Friday, October 9, 2015

How to Tell If People Are Reading Your Books.

Louis Shalako

There have been some recent studies conducted on how much of a book people actually read. With ereaders tied to an ecosystem such as Amazon’s or iTunes’, the device reports back to the retailer. The data is fine enough that analysts can determine at exactly which point someone might have abandoned a book. Armed with such data, a content provider can fine-tune their product to be more appealing, more interesting, more engaging.

Authors don’t really have access to this information—not yet anyways.*

So how do I know if people are reading my books, especially when I give them away in such numbers?

At the end of every book or story, I have a link to the blog of the pen-name in question. There is some background here. Smashwords’ founder Mark Coker (and others) have blogged about the importance of enhanced end matter. It might provide links to other products, it might be an excerpt from a future release. This is all very well, but iTunes and possibly some other retailers won’t allow ebooks in their stores if they contain direct links to other retailers. Some online retailers don’t seem to care. But when I upload a book to Amazon, that file might have a link to the author page on Amazon—not another retailer. At least with Amazon, with no outward distribution channels, I can fine-tune that end matter.

The issue was how to beat that limitation when using Smashwords, bearing in mind they distribute to iTunes, Barnes & Noble, etc. The simple solution was to use the blog address for that link.

On the blogs, there are links to free and priced products. However, those seem to be okay with iTunes. It’s a direct link to another retailer, within the actual product, that they object to.


So when I’m giving away hundreds of ebooks, and if a reader really enjoyed the book, there is a very good chance that they will click on that link. That link is at the end of the book. 

They’re clicking on there to see if there is something else for free. They’re clicking on there to see if there is anything else they might like to read by that author.

Not everyone who gets to the end of the book will click that link. However, if I gave away a hundred copies of a book on one particular day, and within a day or so, that particular blog is showing a surprising number of hits…and if that particular pen-name hasn’t blogged in a while, the question is where are the hits coming from.

The only logical answer is that people, a good percentage of them, are at least finishing the books and stories. They enjoyed what they read and they want to know more.

Since I have a number of pen-names, some of whom publish irregularly, and there is some juggling of actual story production, I really haven’t tried putting an excerpt for an upcoming novel into the end matter.

That being said, it would be possible—certainly in the case of a series such as The Inspector Gilles Maintenon Mystery Series, to go back, modify a file, and re-upload it to all the platforms where it is presently published. Those excerpts would obviously be for other books in the series. If it was a numbered series, you would obviously try to suck them into buying the next book in the series.

The only thing there is time. The author would have to set aside a block of time and essentially do the work. Upload the file, check the formatting, and your product helps the readers to find the next book in the series.


The latest in the Inspector Gilles Maintenon Mystery Series, How to Rob a Bank is presently free with price-matching from Amazon. It’s also free from other fine retailers.

Thank you for reading.

*Correction: on Scribd, books published thruogh Smashwords will tell you that a book received a 'ten percent read' and the same is true of some other platforms. I'm not a big expert on Amazon Prime, Kindle Unlimited or some other subscription services.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Please feel free to comment on the blog posts, art or editing.