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10.24.2012

Even a Bad Review for Your Book Will Make People Want to Read it!

Cartoonists like to debate
Cartoonists like to debate (Photo credit: aaipodpics) and so do writers!
That book reviews boost sales is conventional wisdom. Authors are always on the look out for reviews and when bad ones roll in they are (often) desperate.

Should you worry over a bad review? Will it hurt your sales and kill your baby, I mean your book? Authors have seen a drop in sales as a result of it.

Or so they claim.

Amazon's director of author and publisher relations, Jon Fine begged to disagree at the recent Digital Book World conference on Book Discoverability and Marketing, held in New York. He started out by listing many interesting things about the buzz that makes your books sell, spelling out for his audience of hundreds of book marketers the top three ways they could make sure to get the most out of Amazon:
(1) availability of the book: a quality e-book including in print,
(2) metadata: meaning everything that helps sell your book online, including a catchy cover and relevant keywords/tags,
(3) improved author pages: including video links etc and giving support to authors, sharing sales data with them so that they can make informed marketing decisions.

Then he said something that was truly arresting: a greater volume of reader reviews is more valuable, he told the audience than a small number of reviews with more stars.“On our site, the more people are talking about your book the better,” said Fine. “Even a bad review will make people want to read your book.”

Say that again?

Bad reviews will sell my book?

Okay, I'm going to try a little experiment here. I recently got 3 reviews for my A HOOK IN THE SKY (they're on Readers Favorite, not up yet on the Amazon site - it takes a little time to upload...). Just giving you the evaluation paragraph (for info about the book, go to the page tab under the blog title). Tell me which you like best and makes you want to look at the book (I'm not saying buy it, more modestly: just take a look):

5* review: ..."Hook in the Sky" is a deeply thoughtful story of one man's life and how he comes to peace with his mission in life. Main character Robert is a longtime humanitarian worker and a gifted artist, but he and his art work never quite fit in with the designs of those around him, his wife Kay, longtime friend Natasha and her daughter Nour. All the characters in "Hook in the Sky" are well-created, the dialogue between and among characters is authentic, and the plot line flows believably to the end...

4* review: ...Robert is a very complex person, not entirely sympathetic but always well intentioned and generous, but this is a novel of prickly, difficult characters. They are convincingly portrayed and their interactions are inevitable given the personalities at play. There is an interesting, somewhat quirky plot, centred on art and the novel provides some interesting discussion of genres of art. It’s unpredictable which adds extra interest to this well written and entertaining book. It is set in France, New York and Italy and the settings are atmospheric and beautifully created. 

2* review: ...Although the book has fascinating details about the art world, museums and relationships, I found this a challenging read. I found Robert self-absorbed, self-indulgent and devoid of engaging personality. All his new pursuits become baggage he would rather do without and yet he continues to follow his wants – never quite finding the utopia of his dreams. The characters become very real through the story as Claude describes each one meticulously and you sense you really know them. I personally found the read almost depressing as I waited for Robert to find the happiness he longs for...

The 2*star reviewer quite clearly is exasperated by Robert, at the end she even adds a note directly to me, saying. "Your attention to detail is worth much merit, however I found the Robert character very self-centred and selfish - I became more and more angry with him as I read. He had so much and yet 'missed it' with his ego-centred thinking."

I thought that was amazing: this person got so upset by my protagonist that she gave my book a low 2*! Personally, I take it as a compliment: I had made Robert so real for her that she couldn't bear him. But would such a rating (and criticism) make you want to buy the book or reject it?
 
Tell me if I shot myself in the foot by sharing this information...I'd love to have your opinion in the comments below but I'm providing a poll to make it easy for you to answer:

Which Review Made You Want to Read the Book?
  
pollcode.com free polls 


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