Introduction

This is the fourth chunk of data and analysis from the 2016 Novelist Income Survey.

For this part, I wanted to look at whether the hours spent on marketing, promotion, and outreach correlated at all with how much money our authors made last year.

Overview

I used net income again, which means I removed data points where the authors hadn’t reported their expenses. I also eliminated two data points where respondents said they spent over 1000 hours/week on promotion and marketing. (If I’m wrong and those two authors have been using a TARDIS, I’d ask them to email me. And also to let me borrow their TARDIS.)

This left us with data from a total of 371 authors.

I then did a bit of Excel self-teaching to figure out how to use the correlation function. (In the previous section, I simply graphed out number of books and net income, and inserted a trendline. Calculating the actual correlation is more accurate, and I’ll be doing that for the previous part as well when I do the final write-up.) Yay, learning!

A correlation of 1.0 would be a perfect positive correlation. Likewise, -1.0 would be a perfect negative correlation.

Finally, in addition to analyzing the overall data, I also broke it down by authors who were primarily indie, small press, and large press, because I had a feeling there’d be a difference there.

Overall Results

Looking at all 371 authors together gives us the following graph. The trend line suggests a slight correlation.

Marketing and Net IncomeExcel gives a correlation of 0.16. That’s a very small positive correlation. Is it a significant correlation? I’m not enough of a statistician to say for certain, but it’s on the low side.

Subgroup Results

So let’s look at the correlation scores for different groups of authors.

  • Large Press: 0.06
  • Small Press: 0.13
  • Indie: 0.36

In other words, the strongest correlation between promotion/outreach/marketing and net income is for the indie authors. Which shouldn’t really surprise anyone.

On the other end, the amount of time spent on marketing and promo had pretty much no relation to overall income for the large press authors.

Removing the millionaires increased the correlation for large press slightly, and decreased slightly for the indies. But the correlation remained noticeably stronger for indie authors than for large/small press authors.

Conclusions

Does this mean the time and money I spent last year as a large-press author traveling to signings and conventions and doing online promotion was completely wasted? Not necessarily. We’re looking at overall trends, and any individual data point might buck a given trend. (Also, correlation =/= causation. I think I’ve said that on every post so far.)

There’s also the question about how you’re spending that time. 20 hours spent standing on a street corner wearing a BUY LIBRIOMANCER! sign probably wasn’t as effective as 20 hours spent researching reviewers and sending out targeted review copies of my book.

That said, I think the data supports the general wisdom that if you’re self-published, it’s a lot more important to spend time on marketing and promotion. Whereas if you’re with a large press, there’s a good chance your marketing efforts won’t have much of an impact on your bottom line.

Mirrored from Jim C. Hines.

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