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A few weeks ago, I did a Google Hangout with two classes that have just finished reading Wendell the World's Worst Wizard as a read aloud. It was pretty amazing. They dressed up as characters and created props that represented different locations in the book (like Smells Like Bundt or Tar Shucks). Two kids even created a modified version of "Oh Canada" and sang it to me.
It was amazing. In fact, I consider it one of the best things that has ever happened to me. Ever. I actually got teary eyed when I left the Skype (then again, I cried like a baby at the beginning of Up! so there you go). I could never have imagined that the students would get into it the way they did.
I mention this because I sometimes hit moments when I focus on the metrics. How many books did we sell? Where are we ranked? Should we try and go with a traditional publisher next time? Here, the focus is almost entirely on the metrics.
But here's the thing: the kids don't care about book sales or metrics or any of that. While an adult might ask, "How many have you sold?" kid ask things like, "How did you make up all the names?" or "Where did you learn to draw?" or "If you could meet one of the characters you made in person, who would it be?" Kids ask me what my favorite part was to write and whether or not I ever got bored or frustrated. Sometimes they ask really random questions, like why I didn't include ninjas. But their questions are almost always about the content and not the metrics.
And so it leaves me with this lingering thought as an author:
I want to listen more to kids and less to the grown-up voice in my head that obsesses about metrics.
I want to define success by whether or not kids liked it. I want to know if they fell in love with any characters or if they begged their teachers to read another chapter or if they wanted, on a deep level, to visit the world I had helped create (along with my wife). Because, on those days when I Skyped with different classes, I realized that the definition of success ultimately comes down to whether or not a kid has fallen in love with the story.