best selling authors orb or light

Best Selling Authors: 10 Marketing Secrets

best selling authors orb or lightWhat better way to join the exclusive club of best selling authors than … well … to hear how others did it?

With that in mind, I have scoured the web and collected 10 quotes from best selling authors on their secrets to their success, as it relates to marketing efforts.

Best Selling Authors Marketing Secrets

1. Publish your novels in fast succession.

“Have several novels in the pipeline—finished or nearly so—when you present your first work to a publisher or go the self-publishing route.”
—Kathy Reichs

2. Don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty.

“I know so many people who want to be writers. But let me tell you, they really don’t want to be writers. They want to have been writers. They wish they had a book in print. They don’t want to go through the work of getting the damn book out. There is a huge difference.”
—James Michener

3. Identify your audience and your genre before you even start writing.

“There’s no mystique about the writing business, although many people consider me blasphemous when I say that. … To create something you want to sell, you first study and research the market, then you develop the product to the best of your ability.”
—Clive Cussler

4. Have thick skin when you face criticism.

“The critics can make fun of Barbara Cartland. I was quite amused by the critic who once called me ‘an animated meringue.’ But they can’t get away from the fact that I know what women want—and that’s to be flung across a man’s saddle, or into the long grass by a loving husband.”
—Barbara Cartland

5. Take control of your writing career.

“Having my first publisher destroy my dream debut made me realize that I had to take control of my career. I couldn’t leave it in the hands of a publisher interested in only his bottom line. I had to find my readers and connect with them in ways that no publisher ever could. And I had to learn how to be CEO of Me, Incorporated.”
—CJ Lyons

6. Be willing to work for reviews.

“Instead of asking family and friends to write reviews of our books, we should consider courting real reviews by running special promotions. Short $.99 sales or free promos (where Amazon price-matches Smashwords or other sites) are good ways for readers to discover us.”
—Elizabeth Spann Craig

7. Surround yourself with the right people.

“The learning curve on selling e-books is tough. If I didn’t have indie pals like Chris Keniston, J.M. Madden, J.C. Cliff, and Becky McGraw, who helped me navigate this new world, I wouldn’t be as successful as I am today. There’s no manual on how to sell e-books, and if you’re unlucky enough to hit a pothole, it can demolish your career in a heartbeat.”
—Lindsay McKenna

8. Start your marketing efforts before your book is published.

“Start your mailing list while you’re polishing your books and getting them ready to release. Build it via a clean, functional, engaging website and other social media that you’re comfortable with (people can tell when you’re not having fun and simply ‘working’ them, so play to your strengths). Start sending out newsletters–keep them genuine as if you’re writing to the one person who most loves your writing and truly wants to know what is going on with your life and your books.”
—CJ Lyons

9. Be patient.

“It’s difficult to get your work read, so don’t be disheartened if it doesn’t happen straight away for you (it didn’t for me either!).If no one reads your work, use ebooks and get it out there on the internet. You can get an audience at the click of the button, and you’ll soon know if your work is any good or not as they’ll tell you.”
—Amanda Prowse

10. Think of your writing career as a business.

“You have to take this seriously as a business, but only if you want it to be a business. Many people consider their writing to be more about therapy, or just self-expression. But I wanted to change my career from IT consultant to author-entrepreneur, and I wasn’t content to accept the ‘poor author in the garret’ myth. So that’s the first thing, take it seriously.”
—Joanna Penn

book publishing facts

Book Publishing: 5 Things That Might Surprise You

book publishing factsYou’re writing your first novel. You, of course, would like to get published. So how do you break into book publishing?

Like many fields nowadays, book publishing is an industry that is changing by the minute. Here are five recent statistics that might surprise you.

Book Publishing Stats

1. In 2015, there were 727,125 self-published books. That’s right: nearly three-quarters of a million books were self-published last year. That’s up 21% in the last five years, according to Bowker, and it’s estimated to be roughly two thirds of the total number of books published. And that number is only increasing.

