One of the ways that the seemingly stodgy, old-fashioned publishing industry is learning to innovate is with the concept of “big data.” Projects like Hugh Howey’s Author Earnings are already maximizing on the available information to help authors make sound decisions concerning publishing route, ebook pricing, and more, but traditional publishers are also slowly coming along in terms of looking at all the possible pieces of information surrounding a book or author, and using that information to drive consumer engagement.
Next Big Book, the winner of this year’s Startup Challenge at BookExpo America, has been taking an in-depth look at artists and public engagement for years. Beginning with its roots in the music industry under its sister entity Next Big Sound, the company essentially tracks multiple sources of data based on current trends and actions that correlate to a specific author and his work.
Next Big Book’s Alex White spoke to Good e-Reader about what publishers can learn from tracking this kind of online reference, specifically as it relates to their first major customer, Macmillan, who signed a three-year deal with the company.
“What we’re doing is combining all the public social data for every author and title, with our customers’ private sales numbers–paper and digital–to help them understand which social signal are leading indicators of their sales numbers and which marketing events were able to reliably drive social and sales numbers.”
In other words, Next Big Book helps publishers know which of their efforts are paying off both in terms of actual book sales and in reader buzz through social media.
“We started five years ago in the music industry, and we supported tens of thousands of artists and managers and labels. We believe very strongly in the power of data to transform industry. We’re trying to figure out the timing and technical challenges behind releasing the marketing dashboard we built with Macmillan to any author or book publisher. The issue is really around the sales data, and since we are not working with the retailers directly, the only way to get this data is with the publisher.”
Macmillan is considering using their dashboard directly with the agents and authors, so new features and functionalities are expected as authors give their feedback, which Next Big Book can incorporate in a scaled roll out. At this time, there’s no simple solution to providing this kind advanced metrics to indie authors due to the difficulty of building a dashboard for every single individual.
“It would take as much work to integrate a single author as it does a major publishing house, so the economics don’t quite make sense. We’re still trying to figure that out.”