Sunday, August 26, 2012

Lies and Statistics

Most of us start writing because we love words. But at some point, some of us become obsessed with numbers.
  • How many words did I write? If I need to delete a scene, that will set me back! Is it better to have more bad words than fewer good ones?
  • How many twitter followers do I have? I'm following more than that -- do I look like a loser?
  • How many queries did I send? What's my request percentage? What is the acceptance rate of the agent I'm querying? How many fulls do I have to send before my odds of an offer are good? How long have I been waiting and how what are the odds that that is a good sign or bad one? 
  • What's my lifetime number of rejections? Is a high one a badge of honor or shame?
  • How many people visited my blog post? How many commented? Is it worth doing if no one is listening? 
  • Google Analytics says someone from NYC visited my blog! Is it an agent? Is it an editor? Are any query responses due (must cross reference with QueryTracker)?
  • What's my Klout score? Why does it say I'm influential in zombies and couponing?
  • How many "likes" do I have on Facebook?  Oh no, no one "likes" me!
  • How many adds do I have on GoodReads? How many reviews? How many friends?
  • What's my Amazon ranking? So how many books have I sold?
  • What's my star rating? Oh no, a one-star review! That will ruin my average!
  • When will my royalty statement arrive? What does it mean????
Some of those numbers give us an illusion of control, but only an illusion. Just because you can measure something does mean you control it. Sometimes numbers don't even help you understand something better -- it's easy to get lost in statistics. Lately I've been watching my Google Analytics for signs of life,  trying to read the numbers like tea leaves. It doesn't do any good -- I just have to wait for responses, for my book release, for something to happen. 

And if I can,  while I wait, maybe put some words down. I'll try not to focus to much on how many.


Ambiguous_A said...

Jeez, I've thought at least 90 percent of those things. Such a true blog post!

Laura Hughes, MittensMorgul said...

Indeed! For word people, we sure do get obsessed about numbers. I think I have had all those thoughts before. After I read the "how many queries did I send" comment, I had a little panic attack and almost compulsively went to send out a few more queries. :)

As far as Klout goes, I want to know why I'm influential in Justin Bieber and Amnesia.

Joy D. Fanning said...

So true! It's so easy! We judge ourselves the hardest and constantly it seems. Good to know that others are in the same boat and to be reminded that it's really about our ideas and the words we put them in.

Jess said...

The word count game is getting to me lately~ I can't be satisfied with my writing day unless I've gotten X number of words written~ otherwise I feel like I wasn't trying hard enough. Which is silly, because if those words aren't quality, then they'll just get deleted anyway. I needed to read this post today, so thanks!

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Word count is one I worry about. I don't know what all the other things even are! I feel very out of the loop now... :)

Kell Andrews said...

Stay out of the loop, Rachel! No need to obsess over whether your Klout score is dropping!

Word count seems like the most straightforward one because you really can control it, but if you fall short, it's a source of guilt. Plus it's really hard to delete misfired scenes when you need those words to make your goal...