The Pressure Is On

For anyone creating material in any media, pressure is high, not only to gain users but to keep users.

Just because someone subscribes or buys what you create doesn’t mean they are using it. I’ve seen several studies indicating for an average book only 60% that are purchased are ever opened.

Let that statistic sink in.

And since dedicated e-book devices and smartphones are two-way communicators, e-book companies gather a lot of information about their users. Sample data shows some best-sellers have less than 50% of their content read. Several other examples of major titles place the number in the single digits. (That’s 25 pages or fewer read of a 250-page book.)

My guess is the tech companies also know how many people read the last chapter of a novel first to see how the story turned out. They know who you are. No hiding now!

YouTube videos, a major piece of the media puzzle, count a “view” of a video if it is watched for 30 seconds. Producers feel good about their productions if 80% of the video is watched, but some videos have only 20% or less watched by an average viewer before exiting.

Social media is a numbers-driven industry, with any one post read by a small percentage of one’s followers. You might need thousands of connections to make sure a few dozen of them see something you post without paying money to advertise it.

This is not new.

It wasn’t that long ago that companies or organizations would postal-mail a million pieces of something in hopes of getting 20,000 responses.

In the digital world of email marketing, the information is sobering. According to Constant Contact, the list-management email marketing firm, the industry average for all marketing emails indicates less than 20% of subscribers open a particular email and far fewer click on a hyperlink to access something.

The advertising industry is built on the full knowledge a publication or media event might have a million users, but only a small percent sees any one thing like an advertisement.

When you come to the full realization that of the 10,000 books sold with your name on them, only 6,000 were opened and maybe only 1,000 read through entirely, the pressure is on.

The explosive growth of on-demand media in recent years gives interesting insight into habits of users. Of course, print materials are the original on-demand media. And as technology expands, we see several similarities when people start, stop, or drop.

Good editors are immensely important in the book-writing process. A section that is confusing, loosely written, and slow to track can be identified and fixed. Otherwise, readers might not make it past that section.

Best (or worst) book review ever was written by Mark Twain: “Once you’ve put one of his [Henry James] books down, you simply can’t pick it up again.”

The truth about books is they must be the tightest, most-compelling, attention-holding, and interesting of all media from start to finish. It is too easy to stop reading and close the book, never to resume. This is not something churned up by short attention-span, 21st-century society. It has always been true.

The pressure is on.

But don’t worry, next week my blog post is titled “The Pressure Is Off,” so relax, get some tea and cookies. In a little over a week, it will be just fine.

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You Need a Backup Strategy

Years ago, I was writing on deadline (when am I not?). My work-in-progress was about sixty percent complete when my computer screen went blank. At first, I blamed it on my son. Even when he was in grade school, he was better with computers than I was. He knew it. …

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