So I didn’t leap on the UPS lady when she delivered the first copy of Lu this week, but only because Matt was home.
“Don’t scare her,” he warned as I flung open the front door. I assumed he meant no touching, but I did run halfway down the driveway with my hands outstretched.
“You’ve made my day!” I exclaimed as I seized the package and sprinted back to the house. But the truth was I made my day. It was my name on the cover. But more than that, it was a 5.5×8.5 copy of hope in my hands.
Have you ever worked without the trappings of work? Hired yourself for a job (with no pay), said no to other jobs (that pay), and then carved yourself time and space to get it done (without the promise of pay)? Officially, this is called entrepreneurship, but it feels like a game of make-believe. On the good days. On the bad days, it feels like a hoax.
The numbers don’t help: Over a million books are published each year and yet, book sales are declining. Self-publishing divvies me a larger chunk of the list price, but at the cost of distribution. It’s all on me.
“I figure it will be easy for me to sell about 200 books (though I really meant 250) and very hard to sell more than that,” I told my boss at Miami’s Entrepreneurship Department one afternoon.
“I was going to say 175,” he responded. He probably meant 125.
And now we have a bet that if I sell more than 200, he owes me a beer – so long as my mom doesn’t buy all 200 (but Mom, it’s totally cool you bought 5 copies yesterday. You’re in acceptable range).
You have to make bets like this to celebrate 200 like it’s 100,000 sold. And paint the cracked cement floor of your basement writing room, telling yourself you’ll stump for hexagonal tile if you ever net a profit to pay for it. And promise yourself, at yet another 4AM wake-up call, you’ll set the alarm to 5AM the day writing becomes your one-and-only gig.
But until that day, you run to the meet the UPS lady, by golly! I had a stacked afternoon of to-do, and I shelved it all to read my book on my hammock. I read it before I fell asleep that night, and I read it that next morning, curled up on my grandmother’s yellow velvet couch with a cup of coffee. I smiled through it all, as a living, breathing case study of Ecclesiastes 3:24.
Not once while reading my first copy of Lu did I think about sales and numbers and profit. This book doesn’t need to pay for a fancy floor, and I really don’t mind that I’m still waking up at 4AM to write the next book. I am deeply satisfied – yes, with the book in my hands, but more in having written it. I wouldn’t trade this stillness for a larger number, and no small number will ever convince me it was a waste of my time.
Plus, my boss will totally buy me a beer even if I sell less than 200. He’s nice like that.