Crunching The Numbers

Making Sense Of It All

As has been said before, you are a small businessman, your 'product' being your writing. Yes, yes, I know you want to devote your time to characters and plot twists, and resent having to take time out to deal with paperwork and arithmetic. True, you can ignore it all and count anything which comes in as 'free beer', but the wise move is to keep track of your sales since they will show you any distinct strengths or weakness in your 'products' and help you keep your finger on the pulse of your marketing efforts.

The important factor in measuring your success is not sales, but Sales Trends. These, measured over time, will give you a clear picture of what's hot and what's not, as well as showing which of your 'products' is in trouble. This applies to Amazon downloads just as much as to automobiles or Iphones. Carefully following these Sales Trends is the key to understanding what is happening to your literary empire:

If your Horror novel shows flat or declining sales, then you'll know not to waste the Opportunity Cost, what you have to give up to focus on that project, on another bad vampire novel.

If both your Military Sci Fi and your Space Opera are showing good trends, then you'll know to put your efforts there. If the Space Opera shows a slightly better rate of sales gain, then you have your next target.

If one of your titles is doing unusually poorly, then you will know to investigate to see what the problem is. Maybe it needs a different ending, or maybe a new cover. Perhaps it simply needs a different marketing strategy. Use this trend marker to indicate where help is needed, then consult with your reviewers and regular fans for details.

Coming up with the data is simple, as is processing it. Sales data can come from all your outlets: Amazon, Smashwords, convention sales, etc. You can simply lump it all together, but the smart move is to break it down by sales type - downloads, paperbacks, etc - as well as outlets. That way you not only know whats selling, but who is moving you, as well.

Crunching the numbers is fairly easy if you keep at it regularly and not let the raw data pile up on your desktop. Create a Spread sheet showing monthly sales (horizontal) and types / outlets (vertically) At the start of each month, input your sales in the appropriate spaces, and you're done.

Most major computer operating systems have a charting feature which will translate your spread sheet data into graphs showing comparative sales and trends. As the months go by and the data accumulates, the effectiveness of your marketing will be revealed.

Incidently, having no sales in a given month is still a data point. Don't skip those zeros.

Above all, as much as this is a labor of love, its nice to have your efforts succeed. Writing is a time-intensive process, and the Opportunity Cost is substantial. You want / need to have your work well received simply for the ego-yeah it brings. Sales Trend analysis is your window on the Universe - use it wisely.

Related Topics:

Copyright And Copy Wrong
ISBN Numbers
Your Web Site
Contracts And Other Snares
Who Do You Trust?
Crunching The Numbers
Guerillas In Our Midst - Part 1: Conventions
Guerillas In Our Midst - Part 2: YouTube
Guerillas In Our Midst - Part 3: Networking
Guerillas In Our Midst - Part 4: Advertising

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