2. Traditional publishers do little to market most books they publish. It’s true. Unless you’re already a bestselling author, it’s unlikely that the publishing company that opts to publish your book will invest a lot of time and money to get it sold. Instead, they will rely on you to get your hands dirty. That’s why, if presented with two books that are equally good, a publishing company is far more likely to publish the book that has an author with a bigger following on social media, or a ready-made email list and promotion plan.

3. The book publishing market has met crowdfunding. Just this week, a milestone was hit. “Crowdfunding giant Kickstarter has hit a landmark, recording $100 million in pledges to small publishers and self-publishing authors,” according to SmallBizTrends.com. This means that not only are there two options for publishing any more — pay for it yourself (self-publish) or let a publisher pay and keep most of the profits — there’s now a third option: get funded.

4. Most authors never make a penny. It’s sad, but true. Here are a few stats from Income Diary:

  • 70% of books don’t make a profit.
  • Traditional publishers keep 90% of the profit from a book’s sales.
  • If a book sells 10,000 copies, it’s considered successful. “The average royalty through a traditional publisher is 10%. So even if you sell 10,000 copies of $10 book (through a traditional publisher), you’re only walking away with $10 grand.”

And yet, all of this doesn’t mean that you’re destined to continue at your full-time job for the rest of your life. In fact, even some self-published authors have gone on to make a very good living. According to Tharawat Magazine, “Mark Dawson, one of Kindles most successful self-publishers, gets paid $450,000 annually.”

5. It takes a village to publish. While it’s true that authors are now more independent than ever — they can self-publish their books with little to no help from a traditional publisher — authors still need a team of people to help get their book to the finish line. Every author should be working with a professional cover designer, book editor, and website developer/marketing consultant to help them get their book to where it needs to be. After all, what good is a wonderfully-written book if the cover looks shoddy or the website is amateurish? You might be a wonderful writer, but you’re probably not a professional at all of these things.

What else have you learned dipping your toes in the book publishing industry? If you have other surprises you’d like to share with authors just starting on the journey, please share them below!

good author reads for august

August Round-Up: 5 Good Author Reads

Happy September, everyone. I can’t believe it’s time to bid adieu to summer! But all good things must come to an end. Including the month of August. In case you missed it, here are five good author reads from the month that you might have missed.

good author reads for augustGood Author Reads from August

1. Trade Journals: The Book Publicist’s Secret Weapon
“Trade journals offer book-selling, career-building opportunities for authors of both nonfiction and fiction. What are they and what can you expect?
Build Book Buzz | August 2, 2016

2. 5 Mistakes Authors Make With Their Websites
I have already discussed the importance of the way your present your book and how you can market it better. However I have started to note a problematic trend- that of the bad website.
LinkedIn | August 5, 2016

3. DIY: How to Price a Self-Published E-Book
Setting a book’s price requires some creativity on the part of the author, a careful consideration of the book’s potential audience, and an assessment of what the author hopes to accomplish with the book.
Publishers Weekly | August 5, 2016

4. Author Website Load Time: 7 Things You Sh
ould Know

What’s my website load time? How do I speed it up? To help you get answers, here are seven things you need to know about website load time.
Smart Author Sites | August 24, 2016

5. Six-figure Book Promotion Strategies for Authors
In this interview, the author of over 100 books in niche genres covers effective book promotion strategies, the Amazon Algorithm and much more.
Written Word Media | August 25, 2016

Do you have other good author reads to share? Please post them in our comments box below!

Author Website Technology: 5 Must-Have Features

author website technologyJust like everything else, author website technology is changing rapidly. So what are the latest must-haves on your author website? Whether you’re just building your site, or you have an older site that needs some updating, here are five features that we highly recommend for authors.

Author Website Technology Musts

1. Newsletter sign-up functionality. What’s the best way to get someone to come back to your site multiple times? It’s by collecting their email address, so that you can continue to keep in touch with them. I’ve written extensively about strategies for compelling readers to sign up for your newsletter; but from a tech perspective, you actually need a way for them to do that. There are various types of author website technology that allow newsletter sign-ups, from simple and free WordPress plug-ins that collect/maintain the list to more advanced options (which often involve a fee) like Mail Chimp. But regardless of which type of service meets your needs, you won’t want to have an author website without a way to properly build your email list.

