Recently some anonymous person unknowingly clicked on one of my instructables and marked a new milestone for me. They pushed my page views over the million mark. Wow, that is a big number, and even though there are many members who are in the million + club for me it was pretty exciting. In the weeks before getting to the million mark I did some research and found some very interesting statistics on publishing. The numbers on book publishing really helped me to put this whole page view thing in perspective and I want to share those numbers with you all, along with some comments on what I believe it all means.
Several months ago I had a conversation with someone who was not familiar with instructables or with the fact that I was an instructables author. When I told him my readership was climbing up to a million page views, meaning that upwards of a million people had read my various articles, he found it hard to believe. So after pulling Instructables up on an I pad and showing him he was almost speechless. He had no idea. A few weeks before this conversation I had actually done some investigating into one of my instructables because its views were climbing at a very consistent rate and I wondered what was driving it. So I Goggled it and discovered that it was the TOP search result for Google. I hadn't known that. So, if you type into Google anything along the lines of "fix car door seals" what comes up first is an advertisement and then on the top of the search list is my instructable, https://www.instructables.com/id/An-easy-and-perman...
So everyone who does that search gets directed to Instructables and my little article. By the way, this is actually my second top search result and one of the big reasons I have the views I do.Well I shared that fact with him also, in fact I did the Google search, and he was once again speechless for a moment. He looked down the list and said "you beat out Popular Mechanics. and ehow, and dummies and autozone, you beat them all! It's like having a best seller. Everybody fights to get to the top of a search list, and there you are. Wow" .
A best seller, now that got me thinking, just what does it take to get a best seller?
Step 1: What the Numbers Are.
The numbers that it takes for a book to become a best seller are a bit confusing and somewhere in between a lot of not knowing and a lot of "were not telling", lies an interesting fact. Depending on what list you get on the numbers are really pretty small and some authors (or their publicists in the case of celebrates) have even bought their way onto a list by purchasing many copies of their own book. It's one of the accepted strategies.
The fact is publishing numbers are really pretty dismal. One number that really surprised me was that (and this one is by memory as I can't find it again) 95% of books published in the US sell less than 4,000 copies while they are in print.
A similar quote "The average U.S. book is now selling less than 250 copies per year and less than 3,000 copies over its lifetime." You can find that article here: http://www.randysusanmeyers.com/blog/2013/12/book-...
There is a really great article on getting published and how difficult it can be. Here are some stats from that one.
"Print runs are surprisingly low in Australia and other English speaking countries - in fact everywhere. The initial paperback print run for a popular fiction title by a new author in Australia would typically be 3,000 - 8,000 copies. For literary fiction, it might only be 1,000 - 2,000 copies. In the UK, initial paperback print runs for popular fiction by new authors are typically 10,000 or less, and in the US, 25,000 or less. Again, for literary novels, print runs can be considerably lower. If you sell translations, print runs for European countries, except the largest, are likely to be in the range 1-4,000 copies."
You can read this entire article here: Its called "The truth about publishing" http://www.ian-irvine.com/publishing.html
Keep in mind that article is talking about numbers printed, not sold. Another source says that about 35% of books sent to stores come back as unsold.
You can read "The awful truths about book publishing" at the link: http://outthinkgroup.com/the-10-awful-truths-about...
That article is also very enlightening.
So what does all this negative stuff and numbers mean to you? Well, its simple really. If you have an Instructable that has more than 4,000 views, then more people have read it than 95% of the new books published. Now that is an amazing thing to ponder.
Step 2: Your Accomplishments
So, I guess the fact that I have a recent Instructable that is now at almost 100,000 views and is the number one search result is, well, not to bad. Maybe even pretty good. However, when compared to the rest of the publishing world, its down right awesome. If I go by those dismal stats its about as close to a best seller as you can get.
So what about your work?
You might think "well, I'm not that good and this is only really self published and it's not like writing a book or something. Really? Then think about this. Every Instructable is peer reviewed. What does that mean? It means that everybody on Instructables that reads it and finds it interesting and, even better, leaves a comment is a peer that has basically said "hey, well done". The views and "likes" are from people who think that it is a good article. And often they help with suggestions that can make it even better.
As for your own actual numbers:
A lot of my instructables are not over the 4,000 views mark so maybe I could think of those as not that great. I don't know, I like them myself, but the views reflect the fact that not many people have found them interesting. And yet those who have read them have said positive things about them so even if they don't have huge view numbers they are still good articles. We all have ones that don't do that good in terms of views but that doesn't mean they are bad, they just don't appeal to that large an audience. Compared to book sales they are still doing much better than average. So the simple fact is, if you have a body of work that is generating interest and is well received, no matter what topics and no matter whether you are 9 or 99 and no matter how numerous your views are, you are a published author. That is something that no one can deny you. In fact you should talk about it as one of your accomplishments. You are all working on improving your selves and your talents and abilities while putting together a body of work and that is an accomplishment. And in the process of your doing so you are contributing to and making Instructables a better and more credible place also.That is something to talk about. If you are maybe thinking that an Instructable is not the same thing as a book then compare it instead to a magazine or a newspaper article. I can tell you with no doubt that my readership is much higher than our little local once a week paper. In fact most papers don't have that high a circulation. Would you believe around 8,000. Want to see the stats on that? http://nnaweb.org/about-nna?articleCategory=commun...
Now as far as a body of work: If I were to put together a current resume I would not hesitate to mention my work on Instructables. Its the type of accomplishment that most people never reach. But all of you who are authors here can. Today you hear about possible employers researching applicants on Facebook and declining to hire them because of what they find there. Good, because Instructables is not Facebook. It's not a gossip site, its an accomplishment site. So, if an potential employer wants to research you then fine, tell them your user name and let them see what you have done. Well, there might be a few that could be a problem, some that I wouldn't want to claim, like "Good Morning Underwear" , but hey, those aren't your fault. Put together a good body of work and it is something you can share with anyone, it is your accomplishment and YES you are an author! Don't hesitate to punch that publish button. If its not that good, well then the rest of use will try and help you make it better. That is what we are all here for, that is what a community is.
One More Benefit :
I entered this into the "On a Budget" contest because one of the really big benefits of publishing with instructables is that you don't have to pay to publish. To write a book and pay to get it printed in book form can cost $10,000, and that is just for starting. The final cost can run much higher. So publishing at no cost to you, other than your time, is a pretty sweet deal.