Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Study Your Readers to Improve Sales

For many authors, the "Sell" is the brass ring of success. Selling a million books is the end-all and the be-all for many authors. They strive singularly to sell, sell, sell as many books as possible ... and as a result, to make as much money as possible, to gain as much visibility as possible and to build as large a following as possible. But to what ultimate end?

For strategic authors, identifying an ideal reader – a target audience, as it's called in marketing – is an unvoidable and absolutely necessary first step in creating a book that will appeal to a niche market. For authors who do so, gaining a dedicated fan base can be easier than for those who don't take the time to determine for whom their book will have the greatest allure. But once the target audience is found and the book sold, how much do authors really know about how their readers interacted with the book?

The ever-transforming e-book industry is developing new metrix for authors – and the marketing minds behind e-readers – to know more than ever before about the behaviors of book readers. A recent Wall Street Journal article exposed the behind-the-read data that is being captured by makers of tablets and e-readers to determine how readers interact with the books they purchase.

According to the article: Barnes & Noble has determined, through analyzing Nook data, that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts, while novels are generally read straight through, and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier. Science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans often read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction do, and finish most of the books they start. Readers of literary fiction quit books more often and tend to skip around between books.

With all of this knowledge accessible through the much-loved features of e-readers – highlighting, page marking, chapter browsing and more – authors, distributors and marketers can gather a wealth of information about the tendencies of readers, but at what cost? For many, reading is a private adventure, not one to be analyzed for profit. But why should the book publishing industry be so different from any other? Some authors argue that they would much rather know how their readers approach reading, how long it takes to complete a book, which phrases are most appealing, and whether the book is ever completed, among other behaviors. This data has enormous potential for e-publishing and the book industry as a whole.

As the article notes: There are some 40 million e-readers and 65 million tablets in use in the U.S., according to analysts at Forrester Research. In the first quarter of 2012, e-books generated $282 million in sales, compared to $230 million for print, the Association of American Publishers recently found.

Read the full article here, and then let me know: How do you think tracking reader behavior, trends and preferences could help authors?

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