My 2019 Stats – Reading, Blogging, and Podcasting

2019 stats

Y’all know I love my stats…about books, the blog, and the podcast! A couple of my biggest takeaways from this year…

  • Though I read less than I did last year (turns out running a podcast eats into your reading time!), I’m incredibly happy with my reading year! I read twelve 5 star books (compared to 8 last year) and a lot of the books publishers hyped actually panned out!
  • Tracking my best recommendation sources continues to be the single biggest factor in improving my reading quality. And, after tracking my recommendation sources and publishers for 2 years now, I’m noticing some consistency in both recommendation sources and publishers.
  • In 2020, I’m going to experiment with breaking down my successful recommendation sources further into specific types of books I should look to each source for. 

Putting this post together was a breeze compared to two year’s ago because my Rock Your Reading Tracker had been automatically compiling these stats for me throughout the year (it’s available for purchase for $14.99 here).

Let’s dig into the numbers…

Quality and Quantity

2019 Quality Goal (% Successful Books)

I personally view a “successful” book as a 3.5 rating or higher. 69% (79 of 114 books attempted, which includes DNFs) of my 2019 books were “successful.” Last year, this number was 69% and my goal was to break 65%…so, I’m happy with that! I feel like this is a solid number and anything I get above this is gravy!

I also tracked my % of Successful Books I Finished which removes the DNF’s from the equation…and ended up with 89% successful books finished (compared to 86% last year)! 

My 2020 Goal

Again, I’m not setting a quantity goal for 2020 and am going to focus solely on a quality goal, which will be 65% Successful Books Attempted and 85% Successful Books Read (the same as last year…it feels like it’s my sweet spot). 

2019 Reading Quantity

For the first time ever, I didn’t set a reading quantity goal and I didn’t miss it at all. I did track how many books I read (89), but didn’t have a set target I was trying to reach. I read 7 fewer books than last year, which doesn’t surprise me since my reading time was slashed this year because of the podcast. I’m actually surprised I got that close to last year’s # of books read!

Picking Better Books

Over the past few years, I’ve been tracking my best and worst recommendation sources as well as my top publisher imprints. Knowing my best recommendation sources and top publishers helps me know who to pay attention to when looking for books that best fit my reading taste. There is so much clutter out there, so knowing which voices speak to my particular taste helped me improve my reading quality 43% since before I started tracking these things! My 2020 Reading Tracker can help you track your recommendation sources and publishers / imprints and is available for purchase for $14.99!

Recommendation Sources

  • My recommendation sources are fairly consistent with last year. Annie Jones, Susie from Novel Visits, and Anne Bogel from Modern Mrs. Darcy and What Should I Read Next? are all still in the top 3. Read it Forward moved into the top 4…I love their monthly favorites lists!
  • One thing about this list surprises me…I’d always kind of thought Anne Bogel and I were reading anti-twins (meaning our tastes don’t align super well). She loves quiet books and I like a bit more action. She’s a HSP (highly sensitive person) and I don’t mind going super dark and demented. So, I was surprised to discover I netted 14 successful recommendations from her this year! I think I’m figuring out the types of books where our tastes will probably align and the types where they won’t.
  • I’ve also started doing this for other recommendation sources and I’m looking forward to experimenting more with this in 2020. Maybe I’ll even be able to build something into next year’s Reading Tracker to help see these kinds of patterns.

Publishers / Imprints

Genres

The only real change in my genre breakdown from last year is that my nonfiction was more heavily weighted towards memoir / essays (I read less general nonfiction). I’d like to read more general nonfiction in 2020 (especially investigative journalism).

Audiobooks

I listened to 19 audiobooks this year, 21% of my overall reading. This is about the same as last year. I still love my podcasts, so audiobooks will always have to fight for listening time.

Backlist

I read 18 backlist books (20% of my reading) this year…down from 25 last year and 32 in 2017

My backlist reading continues to fall and I’m not happy about it. I know this is because I’m always susceptible to shiny new releases (and I have to read a certain number of them to produce the content I want for the blog and podcast), but I also want to make some more room for backlist. So, stay tuned for something new I’ll be starting in January that will give me an incentive to read more backlist (and will give you some additional bonus podcast episodes!).

