Monday, October 24, 2011

Crunching the Numbers

Are you a numbers cruncher? One of my jobs is as the bookkeeper for our family lumber business, Vetsch Hardwoods, Inc. I'm the bean-counter. Money in, money out, payroll, inventory, gov't forms filled out.

This is not my natural habitat. I don't think in numbers. I'm so thankful for the accounting program we use, the folks at our bank, and the accountant who holds my hand through end-of-year stuff.

They help me understand when numbers are good and when they aren't. Being in the black with the green is way better than being in the red with the green. :) A bookkeeper is supposed to crunch numbers.

Writers building a platform have become number-crunchers too. And the numbers are confusing, scary, potential pits-of-despair or obstacles-of-pride.

The numbers writers watch include:

Platform Stuff:

Facebook followers.
Blog followers.
Twitter followers.
Klout score.
Number of comments on your blog.
Number of Re-Tweets on Twitter.
Number of blog hits.
Number of newsletter subscribers.

Book Sales Stuff:

Number of contracts.
Size of advances.
Units sold.
Units returned.
Units remaindered.
Book signing attendance.
Royalty checks.
Sell-in numbers.
Sell-through numbers.

Personal WIP Stuff:

Days until deadline.
Word count per day.
The deficit between the deadline and the word count. :)
Word count per hour.
Pages edited.

Now, the personal Work In Progress stuff I have a fairly good handle on. I set the goals, and it's easy to see whether or not I make them. I know when the next WIP is due on my editor's desk, and I know how long it is supposed to be and how many days I have to finish it.

The Book Sales stuff...I have my agent and the publishing house to help me decipher those.

It's the Platform numbers where I can get tripped up. Not just quantifying them and their effectiveness, but also not comparing them to others. I've recently signed up for Klout which does a gallop around your social networks, blogs, on-line communities, etc. and assigns you a Klout-score relative to the activity and influence it thinks you wield. Still trying to figure out what this might mean in the greater scheme of things, but I'll admit to being happy when the number goes up and a little sad when it goes down.

So, questions for you:

Are you a numbers person? Do you ever succumb to the temptation of comparing your numbers with those of others?


  1. It's so overwhelming thinking about all those number things! Yikes! But, guess I need to start thinking that way, huh?

  2. I think comparing numbers to others is apples and oranges.

  3. I think I'm tempted to be a numbers person to the detriment of my productivity. When did I get on Klout? When I was supposed to write a tough scene this weekend and thought, "Nah, I'll just pop online and check out this Klout thing."

    Then after, I started thinking about Klout and how silly or possibly arbitrary it seems. I'm not sure I'm convinced about the whole Klout thing.

  4. Numbers = my enemy. ;) I watch them. I write them down. I'm aware, but we aren't friends.

    Oh, and I'm thinking of posting on Wed. why I plan not to sign up for Klout. It would do me no good right now and I'm not sure I buy into their stats.

    ~ Wendy

  5. Can I just say thanks for the panic attack you caused me during this post. I still count on my fingers and when shopping I make my 13 year old daughter keep up with the amounts and tax.

    Heck, I can't even order the right amount of books for book club when the ladies sign up! Breathing deep right now. :)

  6. Numbers are evil. Nuf said :)

  7. I'm a numbers person. But I try not to get too tripped up about platform numbers. I think Klout undermines the "social" in social media. It rewards you with a higher number for having a lot of Twitter followers but not following many back. I'd rather have less Klout and more relationships. :)

  8. I majored in Mathematics and am a pretty organized kind of person. When I owned my own business I did my own bookkeeping, too. But when it comes to online followers I deliberately ignore numbers. I like to think it's more about relationships and communication than accumulating numbers.

    Then I have to be chagrined and admit I do occasionally look at my blog stats to reassure myself that people are actually reading it. :)

    My attitude will probably have to change drastically when/if I am eventually published, but for now I try to keep my distance from the number crunching habit.

  9. Oh, Erica, I have a BMath degree so technically, yes, I'm a numbers person, but when it comes to platform I try to run from numbers. I'm a nobody in this big world, I get that.

    I don't have books out there to grab readers' attention and have them swarming to find me on the internet so I'm still very good with being a nobody.

    I'm not looking forward to the day that I have to really watch those platform numbers at all. But it's part of the job of being a published author so I will embrace it with a whole lot of prayer I'm sure.

    I've never heard of the Klout thing. Think I might keep it that way for as long as possible! LOL

    Good luck with all your platform numbers Erica! You'll do great. I know you will!

  10. Klout score . . . I'm not sure I even want to go there yet.