And first, let me just say, this is NOT an April Fool's joke.
Last week, I mentioned in my post on Responding to a Negative Review about this crazy phenomenon that is happening. Because of my bad review, I decided to check out other books in my genre and price range. And what I found is mind blowing. (And this is only on Amazon.)
Now, I have a couple of novellas that are priced at 99 cents. I also have one at $1.29, and one at $1.49. I like to stagger them this way because, well, I do. Stores use this tactic all the time. They lure you in with the cheap, then offer you another item at a slightly higher price. Then they give you the big gun at the even higher price. I call this Good, Better, Best.
Anyway, because of my bad review, I went searching to see if this reviewer had left other reviews on other books. (And no, my reviewer was not listed among any of these bad reviews.) However, in the midst of my searching I nearly had a heart attack. Because what I found time after time was that the books with the most bad reviews were ranking in the top 10. Which means they had more sales.
WTF? No seriously. W.T.F.?
Nearly every single book in the top 20 of my genre (Regency romance) in the short story category were these books with sometimes 10 or 12 bad reviews. And they were selling a lot. (You can tell how they're selling by the rank in which they hold, right under the product description.)
#607, #1,235, #58, #362. In order to have numbers like that, you have to at least, AT LEAST sell around 40-50 copies per day.
My rankings are no where near that. I hover generally, between the 25,000 - 70,000 mark. Which is good. On really good days, I get back into the teens. And I can honestly say, I don't usually go over the 100K threshold. So I'm lucky.
But after reading all this, and all the reviews, I couldn't help wonder what it was that made these books sell. ALL of the reviews, ALL OF THE REVIEWS, on ALL of the books I looked at (25 at least) were written by different people, but they all said the same thing -- bad editing, typos, crazy plot, bad characters, no research -- so my question was, why did they bother to read them? (And those that had a single five star, you know were written by the author's mother or BFF.)
I'm likening this phenomenon to a bad car crash. You know, you're cruising down the highway at 70mph and then BLAM, cops everywhere, you have to slow down, and as you drive by the wreck, you can't help but look.
So all these readers decided they HAD to read the book to see if it really was as bad as the first reviewer said it was? And this in turn prompted them to write a bad review? And so on and so forth.
There is this little thing on every book called "Look Inside". It gives you a preview of what the first few pages look like. Allows you to make an informed decision on whether or not you'll like it and then buy it. So these people just didn't do that? Or they did and bought the book anyway?
What is up with that? Do these people have money to burn? Or are they trolls? (You know those parasitic reviewers who are actually authors out to trash other authors in their genre.)
However, even still, it doesn't account for the ranking. Obviously, someone, actually a LOT of someones are buying those books and reading them. And the more people who buy them, cause that author to move up in rank, and the higher in rank you are, the more exposure you get. The more exposure you get, the more money you make.
I don't get it. I really don't. I bust my ass (as you saw last week) to put out a quality product to entice readers to read my stuff. I price my books accordingly. I think I'm fair. I have a Good, Better, Best attitude. I strive to make my books the best that they can be. So why am I not in the top 20? Hell, why am I not even in the top 100?
And you know, I won't even get into the discussion on the covers of these books either. They were all "hand-made" and some were just plain awful. What is up with THAT? I'm no cover expert, but I designed my covers with a particular idea in mind. I don't do my own, I have an awesome designer, but I have done covers for other people, and I know how to do lay-out and composition. And the stuff I do produce isn't "professional" (there's a subtle art to design) but the covers I do make don't look "home-made". Let's call them "semi" professional. (If I had the right program I could make them even better.) But that's neither here nor there.
The only way I think I can wrap my head around all this is that, when you're on a book page, there is the scroll of "People Who Bought This, Also Bought..." with page after page of other books. Amazon makes it easy to click and buy, so perhaps these other people were duped into buying. I don't know.
So, in summing this all up, what I've found (in my genre anyway) is that it doesn't really matter what you write. Someone, somewhere is going to buy your book. Even if it's bad. Even if the cover is lousy. Even if all your reviews are 1 star. And you will become the next #1 bestseller.
Makes me wonder if I made a mistake taking the time to rewrite my novellas. Makes me really think of chucking every thing I know about writing out the window, and writing a bad book. Just to see what happens. A kind of social experiment maybe. Who knows, maybe I'll make it to #1. (Wouldn't that be really something?)
So how about you? Do you bother to read a book with more than 2 bad reviews? Or are you in the rubbernecking category? Do you "Look Inside" before you buy?
Anne Gallagher (c) 2013