One of the things that lots of people tell you is that reviews help sell books. Well, I've done a little research on the subject and I have to tell you – maybe, maybe not.
As of May 13th, I have 15 reviews of my book (WWIV - In The Beginning). Of these reviews five are 5 star, six are 4 star, three are 3 star, and one is 1 star. Slightly more than half of these are purely organic reviews; meaning the reviewer actually purchased the book and felt strongly enough to post a review. The remainder are from the site Story Cartel. This is a site where in exchange for an honest review, one receives a free copy of the book (in digital form).
Let's examine the facts and numbers thus far.
The novel is in its seventh week of publication. Thus far, approximately 850 readers have purchased or "borrowed" my creation on Amazon. Eight of the reviews are from these purchases. That's about a 1% hit ratio on purchased copies. I'm not exactly sure where that stands against normal or average, but I am led to believe a 1% review rate is fairly common.
I get a little scared by a book that is ranked #365,000 on the Amazon sales chart and has eighteen 5 star reviews, along with five or six 4 star reviews. If the book was published recently, their sales ranking would seem to indicate they sold a book ever three days or so. If the novel has been on Amazon for two months (for instance), that would indicate maybe 20 copies have been sold.
Something is afoul with the numbers above. Remember, 1% is a good organic review rate. If a book has sold twenty copies, how can it possibly have eighteen 5 star reviews? Short answer, the author has been hard at work getting as many friends and relatives to review his/her book as possible. Hey, it's not illegal; it just skews the numbers.
These reviews later come into question when 1 star reviews come along. Believe me, you're not legit if you don't have at least one 1 star review. Many times they sound like this (and I'm paraphrasing):
I have no idea what all the people who gave this five stars were reading. The book is full of typos, run on sentences, and tense issues. I guess he/she has the best friends in the world. I don't recommend wasting your money on this book.
Again, there is nothing wrong with having family and friends write some reviews for you. You're only trying to get noticed in a huge ocean with many many fish. No one blames you for your effort. Just be careful what they write (honest reviews are what you need). In an effort to be completely transparent, my older brother bought the book with his own money on Amazon and penned a 4 star review. His exact words to why only 4 stars...I don't give anyone 5 stars. It had better be history changing for that.
I want real organic reviews on my material. Complete honesty makes me smile. More than one person has found my book "unrealistic" when reviewing. I get their point. Perhaps they wanted more action all along. Maybe they wanted the road warrior gunning down bad folks everywhere. No matter what they wanted, what they write – I respect and appreciate their honest input. I'll try to turn them into 4 and 5 star reviews with future books.
Oh yeah, my 1 star review? Well you can read it here. I'm not hiding anything. The reviewer, Harold, wanted something different. And that's okay. At least he didn't say the book was terribly written or full of mistakes. I'm happy with his review because he expressed an opinion and had good reason for it.
Here's to more Harold's in all of our lives. Honest people, willing to give an honest opinion.
Have a great upcoming Memorial Day weekend everyone!