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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Drunk on Numbers

Hello. My name is Tony. I'm addicted to numbers.

I ran a free promo for The Annihilation of Foreverland on Amazon. Before I did that, I was selling 10, maybe 20, a month. Days would go by with the same number of sales. Forget making money, I couldn't give them away.

Amazon's free promo changed that.

Day 1: 9,500 copies, downloaded.
Day 2: another 5000.
Day 3: add 3,500.

18,000 people have my book!

Here's where the addiction kicked in. Every time I refreshed my reports, the numbers grew. I mean every friggin time. There were times I refreshed immediately, I'm talking 3 seconds, and the numbers changed. I sat on the couch, shouting to my wife: there goes another 10. Ooo, that was a big one, 22. Holy crap, 30! I just moved 30!!!

The spiral of addiction got a grip on me. I became jaded, I needed more. I needed confirmation the whole world wanted this book. A million wasn't enough. If I didn't move a book every second, then something was wrong... SOMETHING'S WRONG... THEY HATE ME!!! 

There was a problem. I took control. I only check the numbers 5 times a day now. That's absurd -- only 5x a day -- but that's down from 30,000. I'm not cured, but I'm managing my addiction. I'm drinking beer, not whiskey.

I'm 4 days out of the free promo and sales -- real sales, the kind that makes money -- have picked up. The numbers aren't rolling in when they were free, but they are moving. I'm making money. The book is getting recognized. I've received great reviews -- even an email from someone out of the blue that never heard of me and LOVE THAT BOOK. 

I can deal with that.

My name is Tony and I'm addicted to the numbers.

And I hope it gets worse.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Playing in Traffic

A Zen teacher once compared sitting practice to a busy road.

Before practice, we're standing in the middle of traffic. Cars are swerving and trucks honking and we're hopping from one foot to the other trying to stay alive.We're always one step away from roadkill. It can be overwhelming. Sometimes depressing.


Traffic Jam and Harmonious Car Drivers

But then we sit. We practice to clarify of our life, our understanding. We learn to be present rather than caught up in headlights and shiny colors. And, slowly, our view changes. We see the traffic from above. We see the patterns, of where it's been and where it's going. And the more we practice, the higher our viewpoint becomes.

When I read a novel, my viewpoint is hundreds of feet above the road. My perspective is fresh and new. Pristine. I see the story unfolding and the characters developing. I notice the plot holes and character inconsistencies. I can point out typos. I can tell what needs to change.

As a writer, though, I'm toeing the white line.

All I see are trucks and cars. I smell the exhaust and hear the tires grinding pavement. It's what makes it a joy, but I have no perspective. I'm in the middle of it without a view and that's what makes writing difficult.

These ideas, these characters and stories are in my head and they make perfect sense to me because I can see them and hear them. How can I get you to see and hear them, too? When am I saying too much or not enough? When am I just boring?

Good writers play in the traffic and make it look fun.