Debuts

I read 35 debuts…39% of my overall reading (up from 32% last year). And, 2019 was a particularly fantastic year for debuts!

DNF’s

I DNF’d 25 books this year…22% of the books I attempted to read. This is down from 34 books (28%) last year. I’m surprised and thrilled that I DNF’d less books this year because that means I’m picking better books!

Longest Book Read

The Most Fun We Ever Had by Claire Lombardo (532 pages)…and I did “feel” it’s length a bit more than I would’ve liked. 

Shortest Book Read

The Body in Question by Jill Ciment (192 pages)…a weird little book about a jury.

Diversity Stats

I don’t set particular diversity goals, but I am interested in seeing where my reading naturally falls…

75% of my 2019 reading was by female authors (down slightly from 78% last year) and 91% of my Best Books of 2019 were by female authors.

12% of my 2019 reading was by POC authors, compared to 11% last year. 25% of my books read were diverse books (i.e. about diverse topics and/or people).

Podcast Growth

Since 2019 was the first year of the Sarah’s Book Shelves Live podcast, I don’t have any comparison data other than the podcast’s growth from Episode 1 through the end of 2019.

However, I couldn’t be more thrilled with the podcast’s growth. Honestly, I never imagined it would be where it is now. I did notice per episode downloads spiked in the summer and fell slightly in the Fall months, which is interesting. I’m not sure why that is. Episodes were only airing bi-weekly this summer, while they aired weekly in the Fall…and the Fall brought the mini episodes.

Downloads
(from episode drop date)
Growth from
Ep. 1 – Top Episode of 2019
1 Day 590% increase
7 Day 369% increase
30 Day 210% increase

Favorite Episodes

By Downloads:
1) Ep. 27: Fall 2019 Book Preview
2) Ep. 28: Annie Jones
3) Ep. 25: Siobhan Jones (Editorial Director of Book of the Month)

Your Favorites (via Instagram and Facebook votes):
1) Ep. 25: Siobhan Jones (Editorial Director of Book of the Month)
2) Quarterly Book Previews (Fall 2019 Book Preview)
3) Ep. 34: Books in the Classroom with Sara from Fiction Matters and Ep. 38: Garrett M. Graff (author of The Only Plane in the Sky)
4) Ep. 16: Meredith & Kaytee from Currently Reading podcast and Ep. 22: Angie Kim (author of Miracle Creek)
5) Ep. 28: Annie Jones

My Personal Favorites (in no particular order):

Blog Growth

Pageviews

My blog traffic grew much faster this year (last year, pageviews grew 17% from 2017) despite posting less frequently. I’m guessing this is because I acquired some new readers from the podcast.

  • Pageviews increased 28% over 2018.  
  • My best months (by pageviews) were December, May, and July (in that order). December did better for me this year and May and July have always been good months for me. The Fall (when many big books are published) continues to not be a great time on the blog for me…while the summer is peak season.

Overall Blog Traffic Source Comparison (Sessions):

Top 5 Sources 2019
% Traffic
2018
% Traffic
Google Organic Search 42% 48%
Direct 17% 13%
Email 13% 11%
Pinterest 10% 14%
Facebook Mobile 2.5% 3%
Instagram 2.5% 1%

Social Media Network Traffic Source Comparison (Sessions): 

Top Networks 2019
% Traffic
2018
% Traffic
2017
% Traffic
Pinterest 75% 74% 79%
Facebook 19% 15% 10%
Instagram 15% N/A N/A
Twitter 6%  6%  7%

Best Performing Posts/Pages of 2019 (regardless of publication date)

Like previous years, evergreen book lists (that I continually update) and spoiler discussion posts continue to do well. And, I’m thrilled that my Summer Reading Guide finally made my top 5 posts of the year (surprisingly, this is the first time this has happened!).

Best Performing Posts/Pages Published in 2019

Best Performing Book Reviews of 2019 (all mostly Google search)

What interesting things did you learn from your reading and blogging stats? Who were your most successful recommendation sources and publishers?

