Do the Numbers Really Add Up?

Happy Friday!

I hope everyone had a great week and are looking forward to some fun this weekend. We are supposed to have a warm-up around here and I’m really ready for it.

I always believed writers lived in a world of words. I never realized how much numbers affect a writer’s life. I’ve heard countless conversations about twitter numbers, Facebook likes, raffle entries, and Amazon numbers. They always leave me wondering how meaningful these numbers are. Too often, the focus is on quantity rather than quality. I get the web effect of if you tell ten people and they each tell ten people and they each tell ten people and so on, but how much does the web grow if the people surrounding you could care less about what you’re saying? Let’s say you have 1500 followers on twitter. Of those, 1450 don’t even read or retweet your tweets, to say nothing of not reading your books or for that matter any books in your book’s genre/age range. Some of them followed you because they want you to follow them. Some follow you because it was requirement for a contest. Wouldn’t having just those 50 interested followers be as effective as having all 1500? The same can be said about raffles. If you have a desirable prize, people will sign up for it. Likely, the bigger the prize, the more people will sign up. If you tie entries to twitter or Facebook followers, your twitter and Facebook numbers will go up. But does that translate into readers? (I started following the White House on twitter last November. I wasn’t interested in the White House tweets. However, they were raffling off invitations to tour the White House to see the Christmas decorations. I very much wanted to do that and one requirement was you follow them on twitter or Facebook. When the contest was over, I stopped following.) I know it’s unrealistic to think writers will suddenly become less obsessed by numbers, but could we all at least pause to question how meaningful a number is before we waste energy trying to skew it?

At the very least, we can have some fun with the numbers. Last weekend, I signed books for a raffle my publisher is having on Goodreads. (One of those- How cool is this? How lucky am I? moments.) I’m no Goodreads guru, so I don’t know how user-friendly the site is or is not. I don’t know if it is easy to click a button for a chance to win a free autographed copy and then click another button to indicate you plan to read the book or if this is one of those sites where you have to follow the yellow brick road between pages to accomplish the two goals. That said, I checked today and there are 590 people signed up to win the book and only 360 people who have indicated they plan to read it. What do the other 230 people plan to do with it if they win? A few ideas:

1. Use it as a doorstop.

2. Use it to level a piece of unsteady furniture.

3. Hollow it out to smuggle pot out of Colorado.

4. Add it to their stockpile in preparation of the opening of their bookstore on eBay.

5. Press leaves and flowers in it.

Can you think of anymore?

Speaking of numbers (of days), in 11 more days Providence will be venturing out into the world. If you spot it in a bookstore or library, please take a picture of it for me. (And feel free to leave it face-out on the shelf!)

Have a wonderful week and if you have any creative uses for free books, let me know!



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