Thursday, April 30, 2015

Numbers and Writing: Just what do they MEAN?

Numbers are one of the not-often-talked-about topics in the writing industry. Everyone is curious about them and occasionally someone gets up the guts to actually ASK about them, but the answer, 99 times out of 100, is "It depends."

The sad truth is... it really DOES depend.

What constitutes if a book has done well? What are GOOD sales numbers... and what are bad?

Chances are, if you're a published author and have good numbers, you KNOW they are good without having a yard stick to measure. You've earned out your advance. Your publisher is asking for what other stuff you have in your magic hard-drive box of goodies. Your agent is sending you congrats letters. You might not know HOW good unless you are hitting every bestseller list, but you know that you haven't stunk it up.

And chances are, as that same published author, you know when your numbers are BAD. Your publisher isn't returning your calls. You dread that royalty statement you receive a few times a year. Your agent is giving you grim prospects about getting another book deal. This is no bueno.

It's that place in the middle that makes many scratch their head, and as an unpublished author, until you actually see YOUR numbers.... it's really hard to figure out what to strive for.

Then, if you're like me and take a dip into the indie-publishing world, you get a WHOLE other dimension of publishing and numbers. How much do people usually spend on publishing? How do you figure out how much you've made? What is a SUCCESSFUL indie? Can you actually make enough from publishing to be a job? Is that POSSIBLE?

Lots of questions.

Lots of "it depends."

And then Pepper and I were chatting the other day about this crazy thing called RANKINGS on Amazon and other sites... what do THEY mean? What is a GOOD ranking vs a bad one? How do you interpret them?

I thought I'd do a few weeks on addressing on a very basic level some "number" topics in publishing. There are others who know a LOT more than me, and I'll be quoting some of them! And remember, things change daily. So that's another problem with the numbers discussion. I can say something today, and tomorrow it could change drastically.

But for THIS blog post, I'll leave you with this overarching concept that I believe is SUPER important:


Numbers are important. Whether you view your writing as a ministry or a business or both.

In Matthew 25:14 - 28, Jesus tells the parable of the "talents." A man gave his servants silver based on their abilities.

The man who received five bags invested wisely and earned five more.
The man who received two bags went to work and earned two more.
The man who received one bag decided numbers weren't important. He buried his silver and ignored it, not even bothering to put it in a bank to get interest.

The rich guy came back and asked for an accounting... and was NOT thrilled with the dude that had played it safe and not risked anything.

I truly believe God calls us to be wise stewards of the gifts, talents, AND funds that He's given us.

BUT... don't let numbers rule you. Don't let them become an obsession. Don't worry over them and fret over them.

Let them be the reminder that they serve: That your talents should not be buried in the sand to rot. God has gifted and equipped you uniquely and demands that you look to HIM and work for HIS kingdom. This involves risk, putting yourself out there for rejection, even putting your money where your mouth is sometimes and investing in it.

So whether he's given you five bags of talent, two, or one, use them for Jesus. Grow them. Multiply them. Be good stewards of them. Just don't waste them, and don't bury them.

And be ready to give Him YOUR numbers when you're done :-)

1 comment:

Mary E. Brown said...

Thank you for this article. Sometimes we bury the treasure too afraid to lose it when we should be using it for the Kingdom. Good reminder!