Metrics, schmetrics: Quality, not quantity

LoserMeasureOne of this season’s regular happenings is a perennially angst-inducing rite of autumn, the annual sales update from the University of Texas Press accounting department. I recently received the latest recap, a bottom-line exercise that serves as a yearly reminder of just what a small (nay, tiny) fish I am in this world even though UTP’s number-crunchers are far too polite to put it that way.

Anyway, “Ryan Adams: Losering, A Story of Whiskeytown” was published in the fall of 2012, which means I’ve been getting these statements for a couple of years now. And while the book has certainly gotten some very nice attention and even sold respectably, for a university-press title, “Losering” hasn’t exactly set the best-seller lists on fire. If current sales trends continue, it will still take another two years or so for the book to “earn out” — generate enough sales income to recoup the (quite modest) advance UT Press paid me to write it, at which point I’ll start getting back-end royalties.

The bottom line is, it ain’t never gonna make me rich, although the day may come when it puts a little extra change in my pocket every year. And that’s fine. As I always tell people, don’t write books for money because you will most assuredly be disappointed.

As for good reasons to write books, we do it in hopes of getting responses like the one below. It’s from a fellow Whiskeytown enthusiast named Mark Cermak, who started a thread on the Ryan Adams Archive Facebook page last week to ask whether or not other people had read “Losering” and found it worthwhile. After the usual banter, Mark announced he was going to check it out — and came back with this a couple of days later. It pretty much made my day.

So yeah, it’s certainly easy to obsess way too much about the bigger audience I never got to with this book. But to see it resonate so strongly for the people who care the most, that’s the best validation one could ask for.

Thank you, Mark, and thank you, world.

RAArev

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