I have a tortured relationship with Amazon.com. I am not alone in this. For writers, Amazon is one of the only ways of getting feedback and seeing how well one’s book is doing. Of course, Amazon doesn’t always give the most accurate picture, because not everyone who likes (or dislikes) a book takes the time to put up a review on Amazon and Amazon is only one of many booksellers. However, that doesn’t stop writers from visiting Amazon as if the site will somehow reveal their future and that of their book. I.e. “Oh my god! Anonymous in Chicago hates it! I better get myself a trade! Quick, how long does it take to become a plumber?”
A few days ago I saw a list of strategies writers can use to sell more books and get better reviews on Amazon. I would like to offer writers one more feature for dealing with Amazon in the form of a twelve step diagnosis and recovery program for Amazonism, a very debilitating condition that can have serious consquences for one’s mental and physical health.
Six Steps To Diagnosing Amazonism
1. Do you check your book’s sales stats on Amazon more than once per day? More than once per hour?
2. Have you ever purchased your own book on Amazon in an effort to increase your sales stats, even though you already have several boxes full of books that you are currently using as furnishings and resting places for lamps?
3. Have you ever wept over a negative review, even a misspelled one that lamented how “borng” or “stoopid” your book was? Have you ever reread such a review more than ten times in lieu of cutting yourself or some other self-destructive habit?
4. Have you ever created a fictional Amazon account and written a positive review of your own book in an effort to get back up to four stars? If so, did you intentionally misspell words and use poor grammar in an effort to sound more legitimate? Did you get caught doing this? Do you worry about getting caught doing this?
6. Do you spend an inordinate amount of time reading the hundreds of five star reviews of more popular writers searching in vain for a two or three star review?
If you’ve answered yes to any of the above, you qualify for the Amazonism Recovery Program.
Six Short Steps to Amazonism Recovery
1. Admit that you have a problem with Amazon and that your obsession with the site is making your life unmanageable. Quickly check your book’s Amazon page to see if anything has changed or an actual reader has given you a positive review, which would be a nice way for God to reward you for your honesty.
2. Become willing to try and wean yourself off Amazon. Try out some other hobbies that produce the same effect, such as buying a sturdy helmet and running full-tilt into a wall every time you have the urge to look at Amazon.
3. On a yellow sticky note, write yourself a reminder not to visit Amazon. Place it on your monitor. Add another one each time you actually check Amazon. When you are no longer able to see enough of your screen to navigate to the Amazon site, tie yourself to your chair to stop yourself finding another computer.
4. Admit to God, yourself and another human being who is not writer your problems with Amazon. Carefully study the look of distaste and pity on their faces, including God’s. Then let the non-writer catch you several times in the process of checking your stats on Amazon after you promised you’d leave the site alone. Feel a great kinship with online porn addicts.
5. Realize that since you can’t control yourself and your compulsion to check your situation on Amazon, it’s highly unlikely you’re going to be able to control the sales of and reaction to your books. Give up. Go back to writing and avoiding Amazon.
6. Repeat process with each new book.
P.S. If you should happen to want to write nice things about my books on Amazon, please don’t hesitate to do so. Not that I’ll know or anything. Because I’m clean, man. I haven’t been to Amazon in at least sixty days. Well, fifty-nine days, four hours and five minutes, but who’s counting? If you do go, could you let me know how I’m doing? No, no. Scratch that. I’m okay. Where the hell is that pad of yellow sticky notes?