Sketch Request Frequency and Transit Time Analysis for the Special Editions of Wasted Talent: Welcome to the Real World
Let's have fun with this data I've got lying around!
In March of 2012, I launched my second book: Welcome to the Real World. As part of the launch, I offered 300 "special editions" of the book, which included a custom drawing.
In order to make life easy for my readers while still generating somewhat unique sketch ideas, the order form included three customization fields.
The character field included characters from the comic. The comic is about Jam and I definitely expected that to be the most common request, but I wanted to give people a chance to request a different character. (Believe it or not I do get sick of drawing myself!)
Prompt #1 was meant to be an "action" prompt. These are themes that are common in the comic, so it's a way for the reader to choose their favourite aspect.
- Character's Choice Beverage (for Jam this would usually be coffee or tea - occasionally beer, for Trevor: Coke)
- Psychotic Squirrel
- Silly Hat
- Delicious Snacks
- Being Silly
Prompt #2 was meant mostly as an "environment" prompt. The four weather bits indicate the season, which informs the type of outfit the sketch would feature.
- Urban (City Setting)
* I wanted the prompt fields to have an equal number of options, but I ran out of settings and had one space left. On a whim I decided to add "Kittens!" to the end of the list. I don't have a cat, but I really like them and I enjoy drawing them, so I figured: why not! I really didn't know what I was getting in for.
CHART 1: Sketch Requests
As you can see, Jam was far and away the most frequently requested character, which was not a surprise to me. Trevor (my husband, the second most-frequently featured character in the comic) clocked in at a healthy 9%. The most popular theme prompt was "Being Silly", closely followed by "Psychotic Squirrels". The least popular was "Sports" which, again... I think surprises no one. But I really did enjoy the sports-themed drawings I made! The urban setting was very popular, and winter (snow) was the most popular season.
And then there were the kittens. Over 1/3 of the requests included kittens. Which, again, I didn't mind but I really didn't expect! On average I drew three kittens per kitten request, meaning that during the course of this project I drew approximately 333 kittens. That's a lot! That's a lot of kittens, my gosh.
Some further analysis on the kittens shows that "Being Silly" with kittens was BY FAR the most popular sketch request. I had to come up with some very innovative ways to "be silly" with kittens by the end of this. Mashups of Kittens and Squirrels were also very popular.
Transit Time Analysis
I shipped these books as they were finished over the course of 5 or 6 weeks. The shipping date was recorded for all orders. Books were shipped through Canada Post using their "surface" option. Now, Canada Post is not known for their predictability. The postal standards for surface parcels, as is publicly available, is listed below:
CANADA: up to 9 business days
USA: up to 6 business days
International:up to 6 weeks
Many of my readers would tweet or email me to let them know that their order had arrived safely. I recorded the "received" date for those who did report, 46 orders in total (a little over 15% of the books I shipped) All of this data is self-reported.
Distance from Vancouver, BC (in km) was calculated using this website: http://www.mapcrow.info/
And the transit time (business days only) was calculated using this site:
CHART 2: TRANSIT TIME
I've outlined four different areas: West Coast, East Coast, Europe and Australia. The trend line, as you can see, does not have a very good correlation value, which demonstrates how variable shipping times can be.
Most parcels to the West Coast arrived within a week. Most East Coast parcels also arrived within their 6-day estimate. The majority of these parcels are in the United States, and I've found that once you get the parcel in the hands of the Americans, they are very reliable about getting it to their destination. Lots of shipping centers and dense populations make East Coast deliveries much simper, I imagine. For this reason, Americans tend to be the most anxious when their parcels experience slight delays... they're so used to having a reliable postal service! We aren't so lucky in the rest of the world...
The European band of orders shows how unpredictable the delivery estimates are. A couple arrived within a week or two, which verifies my theory that - even though I only paid for "surface", they occasionally will throw a package onto a plane if it's convenient. As for the rest of the parcels, I honestly have no idea how they get it across the pond, but it usually takes four weeks before it lands on the continent.
After that... who knows. Maybe it gets hung up in customs. Maybe it gets put on a bunch of trains... but most European packages took six or seven weeks to arrive. Some took as long as nine weeks!! But very few of these packages were (thus far as reported) fully lost. They got there.......eventually.
The last band of orders is the Australians. I hear a lot from Australians who want my book, but are reluctant to order it for reasons that should be pretty obvious from this chart. (Australian orders are also the most expensive to ship). I sympathize. I really, really do. I wish there was a better way. Even though Canada Post's official estimate is six weeks, the true estimate that they'll tell in you in the stores is two months. Which is ludicrous, but true according to this data. Sorry, Australia :(
- Everybody loves kittens!
- I still hate the Post.
- This is why I normally ship from the USA (and thus can't offer signed products)
I know that paying high rates for shipping and waiting so long for a book is frustrating. It doesn't frustrate anyone more than me. This is the thing that gets me the most excited about ebooks. I love real books (LOVE) but it's nice that I can finally provide SOME common experience to people around the world without forcing my foreign readers to pay astonishingly high shipping rates for delivery times that I consider below mediocre.
I have a new plan that I'm going to be testing out for book 3 (tentatively scheduled to launch October 2013), so we'll see how that goes! In the meantime, thanks again for your tremendous support of the book, making the artist editions was a lot of fun :) (sponsors now have access to a gallery where you can see all the book sketches I did!)