What Social Media Stats Should You Include in Your Book Proposal?

A few weeks ago, an author friend of mine was preparing a proposal for his new book. He called to ask me what social media stats he should include. In other words, what would be meaningful to prospective publishers? This is a great question.

Close-up of Graph - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Nikada, Image #6880980

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/Nikada

Agents and publishers are looking for authors with meaningful platforms. Most look at specific social media stats as a proxy for this. These stats include those specifically related to blogging, Facebook, and Twitter.

In order to get accurate blog stats, you should sign up for a free Google Analytics account. This is the “gold standard” when it comes to reporting web stats. You will need to refer to your blog’s documentation to figure out how to install it. It is relatively easy but different depending on the blogging system you are using and your configuration.

Here are six stats that most agents and publishers deem relevant.

  1. Unique visitors per month. This is the number of unique individuals who have visited your blog in the last 30 days. For example, one individual may visit your blog three times in one week. However, this would only count as one unique visitor. Note: RSS and email subscribers do not count toward your total. For a true count, you must add the number of subscribers you have to this monthly total.
  2. Page views per month. This is the number of pages your visitors have viewed in the last month. If you divide this number by your total unique visitors, you will get the average number of pages viewed by each visitor. While this number is important to publishers, you will find it is even more important to prospective advertisers on your blog. Why? Because they are basically buying the specific number of impressions their ad will get on your site.
  3. Percent change in the last 12 months. This is the rate of growth in the last 12 months. Publishers want to know if your audience is growing and at what rate. (It should be important to you, too.) Here’s the formula: unique visitors in the last 30 days, minus your unique visitors for the same period 12 months ago, divided by your unique visitors for the same period 12 months ago. multiplied by 100. For me, that would be 166,103 (unique visitors in May 2011), minus 54,326 (unique visitors in May 2010). divided by 54,326, multiplied by 100, equals 205.8% growth.
  4. Average number of comments per post. This is a little trickier, because not all commenting systems keep track of this stat. Disqus, the system I use (and highly recommend) provides an “analytics snapshot” that tells me how many comments I received today, last month, and all time. For example, last month I had 4,608 comments. If I divide that by 20 posts, that is an average of 230 comments per post. What this demonstrates is how engaged your audience is with your content. If you want, you can also include the average number of Tweets or Facebook Shares or Likes per post.
  5. Total number of blog subscribers. The people who subscribe via email or RSS represent your most loyal readers or “super-fans.” They have made the effort to sign-up to receive your content. More importantly, they have given you permission to push content to them. This permission-based asset is arguably the most important asset you have as an author. This is also why I have been on a campaign in the last three months to grow my subscriber list by giving away a free e-book.
  6. Total number of Twitter followers or Facebook fans. These are the two primary vehicles I use to drive get the word out about my new blogs posts. It is another permission-based asset that you bring to the publishing partnership. While the total number of followers can be important, I think it is more important to show how engaged they are. How many times have you been re-tweeted in the last 30 days? How many Facebook “likes” or “shares” have you had? If you really want to get fancy, track your Klout score. This is a measure of your influence with your audience.

Notice that I don’t mention “hits.” Expunge this word from your social media vocabulary. The term “hits” refers to the total number of requests your blog or website makes to the server. For example, if you have a page with numerous images on it, some javascript programs, and excerpts from a dozen posts, you might have 20–50 “hits” per page load. This number is irrelevant—at least as far as traffic goes. If you cite it, it will only mark you out as a newbie.

There are numerous other stats that might be important to some publishers, but if you include the ones above in your proposal, it will put you ahead of 90% of the competition. Also, if you start tracking these stats, I can almost guarantee you that you will start seeing growth. What gets measured, usually starts improving.

Question: How are your social media stats looking? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=668400463 Ruby Brown

    This is good information.  Thank you so much.  I am still learning my way around The Internet. 
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  • Anonymous

    Thank you so much for posting this. I just used it to spiff up my book proposal – and it also helped be to think critically about how I should be growing my platform.

    Really practical and useful

  • Carl Harmon

    Nice info. Thanks for sharing.

    Digital Media Consultant

  • Anonymous

    A really useful post, thank you. 

    I’ve been blogging for three years now and never really worried about my stats – I had a core following of friends and family. When I decided to self publish this year I knew I needed to use my platform better.  I’m three months into a campaign to increase my traffic and have seen visits triple. It’s that old balloon scenario – you push and push slowly and then all of a sudden things start expanding a lot quicker.  And there’s nothing like a couple of good retweets to blow your stats out!

    One thing I’ve found is that the three years previously of regular blogging gives me a solid core of posts that are picked up in searches or through linkwithin. 

    I was interested to read your assessment elsewhere about posting regularly. I find that six posts a week keeps my stats on a solid footing. If I drop down to five I notice a significant drop in visits.

  • http://www.WritingPlatform.com Michael K. Reynolds

    Great insights into building a Writing Platform. Not only is it a critical part of getting approval of agents, editors and publishing houses, it gives you the power of proactively selling your books.

  • Anonymous

    I like the idea of ​​seeing the reports with the time increments. In the same way that you should not weigh yourself every day trying to lose weight, control your monthly or quarterly seems to make sense and can smooth the anomalies in the data.

  • BarbK

    So how can you tell the “UNIQUE VISITORS” on your blog?  I can see the number of views, but don’t know how many are unique visitors.  Thanks for helping me, as I’m not sure how to do this yet. 

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      It depends on the blog software and what plugins (if any) you have installed. What you really want is Google Analytics (Google it).

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  • AnnabelSmith

    This is really useful information. What are some benchmarks for each of these things on how high they need to be in order to be worth mentioning?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com/ Michael Hyatt

      There really aren’t any. Anything is better than nothing. Even if they are low, it shows you have started.

      • AnnabelSmith