Know thy reader.

It’s an axiom that sells books. Ignore your reader, and you’re just writing to an audience of one.


Wouldn’t you like to get your hands on statistical data that reveals the likes and dislikes of your readers?

Well, folks, the future is here.

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Here’s What Reader Analytics Is…

Reader analytics is the study of the way we read. It examines why readers open certain books, read them, finish them, how long it takes them to finish it, and whether or not they recommend it to their friends.

The New York Times heralds this study as “Moneyball for publishers.” I would add that it’s “Moneyball for authors,” too.

Here’s What Reader Analytics Does…

How this is done?

Sometimes researchers place cameras above readers’ heads to track the eye movements of their subjects. Other times, eBooks with tracking software are given to subjects that monitor reading habits and tendencies.

Jellybooks is probably the most well-known reader analytics company.

And just so you know, Amazon and Apple already track your reading habits on their reader platforms. I know, doing this without your permission is a little creepy—but Hey!—what do you expect while we’re living in the Big Brother era?

The goal of reader analytics is to understand the connection between the reader and the book, and then based on the data, write better books that connect with the right readers.

Isn’t that what every author wants?

It shouldn’t dictate everything you write, but you sure as heck need to know what makes your readers tick.

In the upcoming issues of the Power Writers Report, I’ll give you some glimpses on how you can make this work for you. But for now, you need to read this.

If you’re not an analytics geek like me, you can skip this next section. But please, please jump to “Reader Analytics and Your Book Cover” because that section is going to blow you away! And that’s not an exaggeration.

Here’s What Reader Analytics is Looking for…

Jellybooks collects data points that include:

  • Time of day for each data point
  • Operating system and browser you use
  • When you open and close the reading app
  • When you open and close a book chapter
  • How long your reading app is open (its heartbeat)
  • When you highlight or select text
  • When you click on a link in the book
  • When you change the font or typeface settings

Then they synthesize the data in search of

Completion rate – how many readers finish the book? A strong narrative grips readers and doesn’t let them go until they have completed the book. Strong stories have high completion rates.

Velocity – how long does it take the reader from start to finish? Do you read the book in a single sitting, do you come back to the book every day, or do you only read it occasionally on a weekend or spread out over many weeks? This tells authors and publishers a great deal about how strong the spell the book casts over the reader.

Snacky or Immersive – do you get lost in the book for long periods of time or is it a book you read for periods of thirty minutes or less. Is it a book that works well for the daily commute or a weekend binge? Good to know for the author and publisher in terms of where their books are read.

Demographics – is the book primarily read by young or old readers, women or men? It may look obvious to whom the book should appeal, but the reality is often different. This tells the author and publisher who their readers really are.

Recommendation Factor – why do readers recommend some books and not others? This measure helps authors and publishers understand which books have word-of-mouth potential and with what kind of reader.

And then we also look at whether a book is more of a small screen (phone) or big screen (tablet/PC) read and much more. We are only scratching the surface right now.

Using reader analytics and A/B testing, it is possible to quantitatively measure what is the best cover, the best title, the best description, and the best way to position a book.

Reader Analytics and Your Book Cover

The information below is so mind-blowing…

For now, I’m going to leave you with one nugget: Reader Analytics studies have shown that book covers are much, much more influential in attracting—or repelling—readers than they anticipated.

While completion rates are driven by content, the speed by which somebody finishes a book is influenced by the cover.

In an interview with Jane Friedman, Andrew Rhomberg, the founder of Jellybooks explained,

Good covers pull people back and give people a reason to finish the book faster, which helps in sustaining a viral cycle with a fast turn-around time. Think of a virus that needs 14 days to become infectious versus one that needs only 5 days. Which virus is going to spread faster? It’s the same with books.

The most important finding we’ve made, though, is that the word-of-mouth potential for a book—the probability that somebody will recommend a book to others—is heavily influenced by the cover… this is mostly something people do subconsciously without even being aware of it.

Read that quote again.

Your book cover influences the readability of your book and the probability that someone will recommend it to others.

After investing hundreds of hours on your manuscript, why on earth would you entrust this responsibility to your cousin who was an art major in college or an anonymous person on Fiverr?

At Illumify, we’re redefining the industry through our proprietary collaborative publishing process. We believe that together, we can produce a book cover that will increase the readability and recommend-ability of your book.

Want to learn more? Let’s talk.