Affirmation…by the Numbers

I was never much of a numbers person. Words are more my thing. Lots and lots of words, if you ask my husband! Numbers…not so much.

It’s one of the reasons I love to write. To be able to communicate using myriad combinations of a mere twenty-six letters is nothing short of amazing. Yet, my writing life is slowly being consumed by numbers.

Sales numbers and sales rankings. Blog readers and blog subscribers. Blog commenters and friends lists. Website views and page views.

Numbers.

I used to think the most difficult part of the publishing process was actually writing the book…until I wrote the book.

Then I thought the most difficult part of the publishing process was convincing a publisher that my book was exactly what they wanted. Not anymore.

I have now joined the assembly of authors who have learned that hard work doesn’t end with a book contract. The question now consuming my thoughts is whether people will purchase my book. Does anyone even know it’s available? So the impulse to follow the numbers trail begins.    

How many page views did my website receive this week? How many Facebook friends “like” my Author Page? Can I fit my next Twitter posting into a 140-character tweet? How many people commented on my most recent blog post? Was it more than the week before? If not, why not?

My latest compulsion is to check the book reviews for One Year Alone with God. As of today, Amazon.com has three reviews – all five-star. Whew! But cbd.com doesn’t have any. Should I be concerned?

Just when I begin to get overwhelmed by the numbers, I’m reminded that God is more concerned with people than with numbers. In Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire, pastor and author Jim Cymbala notes, “The Bible does not say we should aim at numbers, but rather urges us faithfully to proclaim God’s message in the boldness of the Holy Spirit.”

Rather than fall prey to the lure of numbers, I must remember that God works one person at a time to build His kingdom. If the reason God prompted me to write this book is to benefit only one person, then it is a successful venture in His sight. If I’m doing what He has called me to do, then I must trust Him for the results…and for my affirmation.

Of course, I will do everything I can to market One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God. But ultimately, I must choose: is my focus on finite numbers or my infinite God?

How do you resist the lure of numbers to bring you affirmation?


Why Do I Do What I Do?

People often ask me why I write.

Conventional wisdom says this is the worst possible time to enter the world of publishing. Book sales are at an all-time low, despite the fact that over one million books were published in 2009.

The reality is that if you write because you want to be rich and famous, then you’d better find another career. The Debbie Macombers and J.K. Rowlings are the exception, not the rule.

Finally, with the proliferation of computers and word processing software, most everyone now fancies themselves a writer. The huge volume of submissions decreases the chances of being published by a traditional publisher (vs. print-on-demand or self-publishing).

So why do I write?

For me, writing is an extension of teaching. The more I learn, the more I want to share what I’ve learned. Writing provides another way to communicate precious truths—not to brag, but because I’m excited for everyone else to benefit, too!

Martin Luther described evangelism as “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.” This is also a fitting description of how I view writing. I first wrote to share the crumbs I found. Those crumbs satisfied my deepest hunger. Then they multiplied into slices and the slices have become loaves. How can I hoard what I am learning when other people are hungering as well?

I decided a long time ago that I would write as long as God gave me something to write. Whether a traditional publisher chose to publish the work was up to Him. It happens that a traditional Christian publisher is publishing my first book, One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God (Revell Books, October 2010). Another Christian publisher will be releasing two children’s picture books co-authored with Crystal Bowman (Standard Publishing, 2011). God is showing me that my job is to use the gifts He has given me and to trust Him for the results.

I don’t write to impress others or to become rich and famous.

I write because I cannot not write.

Why do YOU do what you do?