When it’s not Personal

sad

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.

cistern

–Heather

10 thoughts on “When it’s not Personal

  1. So true, Heather. My website got a record number of views last week and I was super excited, but when it’s been low, I feel sad. I am guessing most authors struggle with the numbers at some point in their career. In my personal journey, God told me just to do my part and He would bring the readers. Success is not defined by the world, but by Him, so if you were obedient, then you win! I’m trying to ask Him every day “What do you want from me right now?” This helps me not get wrapped up in the numbers so easily.

    1. I hear ya, Jen. It’s so hard NOT to notice those things, especially when we’re sort of required to in this line o’work! One thing I do is when I find myself focusing on Amazon sales numbers, I instead revamp my thoughts and pray for those who HAVE BOUGHT my book. I may not know them all, but God can hopefully use the story in their lives. It helps me rethink “success.”

  2. So true, Heather! The numbers may look good or puny, but they’re just numbers. And numbers are sooo easy to stress out over, like they measure our worth or something… When we’re following God and doing our part, we can rely on Him to bring in those that will be blessed by our books. 🙂

    1. Yes, Gwen, so right. Checking stats is such an easy habit to fall into, especially since we hear so much as authors about how important they are. I’ll confess that having spent years doing it has given me an almost Pavlovian response to opening my laptop–check FB, check email, check Amazon… But I’m determined to break this habit as it really doesn’t mean much. The thing that really means something is when people read my book and comment personally OR when friends/authors chat with me about things…those conversations mean so much more than idle stats.

  3. Awesome post! The secret is to write for the fun of it, publish when ready, not rush and not obsess. However you define success it is more likely to occur with more books to your name, than a bunch of fluctuating stats. Go for it! Write more books and we shall buy them.

    1. Thanks, Graeme. I definitely think being jammed in the querying/proposing queue took some of the “bubbance” out of me (as Puddleglum says in The Silver Chair). I had to focus on building a platform and getting some numbers. But now that I have an actual BOOK out, it’s so much more fun! People find me, instead of me hunting for followers. I know I’ve said this a lot lately, but I’m just in the process of reprogramming my brain since I went indie. Grin.

  4. Amen and you go girl!

    It used to really bother me when people would unfollow my blog or newsletter and I used to obsess over my stats on how many hits I got on my blog each day. Thank God, He freed me from that! I haven’t checked my stats in months!
    While it does sting to lose a follower- you’re right on. This online world can be tricky and sometimes people just unfollow us. Rarely is it personal. People are busy.

    Anyway, I think you’re awesome!

    1. Thanks so much, TC. Yes, I definitely stressed those things for a long while…but it really is rarely personal. The only times it IS personal are generally when a person is so polar opposite my views, I know we’ll do nothing but clash. Then again, I have friends who don’t believe the same things I do (I know you do too!) and I say if we can keep conversing civilly, we can be friends!

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