2. SEO plug-in. I write extensively about SEO strategies — from how to form blog posts to keyword research strategies. But, once again, it’s the author website technology that has to be in place to make it work. There are a variety of plug-ins that WordPress offers for SEO — from the simple to the more advanced. My personal preference is called Yoast. It allows you to enter the preferred keyword for each page on your site and then guides you on how to make sure to properly incorporate it in the appropriate places. This makes a huge difference in how your site places on search results.

3. Social networking integration. Maybe you have a strong author presence on Facebook. Or Twitter. Maybe LinkedIn is more appropriate for your writing. You probably have an author profile on Amazon, or a page on GoodReads. And if video is your thing, then you may have a YouTube channel. All of these are social networking channels, and whichever ones you’re involved in need to be prominently displayed on your site. Whether you go with simple social networking buttons in the top right corner, or you have fully-embedded widgets from your most active profiles, make sure those are visible. So if a reader who is very active on Facebook comes to your site, she can easily find your Facebook page and become a fan or follower.

4. “Buy the book” links. It’s such a no-brainer, ad yet it’s frequently forgotten. Make it easy for people to buy your book! If you prefer to sell copies yourself, there are easy ways to integrate a PayPal buy button on your site. But most authors simply choose to offer links to buy the book through Amazon, B&N etc… Give buyers as many options as possible (since just about everyone has a preference) and make it a prominent, easy click.

5. Mobile-friendly design. This is one of the most important pieces in author website technology today. I’ve written full pieces about the whats and hows of mobile-friendly design, but here’s the gist: more than half of today’s internet users are browsing on their phones or tablets. In addition, Google is punishing sites that are not mobile-friendly by having them fall lower on the search results pages. All of this adds up to one basic rule: Make sure your author website is in a design format that adjusts for mobile devices. It’s that simple. The majority of current WordPress themes are mobile-friendly, so it’s simply a matter of selecting the right one, checking it on your mobile device, and running a simple mobile-friendly test on Google.

Don’t let today’s author website technology leave you in the dust. Make sure you have these five features in place on your author website.

June Roundup: 5 Don’t-Miss Author Reads

Happy July, everyone! With June now in the rear view mirror, here are some author reads that you might have missed (and that you can now catch up on)…

Author Reads From June

1. Author uses novel tactic to promote book
Build Book Buzz
June 1, 2016

2. May 2016 Author Earnings Report: the definitive million-title study of US author earnings
Author Earnings
June 2, 2016

3. Facebook Live for Authors: What You Need to Know
Smart Author Sites
June 10, 2016

4. Authors: SEO Blog Posts in 3 Easy Steps
Smart Author Sites
June 16, 2016

5. As E-book Sales Decline, Digital Fatigue Grows
Publishers Weekly
June 17, 2016

Enjoy summer while it lasts! And if you stumble across any other good author reads, please share them with us in the comments box below.

book website 2017

5 Things You’ll Want to Add to Your Book Website by 2017

book website 2017We’re only halfway through 2016. And yet, everyone’s eyes are on the future already. Based on all the conversations going on in the publishing and marketing worlds, here are five things that I hear each book website should have in the new year…

