In this world, we put a tremendous amount of emphasis on numbers. Whether it’s a corporate business or the world of marketing and selling a book, it is all pretty much the same. The numbers are what we tend to focus on. They are the lifeblood of what we do, or so we tell ourselves every day as we pursue them. The bigger the numbers, the better we feel about things. More twitter followers. Bigger book sales. Higher ratings. The list goes on. We get so wrapped up in the numbers, however, we begin to lose sight of what those numbers are made up of. We forget that each hash mark on our tally sheet represents a soul…a living person.
In my day job, I have been buried by someone else’s numbers; someone else’s goals. There have been days when I have wondered how I was going to keep my head above the water, much less find time to do the one thing I love to do above all things. Write. It was an impossibly bleak situation, or so it felt. I will not recount how many tears fell for me; I admit only that they came and with abundance. I felt a sense of despair overtaking me, and I did not like it. I thought all was lost to me, until I was saved by a number of my own. It was a single, solitary boy.
A friend of mine from high school bought my book “The Case of Jack the Nipper” for his young son to read. His boy loves mysteries and he loves cats, so my book was the perfect gift to give. My friend is currently serving in the military overseas so his time with his family is currently shared over Facebook posts, Skype, and video clips. My friend posted on my Facebook page a video of his son reading the first few paragraphs of the first chapter of my book. His words were halted as he sounded out vocabulary that was unfamiliar to him, but as the sentences unfolded, something incredible happened. I found the burdens on my heart lifted.
I always thought the greatest gift I could receive as a writer would be a prestigious writing award or my name on the New York Times Best Seller List. Those aspirations are wonderful, and I look to them as future goals. They are part of the numbers game every writer plays a part in. When I played the video of my friend’s son reading the first few paragraphs of my book, it ceased to be about numbers and became something more. I had received a greater honor with this young boy’s introduction to my book. He was not just another tick mark on my tally sheet. He was a soul…a person. He represented the very reason why I write. The inspiration behind my words. He’s not a number to me. He can’t be. Not now, not ever.
As a new author, my numbers are small. I am not afraid to admit it. The world is just beginning to open for me, and I am just starting to navigate the waters that are required for my craft. Readers and fans are starting to find my book, and as I add to my list of offerings, that number will grow. Today, however, in my smallness, I find myself grateful for my adversity in someone else’s numbers. It helps me to remember how precious each person is who adds to my own.
Numbers are important in this great, big world of ours. We live by them. We die by them. In the world of books, the bigger your numbers, the greater your chances of success. I understand the mechanism behind the numbers. We don’t have to be blind to what’s behind the numbers, however ~ the individual souls who take joy in the stories we weave for them. I will forever keep the image of my friend’s son before me, struggling through the words of my book, seeking to lose himself in the world I created. I never want to forget that with each book sold, there is a heart behind it, longing for escape….longing for entertainment….longing for a connection to the world they have yet to visit. Or better yet, longing to reconnect to a world they lovingly visit over and over again.