You don’t actually know whether anyone else is reading this, do you? Not really. Would it matter if you were the one and only subscriber of the Maven Game? If so, would you enjoy reading it any less? (Could you enjoy reading it any less? I’d better not ask.)
Maybe you’d feel special getting a newsletter written just for you. More likely, it would feel weird knowing that I know you’re the only one out there and that I’m just, like, typing these words at you. Sure, that’s what an email is, but there’s a big difference between a conversation and a single stand-up comic bombing in front of an audience of one. Picture one of those awkward “personal concerts” acts like Robin Thicke or Chicago give couple on The Bachelor.
An L.A.-based metal band recently booked a tour of Europe and the UK and nobody came. Not poor attendance—no attendance. Venue owners were, understandably, somewhat distressed. The (fake) booking agency had presented (fake) footage of packed shows. There were plenty of (fake) likes and comments on social media from all the band’s (fake) international fans. In fact, hundreds of (fake) tickets were sold to each performance and all the (fake) attendees marked their intention to go on the Facebook event page. (The Facebook event page, it turns out, was genuine.) In the end, the friends and family of each opening act were usually the only ones in attendance.
Sacre bleu, I imagine a French venue owner proclaimed, after spitting a bite of croissant onto his copy of Le Monde.
A German one might have said: Mein Gott! (Holding a monocle up to one eye in order to see the empty theater better.)
What in tarnation? an Old West prospector venue owner probably shouted, firing two six-guns in the air and kicking his legs out to the side in a higgledy-piggledy, back-and-forth manner.
You have questions. It’s only natural. Who…what the…why? Don’t expect answers. It’s still unclear what happened. It doesn’t matter. Ultimately, there are no answers when it comes to audience in today’s world.
Bucks and butts, people. Those are the only metrics, and they only matter for you. Fake butts are plentiful and you never really know where someone’s bucks are actually coming from. Instead of worrying about (or believing) how many people read someone else’s book or blog, pay close attention to the people paying close attention to you.
As of today, you are one of 830 subscribers to the Maven Game. Somewhere between 300 and 350 of you open each one. The beauty of this little list is that it’s not little at all. Hundreds of people are reading this. Some of my clients and authors over the years have had very, very large lists, but did they? Often, book sales didn’t reflect anything like a genuine following in the hundreds of thousands or millions—not even close.
I don’t know much, people, but I know there are a few hundred actual people actually reading this, and I know many of you personally. That makes it worthwhile for me. If you were going to go on-stage with your metal band and this many people were in the audience, you’d be in serious danger of stage fright. Why should this be any different? We just buy into the bullshit, that’s all.
Canadian e-reader company Kobo just announced the “most completed” books of 2018. (That’s the beauty of being an e-reader company. You can see the truth of people’s reading habits.) The difference between that list and all the other best-of lists is, well, complete. There is no overlap.
Who’s actually reading your stuff? Forget the rest.
No more essays until after the holidays. See you in the New Year!