You are probably looking at this title and wondering what
the heck I am talking about. Let me explain. When I was in the Navy I was a
Nuke, that meant we attended 2 years of training where a $20K dollar (in 1973
dollars) education was shoved where the sun don’t shine one nickel at a time.
In that training we learned nuclear physics, chemistry, electrical theory,
fluid dynamics and heat transfer, in short, anything they thought we would need
to run a nuclear power plant on a Navy ship.

One of the classes was nuclear physics in this class we
learned about the nuclear multiplication formula. Now I don’t have fancy
formula rendering software but here is what this formula looked like:

K=N*F*P*e*Pth*Pf

Where:

K is the multiplication factor

N is the thermal neutron production from fission

F is the probability that an absorbed neutron is absorbed in
fuel

P is the fraction of neutrons that slow down to thermal
energies without getting absorbed

e is the fast fission factor (ratio of total neutrons
produced to total neutrons from thermal fission

Pth is the thermal neutron non-leakage factor

Pf is the fast neutron non-leakage factor

If K is less than 1 then the reactor is sub critical and if
it equals 1 then the reactor is steady state and critical and if it is greater
than 1 then the reactor is super-critical and power is increasing.

So…what the heck does this have to do with selling a book
successfully? Well, let’s re name the terms of the equation a bit:

K = Chance that book will succeed

N is the number of books sent out/given away/available to
the public

F is the probability a book will reach someone who will read
it

P is the percentage of books that never get read

e is the total number of books read in the first week they
are purchased over the total number of books read within the first month after
they are sold

Pth is the ratio of books read within the last month that
result in an additional sale

Pf is the ratio of books read within the last week that
result in an additional sale

So, if a lot of books are given away/sent out/sold initially
but none of them result in new sales (Pth and Pf are near zero) then the book won’t
make it. As long as each book put into someone’s hands generates more than 1
additional sale each the book should be successful. If K=1 then the book will
have steady sales, but not spectacular, if it is less than 1 the book is dead
and greater than 1 then the sales are accelerating and the book is successful.

Ok, so it has been a slow day, see what happens when you
have too many things stuffed in your head and your idle brain starts making
connections….