Thursday, June 16, 2011

Numbers and Time Sucks

What I'm reading: My Sunshine, by Catherine Anderson

Don't forget my buy 1 get 1 free sale. Check the Deals and Steals tab for details.

I was talking about sales figures yesterday, and numbers and stats are stuck in my brain. A while back, I did a post on Time Management, and I illustrated it with the image you see here.

About two or three weeks ago, I noticed my blog site hits had doubled. A little digging seemed to indicate that there was a link to that blog page when people searched Google images. So I had a lot of hits, but they were simply clicking onto that page and then out again. Were they doing me any good. Not really, other than boosting my visibility on search engines for a while.

During that time, I noticed that my "Klout" score and my "Technorati authority" jumped significantly. But what do those numbers mean? I have no clue whatsoever. Nobody rang my bell, or called, or even emailed me congratulating me on having better numbers. Nobody said, "Hey, I saw your Klout and so I'm going to follow your blog, read your books, shout it from the rooftops."

And now that whatever that phenomenon was, someone else quite likely used that same image and now their blog is getting all the action. My numbers are back where they were before. Should I be depressed? Or care?

As I mentioned yesterday, being your own publisher lets you track sales figures immediately. The trick is to keep from clicking over to all the stores every half hour to see if you sold any more books. That's as bad as spending all day on Twitter or Facebook. Do you check Goodreads to see if anyone else has added one of your books to their "to read" shelf? And what if they have? I've looked at some of those lists. I can tell you, it doesn't give me warm fuzzies to know that my book is one of 15,362 on someone's list.

Is it worth your time to keep checking numbers? And there are a lot you can check. How many followers to you have on Twitter, or friends on Facebook. How many people clicked the "like" button on each of your books' Amazon pages? Or the one on this blog?

I can tell how many people clicked my Deals and Steals tab, and I can compare it with how many people actually take advantage of my sale. Is it a productive use of my time? I don't think so. And, when the ratio of clicks to actual buyers is low, it's depressing as well, which also impacts productivity.

If all these stat numbers go up, how "good" a thing is it? Of course, if it's sales figures, yes, it's a good thing because you're writing books to sell them. But those numbers will still be there an hour from now, or tomorrow. If you're writing, the best numbers to track are word counts. Because that's what's going to add another number to your "books for sale" stats.

And if anyone can explain Technorati or Klout to me, and tell me what their scores really mean in terms of my life and my writing, I'll be forever grateful.

Have a great weekend. I'm giving a talk at a local Library on Saturday. On Sunday a friend I haven't seen since high school will be coming up with her husband for a brief visit, and it's Father's Day.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

Numbers of any kind will boggle my brain. I hate to watch sales stats or follower stats or blog I just don't! I have a feeling I'm not missing much...

Terry Odell said...

Elizabeth - you're probably missing a lot, although what you're missing is probably useless, so I agree--better to get on with the "real" stuff.

Maryann Miller said...

I'm with you, Terry, but I gotta say I started looking at Klout after a message from you about the site. LOL

I still haven't figured out what it means, or how it helps with what we are trying to accomplish with online marketing, so I stopped. The only stats I check, and I try to limit that to once in the morning and once at night are my sales. Once a week or so, I will check to see if my book, One Small Victory is still on several of the Kindle top seller lists. Happy to say it is.

I do notice that visits to my blog have jumped recently, but I don't make a point to track them. Just take note and thank new followers when I get them.

I think we can make ourselves crazy with stats and numbers and ratings, although you might want to check to see who just recently gave you a good rating on Good reads for What's In a Name. LOL

Terry Odell said...

Thanks, Maryann. Congrats on your book hitting the top seller lists. Now that's one stat I never check for mine (maybe because it would take too long to drill down far enough to find them!)

Karen said...

Hi Terry (waving)!
I try to stop by every day because I've found that you post on many interesting things. Some days you make me laugh and others you make me think and sometimes you show us pretty pictures of places you've been and I'll never get to see(thank you).
A lot of times I don't say anything because I don't feel I have anything of value to add.
I'd like to tell you not to obsess about the numbers, but not sure that hearing it from a reader carries any value.
Enjoy your weekend!

Terry Odell said...

Karen, I'm glad you find it worth stopping by whether you comment or not. And readers carry a LOT of value; that's who we write for.