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23 Comments

  1. JanB wrote:

    Sarah, I love the tracker and love seeing my end of year stats. I’ve definitely improved my percentages since I took your lead and got over being a “completionist”!

    I have a question about tracking your recommendation sources. Over half the books I read are ARCs and I often read them before the people I follow. Or I already have the ARC before I read blog and Goodread reviews. I know you read a lot of ARCs too so how do you track the sources for them? Do you track if they like or don’t like a book you already have even though they weren’t necessarily a “source” for the book?

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
    • Catherine wrote:

      I read ahead of the curve as well and for me the source is where I ‘found’ the book- Edelweiss, the publisher, an author I like, and sometimes a blogger. So, those are what I put in my Recommendation Source column. It’s kind of the same thing as Annie B Jones and Mrs. Darcy- they’re reading even further out than we are (6-8 months).

      Posted 1.5.20 Reply
      • JanB wrote:

        Catherine that’s what I’ve been doing as well and it’s an imperfect system (for me). It hasn’t given me the stats I need as far as trusted sources. Once I’ve read them, I’ve been relying on my memory as to who liked which books I also liked (or didn’t). Any my memory is faulty!

        Posted 1.5.20 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      So glad to hear that!!

      To answer your question –
      1) I keep an email saved in my draft folder with all the ARCs I have or are interested in organized by pub date. That’s where I quickly note recommendations as I come across them. It enables me to make a quick note anywhere…since I don’t always have access to my spreadsheet. Then I go back later and add them into my tracker.
      2) There are people that read even farther out than I do (other bookstagrammers, bloggers, but also booksellers…they read really far in advance). I keep an eye out for books I have on my list that appear on Instagram or friends rate on Goodreads.
      3) I DO add someone as a recommendation source even after I’ve finished the book and even if I didn’t initially hear about the book from that person / source. This is because the purpose of tracking my rec sources is to pinpoint who I should trust for recommendations and, just because a source read a book after I did doesn’t mean I shouldn’t trust them for future recommendations. Their taste still aligns with mine!

      So…here’s what I do step by step:
      1) Add a book I’m interested in to my email draft – and any rec sources I already have for that book.
      2) Keep an eye out on Goodreads, IG, and podcasts / blogs for others who end up liking that book. Add them to my email draft as I see them.
      3) At the end of each month, I enter all my rec sources for that month’s books into my tracker. At that time, I also check the Read it Forward Favorites of the Month and Amazon Best of the Month lists and add them as rec sources to any of my books that are on the lists.
      4) Quarterly (when I do my quarterly recommendation source blog post), I fill in the recommendation sources Summary Chart in my tracker.
      5) I usually don’t add anymore rec sources for a book after my quarterly Summary Chart update.

      So, I guess I kind of batch things…

      I’m considering doing a podcast episode where I walk through how I personally use the tracker. Some have asked for that. It would probably be a patrons only episode. Would you be interested in that?

      Posted 1.5.20 Reply
      • JanB wrote:

        Sarah, yes I’d love a podcast episode on the tracker!
        Also, thanks for sharing how you track recommendation sources. That makes so much more sense and doesn’t rely on my faulty memory as to who liked or didn’t like a book that I’d already read. So my trusted sources info wasn’t helpful.

        I’ll start doing it this way. Thanks so much!

        Also I got busy and forgot to answer your question on a previous episode. I’d definitely enjoy a Sarah only episode where you talk about what you’ve read. Great idea!

        Posted 1.5.20 Reply
  2. Erin wrote:

    I love looking at stats! Sarah – how do you remember your recommendation sources? Sometimes I can vaguely remember that someone talked about a book on a podcast or maybe I saw it in a Facebook group, then I add it to my Goodreads list. By the time I read some of them, I can’t remember where I heard about them from.

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Great question!
      I keep an email saved in my draft folder with all the ARCs / books I have or are interested in reading – organized by publication date. That’s where I quickly note recommendation sources as I come across them on IG, Goodreads, blogs, podcasts, etc. It enables me to make a quick note anywhere…since I don’t always have access to my spreadsheet. Then I go back later and add them into my tracker.
      You could also use a notes app on your phone. I think it’s just key to have a place to jot down a note in the moment wherever you are.

