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I’ll admit it, I spend a lot of time looking at numbers. And if you can see the image associated with this post, you’ve likely got a fair idea of what numbers I’m looking at right now.

They start with “Sale,” and end with “s.”

There’s an odd kind of math associated with sales rankings, one more inclined to enlightened self-interest than enlightenment as a whole. You want your product to do well, but you also want the category to succeed at the same time, so that you benefit from the sales of others. A day when number is not going up is not necessarily a bad one, and a day with great sales may not help anything but the bottom line, depending on what else is out there.

Over the last few weeks, I have been amazingly fortunate to have strong sales for Hearts of Iron. While I won’t share them here, I will relate that at least some of the annoying marketing I did before launch was successful, as there were a good number of preorders waiting for me when the book went “live.” Those early sales pushed the book’s ranking up dramatically, and a fairly steady rate of daily orders have kept it visible for new readers.

I half-jokingly wrote that same week that thanks to my “fans” I was now ranked on a list with Stephen King. A tightly defined, genre-specific list to be sure, but given that the book in question could not be more dissimilar to my own (11-22-63, which you should be reading RIGHT NOW if you have not done so already), that’s no mean feat. The master of all things fiction is “ahead of me” on that list for a reason.

Three times, in fact. Once for the ebook (#1 in category), the wrist-breaking paperback (#12), and the deadly weapon hardback edition (#17). The man has written more than 50 books, is on every bestseller list ever, and is the 15th best author currently tracked by

I in no way view Stephen King as a competitor to be surpassed. My novella would be lost in the words he removes during the editorial process, and is likely of similar value.

But imagine for a minute that you are Stephen King. The people ahead of you in line include Janet Evanovich, George R.R. Martin, Nora Roberts, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Margaret Mitchell, James Patterson, Ernest Hemingway, and Dan Brown. Were she not one of the smartest people on the planet, J.K. Rowling would be there as well, but she’s wisely decided to be the richest author ever instead.

So, does Stephen King consider some of the most popular authors who ever lived as competition? I doubt it. From everything I’ve ever read by and about the man, he considers his typewriter as that foe. They battle for at least 5 pages a day, no matter what. 1500 words, whether they be good, bad, or fantastic. He could stop writing tomorrow, and would likely keep his spot in line forever.

Somehow, I don’t think he will.

So I’m not all that concerned about being *mumblemumble* spots behind him in line (all books, EVAR). Mainly because all of today’s sales aren’t in, but also because I’m not done writing either, and on another list he’s only 609 ahead. A day to day fluctuation of “rank” can seem calamitous, but pulling back a week, a month, a year, it’s all more or less the same. 40 years from now, when I’ve written 50 international bestsellers, and the mere mention of my name can lift sales and a marketing department’s hearts, then I’ll have something to talk about.

Oh, wait. 608!

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