One of the big advantages of self-publishing over traditional publishing is the data you control. You see your sales figures. Add in that you control things like your book’s price and that you can manipulate it for discount or free promotions, and you begin to see some of the options for testing your market. You can see which strategies meet your market’s demands, and which fizzle.
There’s also a psychological element to statistics. I call them “balloon poppers”. Often we have opinions that we hold so strongly that reason finds it difficult to bring them back to earth. Statistics are good for that. They intervene. I know all the cynicism of “statistics can be manipulated to support any damn argument”, but not when you have the raw data. When you have raw data it’s simply your decision whether to interrogate it, or hurry away, hugging your opinions.
For authors, one of our strongest opinions is really a hope, that our book is wonderful and deserves to fly up the sales charts and stay forever on bestseller lists.
Then we’re baffled when this doesn’t happen.
Statistics enable us to set more realistic expectations even as we test and refine strategies to achieve our outrageous hopes.
With Kindle Scout, the statistics on page views, hours in Hot and Trending, and most of all, the source of most of the incoming traffic is fascinating. Hot and Trending though is misleading. A book can be there for the vast majority of its campaign (30 days) and not be selected for publication by the Kindle Scout editors. This has happened. This is depressing … until you consider something: the experiment isn’t over. If the unselected book is self-published, having repeatedly engaged prospective readers’ attention throughout the Kindle Scout campaign, might it sell strongly even without Kindle Scout’s backing? (One of the things we have no data on is the checklist Kindle Scout editors use to decide which books are picked up).
Most of all, statistics remind me that until I refine my strategies, and focus them tightly and effectively, I can put a heap of promotional effort into my books for little return. Return on investment (ROI) isn’t just a financial concept. It’s also important in deciding how we allocate our time (okay, that is kind of financial) and what we invest in emotionally (where we let our balloons inflate with hope and float up).
Statistics enable lonely self-publishers to dialogue with something that is supremely indifferent to our hopes and dreams, and that can be powerful. Reality checks are.
Nominations close Nov 21, 2015