This week, my daughter starts training for her summer job, working as a counselor at a camp for children with developmental disabilities and autism. So I'll be driving her to and fro this week (the bus starts next week), and I'll have a lovely library engagement Tuesday night at the Warren Township Library, a birthday dinner for two friends Wednesday night, and after that, I believe it'll be the Fourth of July weekend. Oh yes, and there are two newspaper assignments to get out the door, as well.
So naturally, what I'm thinking about is the Amazon sales rank and PublisherAlley numbers for NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEED.
Obsession? You say that like it's a bad thing. The fact is, any author who tells you they're NOT obsessed with the performance of a book, especially a first book in a new series, is either lying or delusional. We're more than concerned--this is our job, and not taking it seriously would be considerably more odd than hovering over every piece of information we can get, no matter how arcane or incomprehensible.
Watching an Amazon page for your book is an especially bizarre practice. The numbers are not the least bit explicable, acknowledged throughout publishing to be arbitrary and meaningless. And we watch them like a lioness watches her cubs, which I assume is pretty closely.
(Amazon reviews are another whole post--DEED received one this week that gave the book three stars, after which the reviewer acknowledged in the first line of the review that she hadn't read the book yet. No, I'm not kidding.)
Publishers Alley is a service that gives you apparently up-to-the-minute sales figures of any book you want to watch, based on Baker & Taylor's figures. Again, they're not easy for us goofy creative types to understand, but they do at least show hard sales figures; you sold this many books and this many were returned. Hard numbers. I look at that at least once a day, too. Still no idea what it's telling me, but I like it when the sales numbers go up.
Does it make logical sense to obsess over these things? It might if I comprehended their meaning, but using my present brain, no. Still, I'll continue to do so, and any author who tells you they don't is lying. Period.
LP-to-Digital Conversion Project Update: One more Phoebe Snow album (the strange but occasionally wonderful "Rock Away") was followed by three albums recorded by New Jersey's patron saint, Bruce Springsteen. Now, as a loyal Jersey boy, born and bred, It pains me to say this, but I've never been a tremendous fan of the Boss's music. I think Springsteen is a remarkably cool guy, but all his songs are about leaving suburban New Jersey for a better, bigger life in New York City, and that's exactly what I'm not about. I love New York, but I'm of the "wouldn't-want-to-live-there" school, cliched and unwashed though that might make me. I did like the "Born to Run" album, which just burst energy, and "Born in the USA" (I guess I like albums with "Born" in the title), and Springsteen's live cover of "Jersey Girl" is tremendous, but a lot of the other stuff just didn't strike me musically. So take your shots--I know I'm wrong, but I can't help it.
After Bruuuuuuuuuuuuuce came Ringo. Richard Starkey has, believe it or not, made some enjoyable solo albums in his time (and no, I'm not saying Ringo is better than the Boss, so calm down). You have to accept him for what he is, which is an entertainer who likes to have a good time and pass it along, and then you can appreciate what early albums like "Ringo" and "Goodnight Vienna" are trying to do. Later stuff, when his fellow Beatles were no longer helping out quite so much, are considerably more checkered affairs, but "Stop And Smell The Roses" was fun.
After that, a very odd album of "Star Trek" talk by Gene Roddenberry and some of his cast, the ultimate Targum album (meaning I received it for free as a reviewer for my college newspaper), soon to be followed appropriately enough by the soundtrack album (a two-record set!) of "Star Wars."