      Posted 1.5.20 Reply
  3. Wow! Your end of year stats are amazing….college level compared to mine, stuck in middle school! Seriously, I’m glad you had such a great reading year and that you’ve honed down the way you select books to a system that really works for you. I’m also going to pay more attention to the imprints I read most this year.

    The Tracker REALLY helped me put my end of year post together, so thank you for that. Here’s to another great year of reading and talking about books!

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
  4. Holly wrote:

    So interesting! This was my first year using your tracker and it was great. I learned quite a bit about my reading tastes, preferred publishers, and it gave me some things to focus on for my reading goals in 2020.

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
  5. Amanda wrote:

    Another great year of reading! I’m a ruthless DNFer, so I love that you’re honest about what you read and what you just have to put down. I introduced my book club to your blog — specifically the summer and holiday reading lists — and we’re pretty much picking everything we read from there!

    Also, I’m excited to see what you do with more backlist books in 2020. 🙂

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thank you so much! Thrilled you’ve got your book club reading the blog!

      Posted 1.5.20 Reply
  6. rwrmusin wrote:

    I’m always interested in your stats breakdown! I need to be better about tracking my recommendation sources…..I’m just not very good at that. Last year, you had a tracker for Best of Lists and which lists aligned most with a person’s reading tastes……any chance you are doing that again because that was totally informative for me!

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      I decided not to do the Best of lists tracker this year…it was a TON of work to keep track of all the lists coming out and enter the books into my tracker. With the podcast now, I just didn’t have time this year!! So sorry!

      If you’re dying for it, you can download last year’s and just update all the books to this year’s lists.

      Posted 1.5.20 Reply
  7. Wow, you keep track of a lot of stats. I love your graphic. I’ll eventually do a stats post on my blog, but it won’t be this pretty. Happy 2020! Good luck with your goals.

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
  8. Suz N wrote:

    Sarah, Do your podcast stats only count if an episode is downloaded? I ask because I often listen, but rarely download.

    Posted 12.31.19 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Great question – let me look into it. I do know that different hosts (who track stats) define downloads differently. However, I do know that if you do download, it saves you some data usage! If you stream it directly without downloading, you’re using data that entire time!

      Posted 1.5.20 Reply
  9. Lisa wrote:

    I love these posts. Great geeky reading stuff.

    Posted 1.1.20 Reply
  10. Beth F wrote:

    I always like see people’s book stats, though I don’t keep them myself.

    Posted 1.3.20 Reply
  11. Catherine wrote:

    Wow Sarah, you are the data mining queen! I haven’t done anything with my stats yet, which is really embarrassing.

    I’m flattered that people like our preview episodes so much. Hopefully, I’ll be able to keep increasing my positive picks numbers!

    My stat that will mean the most to you: I now read more e-ARCs than print. 54%! For backlist and debuts I read 30% each which I’m happy about. I loved reading so much backlist in Nov/Dec. A new stat that I found really interesting is that 65% of my reading this year was new-to-me authors. That makes me happy.

    Posted 1.5.20 Reply
  12. Love the new logo and theme!

    I DNF’d lots of books this year! I used to never DNF, but after reading your thoughts on the topic I made the jump. I couldn’t be happier.

    Posted 1.8.20 Reply
    • Sarah Dickinson wrote:

      Thank you! Congrats on jumping on the DNF bandwagon!

      Posted 1.9.20 Reply
  13. This post has inspired me to do a post on my stats too 🙂 I love looking at people’s stats. Have a great year!

    EMILY THE BOOK NERD
    emilythebooknerdxo.blogspot.com

    Posted 1.9.20 Reply
  14. DoingDewey wrote:

    I also am easily distracted by shiny new books! I’m still working on my stats from last year, but I’d be surprised if I’d read any more backlist books than you.

    I wonder if your podcast downloads could just reflect some people having more time in the summer. I’m not sure 🙂

    Posted 1.13.20 Reply

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