As writers in the digital age, there is more opportunity to obsess than ever before. Writing has always been a game of obsessions and emotional turmoils. Years ago, the obsessions were more about the writing. If the words came too hard (or, ugh, not at all!), we obsessed over the well running dry forever. If they came too easily we obsessed over our built-in-shit detectors being on the fritz. No one likes to be thought of as a hack. Hemingway once said he not only wanted to be thought of as a writer, but he wanted to do it better than anyone ever had before. He admitted to being obsessed with this notion of being the best. It led to an early grave for the master.
Now we have other things that make us obsessive. We have Amazon rankings for instance. Take my newest novel, MURDER BY MOONLIGHTSince its publication on January 1, it’s been in the UK Top 200 for overall books and in its Top 10 for Mysteries, and is still enjoying a respectable run there. Just this past week it went to the Number 1 spot in Germany for Mysteries and reached the No. 6 for Overall Bestselling Kindlebooks. It’s still the number 1 Mystery as I write this. In France it also hit the Overall Top 10 and the Number 1 Mystery spot. It’s presently the No. 2 Mystery.
So what’s to obsess about?
Once you hit a number 1 spot and the Overall Top Ten, there’s only one direction to go. You guessed it…I guess it’s fair to say that Amazon rankings not only offer up a real-time glimpse of where our work stands in the retail marketplace, they also serve as a kind of distorted, up-to-the-second, “fun-house” mirror reflection of ourselves and our self worth, not only as writers, but as worthy human beings. They give instant gratification, or the lack thereof, a new and often times, dangerous meaning. And they can be the source of severe obsession. Best to unplug and walk away from them for a while.
When things go well on the retail end of things, I suppose the point is to enjoy the moment, which I most certainly am. I am also mighty grateful to the people all over the world who are giving MBM, which is based on the real life Chris Porco axe murder case, a chance (look for a movie based on the case coming soon on Lifetime).
To commemorate our brief and ever so humble moments at the top of the Amazon lists, we take screenshots. So that every now and then, when the books aren’t moving as well as we want them to, we can look at them and remind ourselves that we are not only writers, but writers who have enjoyed some degree of success. Screenshots are more than glimpses at our past, they are our security blankets when all we’d rather do is obsess and depress.