Monday, May 21, 2012

What are "Hidden Sales?"

by Mary DeMuth

She approached me from across a crowded hallway. "I feel like I know you," she said. "I receive your newsletters. Thank you."

I asked her about her family.

"I wanted to tell you thank you for Thin Places," she said after our small talk. "I've passed it to a friend who's passed it along several times."

In one quick moment, I felt sad. Passing a book along five times prevented five sales. But in the next moment, I smiled. I thanked her for passing the book along. I wondered who the book had been passed to, what had been the response, how God had worked.

Lying in my bed that night, I told my husband about the encounter. And I marveled at what sales might mean in eternity. Probably nothing at all. What will matter is influence, how my words expanded the kingdom of God. My hunch is that the passalong "sales" are what will make heaven so interesting. People I've never met who read my words, chew on them, and hopefully fall in love with Jesus more.

Don't be discouraged, then, if you see your book at Half Price Books, or a garage sale. Don't be bothered by people checking it out from their library. Don't fret when people pass your book on because they love it so much. Instead, be encouraged. Be thrilled. Be expectant.

Those "hidden sales" will mean something.

I've simplified my life, making my facebook page truly for deep, sweet friends and family. If you'd like to get regular updates, join my public page here. Find out more about my books, life and crazy thoughts on my blog.


Normandie Ward Fischer said...

Wonderful post. I'll remember that title, "Hidden Sales," because that's what we're here for: not making money, but touching hearts. God's in charge of the money bit -- and He's much better at it than we could ever be!

Aimee L. Salter said...

Even though I'm not published yet, this gives me a good reminder of why we're here and what we're doing it all for. Thank you! Look forward to seeing you in heave and exchanging hidden sales stories :)

MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA said...

Words of truth! It is not about sales; it is all about influence. But not just any influence. Only influence for Christ. He is the Beginning, the End, and Everything in Between!



Phy said...

Do a Google search on 'piracy' versus 'obscurity' and you'll see another way of looking at this same principle; the idea that some people are reading your book without paying for it, and that is (counter-intuitively) very, very good. What you miss in a sale is more than made up in mind share, in word-of-mouth, in creating a long tail of rabid fans. This pays off down the road, but it does pay off.,mod=14&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=piracy+obscurity

MKHutchins said...

Got here from Twitter -- hi. I don't think the books being passed along equals lost sales. I guess this comes from someone who checks a lot of books out from the library. Some of the books I check out, I never finish and just return. Some of the books I check out, I love. I then grab a copy for myself, and another for someone's birthday. I read a book recently that I loved so much (Vodnik, by Bryce Moore), that I gave a copy on my blog just so more people would hear of it.

Maybe none of those five people would have read your book otherwise. Maybe one of them has just grabbed a bunch of copies for Christmas and recommended it to their book club. Maybe I'm just optimistic, but I don't think passing along books is a zero-sum game. Hopefully that's a cheerful thought! :)

Mary DeMuth said...

MK Hutchins, I agree. It's exciting to me that others read my books.

Mary DeMuth said...

Agreed, our worry is obscurity far more than piracy.

Mary DeMuth said...


Mary DeMuth said...

I look forward to it too, Aimee.

Mary DeMuth said...

Yes, true. God owns the cattle on a thousand hills.