Constantly check its position in the Amazon chart? Read every review? Go into bookstores and re-arrange the shelves so that your title stand out?

Me, I'm a total wimp. I should be thrilled because The Accident Man shipped to UK supermarkets on Thursday and apparently bookstores have started racking it, too. But I can't bear to go into any stores or look on any retail websites. I never read reviews. It's pathetic, I know, but it comes down to a terror of being disappointed if/when I discover it's not doing nearly as well as I hoped.

The one thing I did do was post a thread on my West Ham (football club) fansite, letting the guys there know about it.

http://www.kumb.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=89902

So far I've had almost 6,000 hits on the thread, 102 replies and about a half-dozen confirmed purchases. Now THAT I can stand.

What about you folks? Are you bold and outgoing ... or wimps like me?!

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I try to visit every bookstore in my area to sign stock in the first few days after the release. After the first one came out, I pretty much quit following the Amazon numbers.
I don't have to follow the Amazon numbers, because my mother does for me -- despite the fact that I keep telling her not to bother.

Then there is "number in stock" line that they have at Amazon sometimes. For about a month, I was getting emails from friends that said something like, "I just bought one of the last two in stock!" Or "When I went to Amazon today, it said there were only two in stock, and I bought both of them!"

First, to my friends -- THANK YOU!

But, um, at least seven people bought at least one of the last two in stock during June.

So here's what I'm thinking. Those Amazon numbers are bullshit. Which is, of course, what everyone had already told me. Now, if I could just convince my mom.
From the duplicate thread I just deleted:

I.J. Parker

Reviews I love. Bookstore visits are out. Amazon standings? Well, I check them, but frankly my reviews are much better than my sales. Perhaps that proves that the two are unrelated.
Visiting local bookstores to sign stock (and to remind them about myself) is I think a good idea. Generally, so long as you're humble about it, store managers appreciate the effort. Of course, drug stores won't give a rip who you are, but independent bookstores can use all the help they get to shift copies and a signature or being able to put your book in the local author shelves might help.

As for checking Amazon, I do it, but there'd have to be a huge jump for it to mean anything (meaning going from 1 million to top 10k or so).
guess I'm somewhere in between. My friends have told me which shops they bought Silenced Cry from so I never checked the local bookstores. B&N had such a great turn out at my signing a couple of weeks ago that the manager told me he would continue to stock it.

Now the online places, I checked as many as I could find just to see if the book was on their site. I Google my name periodically to see if any new ones come up. The last surprise was Target Stores online. I confess, I do check Amazon. Initially, I was going in to check the ratings. Now I go there primarily to see if any new comments or reviews have popped up but ... the mouse still keeps wanting to scroll down to that ratings number. It's been everywhere from 25,000 to 600,000+. You could go nuts checking it. I'm getting better about staying away from it.

My website numbers amazes me though. As of today (according to my server) it's received over 14,000 hits since I launched it on 3/12/07 from people in over 29 countries. Gee, if I could just convert those hits into sales!
Why the devil should we have to be humble about it? See, there's the rub. How dare they treat us like beggars and nuisances when all we are trying to do is to help them sell books that make them more money than they do us? (Note: Independent stores are kinder, but they tend to be very small).
Signing stock is important to booksellers. So if you're shy about getting out, that might be something to consider.

But I genuinely love to talk to people about writing in general, mainly to nurture budding authors or talk to avid readers who want to understand the strangeness of an author's life. It doesn't have to be about you or selling your books. Though they may buy your books after hearing you speak, you can take the focus off you by talking on a specific topic they may want to hear. You'll get something from it too--I promise.

Speaking to a crowd is not easy, but if you make your purpose about sharing your experience to help others, then it takes a bit of the sting away.
Funnily enough, I have no problem at all about public speaking - I'm really looking forward to taking part in a discussion at the Harrogate Crime Writing festival, for example, because I'm confident in my ability to win over an audience. the point about reviews, sales, etc is there's nothing I/you/we can do about it - it's that sense of awaiting the public's and critics' judgement, like waiting for exam results, that kills me.
Sadly, yes, I do check Amazon. My new book, In the Shadow of the Glacier, is only due out in September, but I already have a ranking on Amazon. Does that mean at least someone has preordered it? I guess so. So that's good, isn't it. But generally I try not to check Amazon. I mean if you're at more than 500,000 in ranking that sounds like a pretty poor place to be!.
Tom, believe me I empathize. And you're surely doing something right if there have been 6,000 hits on your thread. That should give you the courage to do the same thing on other sites and with other groups!

If you don't act as your own one-man band, you can't expect others to do it for you. Take every opportunity to get your name out there every possible way you can think of.

As for reviews, I can understand your hesitance, but a good review can make your day, and even a bad review, if it is objective, can point out things you may never have realized. Separate Tom the person from Tom the writer. A negative remark is not directed at both.

Good luck!

Dorien
http://www.doriengrey.net
The thing about online PR, particularly on sites where one has a regular presence, is that there's a sense of both privacy - you do it at home, working on your own keyboard - and security, because you're posting to like-minded souls.

Walking into a bookshop and fussing over my own book, on the other hand, I just feel like a prat!
But there's no need to fuss really. When I walk into a book store, I look for my book. If I find it, I ask the manager if they'd like me to sign it. Almost always it's a yes. I leave a business card, let them know I'd be willing to sign more stock if they get anyu in or certainly do a signing if they're inclined though I completely understand they may not be. Takes ten minutes and might help them shift a few books. I'll also alert them to other titles that may be coming out in the not too distant future. It's a business, and they want to sell books. They may not at all care whether they're selling MY books, but if they're there already....

If I see they don't have my book, but I think they should (not if they only sell some other kind of fiction, for instance) then I'll let them know about my book.Again, so long as I'm not being pushy, it's good for them as well as for me.

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