"Deutsches schwarzköpfiges Fleischschaf" by 4028mdk09 - Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Deutsches_schwarzk%C3%B6pfiges_Fleischschaf.JPG#/media/File:Deutsches_schwarzk%C3%B6pfiges_Fleischschaf.JPG
“Did you know, Aunty Ros,” my fourteen-year-old niece asked with a slightly-too-innocent smile as she surveyed the flock of sheep through the window of our holiday cottage, “that in every flock of sheep there’s one called Shaun?”
“Really?” I queried, raising an eyebrow.
“Yes,” she continued with a mischievous twinkle. “If you lean over the gate and yell, ‘Shaun!’ it will turn and look at you.”
And so, for the remainder of our Easter break, we tramped around the Derbyshire countryside, leaning over five-bar gates and yelling, “Shaun!”
And do you know what? It works. It really does. Every single time. One sheep out of the flock will lift its head and give you a long, hard stare. Just one. Go on, next time you’re on a country walk, give it a try. You know you want to.
Perhaps writing is a bit like leaning over a five-bar gate and yelling, “Shaun!” The majority will go on cropping the grass with their bums pointed disdainfully in your direction, taking absolutely no notice of you. But there will always be one who stops what she’s doing and looks up.
I don’t believe that God is into the numbers game. Didn’t Jesus tell a story about a shepherd who abandoned the ninety-nine in order to go and rescue the one? I once knew a pastor who had a photograph on the wall of his office of a sheep which had fallen over the top of a cliff and landed on a ledge below, just too far down to get itself back to safety. And he had given the picture the caption, “It’s worth it for one.”
Now please don’t mistake me, I understand that publishers have a living to make, and there’s a good reason why they are unlikely to publish you unless you have already taken the trouble to build your platform via social media, blogging and so on. I’m not suggesting we should be lazy and neglect to make the contacts necessary to get published, if publication is what we’re aiming for. But in the long scheme of things, God is less interested in how many copies you sell than in whether you manage to reach the one who really needs to hear the message He’s given you to share.
So don’t be disheartened if you see other authors selling more copies than you. It may be that your particular book, article or blog post has, so to speak, leaned over the five-bar gate and hollered, “Shaun!” and just the one person who recognised himself in that name has looked up and made a connection and knows that that he is not alone in the world, that someone understands. That might not put pounds into your pocket but you may well be laying up treasure in heaven.
Ros Bayes has 6 published and 3 self-published books, as well as some 3 dozen magazine articles to her credit. She is the mother of 3 daughters, one of whom has multiple complex disabilities, and she currently works for Through the Roof (www.throughtheroof.org) as their Training Resources Developer, and loves getting paid to write about disability all day. You can find her blog at http://rosbunneywriting.wordpress.com and her author page at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Ros-Bayes/e/B00JLRTNVA/. Follow her on Twitter: @rosbwriting.