>Taking a little break from some freelance editing work. Randall Brown conducted some workshops at a conference for high school writers in Texas recently, and asked me for some information about how many people read SmokeLong as compared to how many people read print mags. I put together the five most viewed stories for each of the past several months. Found it pretty interesting, so I’m going to continue doing something similar each month, mostly for my own perusal. Will be interesting to see if any obvious patterns emerge over time, and perhaps this’ll help us better understand what people want to read and how we can better promote some stories that may not be getting as many reads.
Anyway, ten stories with the most views in February are:
1. Pornography by Steve Almond (Issue Nine)
2. Forks in the Road by Eve Abrams (Issue Eleven)
3. Retirement Home by Greg Ames (Issue Eleven)
4. No One Left to Care About the Fat Man by Rusty Barnes (Issue Eleven)
5. Five Fat Men in a Hot Tub by Jeff Landon (Issue Ten)
6. A Drop of Dew by Edgar Omar Avilés, translated by Toshiya A. Kamei (Issue Eleven)
7. Ice by Joseph Young (Issue Eleven)
8. The Mother’s Guide to Flight Patterns by Theresa Boyar (Issue Eleven)
9. Song of Giants by Girija Tropp (Issue Eleven)
10. Flights by Jim Tomlinson (Issue Eleven)
A few things I’ll note here, because it’s easy to make assumptions:
1. Steve Almond’s story was published on June 15. Jeff Landon’s was published September 15. All of the others were from the issue published December 15. The fact that two of the top five are older stories attests to the power of archives, something that print magazines don’t really have the capacity to exploit.
2. One might think Steve Almond’s story is up there because… well, because it’s by Steve Almond. Interestingly, though, that story was out of the top 5 a few times since it was first published. Also, his other story, “The Evening of the Dock,” is not ranked. And Stuart Dybek’s “Brisket” similarly dominated the number one spot for a while, but has since fallen out. I wouldn’t be surprised to see it come back, though, as “Pornography” has had similar fluctuations.
3. One might think Steve’s story gets such big hits because of its title. When Googling for that title, though, it doesn’t appear anywhere near the top of the search listings (surprise, surprise). There are also several other stories with similarly provocative titles that haven’t seen this sort of -ahem- exposure.
4. Steve’s story has absolutely dominated for the past three months, each time outpacing the second most viewed story by about a 4:1 ratio. But, as I mentioned, it wasn’t even in the top 5 at all for a few months. So what happened? Good question. I’ve found recent links specifically to that story on blogs, etc., but no such links going back as far as the spike in hits for Steve began. Go figure.
All of that said, one final point that I mentioned to Randall: based on the numbers of hits that stories get on SLQ, it’s more likely that a specific story on any given day will be read by at least one person than that it won’t. And that includes everything we’ve ever published, going all the way back to issue one. Pretty freaking cool, and not something that most print magazines can claim, I’d guess. The power of the internet to put literature in front of a lot of people on a long-term basis is amazing.