Book Website Technology Musts for 2017

  1. Podcasts. Content is still king. But audio content is … well, whatever is higher than king. Authors should consider repurposing some of their blog content or book content in the form of podcasts, or podcasting interviews/conversations with other authors or experts. Podcast listening grew 23% between 2015 and 2016. There’s reason to think it will grow even more in the coming year.
  2. Livestreaming. I’ve written many posts about the hows and whys of using video on your website. But suffice to say, if you’re not using it by the end of 2016, you’ll be missing out on a lot of site traffic — both to your site and your videos on YouTube, as YouTube is now the second biggest search engine (behind Google). But the latest trend goes beyond that … it’s about livestreaming video. According to Dave Kerpen of Likeable Local via HuffPost, “Apps such as Periscope, Meerkat and Blab will grow in popularity and create opportunities for marketers to cut through the ever-cluttered landscape.” Think about livestreaming your videos from conferences, book signings and more.
  3. Instant articles from Facebook. According to socialmediaweek.com, this relatively new feature allows you to immediately post any new content on your site — like blog entries — directly to Facebook. “Essentially, the company’s content management system interfaces directly with Facebook and can seamlessly publish new content as it is ready for release.” It’s currently only available to big publishers (like NY Times, etc…), but predictions are that anyone will be able to use it by the end of 2016. So next time you post a blog entry about, say, your commentary on last week’s Brexit vote and how it ties into your book, that would immediately appear on Facebook and be visible to all.
  4. An omni-channel experience. It’s quite a buzz word, right? Well, what it refers to is creating an experience for your readers on various channels at various stages of their journey. An example provided by conversionadvantage.com is one that Disney used:
    • Users book a trip online and then use the My Disney Experience tool to help them plan the whole trip from booking hotels, obtaining passes etc.
    • Once they arrive at the park, the app helps users locate attractions and waiting times.
    • But the experience gets better with their Magic Band which acts as a hotel room key, photo storage device for any pictures, and a food ordering tool.

    Think about how you can provide something similar for your users. Maybe their experience starts with them viewing your website. Then they buy the hard copy and read the book. Maybe you want to offer them an app that they can use while reading the book to track their growth/learnings/progress. Then maybe they can come back to the website and join an online community to share their thoughts. Think about all the different ways your book can touch a reader, and how you can offer, as they call it, an omni-channel experience.

  5. Personalized emails. I’ve been saying forever that it’s important for authors to collect email addresses. And that hasn’t changed. But it’s what you do with those email addresses that is changing. Instead of just putting everyone’s name on one big email list and sending out emails en masse, today’s emails are becoming more and more personalized. First, it’s helpful to actually use a person’s name in the email to make it clear that it’s customized for them. Also, ask users when they sign up what they’re looking to receive. Do they want news updates? Do they want to be pinged every time you post a new blog entry? Are they just looking for a monthly recap? Give them options and then bucket your lists so that people are receiving exactly what they’re looking for. Also make sure to collect users’ geographic information so that you can update the appropriate people if, say, you’re doing a radio interview in Philadelphia tomorrow. By collecting a user’s name, location and interests (in addition to their email address), you can ensure that their email experience is a satisfying one.

What other book website trends are you predicting for 2017? Share them with us.

facebook live for authors

Facebook Live for Authors: What You Need to Know

facebook live for authorsIt’s the hottest new trend in marketing. It’s called Facebook Live. Here’s what you need to know about Facebook Live for authors, and how you can jump on this bandwagon while it’s still hot.

What Is Facebook Live?

Facebook live is actually a video that you shoot from your phone and air live on Facebook. It’s different from pre-recording a video and then just uploading it (which you can also do). These are real-time video posts on Facebook. In other words, you turn on the camera and your video is recorded live on Facebook until you stop recording. And while these videos actually are visible while they’re being shot, they will also appear in the news feeds of friends and followers for some period of time afterwards.

How Do You Actually Do Facebook Live?

A Facebook live video can be anywhere from a few seconds to up to 90 minutes. To start recording and have it appear live on Facebook, just follow these directions.

Just How Popular Is It?

Well, no one yet knows just how far Facebook Live is going to go. But I can tell you this: Everyone with a hand in social media is experimenting with it now. Facebook has openly shared the fact that they are ranking Facebook Live videos higher on newsfeeds than pre-recorded videos that are uploaded. That’s because, according to Facebook, “People spend more than 3x more time watching a Facebook Live video on average compared to a video that’s no longer live. This is because Facebook Live videos are more interesting in the moment than after the fact.”

Are There Any Tips for Doing a Successful Facebook Live Event?

Again, it’s still pretty new. But in scouring some of the leading sites on social media marketing tactics, here are some tips I put together.

  • Take advantage of the “live” aspect. There’s no point in doing Facebook Live if there’s nothing urgent/timely about it.
  • Let people know in advance that you’re planning to broadcast. And write a kick-ass headline that piques people’s interest.
  • Check your connection before starting. Nothing worse than Facebook Live that cuts in and out.
  • Reduce background noise and speak loudly and clearly.
  • Play around with different live video times to see when you have the biggest audience.
  • Include a call to action at the end, like “Check out my website at …” or “Get a free copy of my book today by….”

