Want an easy way to feel like a failure? Become an author and check out Amazon Author Central, which provides a wealth of statistics about how badly your books are doing. The depressing news is updated hourly, so you can check back multiple times during the day to increase your feelings of worthlessness. Here, for example, is a snapshot of how I stack up against other fiction writers over the past month. The trend slopes upward a bit, but in a fairly narrow range of mediocrity.
Amazon also offers graphs by category (I’m close to breaking into the top thousand in science fiction!) and by individual book. In the old days, authors would get their bad news via semiannual unintelligible statements from publishers. Are we better off today? I suppose. Theoretically, you could use all this information to plot your marketing strategies or judge their effectiveness, if you’re the sort of author who has marketing strategies. But mostly it’s just another way of wasting your time when you should be working on your next book. After all, that’s the one that’s going to make you famous!