Can Everton Jones find out how his father stole Emperor Bokassa’s diamonds and, more importantly, where he hid them; before the world and his brother get there first?
Click on the picture link in the sidebar to read an extract of my first novel, which was published by Paradise Press in August 2012.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Talent Spotting.

I think I have now understood the Talent Spotter Rating (or TSR) on authonomy following the rule changes. It has taken a long time to fathom. The first and most obvious thing to consider is that the number of points a book gains depends on the TSR of the person who has put it on their shelf. So, a backing from an unranked member counts for nothing. Equally, putting your own book on your shelf will only waste a space. Two days ago, I put “Seattle Strange” on my shelf, as I liked it, thought it well written and thought it had the potential to do well. It had only three backers at that time. But one of them had a TSR of 27, one was at 700 and mine was 779 at the time. Competing for the slot on my shelf was “The King of the Mutants”. This was a really zany story, not quite as well written and had a number of errors, was nowhere near as profane or rude as “Seattle” but, on the plus side, would appeal to kids. The clincher, in deciding which of the two to back was that, although fifteen members had “Mutant” on their shelves, none of these had any significant TSR (oh and nine of those fifteen were sock puppets, see below). Outcome? This morning, “Seattle” has gone up to 2964, whereas “Mutant” has risen only up to 3519. (Remember, we’re counting down from the top, so low numbers mean a higher rank). See, it’s the strength of the backing which counts, not the number of shelves. Incidentally, the easiest way to find out who has a particular book on their shelf is to mouse over the text which says “on X bookshelves” (under the tag cloud on the right of the book's page) and click on the link.

So TSR is far from unimportant. My backing will not be sought-after if my TSR is poor. So to my absolute horror, my TSR, plunged from 995 to 3986 on November 29th , and fell to a low point of 4021 on December 1st. Nor was I alone, many other users suffered the same fate. Authonomy provided the explanation that points accrued towards TSR are erased after 30 days. They said I must have lost some of those. Well, that’s a worry. It means I have permanently to devote my effort to spotting winners or else resign myself to a poor TSR.

I also remember, when I first registered, that it took a while for my TSR to have a rating. For some time it just said “not yet ranked” under my profile picture. I can only think that you need to back a lot of books before getting a rating.

Now, authonomy says that the number of points which I earn for having a book on my shelf at midnight depends on how close to the bottom the book was when I put it on my shelf, how far up it has gone since I have left it there and how close to the top it is at the time. The trick is, therefore, to find a book near the very bottom, with potential to do well (i.e. it is a “good” book) and leave it on my shelf for as long as possible. So that’s what I did. I looked at the newly posted books. (The easiest way to do this is to click the “community” link and then look at the “latest authors” pane.) I quickly found “Sally and Jack”, which had acquired a large number of backings in just two days. Examining these was interesting. Quite a large number of them were “sock puppets” (duplicate accounts created in an attempt to cheat the system). It is quite impossible to know who created them, so I am very definitely not saying that they were created by the author. Most likely they have been created by others who thought, like me, that this book was going to rise rapidly and gain their sock puppet a good TSR. But what they have not taken into account is that they need to have a rating first. Anyhow, the book has done extremely well, is now on 14 excellently rated shelves as well as those of those parasitic sock puppets and has risen to 295 and still going strong, though its rate of rise has slowed now it is nearer the top. Along with “Leaving Deally” (15 good shelves) these two books on my shelf has seen my TSR rise to the giddy heights of 492 at a rate of 200 or so each day. Today I “only” went up by 115, but then I’ve put another low rated book up, so perhaps that is why?

I would have thought that the number of points I earned from these books should have increased as the book went up in the chart. However the rise in my TSR has been almost exactly linear over the whole period, which is very perplexing.

One issue is that, as far as I can see, I gain TSR points on the day I put a book on my shelf, whereas the book itself only gains points after 24 hours on my shelf (i.e. at midnight the next day). This means that if a book has gained a large number of backings on the day it is listed I have until midnight the day after to back it before its ranking begins to benefit from those initial backings. This is a useful “buffer” period for me to see if the book is going to take off or not.

The next thing to figure out is the much more difficult task of persuading people to put my book on a good shelf and then leave it there.

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