How Can I Take Advantage of Facebook Live for Authors?

All types of businesses have started using this feature. And some of these ideas may be applicable to authors. Here are three ideas I found:

  1. Use it for live Q&A sessions with readers. Allow readers to tweet/text/IM you questions, and answer them live in real time. According to an article on Forbes.com, you should “Ask for feedback, respond to questions, and make the experience as participatory as possible.”
  2. Give your readers an “inside peek” at your world. Fans of your writing want to know more about you. Use Facebook Live to let them do that. One recommendation from Digital Book World is that you, “Switch back and forth from the front and the back of the camera so you can talk to your audience and also show your audience something else, like where you are, or the book you are talking about.”
  3. Broadcast live events. Are you going to a writer’s conference? Doing a book signing? Offer your fans the opportunity to follow you at this event through Facebook Live. As described by PostPlanner.com, “Are you at a conference, a concert, or some other place others would love to get a glimpse of? Share it live! But don’t forget to engage with the audience while you’re filming. Walk and talk them through every bit of it — and answer the questions that are sent your way.”

Have you used Facebook Live yet? What has or has not worked for you? Share your ideas with us!

should i be blogging or using social

Should I Be Blogging, Posting on Social, Or Both?

should i be blogging or using socialAuthors have limited time on their hands. In today’s busy world, who doesn’t?

So I frequently have authors who are wondering where they should invest what little marketing time they have.

If you’ve ever asked the question, “Should I be blogging or investing my time in building a following on social?” we finally have some answers.

Thanks to our friends at Contently, who recently published Does Your Content Need a Permanent Home? we have some important questions you can ask yourself when making this decision…. I’ve taken their recommended questions and customized them for authors…

Questions to Ask Yourself: Should I Be Blogging, Posting on Social, Or Both?

1. Who’s your target readership?
Who will be reading your book, anyway? Is it 50-year-old businessmen? Fifteen-year-old girls? If you’re primarily looking to reach an older, more academically-minded audience, a blog is probably a good place to dedicate your time and effort. That will allow you to drive them to your site, where you can offer additional materials and really sell your brand. If your audience skews younger, you’re probably better off offering snack-size bits — in either text or video format — that they can enjoy for a quick moment, and then go on with their day.

2. How important is ownership to you?
Do you know what the biggest difference between a blog and a social presence is? Well, it’s that you actually own your blog, and you have no ownership of anything on social. Not only does that mean that a social networking platform can take down anything you post if they’re so inclined, it also means that if they shut down their site, everything you’ve written there can disappear completely. And here’s another downside of lack of ownership when you post on social … you don’t really own the list of followers you acquire through social. So you may have 50,000 people following you on Twitter, but if Twitter were to cease to exist, that list would vanish completely. And if Twitter became less popular and people stopped paying attention to it? You would have no way to reach out to those followers again, short of getting them all to follow you on a new platform. Collect the same list of followers on your own site, for example, and you can collect contact info, etc… That is then yours, and you can use it for ever and ever. So if owning your material and your contact list is important to you, then blogging makes the most sense. If not, social will do just fine.

3. Do you regularly post about time-sensitive things?
Unless your blog grows to the point where it’s rivaling CNN, your blog posts are never going to be showing up at the top of a Google search result on the same day that you post it. Your social posts, on the other hand, very well might. So here’s a scenario: Let’s say you write a book about global warming. And then there’s a tropical storm, which you attribute to global warming, about to hit the US. You want to write about that, right? If you do it in blog format, it may get read … but certainly not when the search term “Tropical Storm Alberto” is trending on Google. If you post in social, with the proper hashtag, you have a much better chance of jumping on that opportunity.

