Monday, 2 April 2012

The Very Personal Business of Publishing

For almost 20 years now I've been developing applications and websites for mainly libraries, museums and galleries. Gun for hire, the usual agency thing - client needs a project done, puts out an invitation to tender, we win the tender, build the app, walk away with a cheque. This is still a big part of our business, and I love this kind of deal: it's a partnership whereby we help our clients to solve problems, and money changes hands to make it happen.

When we started our digital facsimile imprint, eBookTreasures, I knew it would be different, but not like this. It's got very personal.

Because we sell these facsimiles online, we have a slew of data every day, every hour even. Here are the ones I look at most days:
- sales in iTunes Connect (daily and historic, including territories and taking into account present and past promotions)
- chart positions in iTunes (both overall charts and specialty charts)
- Facebook likes and reach
- Twitter follows and retweets
- Google alerts
- email enquiries
- Google analytics for our site

On one hand it's terrific. We can do a promotion and monitor it's effect in near real-time, reach out and tell people what's coming next and see what channels work best for us, what price points and what sorts of books.

But on the other hand it's all suddenly got very personal. 

Books I love don't sell. A new title launches and no-one tweets about it. For no reason, we put on 50 Facebook followers over a weekend. Sales tank or boom. It's all there in hard numbers, the various meters oscillating up and down hour by hour. My mood rising or falling with the numbers ("They like it - how wonderful!", "Facebook's a waste of time...").

The etymology of "publish" is "to make public". Perhaps I should have thought about that before getting in to publishing.

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