An interesting thought regarding reviews

19 October 2016 15:00

My first blog post since August, and it’s not going to be a long one. I’ve pretty much abandoned my earlier blog schedule, though the reasons for my lack of posts are somewhat varied, but I had some time to spare and really wanted to write down some thoughts I’ve been having for a few days. Mind you, these ideas are based off things I’ve read on KBoards, and I’m ashamed to admit that I can’t credit the people who’ve had this idea before me, other than that they’re far more active on that forum than I am, and far more successful at selling books. If I ever find the specific posts again, I’ll post links here.

When it comes to book reviews I think we can all agree that they reflect how well a book is doing. A book with lots of reviews was usually read by lots of people, and a book with overwhelmingly positive reviews was read mostly by people who liked it. Conversely: a book with overwhelmingly negative reviews was read mostly by people who didn’t like it.

While this might seem as an oversimplification, or perhaps a case of stating the obvious, there’s really quite a bit of information one can get from this. Let’s, given that the writer in question has exercised due diligence when it comes to grammar, spelling and general quality, assume that reviews are not so much a reflection of the quality of the book, but rather a reflection of how well that book fits with that particular reader. Supposing that is true, you can conclude a book with mostly positive reviews has mostly found its target audience, whereas a book with mostly negative reviews has not found its audience.

Additionally, the quantity of reviews reflects the size of the audience.

Gift of the Destroyer 32 reviews on Amazon, with a 4.2 star average and 5 star statistical mode. I would describe this book as a relatively good match with its audience, though the size of it leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Repulsion 11 reviews on Amazon, with a 3.4 star average and a 3.5 star statistical mode (there are about as many 3-star reviews as 4-star reviews). Most of the more negative reviews stated that the book did not have enough to interest them. Quantity wise, this number of reviews is way too low for a permafree book two.

The people who pick of Gift of the Destroyer mostly seem to like it, which means that the channels I use for advertising it seem to be the right ones. When it comes to Repulsion, however, I’m definitely doing something wrong. I’ve primarily been posting it on the same websites that also featured Gift of the Destroyer (though in different categories), as well as having a free review copy available on Netgalley (which should expire next month), which I can easily say has been a disaster review-wise (reviews almost universally negative, with one 5-star).

Next course of action? Continue advertising Gift of the Destroyer the way I have been, and look for different channels for Repulsion. I’m currently running an experiment with Facebook ads, targeting people who like Percy Jackson novels (a tip from one of the more positive reviewers). I’ll let you know if it works.