Predicting demand for book publishing services

It’s no secret that you can discover what consumers need and want by paying attention to what they search for online. Finding an effective way to respond to those demands is a pretty good business strategy.

For example, a blogger might write additional posts to elaborate on popular topics. A software developer could design a platform to streamline the delivery of a sought-after service. A freelancer can offer new types of services based on predicted demands. And job seekers are wise to heed indicators of emerging or expanding markets.

Do you monitor your site statistics to see which search terms deliver the most readers to your blog or website? Are certain search terms beginning to appear more frequently? I watch my site stats on a daily basis, but today I made the effort to view the data for the life of my four-year-old blog.

If your blog is hosted by WordPress.com, you can find the cumulative statistics for the most popular search terms that bring visitors to your blog. Just click on My Blog > Site Stats. Locate the section titled Search Engine Terms and click on This Week. I know it’s counterintuitive. You’ll see a page displaying Search Terms for 7 days ending… Below that header, you can click on 30 Days, Quarter, Year, or All time.

These are the top ten searches that brought viewers to my blog during the past four years:

popular searches

To view the most popular posts during the life of your WordPress.com blog, click on My Blog > Site Stats and find the section titled Top Posts & Pages. Click on This Week, which will bring up a screen displaying the Top Posts for 7 days ending… Below that header, you can select 30 Days, Quarter, Year>, or All time.

Following are my blog’s top posts for the past four years. I didn’t include the blog’s homepage, which gets the most traffic by far, much of it driven by Facebook. My blog’s homepage always displays the newest post, so its relative popularity doesn’t tell me anything about what attracted the views.

popular posts

It’s worth mentioning that the older the blog and the larger the number of posts, the better the data.

I’m sharing this information, because I think it’s valuable to anyone in the book publishing business. Individuals conducting online research are trying to find these things, and some of them are willing to pay if you can deliver what they need. Well, maybe not the folks seeking FREE ebooks, I’ll grant you. But interest in submission tracking seems to be growing steadily, judging by the number of times I’ve noticed it in my site stats recently.

Publishing project management and the provision of à la carte book publishing and marketing services have been talked about for years. The popular search terms that brought traffic to my blog indicate that folks are still trying to obtain assistance in these areas. Next week, I think I’ll try to blog about companies that offer one-stop shopping for busy authors who need these services.

Meanwhile, if you’re one of the people looking for screenwriting blogs, try Save the Cat! If you’re a screenwriter looking for screenwriting blogs, did you happen to notice that quite a few authors are looking for book video trailers? And if you’re a blogger, check out Hal Licino’s “Write Effective Blog Posts Using Hollywood Screenwriting Principles.” If only I’d seen Hal’s advice before I wrote this boring post. On the other hand, that wildly popular old FREE ebooks post of mine is a snoozer.

4 Replies to “Predicting demand for book publishing services”

  1. I find the search statistics helpful not only for publishing trends, but for research. Maybe something in one of my posts (or someone else’s) is missed because it’s not getting found to begin with, and, when I find it, I can sometimes SET the trend. (Sometimes it’s still obscure and stays obscure, however, if the public just isn’t interested or I didn’t execute the message like I wanted to.)

    For instance, when I get ready to blog about events in San Francisco, I glance over the trends first on major social networking sites, then I glance over my event calendars in literary and music events, and then I look for the quirkiest thing I can promote. It’s not that I’m hitting anything new or exotic (heck, anyone could find it), but it’s taking that tired, over-exposed trend and bringing it to new light in what might be a previously neglected vantage point. And, of course, I have to be interested myself, or it just comes off flat. :)

  2. Discoverability online is dependent on keywords. Skilled marketers know it’s necessary to use the terms people are likely to type into a search engine. Easy enough, if there’s a commonly used term for, let’s say, à la carte book publishing and marketing services. Custom publishing isn’t quite right. Publishing consultant doesn’t seem to refer to a person who will actually do the work for you. Two years ago, concierge was the buzzword for the concept, but the usage wasn’t widely adopted. Project management is an applicable label, but it evokes distasteful things like scope creep and clients from hell.

    What term would you coin to refer to this underexposed trend, Jo?

  3. Lol…clients from hell would be right. I guess I’m stumped as to why the writer needs “consulting” work at this level, before even writing–isn’t that concept like providing a tip to the waiter when you bussed your own table at the restaurant? I think the idea/trend-finding and honing is the writer’s job, like finding the statue in the block of stone. Isn’t the consultant’s job to market the statue, and not to determine the shape the statue will take?

    I understand that the discoverability factor makes it easier for readers to find the writer’s work, particularly if you’re using the hot topics or the ones most-oft used in a search engine. But, just for devil’s advocacy, what if we were to look at publishing in the same way that Steve Jobs or Amazon looks at their product development? (Jobs stated, in regards to his product line when he was first honing Apple, that his job was to give the public what they wanted before they knew they wanted it.) Looking at the trends, is it better to keep beating the dead horse, or to find the next racing colt? I would like to think there’s a way to take the old stuff, link it up to a keyword, and then branch it out on another, less-oft used keyword. (Sort of like, “If you like chocolate, boy, will you like peanut butter.”)

    Guess I’m getting a bit mired in the technical aspects, especially dangerous when I’m not as internet-saavy as most (smiles). As to the term, well, that depends on optimism, doesn’t it? Earlier I called it neglected trends, but I guess you could also call it prospective trends or proactive trending. Or…probable trends, based on your affiliation of chocolate to peanut butter. :)

  4. I didn’t make it clear that I think most of my blog traffic comes from writers who want information about getting published. One of them recently mentioned to me via email that there’s a pressing need for businesses that offer à la carte book publishing and marketing services. In other words, the person wanted to pay for only the elements of publishing that were too time-consuming or difficult to learn or boring.

    One of those tedious pieces of business might have been, say, converting a novel manuscript into multiple ebook formats and uploading them to the various retail sites. The currently popular term for such a business is ebook aggregator, but it’s still not a household word.

    It’s not easy to acquire the skills of a book cover designer, and many people don’t give a thought to the even more demanding design work that goes into the interior of an appealing book. There’s no end to the complaints that good copyeditors are hard to find. And from what I can tell, there are fewer book publicists than literary agents these days. All of these are jobs usually performed by specialists. Some writers possess these particular skills, but many don’t and don’t care to.

    The point I tried to make at the end of my original post is that businesses offering all and even more of these types of services in one place do exist, but they don’t have a common name. If you’re a relatively new writer searching for such companies online, you won’t find them easily, because it’s like trying to order from a menu in a foreign country.

    However, if you’re an entrepreneur envisioning a startup, and you look at what people just like the writer who contacted me are typing into a search engine, you can decipher what they’re looking for and you can launch the business and you can market the business online using the terms most people outside the business would use to describe it. How many people do you know who would use the term prepress? In the transition from B2B to B2C, the jargon has to go.

    I think we agree, Jo. The ideal business ascertains what the customer wants or needs even before the customer can describe or envision it. But after the product or service becomes available, the business will need to ensure the customer can find it. At least initially, the company must speak the customer’s language. After the business is as successfully branded as Dumpster or Kleenex, then it’s all good.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s