"NYC has 3rd fewest homicides on record in 2011..."
"Google+ may have 400,000,000 users by end of next year..."
"Gingrich slumps to 14% support by likely Iowa caucus-goers..."
Our world is made up of numbers. These happen to have come from Bloomberg News (which I was listening to while desparately trying to decrease the numbers that have been added onto my waist lately). We take for granted that numbers are important.... the cost of food at the store, or the score of our favorite sports team. It is so normal for us to evaluate these numbers for accuracy and relevancy that we usually don't stop to think how we even do this.
So, it is only when numbers surprise me that they get my real attention; and perhaps too much of it. Last week, during my book promotion, my numbers on Amazon surged. I was amazed to be awoken by my husband to the news that I had already 'sold' over 500 books that morning, Dec. 22nd. Through the course of the day we watched these numbers, trying to get our heads around what it meant.
We couldn't put it in financial terms, for example, since it was a give-away promo. Instead my brain tried to work out what this meant for marketing, for future promotions, for plans on my second book. It wasn't until the promotion was over and the sales turned to actual sales that the thought suddenly struck me.... these are my readers.
I am not sure why it took sales at my normal, $2.99 price for me to register this, but these numbers finally had new meaning for me. Each of those people who downloaded my book had somehow found it and were reading it. Hopefully they were liking it, but at least it was (virtually) in their hand. More than all the numbers put together, this fact delighted me.
It also reminded me of the two primary reasons I published my book on Kindle.... one was to learn more about the world of digital publishing; how to create a digital book and then how to reach readers. I am still trying to figure out how the readers found my 'free' book on Dec. 22nd. Was it through my friends on Facebook and Twitter? The way that Amazon listed it that day? The marketing from fantastic reviewers? This is the learning part, and there is still a lot I don't know... a lot the numbers don't tell me.
But, my second goal for publishing was to finally get my book into the hands of readers. And this was probably the reason I felt so excited when the realization hit me that more than 2000 people now had Betting Jessica.... Last year at this time my character Jessica only lived in my head and on the pages of the novel I had finished years ago. There was a hard copy which my mom and husband and a few friends had read, but otherwise.... the characters were like unloved dolls sitting on a shelf.
Now I get to wonder.... what do these readers think of Jessica and Erik? Do they picture them the way I do? What would they say to them if they could. Finally the characters are alive... something I like to think makes them as happy as it does me.
My sales may continue to grow now.... or they may stall. Either way there are 100's of 1,000's of things still to learn about publishing. These numbers are important, of course, but the very most important number is only 1 - that is, the one reader who, as I write this, has their kindle in their hands and is laughing at something Jessica has done. That one reader inspires me to finish revising my next novel, so that those characters too, can live.