Anticipating Readership

Just as publishers bemoan the difficulty in forecasting how much a book will sell and musicians how big a song will get, I must say that find it utterly impossible to predict with any degree of comforting certainty how well a post will resonate with readers. I’m at a loss as why the readership pattern at T&B displays such bewildering volatility. While I realize I’m dealing in small samples, and as such, a couple of data points can have outsized effect, I can see neither reason nor rhythm to the numbers of visits T&B gets on any particular day.

I took a public stand early on that I don’t mind if I don’t get very many readers, and having so barefacedly said that, I feel a need to abide by my professed preferences (for the sake of internal consistency to my belief system, if nothing else). For that I am glad — I don’t think my fragile ego can withstand the stress otherwise. I can just see my reaction to the vicissitudes of being-read in an alternate universe, “3 views today?! 3! But I spent hours writing this post! What?! Why?! How?!” followed by sobs, binges on chocolate ice cream, and other destructive (even if delicious) behavior.

So I don’t do that, but I do ponder. Maybe it’s the evolutionary instinct to look for patterns, maybe it’s the need to ascribe reason to happenstance, maybe it’s the desire to affect favorable outcomes through individual exertions — whatever it is, I ponder at the reasons for the x number of visits, y comments, and z “likes” for any particular published post. I haven’t found any robust explanations, any explanations that had fewer caveats than the things it successfully accounted for, but the rationalist in me hasn’t given up the business of forecasting. Good thing then that no publishing house or record label rests on the success of my predictions.

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