Thursday, 1 September 2011

How well is your book doing on Amazon? Marketing Guru tips!

Are you happy about your book's sales figures on Amazon? 
Did you self-publish or did you clinch a publisher contract? 
Either way, Amazon sales can cause your heart to blip for two reasons: great or lousy sales figures. 

I'm amazed my historical novella is selling so well as it is with so few reviews. It is, after all, only a novella. No one in the blogosphere has made mention of it so I'm guessing (a) they haven't bought it, or (b) didn't like it. Have I begged other bloggers to buy it? NO! Have I begged for reviews? NO! I've made mention of it in passing, nothing more. It's advertised on my blog, and I gather few people notice what is in a sidebar. So, "Her Favoured Captain" is reliant on the few who do notice sidebar content, and those whom browse Amazon looking for historical romances.  

Now, here's a funny thing, the times I've had someone say in a private e-mail, I've bought loads of books by fellow bloggers to support them, posted reviews to Amazon, and some couldn't even be bothered to say thank you. I think I may have said that, too, on occasion. Yeah, well, that pretty much sums up the "self, self, self" promotion junkies. It's kind of interesting to see who reciprocates and who doesn't on the blogsphere re marketing of books. 

So. Do glowing reviews sell your book? Good question. 
Some authors say yes, of course it matters how many reviews I get. It's what sells my book. 
But, is that really the case? 

Take the next piece in what ever way you like, but there's more than a ring of truth to it.

A short while ago I was reading a piece by a marketing guru on one of Amazon's own forums: to do with marketing books on blogs and other social media outlets. This marketing guru pointed out that too many reviews of your book on Amazon etc., (basically overt glowing reviews by fellow authors, friends & family) can put off the general reading public. In that, very few readers out of millions of people who shop at Amazon and other on-line retail outlets will bother to return to post a review, unless they hated the book and have a grievance about content, or they're an out and out fan of a particular author! The majority of shoppers return to buy more books. He stated, when Joe or Josephine Public discovers a long list of reviews it means nothing to them, and often as not a book's sales slow considerably once sales to friends and family etc,. have ceased. Meaning, Joe & Josephine Public suspect it to be a hyped book and tend to avoid it. 

The guru further claimed personal recommendation has more clout, i.e, someone mentions in passing at work "I really loved this book" or "I bought this yesterday and couldn't put it down".  What he was effectively saying, is that reviews on Amazon are impersonal to Joe & Josephine Public but do provide authors with sense of feel-good-factor on the basis that their friends, family and circle of fellow authors love them. Which of the former do you prefer, mere sales to family friends and close fellow authors, or that of Joe & Josephine Public? Bear in mind the former might reach a thousand sales, the latter beyond your wildest dreams!  

Food for thought?

I'm thinking short short short reviews, i.e. "I bought this and couldn't put it down" and "Ooh, it kept me turning the pages" type of review. Perhaps, much better than the *long-winded* variety that often as not reveals the plot and blows the suspense that might otherwise have existed whilst reading the darn thing. I tend to ignore reviews and go by a book's blurb, and yeah, too many reviews set my lovey alert button off big time. If the blurb is well-written and well-presented it's the make or break of a sale for moi!


Dora Hiers said...

Great post, Francine. I totally agree with you. I don't pay much attention to reviews when I'm buying a book, rather I buy off the blurb. Even if it's an author I love to read, if I don't like the blurb, I won't buy the book.

As an author, I recognize and accept that I'll receive good and bad reviews online. But, I'm with you. I'd so much rather someone tell their friend over lunch or coffee how much they enjoyed my work. I think it goes a lot further.

Thanks for sharing.

Anne Gallagher said...

Truthfully, I hadn't given much thought to reviews at all. A good one, I suppose would be nice. But I like the idea of simple is better. "Couldn't put it down" would do my ego a world of good, far more than a long dissertation of the novels merits.

Great post, Francine. Always making me think.

Ruth Hartman Berge said...

I tend to think if there are tons of reviews of something, it's the author and/or friends and family. I'll read one or two and also one or two of the negative ones (if there are any). But the main thing I choose a book for is the synopsis of the plot. I know what I like and if something is in that broad spectrum, I'll pick it up. Good luck with your newest!

Anonymous said...

Excellent post! As a reader I rarely look at the reviews on bookseller sites. As a writer I haven't gotten to the point where it's a factor. You've given me some things to mull over. Cheers.

Sarah Allan said...

Those are some interesting points. I love to read, but I rarely post reviews. As a pre-published author, I know I'd appreciate getting them on Amazon or wherever my future book/books are sold. When I do read reviews for books, it's mostly to look at the star rating, and to see the "short and sweet" ones to get an idea of what the book was like to read. After all, I'm already looking at the product to begin with. Thank you for a great post!

Madeleine said...

Here here! I want to read the synopsis and whether the person enjoyed it. I don'd want a stream of long-winded reviews with spoilers!

Good points.

Francine Howarth said...

Hi Ladies,

Sorry for the long-winded post! ;)

Glad, though, that we're all on the same wavelength re synopsis/blurb/premise sufficient info!


Cindy M Hogan author of Watched said...

Love this post! Thanks. I've been thinking about this a lot lately.

Claire Robyns said...

I only pay attention to reviews of bloggers who I've followed long enough to get a sense of their taste. Otherwise a good or bad review means little as one book can be loved or hated depending on the kind of books you enjoy.

Ruth Madison said...

It's tricky. I want people to read my books because they are the audience for my books. I feel uncomfortable when fellow writers buy and read my book to be nice and then I feel guilty if I don't do the same thing back. A mutual exchange might be a good idea. I just feel awful that I can't buy and review books from every single other author I know. I try, but I can't keep up! And many times they are not writing my kind of book and I don't know what to do with the review because I wasn't the right audience for it. :(

So, for me, I say: don't buy my book unless you actually really want to read my book! And I'll do the same.

Kiru Taye said...

I have to confess I'm one of those people that gets put of by too many long reviews on a book. I don't read them. I generally skip to the short review or look out for the poorly rated review amongst all the glowing ones.

As a general rule I don't write long reviews on books either. For me, its more important to sell books, so whatever keeps the readers buying a book is great.