4. What’s your primary online goal?
I frequently ask authors what their primary goal out of their website is. It usually falls into one of two categories: getting his/her name out there and building a following, or selling books. If your goal is the former — building your name — then social may be a good place for you to focus your efforts. By building followers on Facebook/Twitter, you are getting your name and your posts in front of a large number of people. They will regularly see you in their feed, and they will get to know your name, your face and your brand. Mission accomplished. If, on the other hand, you want to focus more on selling books, a blog may serve you better. People are far less likely to go out of their way to buy your book off of a series of cute social posts. In order to take the plunge and actually make a purchase, it usually requires something a bit stronger: an impressive blog post on an impressive website that nicely ties your book in to your overall message.

5. Is your website mobile-friendly?
While this isn’t directly related to the social vs. blog question, it is something to keep in mind. I wrote a post just a few weeks ago about the damage that can be done to your site if it’s not mobile-friendly. If that’s the case, and your site is less than optimal for the mobile audience, then it’s probably not worth your time to invest heavily in a blog on that site. Unless you plan to redesign in the near future, focus on social.

6. Do you write fiction or nonfiction?
This is another common conversation I have with authors. The truth is that marketing a fiction book is very, very different from marketing a nonfiction book. That ties back to two big reasons.

  • People read fiction books for pleasure, and nonfiction books for learnings.
  • People usually get fiction books recommended to them by friends/colleagues, while they very well may find out about a nonfiction book through browsing sites on topics that they find especially interesting.

Both of these scenarios spell out the following equation:
fiction books > nonfiction books on social
nonfiction books > fiction books on blogging

Now, you may have answered these six questions and still felt unsatisfied. After all, you might have answered three questions in one direction and three in the other. In short, we haven’t answered the question yet: “Should I be blogging?”

And that’s not for us to answer. That’s for you to ponder and figure out. Hopefully this post is a good first step in helping you do that.

Do You Have a Mobile Friendly Author Website?

mobile-friendly-author-websiteWhat makes a site mobile friendly? And what’s the problem if yours isn’t? How do you even know if your author website is mobile friendly? Today, we break down these questions and help you better understand the hows and whys of a mobile friendly author website.

What Does Mobile-Friendly Mean?

As its name implies, a mobile friendly website is one that is easy to use on the small screen of a mobile device. This can also be referred to as a website using responsive web design. In other words, a website that is only designed for a full-size desktop screen may be difficult to use on a smartphone. It may involve scrolling left/right to view the full page, or zooming in to read words. A mobile friendly site, which is built using responsive design software, is actually able to detect the size of the screen that you are viewing it on and adjust how the site appears accordingly so that it becomes more vertical than horizontal, compresses the navigation, and more.

How Do You Know If You Have a Mobile Friendly Author Website?

If your site was built in the last year or so, it’s very likely mobile friendly. But if it’s older than that, it could be hit or miss. Start by taking a look at your site on multiple devices. Visit it on a smartphone, a tablet and more. Does the design change based on the size of the device? Is it easy to use on a small screen? You should know pretty quickly.

How Does Not Having a Mobile-Friendly Author Website Cost You?

There are two big problems with having an author website today that’s not mobile friendly. One is fairly obvious. The other is not.

First, the obvious reason … you’re going to lose visitors. About 50% of web browsing in 2016 is done on mobile devices. That means that half the people who visit your website are likely to have a difficult or unsatisfying experience. Maybe they have to scroll to the right to view the full page. Maybe they have trouble using the navigation that was built for a desktop. Maybe they have to zoom in to read words. Not only is your site going to be difficult for them, but it’s also likely to appear out of date … after all, just about every site designed today is mobile-friendly. That’s not a good impression to leave with potential readers.

And now for the lesser-known problem with a site that’s not mobile friendly … Google is going to punish you for it. Google is well aware that larger percentages of people than ever are using mobile devices to browse the web. And what’s most important to Google? It’s that their users have a satisfying experience on whatever sites Google sends them to. So it’s in Google’s best interest to ensure that the sites they recommend are mobile-friendly.

As such, Google put together a page about the hows and whys of mobile-friendly sites. It even includes a test you can take to determine if your site meets Google’s mobile-friendly criteria. And if your site doesn’t pass their test for being mobile friendly? Well, then you very well may see a drop in your search engine rankings. In other words, Google will likely demote you on search result pages, below other sites that are mobile friendly. This can have a significant impact on your website traffic.

