There was a time in my life when I thought that all I needed was an ISBN and a listing on Amazon. I was convinced that the acquisition of those two things would make my life complete. If I had them, I wouldn’t need a die cast model of a Saturn V moonrocket, an iMac with a 27″ display or everything from American Eagle’s spring/summer collection. Birds would sing in the morning, sunlight would follow me around like a spotlight and life would be all flowers, pixies and rainbows.
But in this literary fantasy, the ISBN was not for a book I’d published myself, the listing on Amazon would not consist solely of text typed by me and it wouldn’t be for a book I’d written on the floor of my Orlando apartment before getting it rejected all over town. But that’s what I got. And like most things, the novelty wore off fast. Also, it turns out I need a lot more than that from life. Ladies and gents, The Five Stages of Being on Amazon, or Amazonitis.
Stage 1: Disbelief
Seeing yourself – I should say your book, but is there a difference? – on Amazon for the first time is a surreal experience. Your heart beats faster; there’s the sound of blood rushing in your ears. You stare at it without blinking for at least ten minutes and then e-mail a link to everyone you know, an e-mail where the ratio of words to exclamation marks is at least 1:10.
- Blurred vision
- Adding a link to the listing to your Bookmarks bar
- Saying, ‘Am I really on Amazon? Is that really there? Is it? Really?’
Stage 2: Smugness
Once it sinks in, it sinks in deep. It slinks to the very core of your being where your self-worth has now been increased and confirmed by the somewhat miraculous appearance of a matchbox-sized picture of your book on an online bookstore. You post links on every social media site you’ve ever registered for and add your own book to your wish list, just for kicks.
- Self-satisfied facial expressions
- Making the listing your browser’s homepage
- Saying, ‘Have I told you I’m on Amazon?’
Stage 3: Novelty
Having a listing go live on Amazon is almost like being sent a gold-leaf invitation to an exclusive club. (An exclusive club with millions of members and virtually no membership requirement, but still.) Woo-hoo! Now you can do things like log-in to Author Central and create your very own Author Page, or use Amazon Associates to earn Amazon pennies form your book, and basically find new, fun and fascinating ways to extend your self-obsession into yet another facet of your online life.
- Squealing with joy
- Uploading ‘Customer Images’ to your own listing
- Logging out of Amazon to see what it looks like ‘to everyone else’.
Stage 4: Obsession
Then something awful happens: somebody buys your book. This is infuriating not only because unless they happen to tell you, you don’t know who they are, but because it adds something to your listing that changes it from a little ray of light in your life to a darkening shadow of cruel obsession. Yes, I’m talking about an Amazon Sales Rank. Within hours, those awful numbers begin to take over your life, and there’s worst to come – Categories, and your abysmal placing in them.
- Refusing to leave the house as there’ll be no way to track ‘movement’
- Being able to tell by the sales rank when someone has bought your book.
Stage 5: Contempt
A week or two goes by and with them, your warm, fuzzy feelings of love towards the book-selling giant. The honeymoon period is over, someone has been leaving the toilet seat up and if you have to look at their stupid face first thing in the morning one more time, you swear you’re going to – Um, anyway… Even though your book has barely been out a week they’re listing ‘Used’ copies for sale, the availability is as changeable as the weather and your daily e-mails complaining about the sudden disappearance of your subtitle have gone ignored. Where was the number for that bookstore?
- Uncontrollable rage
- Compiling lists of independent bookstores
- Saying things like, ‘I’ll give them [BLEEP] Available from these [BLEEP] sellers!’ through your teeth.
Mousetrapped has now reared its palm-treed head on six Amazon sites, giving me Amazonitis six times over. As you can tell some of the listings are only in the fetal stages and others – such as the ever-changing UK listing – are keeping me guessing. Is it in stock? Yes? No? Maybe? In 1-3 weeks? I’ll give them [BLEEP] sign up for [BLEEP] e-mail notifications when my [BLEEP] book is [BLEEP] available, [BLEEP] [BLEEP] [BLEEEEEEEP].’
See Mousetrapped‘s listings:
- On Amazon.com
- On Amazon.ca (Canada)
- On Amazon.de (Germany)
- On Amazon.fr (France)
- On Amazon.co.jp (Japan)
- On Amazon.co.uk.