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An interesting pattern… or is it?

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

When you self-publish on Amazon, one of the services they provide is sales statistics showing how many of your titles have been sold each month. Now admittedly I’ve only been doing this for a week or so, so there’s not much data accumulated. Still, when you’re an engineer, you sometimes have to draw conclusions based on meager data. (Come to think if it, that’s also true for battlefield commanders, but we’ll leave that as a topic for another entry.)

At the end of last month, I posted my first two titles, with synopses and cover images. Now, a week later, I have some statistics to analyze. And here’s the early return: The Warrior And The Lioness outsold Saimon’s Gift by a factor of ∞ percent. Yes, that’s right, Saimon’s Gift sold zero copies.

Now maybe I just need to collect more data. Or maybe it’s that airline pilots are of more interest to my target audience than abused women. Or maybe I should rewrite the synopsis. After all, the only data points a prospective reader has to make a purchase decision are the cover image and the synopsis… and I happen to like the cover image for Saimon’s Gift.

Probably I should wait one more week before making any changes – a week isn’t a very long time. And while <ahem>corporate policy does not permit revealing actual sales numbers, they’ve been nominal enough that it’s tough to extract statistics. I’ve also got another release planned for the end of this month – a pleasant little tale about an impressionable teen corrupted by a disgraced former astronaut: Contributing to the Delinquency of a Minor. And that one will be free for the first month, I’ve decided, which I hope will generate a spurt of ‘sales’, some of which (I hope) will spur purchases of the first two.

There’s a strong temptation to mess with anything that isn’t working exactly the way you want it to. An analogy that comes to mind is when a student pilot glues his face to the attitude indicator and winds up constantly climbing above and descending below where he actually wants to be – chasing the gauges, it’s called. A better way is to make a slight change, and then wait to see the effect before adjusting the change. I don’t know what what the optimal cycle time is for an Amazon product description, but I’m sure that it’s more than a week.

Due to some circumstances early in my life, I find myself with a sense of urgency, to which I attribute many of my successes. More recently, I’ve learned that that sense of urgency is almost certainly responsible for many of my failures as well. So becoming more patient is definitely one of my life goals.

I just wish I could do it more quickly.