Tamraparni Dasu | Uncategorized
Tamraparni Dasu is an Indian American writer and published author. Her new book, Spy Interrupted, The Waiting Wife, was just released. It is the first in a trilogy.
Tamraparni Dasu, writer, author, published, Spy Interrupted, The Waiting Wife, India,
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Uncategorized

All that sexy data

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It is no secret that I am addicted to data. I love numbers almost as much as I love writing. These days even political campaigns and nonprofit foundations are all agog about using “data science”. In fact, Paul Rudnick wrote in 2012 that statisticians were the new sexy vampires. So, in the spirit of the Age of Data, I thought I’d spice up my writing career through some thoroughly unscientific experiments with data.

***Disclaimer: The discussion in this blog post is based solely on the study of my website Tamraparni Dasu and my Facebook author site, and cannot be generalized. 

Typically, after the initial burst of energy that accompanies a book release, things get alarmingly quiet. If you are not Salman Rushdie or Jonathan Franzen, your book will wither and fade and ultimately go to rest in the graveyard of books. Unless you keep giving it little vitamin shots, which by the way, are not guaranteed to keep it breathing. The hope is that you keep it limping along until your next book comes along and it’s buzz will drag along the earlier book and so on until you make it to the New York Times’ best seller list. Easy!

The two-part question, therefore, is, what are these vitamin shots and how do we measure their effectiveness?

A vitamin shot is any action that could potentially increase the number of people who know about your book. Publicizing your book is the only thing you can control–you can’t make people buy your book, nor can you make them read it. Author events at libraries and book stores, articles in magazines and newspapers are real world actions; online giveaways, discounts, posting to social media networks, getting mentioned in popular blogs are online actions. And of course, getting picked up by a book club like Oprah’s is the ultimate vitamin shot that gives you and your book eternal life.

A vitamin shot is effective if it drives traffic to your website because the number of visits to your website is a proxy for the number of people that now “know” about your book. Facebook Insights, Google Analytics and almost all website hosting services provide ways of tracking traffic through your website. They grab “eyeballs” that wander over to your website and categorize and count them by time of day, day of week, age, gender, location, referring websites, and how long they perused your website and which pages on your site they spent most time on. In general, all data are anonymized and aggregated so that no personal information is revealed.

When I started examining the data provided by Facebook Insights and Google Analytics, there were two things that surprised me. First, a lot of traffic comes from websites ending in “dot ru”, scam sites based in Russia, presumably. Do they, as a matter of principle, trawl every website on the Internet (probably!), or was there something particularly alluring about my website? Second, my most popular post BY FAR, was A Thinking Woman’s Spy and I still can’t figure out why. Was it the pretty flower? Did the international spy community suddenly take an interest? Or was it the use of the words “thinking” and “woman”, that too in the same sentence? Very curious.

In my next post, I will describe some of my other experiments.

(***I would like to give a shout out to my friend and writer,  Spencer Seidel, for getting me thinking along these lines; also, to Tara Sarath, for suggesting that I should post on this subject.)

 

 

 

 

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Gabo’s women

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Ever wonder what makes Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s love stories so compelling? It’s the women. They are powerful-sometimes ornery, sometimes sweet, practical at times but infatuated to the point of madness at others, always strong and enduring, even in death.

The heroine of Spy, Interrupted: The Waiting Wife shares some of those traits. Granted, she is more cautious and even-keeled, but these traits seem to desert her when she meets Stephen Edward James. Like Gabo’s heroines, once she falls in love, she follows her heart through some pretty trying times. That’s not an easy feat, given her lover’s volatile temperament and general moodiness. She argues with him, fights with him, throws tantrums and even threatens to walk away, but through it all, he and she both know that they have an undying affection and respect for each other. By the end of the novel, she helps Stephen emerge from his emotional wasteland and turn into an almost likable human being.

I wonder if they will be able to keep it going?

“Tell him yes. Even if you are dying of fear, even if you are sorry later, because whatever you do, you will be sorry all the rest of your life if you say no.” — Love in the Time of Cholera

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Fiction is liberating

Fiction offers infinite freedom. You can turn heroes into villains, wallflowers into party girls…anything is possible. I find this quite liberating–to be free of the implacable rules of mathematics and logic. Perhaps that’s why many scientists are attracted to fiction writing. Lewis Carroll, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Somerset Maugham, and more recently, Taslima Nasrin, Manil Suri and Khaled Hosseini.

What do you think? Please add to the list!

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