How Can You Make Your Site Mobile Friendly?

So now that you understand why it’s important to have a mobile friendly author website, how do you go about getting one? There are various ways you can do that — at varying costs, of course — but nearly all of them involve a redesign of the site. You can’t take the currently site that you have and simply make it mobile-friendly. It will need to be rebuilt from scratch with a code that is mobile-responsive.

There are free options, of course. WordPress offers a variety of templates that are mobile-friendly, and you can simply select one, migrate your content over, and get your new site up and running from there. If you’re willing to invest a little more, though, you can work with a design and development firm like Smart Author Sites to recreate the things you love about your current site in a mobile-friendly version. Plus, we offer expert advice on setting goals for your site, driving visitors there, and more.

Either way, if your site isn’t mobile friendly, you may be unknowingly costing yourself a lot of site traffic and a lot of readers. That’s a mistake most authors don’t want to make.

making money as an author data

Making Money as an Author: A Mathematical Breakdown

Making money as an author is easier said than done. After all, what percentage of today’s authors actually make a profit from their writing? It’s miniscule. And yet, some would argue that it’s certainly possible. You just have to make the right business decisions.

As a baseball fan, I am very aware of the concept of “Moneyball.” There was even a movie made about it. That concept — which has to do with basically doing a mathematical analysis of a business and making decisions accordingly — can be applied to just about any industry. And now, it’s being applied to publishing.

See the chart below, which was put together by Andrew Rhomberg, the founder of Jellybooks, a reader analytics company based in London. The idea for his business is pretty simple, actually. Much like we have television ratings that let us know how many people watch a full TV show or fast forward through commercials, Jellybooks goes above and beyond just seeing who is downloading e-books. It is tracking how people are actually reading these e-books.

According to the NY Times, Jellybooks (with the readers’ consent, of course) tracks, “when people read and for how long, how far they get in a book and how quickly they read, among other details.” And for those of you who are familiar with the world of the web, Jellybooks uses words like “engagement” and “analytics” to explain their data. In other words, they’re bringing book reading into the 21st century. And this quick peek at their findings are pretty incredible.

making money as an author data

Source: Jellybooks

 

Key Takeaways From This Research

  • Among the readers who agreed to be a part of this study, they actually finished less than half of the books tested.
    • Only 5 percent of the books had a completion rate of over 75%.
    • Sixty percent of books fell into a range where between 25 and 50% of test readers finished them.
  • Those readers who didn’t complete the full book typically gave up in the early chapters (as the chart above suggests).
    • Women tended to stop reading after 50 to 100 pages, men after 30 to 50.
  • Different genres had different completion rates. For example, business books had surprisingly low completion rates.

Making Money as an Author Off This Research

So why does this research matter, you might ask? If you get someone to buy the book, why should you care if they finish it? Well, that’s what this study seeks to help explain. Here are a few reasons you should care. After all, your likelihood of making money as an author may depend on it

You could spend a boatload on book marketing, but the truth is that word of mouth — be it on social media, at work, or at a dinner party — is the strongest marketing tool out there for authors. In other words, there’s nothing that will help your book be successful more than a group of loyal readers who love the book and recommend it to their friends. And, as I’m sure you can figure out, a reader is pretty unlikely to recommend a book to a friend if he or she chose not to finish it. In other words, these statistics can clue you in as to both how good your book really is, and how likely it is to be recommended to other readers.

And publishers are listening. After all, that’s mainly who all this Jellybooks data is geared to. The professionals in the publishing industry are deciding which books to put marketing efforts into — or even which books to publish going forward — by analyzing this data.

Much like how moneyball is being applied to major league baseball today, publishers are now analyzing books by genre, the age group it appeals to, gender appeal and more. They are comparing those potential books to others that are similar in previous studies. If those had good completion rates, the publishers are more likely to put time and effort into similar books going forward. If not … well, you may not be in luck.

If you’re an author in today’s world of moneyball publishing, it would behoove you not to study up on this type of data. Understand completion rates, analytics and more. It may make the difference between becoming a bestselling author and a struggling writer.