At one time or another, every one of us have remarked how small the world is, usually caused by meeting someone by chance and finding out that you both know a certain person, or went to school with the person, are both reading the same books, are fans of the same team, etc.
But you might be surprised how a “small” view of the world can alter your entire perspective. I am not referring to a specific Christian faith issue, but I suppose a case could be made that this certain worldview has spiritual implications. God is certainly not limited by space, time, resources or physical strength the way we are, so taking our finite view of the world can bleed over to our view of God and be quite destructive.
I have regularly bumped into attitudes exhibited by people who look at the world and see limited opportunity rather than more of an open-ended proposition. In publishing it is evident when an author or publisher hesitates to give away fifty books to start marketing buzz, because that makes fifty fewer books to sell. That shows a limited-world view. There are a finite number of books to be sold, so make sure you make money on every one of them.
Now, just to be clear, the world is limited to an extent…once every person on the planet buys your book, sales will slow down. But on the other hand, no book has ever sold seven billion copies, so we haven’t maximized a market yet!
I can understand a “limited world” view when it comes from people in certain countries that have a low-level economy with the “haves” and the “have-nots”. Their view of everything is like a pie…if your neighbor takes two slices, then there are only four slices left, etc. Everything is limited, from the amount of gas at the gas station that month, to how much food is available at the market. Their economies put limits on how far they think.
Consider this…of all books published by traditional publishers in the U.S., the average number of copies sold per title is about 4,000 copies. If you include self-published books, the approximate copies per title sold drops quite a bit lower.
If you are just selling books in the United States, those four thousand copies could be sold if each bookstore in the country sold one copy of your book, period.
- If you sell 50,000 copies of a book in the U.S., that amounts to one book sold to every 6,500 people…not exactly market saturation.
- If you sell a million copies worldwide, you are considered an international phenomenon for reaching one in 7,000 people.
I hope you get my point. Big sales numbers in our mind are rather small when viewed from a little higher perspective.
So what could this mean to you?
If you work for a publisher, considering the world from a big-world perspective might be rather liberating. Nothing feels better that to be released from the chains of limited worldviews where things are small and predictable. Think of a couple hundred million Christians who speak Spanish, a hundred million who speak Portuguese and another hundred million who speak Chinese.
If you write, think beyond your church, your town, your region, your country…there is a big world of seven billion people and if just one in 7,000 of them finds your work meaningful, it is an amazing feat.
Publishers and authors, unleash yourselves from small-world thinking and the limited expectations that go along with it.