I wasn’t going to worry about the numbers. I was quite adamant about that. I certainly wasn’t going to be concerned about Amazon ratings when my first novel, The Watcher, was finally released. In fact, I was absolutely determined that I would not be sucked into the abyss that is an obsession with watching the popularity of your precious novel wax and wane on the whims of an unpredictable buying public.
Yet here I am. Way down here in the deep black vortex, craning my neck and squinting hard to keep the small bit of light shining through the opening far above my head in sight.
Actually, I’m not down here all the time. Just far more often than I ever thought I would be. Checking your rating on Amazon too often is much like investing in stocks then looking up their value every few hours – an exercise in futility (not to mention fear, worry, and depression, punctuated by an occasional bout of short-lived euphoria.)
When The Watcher first came out six weeks ago, there was a burst of activity, likely friends and family dutifully marching out and purchasing their copy. That was a heady time; the novel bounced around the top-selling 100 Christian fiction books in Canada for the first month, at least twice sitting as high as second place. The “at least” in the preceding sentence hopefully carries at least some redemptive value – I can’t say for sure if it was there more often than that as I don’t have the site running on my computer 24/7. That thought hasn’t even crossed my mind. Very often.
I did suspect that the immediate popularity of the book was a blip in the process, and that appears to be the case. The novel has spent much of the last two weeks out of the top 100, only putting in a brief appearance there occasionally. About as often as you’d win a few coins on the slots – not enough so you end up ahead, just enough to keep you in your seat feeding the insatiable machine or, in my case, hopefully (if somewhat pathetically) checking and re-checking the ratings. I do admit to the hope that, as people read the book and tell other about it, the numbers will slowly creep back up, and have more weight behind them this time around as it won’t just be Uncle Ted* and Aunt Gloria* buying extra copies to give out to all their friends.
Either way, it really won’t matter. This journey was never meant to be about numbers, and it is only my weakness in giving in to them occasionally that has made them an issue at all. As I was reminded in church this morning, it’s all from God, and for his glory. He’s the one (the only number that matters, incidentally) who gave me the story, and he can do whatever he wants to with it. And if the book was only written to bless the many friends and acquaintances of Uncle Ted and Aunt Gloria, then that’s just fine with me.
I may have to remind myself of this truth daily (hourly?) but the sooner I can climb out of the abyss and stop worrying about the numbers, the better off I – and my poor neck – will be.
Press on, my friends. Press on,
* I don’t actually have an Uncle Ted, or an Aunt Gloria for that matter. Which is really too bad, because it sounds like they might have bought a lot of books.