Mike Ault's thoughts on various topics, Oracle related and not. Note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are not contributing to the overall theme of the BLOG or are insulting or demeaning to anyone. The posts on this blog are provided “as is” with no warranties and confer no rights. The opinions expressed on this site are mine and mine alone, and do not necessarily represent those of my employer.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How is publishing a successful book like Nuclear Physics?

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 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….