Why Numbers Don’t Always Tell the Whole Story

Stats Discussion

It took me a few tries to write this post. I even considered trashing the idea altogether, but a part of me just really needs to write this— for my own sake, and for any other bloggers that can potentially relate to my experiences.

The title is a bit vague, but instead of prefacing this post like I usually do with my discussions, I’m just going to dive right in!

Discussion (Pink)

Sometimes—often times—I worry too much about the numbers. I go through periods where all I can think about, instead of what posts to write or what pictures to take, is when I’m going to hit the next milestone in my follower count. I would be lying if I said I weren’t in the midst of one of those periods right now. It’s why I felt inspired to write this post, along with the fact that I finally realized how stats—page views, followers, likes, reblogs, comments, anything you can think of—were sucking the fun out of a hobby that’s completely altered my life for the better.

A few weeks ago, I began to feel so bad about myself and my accounts, I asked absurd questions like, what am I doing wrong? What do I need to change? Am I simply not as good as everyone else that seem to be able to get followers? Does the universe just not want me to be a successful book blogger?

I feel ridiculous even typing out those questions, because I know that the only thing you need to be a “successful” blogger, is a blog and some posts. And it might take some people longer to gain followers than others, but that says nothing about the quality of your posts, photos, or account as a whole.

Yet I couldn’t stop spiraling down into that dark mental cavity. I know this post may seem whiny or superficial, but I’m making it brutally honest for a reason: it’s time that I start being more honest with myself.

When I first realized how toxic my thoughts were becoming, I did some necessary soul-searching. I recently sent my first-ever formal ARC requests, to (so far) no avail. My immediate thoughts were of the fact that my stats are too low, and I had no chance of being approved. I should probably point out that I sent those requests just a week ago, so YES I’M BEING RIDICULOUS! There is still, I think, a chance of me receiving one of the ARCs. But at one point in my negativity the last few days, I even felt embarrassedlike the publicist probably opened the email and showed it to all their publisher friends because it’s just so funny that a blogger with a low following would even bother to send a request.

I asked myself why I even sent the requests in the first place. Was I disappointed because it seemed unlikely that I would get to read those books in advance? Partially, I suppose, but considering my humongous TBR filled with beautiful books waiting to be read, on top of the small mountain of YALLFest ARCs I already have, that didn’t seem to be the issue.

The ARCs themselves were not at the center of my troubled thoughts—but the publishers were. So I realized what I really craved above all else, even the books, was the approval of a publisher.

What I’ve been dying for is not the next big 2018 release, but validation. Validation from publishers that my online presence is worthy of their attention and time. That they care enough about my opinion to send me a book to review.

I also wanted validation from the numbers: from the follower counts at the top of my Instagram and Twitter feeds, from the bar graph of visitors and views on my blog’s stat page. I wanted to see in concrete proof that people are interested in my ideas and creativity.

But seeking solid evidence like that is nearly impossible, and never satisfactory enough. I know that even if I had 100,000 followers, or a million followers, I would always be striving to reach the next goal. In the end, I don’t really need validation from anyone, or any numbers. I’m truly proud of my blog and my bookstagram photos, of my ability to spread a love for reading. After all, it’s the greatest love I have in life.

Taken as a whole, this reflection gave me a chance to see how our community has become centered around one thing:

Money.

Publishers realize that book bloggers and influencers are a priceless form of advertising that they can’t buy anywhere else. Of course, they don’t attempt to buy “ads” from us, but they do send us payment in other obvious forms. Thus, bookstagram and other platforms over the years have become flooded with sponsored ARC giveaways, unboxings, rep searches. Publishing is an industry, therefore it’s incredibly monetized like anything else in this world.

Don’t get me wrong though—I LOVE unboxings! And pretty ARC pictures! I have zero problem with members of the book community receiving free stuff (compensation for our work is nice)! But I think it’s important to remind ourselves that the book community is not all about free stuff and publishers. It’s not all about the numbers. It’s about the books that don’t get a lot of hype, or the late-night conversations with friends we never would’ve had if not for the YA community. It’s about the voices we don’t get to hear in everyday life, about the kids that are awkward and bookish and able to find a home in this congregation of fabulous nerds. It’s about debut authors experiencing the joy of holding their first published novel, and the hours of stressful, head-pounding work that go into producing an entire book.

It’s about stories, and the power they possess to change us all.

So, I’m making myself a promise: every time I catch myself staring at my follower count, I’m not going to worry about how high the number is. Instead, I will see how many people have taken the time to share in such a profound part of human existence—our ability to tell stories.

Post Divider

Wow, I know that was a little dense, but hopefully some of you out there have also felt discouraged by your stats and reacted similarly. I hope that I was able to help you remember that the only validation you need is from the inside!

Have any of you ever felt the same way I did this past month? What are some ways you’d recommend to overcome that attitude? Thanks for reading!

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6 thoughts on “Why Numbers Don’t Always Tell the Whole Story”

  1. Ah, I love this post! And I definitely feel this.

    I went on a break for a couple weeks in November, and then I came back, and my stats were SO LOW. It was devestating, since I had finally gotten to a point where I was really happy with my daily and monthly views, my comments, and my follower growth. And it felt like I had to basically start all over again from scratch.

    It definitely has gotten better, but I still feel like it’s hard to get back those numbers I used to get. And I have to say, I’m ready for the challenge, especially since I’m super excited for all the posts coming up in the next couple of months! 😄 It’s true that trying to get ARCs is a taxing process, especially when I’m so happy with the stats I get, but my requests are ignored. 😝 But I think I’m learning that it takes time, I guess!

    1. I’m sure you will start getting ARCs any day now with the stats you have! I can’t wait to see your new posts!

  2. Amazing post. <3 I have been struggling terribly with my mental health lately, and part of the problem has been endless ARC rejections. I used to get a lot of approvals, and the rejections have been making me feel like I'm doing something wrong now, or have over-stayed my welcome. The bit you said about seeking validation from publishers hit home so hard for me. I really needed this, so thank you.

    1. Aw thank you for sharing that! There’s nothing more encouraging than knowing that your post was able to connect to another reader. I know exactly what you’re going through, getting rejected over and over when you have no idea why is very disheartening. But I’m sending positive thoughts your way, and just remember that a publisher’s willingness to send you an ARC really says nothing about the quality of your blog or the dedication you put in ❤️

  3. This is beautiful. 💕 It really isn’t about the numbers, it’s about the stories.
    I deleted several email subscribers, people I knew weren’t interested in my blog & no longer read my posts. (or if they did, they criticized what I wrote whenever I met them in person)

    That was hard, because I “lost the numbers”
    But they weren’t really part of my community – they were simply numbers. I still have this lovely community of readers and friends, and even if the numbers never “make money”, that’s ok.

    1. I really commend you for being able to do that! It’s hard to let go of all the stats and numbers but in the end I think the interactions I have with other readers are worth so much more!

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