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Statistics | From the blog of Nicholas C. Rossis, author of science fiction, the Pearseus epic fantasy series and children's booksChris McMullen recently shared some statistics which gave me pause.

He was making the point that every little bit helps, even the copyright page. But his main argument was that, even though the book title and cover can attract readers to check the book out, it’s the Look Inside that plays a pivotal role in the closing rate.

And then he asked the real question that should be bugging us: what percentage of customers who visit the product page actually purchase the book?

For a typical book, just 1 out of 1000 (or more) customers who see the book’s cover will actually visit the product page, and just 1 out of 100 or so customers who visit the product page will purchase the book.

This is an average book that sells once a week or so to a stranger. You put these ratios together, and it takes 100,000 strangers to see the book to make a purchase.

Sounds impossible? And yet, such traffic does exist on Amazon. But here is the folly of the typical newbie author. They see it the other way around. The newbie author who is only selling 1 copy or so per week, on average, to strangers incorrectly concludes that there isn’t much traffic seeing that book on Amazon.

Actually, 100,000 or more people probably see that book per week. Don’t blame Amazon. Blame the cover, description, Look Inside. And, most important of all: is the content wonderful enough to earn recommendations? That’s the key to long-term success.

Turning the Odds

A book that will sell like hot has such a good cover (and relevance to the target audience) that 1 out of a few hundred (instead of a thousand) customers who see the cover will check it out. It will have a compelling description and Look Inside such that 1 out of 10 (or better) customers who see the book purchase the book.

This book sells much better because the click-thru rate and closing rate are much better. But also because Amazon rewards these metrics by giving the book enhanced visibility. This creates a virtuous circle. And if the content lives up to customers’ expectations, word-of-mouth recommendations will give this book long-term success.

So, strive to find cover appeal, write great descriptions, and provide compelling content at the beginning of the book. And put time and effort into every aspect of your book, even the boring parts!