My Stories in Publications Have 50% Higher Views

I might no longer self-publish articles

Photo by Campaign Creators on Unsplash

I have often wondered whether it’s better to self-publish stories or submit them to a publication. I always leaned towards publications, as logic dictated that those stories should get a higher number of views.

At the end of May, I self-published a story about 9 things that will disappear from our lives. I was shocked to see it becoming my third most-viewed story of all time.

Did that mean that self-publishing wasn’t as bad as I’d thought it was? After all, I’ve seen some writers do very well with self-publishing. But that doesn’t mean they couldn’t have done even better if they submitted their stories to publications instead.

So, as usual, I decided to dig through the data.

Before I do that, I should warn you that the data has many deficiencies. This is not perfect data and it’s not meant to be a scientific study. So there’s no need for anyone to write an article about the deficiencies.

Data Deficiencies

  • The sample size is too small to be statistically significant.
  • The sample is from one writer.
  • The self-published stories are often different topics from what I usually write about, so may have fewer views simply because they’re not what my followers want to read.
  • Some of the stories counted as self-published were originally published in Coffee Times. So the data is really Self-published + Coffee Times vs. Other Publications. I’m too lazy to look through all 59 stories to see if they have the Coffee Times tag.
  • I consider quite a few of the self-published stories to be my worst ones, which means they deserve fewer views.
  • Not all publications are equal.
  • There are likely other deficiencies.

Take this for what it is. It’s one writers data from 384 stories. Take it or leave it.

The Data

Out of 384 stories published between 30 October 2021 and 12 August 2022 they were split as follows:

  • 325 were published in publications (85%)
  • 59 were self-published (15%)
  • 12 out of my 50 most-viewed stories were self-published (12%)
  • 17 out of my 50 least-viewed stories were self-published (34%)
  • Self-published stories received an average of 359 views
  • Stories in publications received an average of 539 views
  • Stories in publications got 50% more views per story

On the face of it, the data shows that I should be publishing my stories in publications.

I don’t think the outcome is clear-cut though, due to the deficiencies mentioned above.

There are also a few outliers in that data that are capable of substantially changing the results. I think these are more likely to make self-publication seem even worse though. That’s my gut feeling.

For now, I will probably restrict myself to publishing in publications. One of the reasons I sometimes self-publish is so that I don’t have to wait for my stories to get published. I don’t think that is a good enough reason to do it. Instead, I should plan my story schedule more efficiently.

If I know that certain publications take a few days to publish, I should build that into my system.

Have you analyzed your data to see if your get higher or lower views from self-published articles?

In a future article, I will compare my story views across the different publications I’ve submitted my stories to. I need to be submitting stories to the publications that give me the best chance of getting more views.

I already have a sense that some publications aren’t working as well as they used to. I’ve been more than a little lazy when it comes to searching for new publications that may suit my writing better.

I also have plans to do an in-depth analysis on 20–30 suitable publications that I can use going forward.

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