Many authors focus on the numbers, looking to judge the success of their book promotion efforts quantitatively, with book sales as the all-encompassing measure of success. The big prize: making the New York Times Best Seller List.

Authors ask: How many books will I sell in the first week? month? year?

In my experience, other numbers influence the sales numbers.

My hypothesis is that sales in the first week are directly related to the number of actively engaged subscribers on the author’s email list.  Also important: the directness of the ask. You won’t sell as many books if you don’t ask people to buy your book. And you need to ask more than once.

When we launch books, we put a lot of emphasis on engaging bloggers to write about and review a book — and I believe that sales are also positively correlated to buzz. Buzz leads to sales.

As my company has grown and our process have become a system, we’ve developed some fancy spreadsheets to capture and record dozens of metrics related to our book promotion efforts.

We evaluate the numbers and adjust our tactics to move toward the results we want to achieve.

I also think it is critical to look beyond the numbers and measure success qualitatively — to look beyond the numbers to the story behind the numbers.

Seth Godin calls this seeing the colors instead of the numbers and warns ” Organizations that do nothing but measure the numbers rarely create breakthroughs. Merely better numbers.”

If you are an author, I encourage you to consider the importance of both kinds of metrics, quantitative and qualitative, colors and numbers. Beyond the numbers, how will you know you’ve been successful? What are the stories you hope to create as you share your book and its message? What difference do you want to make in the world? How will you know when you’ve achieved the results you’re seeking?

Tell me something! Where do you look — beyond the numbers — to measure your success?