Last week, I officially became a “best selling author.” For one hot minute, on Friday, September 6, 2019, over on Barnes & Noble, my book, Dragon his Heels, hit #1. There was even a pretty, although not-very-obvious tag to prove it, for a few days afterward.
Bring on the bells and whistles! Where’s the confetti? Pop the cork on some high-end bubbly!
The tag is gone now. I guess you don’t get to keep the status forever? The book has dropped in rank, so maybe B&N only lets you consider yourself a best selling author while the book remains in the top 100? I don’t know the rules, mostly because I’ve never been in this situation before.
For the last week, I’ve been quietly mulling over and alternately feeling excited and then questioning those feelings, all because for a brief moment in time, one of my books finally, finally had one of those coveted banners on it.
I’m officially a best selling author. Right? That’s what that banner meant, right? I can now add that to my tagline on all of my social media. (Yeah, I did.) I can update my book covers to say “Award winning and best selling author.” (That takes a lot more effort and cash, so not happening quite so quickly.)
And yet, it didn’t feel entirely real. It’s funny, I hear plenty of author friends talk about “imposter syndrome,” and I’ve not honestly understood what they were getting at until now. Until this happened, I thought, you can go to Amazon and B&N and iBooks and several other websites and do a search and your name shows up on the cover of a book. How can you possibly feel like an imposter?
Now I get it.
Yeah, sure, that tag theoretically gives me credibility, but I’m gonna be honest here; the thirty books I have published, all with better than 4 star ratings, I suspect give me far more credibility than that banner. And if I’m really being honest, the fact that the banner has already disappeared from B&N’s website only ratchets up the sensations of imposter syndrome.
There are also other, strange aspects of this I’m-not-good-enough syndrome. I belong to a fair number of author groups, and every now and again, a comment like this flares up: They call themselves a best-selling author but I don’t see a banner on any of their books on Amazon.
Like people go around bragging about a status that isn’t true? Maybe they do, but like I mentioned above, if they don’t have the books and the ratings to back it up, I just don’t see how that claim is getting them anywhere. Not to mention, as we now know, Amazon isn’t the only place where you can be a best seller. Not only that, but Amazon US isn’t the only place, either.
A couple of years ago I was in a boxed set in which all proceeds were donated to charity and we hit best seller status on Amazon UK. I didn’t add the creds to my tagline back then because the book was only available for six months and then taken down, so there was no proof of best seller status once that happened.
So now I’ve hit best seller status twice, and I’m still suffering from imposter syndrome? Lord, this is a crazy industry, isn’t it?
I think it’s the pressure we put on ourselves. And the reason we put so much pressure on ourselves is because this is a hard industry to succeed in, folks. I do mean hard, and I’m not even phrasing. Okay, maybe a little bit.
Think about it: ebooks last forever, unless the author takes them out of publication for one reason or another. And even then, if you are remotely familiar with Google, you can find those books, “out of print” or not. I have several myself that I’ve unpublished. They were books I published early in my career and, in my opinion, are no longer up to my own standard. When I took them down, I had every intention of reworking them and republishing, but the reality is, I have a hundred new ideas bouncing around in my head and updating an old idea is actually much harder than simply starting fresh with a new one. So yeah, those books will likely never see the light of day again.
But they’re still out there in Google-land. Because the internet never forgets.
So, back to what I was saying about how difficult it is to be an author; every single day there are thousands of new books being uploaded to each of the various retail sites. Every. Single. Day. Those books are all being added to the ginormous cache of books already out there and available for your reading pleasure.
That’s a whole lot of information. Awfully hard to stand out with so much competition. Good, bad, mediocre; doesn’t matter, it’s still competition. Especially when you consider all you’ve got to catch someone’s attention in that vast sea of books is a cover and a blurb. And a bad or mediocre book can have a fantastic cover and blurb. Trust me, I’ve been lured in too.
Anyway, I let imposter syndrome settle in for a few days, and then I kicked that guy out. Because you know what? Hitting best seller status is a pretty cool accomplishment. I don’t need all the bells and whistles and confetti (I’d be the one to clean it up anyway and ugh, what a mess!). I’m happy with the satisfaction of knowing I’ve finally done it. And I’m going to keep on writing and keep on publishing books and keep on appreciating those reviews and I am going to be happy with my accomplishments, because they are exactly that.
Oh, and I’m also going to buy that bottle of champagne because mimosas sound pretty good right about now…
Tami Lund is a best selling author, and here’s a really bad screenshot to prove it!