Annotating and Having Fun With Data

By Everaldo Coelho (YellowIcon) [LGPL (], via Wikimedia Commons

By Everaldo Coelho (YellowIcon) [LGPL (, via Wikimedia Commons

Being able to share data in a number of different ways is one of the perks of living in the digital age. Warning: this post is for the fellow geeks out there.

Annotation Online

I’ll start with sharing some cool annotation tools. According to Library Journal:

Web annotations are an attempt to recreate and extend that functionality as a new layer of interactivity and linking on top of the Web. It will allow anyone to annotate anything anywhere, be it a web page, an ebook, a video, an image, an audio stream, or data in raw or visualized form. Web annotations can be linked, shared between services, tracked back to their origins, searched and discovered, and stored wherever the author wishes; the vision is for a decentralized and open annotation infrastructure.

One way to annotate on the web is by using, which lets you “annotate with anyone, anywhere.” All you need to do is install a Chrome plugin, and you’re good to go. The idea is to make it easy to have discussions about anything online.

Annotation Studio, which is being developed by MIT, is another great example. You can use their tools to create group discussions, organize research, and link to images and video.

There’s also Infinite Ulysses, a project that lets readers make annotations on the book Ulysses. They can also filter notes, comment on notes, highlight, and more.

Displaying Data Interactively

Now on to tools to help you display all sorts of data in cool ways (perfect for non-programmers). First up is Cloud Stitch, which lets you “power your website with Google Docs.” If you know how to input data into a Google doc spreadsheet, you can create an interactive site. If you only have three projects under 100 MB, you can use Cloud Stitch free. An example of what you can do include adding Google maps to a story.

Next up is EditData and Flatsheet (the two work together). EditData lives on Github, and is a simpler version of Flatsheet. Flatsheet is a “realtime editor for curating data.” The project is open source, and the use case example on the website is a map that shows a Seattle non-profit’s “locations of art installed in empty storefronts around the South Lake Union neighborhood of Seattle, WA.” Employees at the non-profit, who are not technical, can  “update artist profiles, and the map markers are positioned using the lat/long values from each row in the sheet.”

For more examples of interactive, digital annotations, read The New York Times’ “Skills and Strategies | Annotating to Engage, Analyze, Connect and Create.

Know of any cool tools? Please share in the comments!

Indie Author Marketing: Analyzing Facebook and Twitter

I’m a big fan of data. I love reading about all the ways people are gathering analytics on books, how data helps drive decisions, and being able to know how effective people are at reaching out to others.

And that’s why for the past month or two, I’ve really enjoyed getting to know Facebook and Twitter. I’ve known these platforms for a while—Facebook was only one year old when I joined in college (back when only people with college email addresses were allowed to use it) and according to my Twitter profile I joined in April 2009.

And though I’ve been using both platforms for my author platform, it wasn’t until this year that I decided to take my platform building more seriously. So, I’ve installed Google page analytics on all my blogs and websites, though it’s still too early for me to figure out how that best works for me, and I’ve been paying close attention to engagement metrics on my Facebook and Twitter accounts.

I have two official Facebook pages and two Twitter accounts. Here’s how it breaks down: Continue reading

Indie Authors: Gathering Data and Marketing Your Work

You may already know, but I’m a big fan of data. It’s so useful, and can help streamline and make book marketing so much more effective, among other things.

One great way to collect data is to do surveys. One great example of how survey data pays off is musician Jim Bianco’s album, Cookie Cutter. NPR reported that all 17 songs were inspired by a fan who filled out his 69 question survey. Fans shared intimate answers, and Bianco got back “stories about reunited lovers, runaway pets, ballerinas, brain cancer survivors, Jesus Christ and — everyone’s favorite — death.” Continue reading

Indie Authors: Tracking Book Sales

Earning a living as an indie author is very difficult. There are no advances, and books compete with well-known authors as well as other forms of entertainment, such as movies, TV shows, and music.

A couple years ago, many people claimed that most self-published authors earned less than $250 (even only a few traditionally published authors sell enough books to be rich). Now, more people are claiming that indie authors are often much more successful. Continue reading