Author Joins Kindle™ Million Sellers Club

Michel D. Cervésasse

When I opened my eyes and gaped at the bedroom ceiling on the day that I was to join the Kindle™ Million Sellers club, I honestly had no anticipation that something momentous was about to happen with respect to the sale of my book  (a modern-day parody of Don Quixote). 
Although the book had generated some heartening noise when it was published earlier in the year, the echo of this initial attention was growing faint, and for some time, I had been avoiding the dismal online sales report on the Kindle™ Direct Publishing (KDP) website like it was the exhaust-spewing end of my first car.  After the book was made available in e-format, I signed in and clicked on the site’s “Reports” bar regularly.  But, for months, there was very little movement.  Soon, it felt like I was obsessively checking the odometer of that old car - as it sat parked in the driveway.  
Every once in a while, I would give the thing a push or a shake with some promotion on the web or contact with a media outlet in the hope of nudging the dashboard numbers upward.   Generally, however, there seemed to be a near inverse relationship between my external to the Kindle™ movements and movement on the KDP Transaction Reports.
On this day, in fact, my thoughts were, for the most part, about other books and spending, not my book and earning money; such is the nature of most of my intercourse with the Kindle™ enterprise.  
Anyone who owns a Kindle™ e-reader knows that it is a wondrous device. Whether you take pleasure in reading books on the grey-brown-smokey screen of a flat piece of metal or not, you have to respect the instrument’s near magical ability to snatch words out of wireless air and plop them synchronized and coherent in your hand at the touch of a button. 
This is, of course, the peril of Kindle™ ownership.
“Take the thing, I don’t ever want to see it again,” my cousin said with a laugh the day he gave his nearly new Kindle™ to me as a second-hand birthday gift.  “It makes it too bloody easy to buy books - at least books written by people other than you – ha!”
He was right.  Even a casual and lackadaisical search of the Kindle™ catalogue grabs your finger and pulls you and your account at photonic speed to an oval eye-like “Buy” the book button.
“That button winks at you and your credit card like the girl down the bar at closing time” as cousin Al caringly put it.  “An impulsive ‘Click – Click’  – and you now have a new friend for the night - but you’re not sure it is one you really wanted.”
Most Kindle™ owners will relate to the book buying part of his commentary, if not the bar imagery.   My biggest problem with the Kindle™, however, was a little different.   For me, it makes it “too bloody easy” to bounce around from book to book.  It is a menace to my personal aspirations for an orderly life and the bane of my battle with hyperactivity. 
Back when I lived in the bound-paper world of books, it took some energy and commitment to put a book down, get up and retrieve another off the shelf,  and find my place again in the new book as well as on the sofa. With a Kindle™, you push on the “Home” button on the device itself, your book list pops up, you click on your latest fancy, and it is there right at the page and spot where you last left off.  I now read as many as eight books simultaneously, mixing the stories, twisting the information, and retaining nothing save a dried-up head and thickened eyes.  
“I can beat this thing,” I assured my wife as she left to go shopping that day.  “It is an addiction, I know, but the only way to overcome it is to confront it head on by reading and reading.”
Although never formally diagnosed as such, this Kindle™ effect is as real as internet and video game addictions, I am sure, and probably could have a serious long term psycho-social impact on the e-reader reader if unchecked.  But that is for another time.
On this day, the one that would take me into the Kindle™ Million Sellers Club, I was reading books on how to use new social networking devices to promote products, services, and, ominously, books sales.   One was John Locke’s How I sold 1 million eBooks in 5 months.  John told me in the soft and steady Kindle™ text-to-voice feature that he was sharing his secrets with me because he “loves” me.  

I presumed he did not mean “loves” in the creepy drive-past-my-house-late-at-night, flail-me-on-Facebook kind of way although I am sure I saw his silhouette in a parked pickup truck near our home a few days ago.  Rather, I believed he was speaking of a love like that of a favourite aunt who cradles you in warm and caring thoughts all year round and who makes you smile as you fork out a few bucks for some paper and postage on special occasions (for a special opportunity to fork out a few bucks for some paper and postage – click here) - and for demonstration of John Locke's sense of humour click here. 
Another book with a similar, but less personal message, that I jumped to that day was Amber MacArthur’s Power Friending, an anthem to all things social and digital that sweeps you up in enthusiasm and images of riches.    This blending of money thoughts, love, and cheering was enough to destabilize the soundest mind, but mine was already a bit dry and flakey from Hyper-Kindling (Trademark application pending).
So, I had little chance at retaining my grip on the authentic when I moved on to skim over my e-copies of The World’s Greatest Salesman, Think and Grow Rich, and works by Amber’s friend and fellow enthusiasm merchant Tony Robbins.

Finally, as I do every day, I sprinkled the reading experience with  notions and narratives drawn from regular reference to my beloved Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote de la Mancha. All these books promote the craft of imagining the world as you would like it to be.
As the morning on the sofa flowed into an afternoon of half-sleep and agitated study, I felt a rush of passion and strength that gave me the might to question the soundness of my despair and the relevance of tepid e-book sales to my self-worth and self-esteem.   Was this measure of success still valid particularly in the paradigm-shifted book publishing world ?   I clicked “Buy” and down-Kindled™ a bunch of books on the digital age and the digital world.  I read about everything from digital praying and digital photography to digital wars and digital design.  
The information and ideas were varied and vast, but my heated mind noted one common feature.  None described “book sales” as a basic barometer of output, input, or success in the digital age.  Instead, they spoke of bits, bytes, and things binary.
As I applied this approach to my e-book sales challenges, I was immediately struck by the size of the numbers. Through this lens and through the eyes of my workstation, the text of one copy of my book was, the computer screen said, 829 KB – 829,000 bytes, an amount approaching a million.   By the measures that really matter in the digital age, I could almost have said that I was selling “millions” already – units that were each in themselves a “million.”  I was just 171 KB short per “unit-thing” measure that I swore to reference no further in judging my e-publishing and e-selling success.
As I reflected on this frustrating byte-sized shortfall, my eyes were drawn to a number just slightly higher than my deficit – 196 KB – in the “size” column of the file lists on my computer screen.  It was the listing for a file called “the Cover.”

And, of course, each purchase of 829 KB of text comes coupled with its own 196 KB digital cover.
 With this insight, I ached to open the windows and immediately proclaim myself a million-selling Kindle™ author.  But I sat rigid as a man in chains. I had absorbed just enough Don Quixote, Anthony Robbins, and Og Mandino that day to feel the restraints of integrity and a conscience that would not allow the retroactive application of my metrological innovation no matter how just and right.
At this point, I realized that I needed to first pronounce my intent, define my new measure of performance going forward, let it be known widely, and then – and only then -  could I induce what would push me into the Kindle™ Million Sellers Club -  which, by this measure, would mean just one more sale.   Just – one - more.   
Please. Oh please ! Click here.