Monday, June 11, 2018

The Numbers Reality and the Writer’s Responsibility

by Kristen Hogrefe @kjhogrefe

My first solo lasted two whole verses. I was thirteen, and since I don’t do math, that was a while ago. But I still remember the chorus by heart: “It was little by little, minute by minute, for little is much when the Lord is in it …”

Those words well-describe God’s work in my life and perhaps my whole career as a writer.

Small Beginnings

Like many of you, I started writing from scratch. When I was in middle school, my older brother had a creative assignment that morphed into a chapter book my siblings, friends, and I co-wrote. It was laugh-out-loud ridiculous, but that experience stirred my imagination.

After writing through high school and college, I started taking my ideas seriously. While juggling a full-time job, I queried and began receiving those necessary rejection letters.

Yes, necessary. I wasn’t ready for publication yet.

After polishing some more, I tackled the world of self-publishing. I’m not saying this was the right or wrong decision, but back then, I didn’t know much about the industry or where to turn. On the plus side, the process gave me a crash-course in publication and cemented my desire to keep going.

It also fueled my interest in website building, blogging, and social media. Looking back, I can see how that “hands-on” experience has allowed me to help other writers trouble-shoot their own platform building. 

Maybe your beginnings are small, too, but don’t despise them. 

Multiplied Potential

One of my favorite New Testament stories is the feeding of the five thousand, maybe because I love seeing God turn impossible things into reality—and break the rules of math. Five loaves plus two fish shouldn’t equal thousands fed with twelve baskets leftover, now should they? 

But they did, despite the disciples’ doubts. In his gospel, John records their skeptical report to Jesus. “There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two small fish, but what are they among so many?” (John 6:9 NKJV)

We probably would have doubted too, because the supply didn’t match the demand.

Maybe that’s how we feel about our platform numbers. They aren’t high enough to attract a publisher or agent, and our efforts to grow them are slow-going.

But that doesn’t mean they’re worthless. We have to start somewhere, with something. Instead of focusing on scarcity, focus on potential. After all, the demand is a justified one. There were five thousand (or more) people to feed! In the writing world, publishers are like any other business, needing a return on their investment (ROI). They’d like to sell thousands of books, and truth is, so would we.

That said, what is our responsibility as writers? 
  1. Bring what we have to Jesus. That’s what the Lord commanded his disciples to do. (Matthew 14:18)
  2. Commit our writing and results to God. When the disciples gave Jesus the little boy’s lunch, Jesus looked “up to heaven.” (Matthew 14:19)
  3. Thank and trust God for what he’s going to do in advance. As Jesus fixed his gaze skyward, he “blessed” the five loaves and two fish. (Matthew 14:19)
  4. Get busy spreading what we have. After blessing the food, Jesus broke it and gave the portions to the disciples to distribute.

Parting Encouragement

I think back to my first solo and the song’s last lines, which said, “A little with the Lord goes a long, long way.” Think on that truth when you get discouraged. Don’t quit. Keep pressing on. Find ways to connect with your audience. Attend conferences and take workshops to help you develop your craft and network. Plug into writing groups like Word Weavers for support.

Maybe the process will take years, but if we stretch our comfort zones and flex our writing muscles, we can grow—and so can those numbers.

How have you seen God make much of your little? What encouragement can you share from your journey?


Kristen Hogrefe is an award-winning author and speaker. She serves as a page president for Word Weavers International and teaches English for Alpha Omega Academy. Her dystopian novel, The Revisionary(Write Integrity Press), won a Selah for Speculative Fiction, and its sequel The Revolutionary released in March. Connect with Kristen at www.KristenHogrefe.comwhere she challenges young adults and the young at heart to think truthfully and live daringly.


  1. What a blessing Ms. Kristen! Thank you so much for such an encouraging post. Am new to "tribe building"; and so new that I don't think I'll ever impress a publisher with my "numbers." Thank you so much for reminding me that it's not my work that matters, but God's. The key is making sure I give it to Him, and leave it in His capable hands. God's blessings ma'am...

  2. You're welcome! I'm so glad this post was encouraging. One of my favorite mottos is "do the next right thing." Be faithful in what God's asked you to do, and then, like you said, leave the results in His hands. Blessings to you!

  3. What a beautiful article.
    Focus on potential. I like that.
    Thanks for spreading such positivity, Ms. Kristen.

    1. It's my pleasure! Thanks for your kind comment. :)

  4. This is such a good reminder of the heart of all we do! Thank you.

  5. I remind myself of this often. When we do our best and give it to God. He will do the rest. My numbers aren't great either, but little by little...

    1. Absolutely! :) Blessings to you in your writing!