Using Stats to Pick ePublisher

Believe it or not, a lot of writers are now beginning their writing career by going to electronic publishing route. They think they're chances are better with ePublishers than with traditional print publishers. They're vehemently supportive of ePublishing.

Facts Are Friendly

While they don't assert that they're making as much as A list print published authors, many proclaim that they're making more money than those that are print-published by small presses.

The point of this blog isn't to take issue with any of the above statements, but to point out ways authors can verify ePublishers' claims as to their traffic. So if you've decided to get published by an electronic or online publisher, you might want to do your own web analysis.

Site Analytics

Most websites are rated by how many unique visitors visit the site's pages as well as how many seconds they spend on the site. Unique Visitors counts a person once no matter how many times they visit a site in a given month because they originate from the same IP address. Unique Visitors are typically used to determine how popular a site is. Therefore, most web analytic sites consider additional metrics in order to determine the popularity of a given site.

This way, if sites buy a lot of advertising across the web and drive up their Unique Visitor count, even though many of the visitors may leave the site immediately, there are other tools that measure how much time people actually spend on the site as well as how many pages of the site they look at on average during each visit. This is a truer measurement of a site's popularity.

There are many businesses that provide this kind of in depth analysis, usually for a subscription fee. Some sites though offer a trial period where you can test their metrics for yourself.

Some website analysis businesses are: Google Analytics, Omniture, Stat Counter, and Piwik. Read, Write, Web lists several analytic services.

How This Helps

You want to pick the right publisher to ePublish your front list or your back list. That publisher needs to have a website with decent traffic. You can compare the actual stats for a website against other websites in order to pick a publisher that has the most traffic. If your book is going to be sold mainly through the publisher's website, this is of great importance to you. I mean, you can have the best book in the world, but if the traffic is too little, you won't sell enough to buy a cup of coffee.

With my subscription to one of these services, I decided to compare the ePublishers I had heard mentioned most often. I was surprised by the findings. Sorry, I can't tell you which web analytics I used, but I will give you the results. This survey was done 9 months ago so don't consider it an accurate representation of the sites' current visitor statistics. Do your own analysis.

Remember: these stats are 9 months old, and unique visitors, as explained above, are counted.

Website ----------- Monthly Unique Visitors -- Yearly Trend

Amber Quill ----------- 2 -- no trend

Black Lyon ----------- 1,075 -- no trend

Bold Strokes ----------- 3,347 -- up 40.5%

Champagne Books ----------- 1,868 -- up 262.7%

Dragon Moon Press ----------- 831 -- up 22.2%

Ellora's Cave ----------- 194 -- up 136.6%

eXtasybooks ----------- 3,283 -- down 39.3%

Freya's Bower ----------- 3,160 -- up 100.1%

Granite Books ----------- 915 -- 386.7%

Harlequin ----------- 178,268 -- down 33.6%

Hard Shell ----------- 1,031 -- down 27.1%

Highland Press ----------- 861 -- up 60.3%

Imajinn Books ----------- 1,446 -- down 54.5%

Juno Books ----------- 1,767 -- up 427.5%

Linden Bay Romance ----------- 1,141 -- down 45%

Loose ID ----------- 9,480 -- up 22.5%

Mundania ----------- 2,079 -- up 206.6%

New Concepts ----------- 11,783 -- up 15%

Resplendence ----------- 1,901 -- up 1433.1%

Samhain ----------- 23,363 -- up 19.7%

Siren ----------- 6,136 -- up 123.2%

Virgin Books ----------- 1,002 -- down 55.2%

Whiskey Creek Press ----------- 4,401 -- up .4%

Wild Rose Press ----------- 149 -- down 67.4%

Takeaway Truth

Writers need to be good business people. In today's world, that means understanding web analytics and their many applications.

10 comments:

  1. Huh, fascinating stuff, Joan, thank you. I've not thought of analyzing it that way when looking into epublishers (not at that point yet), but that's a great bit of advice!

    ~Merc

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  2. Yep, I find it thoroughly interesting too. There's no end to what you can analyze with the right metrics.

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  3. Just like with print books, it's all about the distribution, and these stats help show who's looking where. Thanks for the info. One other question to ask if you're thinking of submitted to an e-publisher is where ELSE do they sell their books. Only on their own site, or can you get it in the e-book 'megastores'? Is it offered on the Sony or Kindle? On Fictionwise, etc.?

    As you point out, stats can be adjusted, manipulated, etc. depending on what the reporter wants them to show. Even in your above examples, a relatiely new publisher will likely have a significantly higher upward trend, since it's probably still building a market.

    Ellora's Cave has just totally revamped their website, and now visitors can see books from ALL their imprints at one site. It will be interesting to see how that plays out over time.

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  4. I can't believe those figures are right for Ellora's Cave unless you left out some zeroes or I'm reading them wrong. They have more authors visiting in a month than that. Quantcast, analyzing a four-month trend, says they get an average of 30,000 unique visitors per month with a high one month of 37.9k. And that's just their ebook site. Their new print site is tracked at 9.5K uniques. Google Analytics have EC at more than twice the traffic of Samhain.

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  5. Terry, thanks for weighing in since I know you have a successful ePublished career as well as being print published. Good questions to ask.

    Lara Diamond, thanks for commenting. No zeros were left out of the stats I pulled nearly a year ago. As to the accuracy of the stats, as I pointed out in the post, this was nearly a year ago. That's why I also pointed out that authors should do their own research.

    Anyone can subscribe and obtain up to date web analytics. The point of the post is to show authors that there are tools they can use to help them make the best choice for their career.

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  6. I think a person going by those stats would be *seriously* mislead. Many sites, including my own, all show Ellora's Cave as the top seller--both now and a year ago. The year lag is not the issue here as their lead over the pack at that time was even greater.

    Either those numbers are off or they are not meaningful as a method of predicting sales (see erecsite) or earnings (see Brenda Hiatts 'show me the money') (see also Pier Anthony's 'Publish on the Web'). My own sales have been typical in relation to my EREC data set and strongly contrary even to loose rankings as suggested by your data. I would suggest that having information in the form of numbers is not the same as having a valid index or the parameter of interest.

    p.s. of course ebooks are not generally going to make anywhere near what mainstream print books do--but then not all ebook authors are expecting they will if they use the data already available online.

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  7. Juno Books is not nor has it ever been an epublisher. :-) It was the female-oriented imprint of Wildside Press, which is a regular small press; now Juno is an imprint of Pocket/Simon & Schuster.

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  8. This doesn't make any sense to me. The programs you've listed all seem to require that you put code ON THE SITE you're wanting to analyse. They're designed to show stats for YOUR OWN websites. I checked out the ones I hadn't heard of, and they all seem to be the same thing.

    How can you get stats to count pageviews and visitors you don't have access to?

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  9. Oh, and I agree on the EC numbers. I haven't had a release-month royalty check under four figures in over a year.

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  10. Thanks for weighing in with your comments.

    At the time I did all the original research, those indeed were the stats for unique visitors.

    Apparently, I should have revisited the sites I listed for getting stats because you didn't have to enter code when I first checked them. Try compete.com to get some stats. You can get some free without registering or sign up for a 30 day trial.

    Stacia, I think you mentioned Juno (got the email comment but don't see it listed as I'm doing replies). You're right. I had originally made a list of print and ePublishers and that got mixed in when I did the compiling.

    Stacia, all I can say is well-done. Your anecdotal evidence is certainly encouraging for anyone interested in the erotica genre via online publishing.

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