One of the most common questions we get at Target Audience Insights is: “What’s the ROI? How do we know your products are worth the cost?”

It’s a fair question. Sure, reader feedback sounds helpful, but when the publishing industry has functioned for years without it, why add another line item to the budget?

The short answer is this: qualitative and quantitative reader feedback can shape key editorial and marketing decisions that make the difference between a book flying off the shelves or flopping and being forgotten. The potential profits to be gained far outweigh the costs.

Take TAI’s flagship product, the Target Reader Manuscript Analysis (TRMA). Here, 12–20+ readers—all within a book’s target market demographic—read a pre-publication manuscript and fill out an extensive survey gauging their thoughts on what worked and didn’t work in three key areas: Substance/Story, Structure, and Sound. Next, our analysts identify patterns in the qualitative reader feedback data and write a detailed report that offers in-depth insights on how to make the book better in each area.

In one recent non-fiction TRMA, readers described several passages in which the author came across as arrogant, “braggy,” and self-serving—a perception which negatively impacted their otherwise positive experience of the book. In others, readers have identified issues with boring beginnings, confusing character arcs, and inconsistent dialogue that kept them from being caught up in the narrative. All of these issues, if left unidentified and unfixed, could have significantly impacted their book’s performance.

Over and over again, these reports have yielded valuable, data-driven insights that have resulted in significant changes being made in a manuscript—changes that have made for stronger books, better public reception, and higher sales.

Sounds great, right? But how many extra books do you need to sell to pay for a TRMA?

Assuming a $28 MSRP at a 50% channel discount, where the publisher would make $14 for every book sold, you would only have to sell just 246 additional books to cover the cost of a 20+ reader TRMA.

Other TAI products have even lower sales thresholds to pay for themselves.

The Target Reader Interest Score (TRIS), a quantitative report that gauges the level of interest and intent to purchase from 200+ target readers, only needs to sell 139 additional books to pay for itself. Similar data tools that gauge reader interest in title and cover options need only spur the sale of 89 additional books to pay for themselves.

Quantitative and qualitative reader feedback can help publishers pick winning book concepts, make smarter editing decisions, and choose titles and covers that resonate with readers. When the potential Return on Feedback is fully reckoned, can you afford to not harness the power of data?

Service Fee Additional Sales
Needed To Cover Costs
Target Reader Manuscript Analysis – 12 Readers $3,450  246 Books
Target Reader Manuscript Analysis – 20 Readers $4,750  339 Books
Target Reader Interest Score $1,950  139 Books
Target Reader Title Optimization $1,250  89 Books
Target Reader Cover Optimization $1,250  89 Books
Target Reader Marketing Optimization $1,950  139 Books