National Public Radio’s Lynn Neary of All Things Considered interviewed me the other day for an editor’s perspective on Reader Analytics, and whether data about reading behavior should have an impact on publishing decisions.
Listen to Publishers’ Dilemma: Judge a Book by its Data or Trust the Editor’s Gut?
You’ll hear that there’s some disagreement in the book world about whether authors and publishers should pay attention to Jellybooks new reader data service.
See what you think. I’m still saying it’s useless and will never be widely applied.
For more background, check out my previous post, Jellybooks reader analytics: Sweet or sour deal for authors?
Fascinating. If this had been available in 1949, Tolkien would probably never have published Lord of the Rings – as most males that I know, who read the book, found the first forty or so pages excruciatingly slow, but then M.R. James would not sell in a world where teen vampires abound, and we would be much the poorer.
If we write to satisfy a perceived need rather than to create that need, then we are serving the same dish over and over. It may be palatable and satisfy a basic hunger, but the wonder of something new is forever taken away.
Michael LaRocca says
Before I read the article itself, my thinking was that the group of readers who would use a service such as Jellybooks are probably not representative of book readers as a whole. Perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing in the article changed my mind about that.
A writer writes from his heart. Otherwise he’ll just bore himself silly. Then, if he is fortunate, he’ll find readers who share his tastes and will therefore appreciate his efforts. Some authors appeal to many readers and some to but a few. But if an editor gets that feeling in his gut about the book, well, that editor is one reader the author has reached.
I get that writing is a calling and publishing is a business, and I get that predicting what’ll sell feels like a crap shoot. But even so, I’m still more likely to trust that editor/reader’s gut than a focus group of random Jellybook readers.