Friday, July 5, 2013

Our Analytics

I want to take a minute to discuss something that we're very proud of here at Hunt to Read: our groundbreaking author and publisher analytics.

Most readers that I've spoken with seem to think that authors know exactly how many copies of their books are sold, either online or at bookstores across the country.

This is simply not true, for a variety of reasons.

There's a very complicated system of discounts and returns involved in tracking hard copy sales that makes it near-impossible for even a small publisher to accurately track numbers, let alone one of the big, New York-based behemoths of publishing with thousands upon thousands of titles out there.

A lot of the time, that data takes a long time to compile, and even when these companies do sort through it, they use some form of "sampling" in their accounting—a legit practice, but one that's sure confusing to a lot of writers.

As far as the rapidly-growing field of ebooks goes, self-published authors and those at some smaller publishers do have access to timely, accurate reporting data—when it comes to sales, that is.

What authors and publishers don't have access to, though, is a variety of data as to what readers think about a book's cover, or the blurb, or which types of devices (Kindle, Nook, etc.) their books tend to be more popular on.

Enter us.

Hunt to Read uses a variety of software solutions, from Google Analytics to GeoLite analytic software to proprietary solutions, to provide a host of data to authors about how often their books are viewed, how often folks click through the covers, and how frequently folks go on to view the books on merchant sites.

The best part? Readers always have the opportunity to remain safely anonymous. No personal information will be shared with authors or publishers--only a very limited, IP address-based regional "location" log will be provided to book listers so that they can better gauge in which parts of the country their reader base resides.

We at Hunt to Read remain firmly committed to a "self-selecting" philosophy. Our ethos permeates everything on the site, from you, the reader, driving the book hunt to you selecting what kind of info to provide to anyone else.

And, to be fair, we are working on a host of cool new features for folks who want to let us know simple stuff like "I'm a sci-fi fan" or "I rate XYZ kinds of covers highly." Again, nothing that identifies you to the writer or publisher, but from that information we derive data that book listers can use to improve their products nonetheless.

How do we do so much with so little personal information? A lot of the credit goes to Rick, who is an analytics genius. He's always thinking of new ways to get more analytics to our authors, while protecting the privacy and information of our readers.

Speaking as an author, it's great to know what folks like and don't like about my books. Even if the feedback ends up being negative, at least I know what to work on when it comes time to write the next book. Part of the reason for Hunt to Read's existence was that I was frustrated with a lack of any kind of service that could aggregate such feedback, and let me know how my books could improve.

I also own a publishing company, and know that feedback on covers, blurbs, and other book information can be critical to a book's marketing campaign. As overused and worn as the old saying goes, a lot of people do, indeed, still judge a book by its cover.

We're trying to make the entire process as win-win-win as possible for all involved, with new features constantly on the horizon.

And yet we're also constantly looking to improve, for readers, writers, and publishers. Please, if you have any feedback, don't hesitate to contact us at contact@hunttoread.com.
Thanks for reading, and happy hunting!

D.J.

D.J. Gelner is the CEO of Hunt to Read. He’s also an author, sports writer, and radio personality in St. Louis, MO. E-mail him at djgelner@hunttoread.com.

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