How does this work?

A site called “” offers useful analytics for authors.

Except that I have no idea how their algorithms work.  Because instead of “pirates” which is the main theme of the Solar Wind series, it analyses every last book in the series as “military”.  That’s a scream, unless the program doesn’t realize that “Captain” is not only a military rank but more originally, someone who is in charge of a ship.

I also ran Arcana through their analytics and they came up in the first place with “Law Enforcement” (WTF??) and only secondly, “Wizards and Witches”.  Ok, Ivy (the main character) does get into scrapes with the law, but the main theme of the book is how she is drawn into magic much against her own belief system.

The rest of the analytics are pretty much the same as you’d find on Word for Windows – overused words, passive sentences, adverb and adjective usage, Flesh-Kincaid reading ease…  but if I were to flog ‘Arcana’ off to readers as a law-enforcement novel and the ‘Solar Wind’ series as a military series, I’d sit with a lot of pretty ticked-off readers!  They will discover to their disgust that these books are exactly the opposite!  Ivy evades the police and locks horns with them when they aren’t available when she needs them; the crew of the Solar Wind are pirates and escaping the military, the military is evil and the pirates are the only ones who maintain a certain balance of logic and sanity.

It’s fun to play with such a program though.  Let me run a few more books through it.  Will they get even one right?



They didn’t get “Almost Dead in Suburbia” right either:  Topics:  Animals, The Military and 19th Century.  Honestly??  “Almost Dead” is a very clever ghost story with a twist.  You see, to qualify for being a ghost you must be dead, which the protagonist is emphatically not.  And, 19th century??  What about the struggling computer company and the anonymous genius…  I’d better not give away too much now!


18 thoughts on “How does this work?

    • Yep, it’s pretty good (and along the lines of what we sort-of presumed), but Smashwords owner Mark Coker has different statistics. He points out that nearly 80% of readers in his survey applied some or other form of random browsing before knowing what they were really looking for. Also high-ranking methods of book discovery were recommendations from fellow readers online (blogs, forums). Reviews were only the preferred method of discovery in 3% of cases! A further 7% followed up random browsing with looking at reviews as the second step. All is not so cut-and-dried in ebooks.

    • I would agree more woth your take as it lines up with how I have always bought/read books: primarily from recommendation.
      Only when I have been on an ”Aimless Browse” might cover and or title make me pick a book up.
      But then , I don’t consider myself the typical reader.
      I once read that if you want to know what the average reader is reading look at the ‘Bestseller’ row at an airport bookstore.

      Probably as good a place to start as any, I reckon.

      How’s Iain getting on with the cover, btw?

    • Acc. Mark Coker, 28% of readers in his sample said they primarily found books by recommendation, specifically via blogs, forums etc. Only about 4% from physical friends & fam. Interesting! Of course his sample was a self-selected group of e-book readers completing a survey, but it was an impressive number of them.

    • If Iook at all the books on the shelves in my study I can tell you how and why I came by each and every one.
      My Pratchett and Donaldson collection caqme by recommendation. The latter after being almost nagged to distraction by the mother of a friend.
      My Science Fiction collection was mostly al my own doing as I have always been somewhat of a fan of the genre so I would tend to drift towards this section of book stores or book sales when ever I came across them.
      The ”Classics” I inherited along with a complete set of encyclopedias.
      Most of Coffee Table books were either gifts or bought at CNA Exclusive books sales.
      So cover and title did not really come into my choosing to read the books I own.
      Other authors I discovered by chance – Tom Sharpe for one.
      A friend mentioned him long ago, but i never investigated until I saw several of his books on my neighbours shelf and immediately borrowed them. Afterwards I bought them for myself.

      What’s the old saying?
      Lies, damn lies and statistics.

      My gut tells me that if a book is brought to the attention of enough people it could have the innocuous sounding title of So what? and a blank, featureless cover and if the story is good enough or enough people’s curiosity is piqued then they will want to read it.
      So I suppose the key here is: ”Spreading the Word”.

    • When he says random browsing is he referring to the internet or bookstores? (or both?)
      And surely, if this is the case then a catchy title and /or cover will be paramount to attracting attention?
      After all, in such instances the crucial part is getting the reader to take the book from the shelf in the first place, yes?

    • Once again, both. For ebooks, as many online shops as possible; for dead tree books, the same in brick. Ebooks are changing the way books are marketed.

    • Around 30%. Paper books still have about 70% and it is stabilizing. But the “Big 5” huge traditional publishing houses dominate the scene there… you’ve read about their approach.

    • Yes, and they have recently been expanding floor space so paper publishing is far from going down the tubes, which is great for oldies like me!

    • Many people prefer paper books and it will be a while before schools can replace everything with electronics – especially the poorer schools.

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