Tag: Analytics

Self-employed in publishing

Observing the audience: how reader analytics are influencing the industry

Reader analytics are garnering huge attention at the moment and there are at least four major talks at this year’s Frankfurt Book Fair discussing how and why publishers and authors can collect data on their readers. But with reader analytics taking the spotlight in publishing, the debate over the ethics of data harvesting and its uses has been brought to our doorstep.

Consensual data is happy data

The big issues around data harvesting are not just what information businesses and official organisations are collecting about us, it’s whether or not they’re doing it with our consent. For once, however, publishing is ahead of the curve on getting this one right.

Although big boys like Amazon remain the mysterious bastions of data collection they’ve always been, smaller companies specialising in reader analytics are proving to be honest, open and respectful about harvesting data. For example, Jellybooks use “reading campaigns” for as-yet unreleased books to provide information to publishers, in a similar way that a screen test would for a film studio. Jellybooks gathers data from readers who have volunteered to be monitored and received a free digital copy of the campaign book, which is clearly marked, so that the reader remembers they’re being observed.

What’s more, while Jellybooks have said that “though in principle [non-anonymised] data could be provided to the author or publisher” they do not give it. Despite some rumours, Jellybooks also does not gather data by measuring eye-movement, but by observing how the reader interacts with their app as they read. Jellybooks, and most reader analytics collectors, are more interested in the time of day consumers read, how long they read for, when they highlight or perform searches on text, and the operating system, device or browser being used. These are added to information the reader voluntarily provides, such as gender and age.

When working with companies like Jellybooks, publishers don’t need to feel compromised about using this data: it’s not an invasion, it’s a gift!

Data driven decisions

But why is data such hot property in the first place? Some have wondered – both in horror and hope – that reader analytics might effect the editorial process, but Jellybooks has said that this misunderstands how people read and the kind of data reader analytics can collect: “Readers judge a book as a whole based on storyline, language, characters, plot, etc. and not on individual chapters.” Though the data can be utilised in this way, knowing that “x” number of people dropped off at page 57 is not necessarily helpful to an author or a publisher.

Excitingly, what reader analytics can provide are evidence-based assessments of how a book is likely to perform in the market. Data on completion rates and recommendations gathered during the commissioning stage, for example, can help reduce the risk inherent in signing new books by indicating whether or not a book might be popular.

Later in the publishing process, analytics can also help marketing departments figure out how much budget to assign to their titles, what their audience looks like and how to find them – are they young or old, male or female? Do they binge-read on beach holidays, meaning you should get WHSmith Travel on board, or do they dip in on their on their commute to work, meaning you can grab them with a poster on the tube?

Best of all, this data is available via third-party companies like Jellybooks, meaning that although publishers have to pay fees for their data, they don’t need to make the huge investments in building platforms and software that was previously required. This information is more easily available to publishers than ever before.

Scratching the surface

Reader analytics still clearly has its limits and they may never become a magic wand for book sales, but the truth is that the possibilities for using this data are only just starting to be explored. Moreover, the software for collecting this data are still in its – albeit impressive – infancy. Looking ahead there is talk of Jellybooks developing some kind of “FitBit for books,” which will take retail copies of books into account as well as the pre-sales titles currently available. Others claim that one day soon we will be able to use data to predict the next big bestseller.

There can be no arguing that data harvesting is here to stay. The only, opportunity-filled question remains: how else are we going to use it?


marketing skills

Top 5 skills you need in marketing

Rosie Henry works as a Marketing Executive at Singing Dragon, an imprint of Jessica Kingsley Publishers. She has previously interned for the editorial department at Yellow Kite, Hodder & Stoughton, and studied for an MA in Publishing at City University London.

1) Passion

I’ve been observing marketing campaigns and marketers my whole life, and one thing I’ve learnt is that you need to be passionate to succeed. Personally, I have never met a top-notch marketer who wasn’t passionate about their product or brand, and believe that if you love what you do, then this will channel directly through the brand and into the customer’s hands – hopefully along with the book you’re marketing!

I love working with Singing Dragon books because I get to work with such a variety of interesting topics every day: alternative health; martial arts; yoga; aromatherapy – and the list goes on. But what I’m really passionate about is finding out where all of these audiences are, who they are and how I can make them aware of the book.

2) Research

I believe that research is the backbone of an effective marketing campaign. The best marketers I’ve seen are the ones who know their target market inside out – they know where they communicate, where they shop and how they behave.

For each book I look after, I make sure to put aside some time to research the target market. This might involve finding out which social media platforms they’re using, what they’re talking about, which hashtags they’re using, which publications they’re reading, and so on. In fact, I would say that this is the most exciting part of my job because it’s a bit like detective work, and I always learn something new along the way.

3) Communication

Marketing often involves liaising with different departments, authors, and external organisations, so I think it’s really important that you’re able to communicate effectively. I find communication skills are especially important when it comes to dealing with publications and bloggers because not only do you often have to negotiate terms with them, but there is also a relationship to maintain.

I’ve especially loved communicating with the market recently, as it’s been really rewarding to see how responsive customers have been to us winning the ‘Independent Academic, Educational and Professional Publisher of the Year’ award at the British Book Industry Awards!

4) Analytics

Whilst you don’t need to be a data scientist, I think it’s really important to be able to handle data and statistics to measure the effectiveness of marketing and social media campaigns. I didn’t have too much experience with analytics before working in marketing, but I think it would have been really beneficial if I did. Having said that, it was relatively easy to get started, especially with user-friendly tools like Google Analytics. I think what’s most important is that you’re able to use the insights from the analytics to better understand your market and to develop more effective marketing campaigns.

5) Bravery

Marketing has changed so much in recent years (understatement of the year!), and it seems as soon as you think you find something that works well, it all changes again. That’s why I think it’s really important to be brave and take calculated risks when it comes to marketing, especially digital marketing.

My favourite marketing campaigns are all ones that have taken risks. For example, Penguin launched a whole new website for their Little Black Classics collection, which was not only met with huge success but went on to win ‘Marketing Strategy of the Year’ a few days ago at the British Book Industry Awards – well done Penguin!

Thanks to Norah Myers for sourcing this guest post. 

6 Questions for Amanda Close of Random House, on launch of book discovery Facebook app BookScout [INTERVIEW]


Worried about Amazon buying up GoodReads? Have no fear: Random House, Inc have launched BookScout a new social book discovery app on Facebook. The app allows readers to create and organize their own digital bookshelves and explore friends’ bookshelves to learn what others are reading. BookScout encourages organic word-of-mouth recommendations as people can share what they’re currently reading with their Facebook friends, tag books they’d like to read, and keep track of books they’ve read. The app also provides personalized book recommendations from all publishers, and includes links to major retailers so people can easily purchase print books and eBooks they’re interested in.

Sophie asked Amanda Close, SVP Digital Marketplace Development, some more questions to find out why the app has been made, what the plans are for future and how the analytics are forming future growth strategies…

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