Grains of Sand

Quick, count how many books in this photo!

Sometimes the scale of numbers blinds us to their meaning. It’s one thing to know that 600,000 Americans (or likely more) were killed by COVID in the past year, another thing entirely to know someone who suffered with it themselves, or who lost. It’s one thing to know that there’s nearly two trillion dollars in student loan debt in the US, another thing entirely to be working your way out from under $80,000 of it with fifteen years left to go.

We have data, and trends. Points, and patterns. But we don’t often think to put the two together. So here’s one example.

I published a book a couple of years ago, maybe you’ve heard. (I talk about it enough…) Yay me! I’m awesome. But just today, I received my catalog for the University of Chicago Press’ 2021 book sale, that flea-market even where they try to clear some warehouse space before next year’s boxes arrive. And sure enough, The Adjunct Underclass is in there, down from its original $24 cover price to only $11. Now’s your chance!

This, of course, is the fate we all approach, but we don’t always get such clear indicators.

The UCP sale catalog has 628 named books on the sale table. That’s one publisher. Times hundreds of publishers. Times decades of offerings. You wrote a book? Good for you, get in line, Mr. Special.

It’s the work. It’s always the work. It’s only the work. As Martha Graham once said, “What other people in the world think of you is none of your business.” You do it because the doing matters.

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