting a rush of excitement is setting yourself up for an ugly crash. And more importantly, it's taking you away from the really important work: writing.
So instead of wasting spare mental cycles thinking about how I can cross the chasm and make it to the big time, rather than daydreaming about getting fan mail and being asked to do book signings, I think my new approach is going to be to try to avoid fame and fortune. I'll check my stats every couple of days to make sure my ads are on target, but with the goal of making the book available to those who want to read it, which was my original intention. I'll keep posting interesting links on my Facebook page about volunteerism, physics, World Toilet Day, and all the other topics I find interesting, not because I'm trying to increase interactivity but because I find something cool I want to share. And most importantly, I'll get back to work on book three, which has been subsumed by my work on marketing book one and trying to finish book two.
So give it a try with me. Put away your book-signing pen and get back to writing. Avoiding fame and fortune isn't easy, but as long as you remember that it's a marathon, not a sprint, you'll have a much better time doing it.