Writers are a weird breed. We really want readers. We dream about readers. We are always trying to figure out how to get published and get readers. But we don’t want, you know, people to actually read our stuff. Not critical people, anyway.
When I launched the podcast, I remember saying to a friend that I didn’t care if it was just me in my basement reading stories to two listeners. I wasn’t going to obsess about stats or reviews, just treat it like the labor of love it is and as long as I am growing as a reader and as a writer I would feel good about the project. I think at that time I believed it.
Know the thing about stats? They’re addicting. It’s really easy to watch those little graphs. I think bloggers do this to. Who is reading? Who is linking? How many? How often?
No Extra Words is a tiny little endeavor. Yes, we have grown, and I am so grateful to all the authors who have entrusted me with their work and to newpages.com for the free classified ad that helped get the word out. But we remain a tiny fish in a giant ocean. I’m going to be real about the numbers here because I think we need to tell the truth about indie publishing and how hard it really is to grow an audience.
To date, the 11 episodes published have been listened to a total of 871 times, for an average of just under 80 listens per episode. Episode 4 has the most listens at 155 and the most recently released Episode 11 currently has the least listens at 30, although it was released about 30 hours ago so its stats are still rising quite quickly. These are pretty small numbers. If your book sold 871 copies you’d be crushed, and when you average it out to 80 per episode, that becomes even more disheartening.
If 80 people showed up to hear you at a reading, you’d be elated. 80 people is more than a lot of college lit courses. If I ever invited all 80 of those people to a party, they wouldn’t fit in my house.
Since July 4, at least one person has listened to at least one episode every day. Every day. The show touches someone every day. And, in the last 30 hours, 30 people have listened to the latest episode. That’s either because they were subscribed and were waiting for it or because they saw it posted somewhere and thought, huh, I’ll try that. Either way, there are 30 of them, and growing.
I think a lot of writers approach publishing, be it on their blog, in a book, or yes, via podcast, by thinking about the numbers they might rack up. How can I sell the *most* books? How can I reach the *biggest* audience? And when you don’t, it becomes hard to keep going. But what about those 30 people? What about the 80 per episode? The one who left a review? The one who tweeted thanks? We are continually being discovered. Someone listened to episode 2 today. That person is a new listener.
You have to start somewhere. Yes, as a writer I want those numbers to grow. But you have to grow *from* someplace. So instead of choosing to be sad about small numbers, today I’m choosing to remember each of those numbers is a person and be grateful for all the individuals out there who so far have pressed “play.”