Stats, More Stats or Just Damned Lies?

I wonder if anybody tracks their stats like I do. I’m naturally analytical and results-oriented, so nothing gives me greater pleasure than to see graphical charts representing my eBook / paperback sales and rankings – even if they are pointing in the wrong direction.

British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli by Cornelius Jabez Hughes, 1878

Although the saying may have originally come from Benjamin Disraeli, a 19th century British Prime Minister, Mark Twain is usually credited with coining the term, “there are three kinds of lies: lies, damned lies, and statistics.” Unfortunately, there’s no way my stat sheets represent damned lies because I’m too good at processing the numbers. It’s just too bad there are so many zeros…

Maybe someday Amazon and iCompositions will provide stats like this for their clientele much like WordPress does. Then, I could blame them for the all of these colored lines that just don’t climb steeply enough. But as it is now, I know the graphs are right and there doesn’t seem to be much I can do about it.

On a monthly or semi-monthly basis, I’ve been tracking books sold, books refunded, the ratio of refunds over sales, Kindle rank and paperback rank. For music, I track the number of listens of each individual track, the total number of listens and the % change month over month of total listens. I don’t really know what I’m looking for, but that’s the whole point of data mining and analysis: you don’t know what your question is until you look at the data. Trends and information are supposed to magically emerge as you virtually rotate and shift the data and look at it through different glasses and dimensions.

So far all that’s emerging for me is that I had an eBook sales spike over Christmas as everyone seems to have received gift cards and somehow got tricked into buying my books.

Coercion aside, what I’m hoping is either (1) someday after collecting enough data, some phantom trend will jump out at me thus giving me all the information I need to launch a hugely successful campaign resulting in thousands of book and CDs sales or (2) tracking stats will at least keep me busy enough to not get too upset about not selling enough books.

Either way, stats don’t lie…or do they? Whatever you finally decide is what, most likely, suits you best. As Wendy Scott so aptly says, “Your [sic] either delusional or just misinformed. Your [sic] quoting stats from 1989? And your information for 2010 is wacked.”

Who is Wendy Scott you may ask? I don’t know. Just someone I found on the internet with a darn good quote about wacked stats and delusions, but who clearly struggles with the proper usage of the words “your” and “you’re”.

And isn’t that what stats and quotations are all about anyway: supporting arbitrary and biased opinions with arbitrary and random artifacts.

Jesus, I think all of these stats are just making me bitter…


About Yorick von Fortinbras

YvF is a writer, musician that stays sane by being creative while navigating the demands of life, looking for those holes where a spark can get through.
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1 Response to Stats, More Stats or Just Damned Lies?

  1. Pingback: Web Dreams: My Nocturnal Mission | The Functional Lunatic

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