I’m just pondering how paralyzing it is to spend time worrying about our online stats.
When I first got on Facebook, I remember being shocked when someone would unfriend me. Had I come across the wrong way? Offended someone?
Then twitter. As I was building my numbers, I noticed when people dropped me. Was it personal? (Answer–almost never! Twitter is one big marketing, self-promotional machine, and if you’re not backing people up or reaching them in some way, they might justunfollow you).
These days, it’s easier. As followers come and go, I don’t ask them why. It’s their life, and if they don’t like me or find me interesting, c’est la vie. I can’t confuse these casual online friends, who barely know me, for real friends (some of whom are online friends, but who know me and care about me as I do them).
I was recently struck by the verse in Jeremiah about the two evils the Israelites did–they had forsaken the living water and hewed out broken cisterns that could hold no water.
I know this is a loose analogy, but it struck me that focusing so much on online statistics can be the same thing–filling our need for approval with nothing but empty gestures of friendship.
“Friends” who aren’t really our friends, and “followers” who wouldn’t follow us into a dark room, much less into true hardships.
Book sales numbers and Amazon rankings, which slip and slide all the day long.
Awards and badges that make us feel more official somehow, but don’t mean much by way of eternity.
I’ve decided I’m going to try to spend less time looking for that immediate online verification of validity. In a way, as authors, we’re trained to do that these days–to check our numbers and brainstorm how to improve them.
But it’s time for me to embrace the freedom of self-publishing. Although I want to get another book out as soon as possible, I can do it on my own timetable. Yes, I’d love to get awards. But I’m not going to let those define me.
I’m not saying I won’t check my Amazon stats and try to continue to market. But I do want to spend more time doing what I love as an author–writing books. For me, that’s a real cistern that brims over every time I reach the end of the novel. Every time a reader relates to my characters or delights in a turn of phrase. Every time I feel I’m plugged in right where God wants me.
And if you notice I’m not commenting as much online or posting as often here, please know it’s not personal! Just filling up my cistern.