Thursday, January 11, 2018

Interpreting Data

Data driven business models are some of the new trends right now. This strategy has really been around for a long time, but it is really at a peak right now. Even in publishing, decisions are being made constantly based on numbers that some computer has crunched out. While data is certainly interesting to consider, it is always important to stop and consider one big concept.


In publishing we always look at data for sales all of the time. It is these numbers that the editors use to determine your next contract, advances, sales and so forth. But we have to be cautious when looking at these numbers.

Let me give you a quick example.

One author I worked with back in the early 2000's had a fantastic story. Editors loved it. We were totally excited about this book being released. But... when it came time to get her next book signed, the publishers came back arguing that "the numbers just were not there." So what happened?

The month her book was scheduled to be released was the same week Borders collapsed. Over 50% of her sales were gone just like that. Add in the fact that so many buyers were also feeling cautious about buying anything due to the housing bubble.

Now, can we 100% say that this is the reason her sales were low? No. But what we can say is that these numbers had to be considered as a variable in the equation.

When authors who are previously published send submissions to me, I am always interested in knowing the data behind those previous sales. Most of the time, the only thing that I often hear is how high the rankings are for this book are on Amazon. Sure, these are numbers, but tell me more. Often, those additional numbers can give us a bigger picture.

There are two things I want you to take away from this today.

First, if you are looking at numbers from the outside, make sure to not limit your thoughts to just those numbers. Look at all of the variables before you make any decision.

Secondly, if you are going to use numbers and data in your submissions to editors and agents, make sure to provide a complete picture (if those numbers really demonstrate your success).

I wrote this post yesterday, and later in the day, found an article that came from Publisher's Weekly that continues with this same theme on book sales of FIRE AND FURY. Good read and another thing to always consider when it comes to Data Interpretation.


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