Author Topic: 99c deals are great for 2 things: quickly reaching new fans, and 1 star reviews  (Read 1043 times)  

Offline Mossy

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It's a double-edged sword.

You get a huge rush of new sales, new readers, and new fans. But included in that sudden influx of sales are people who buy up discounted books no matter what they are, regardless of their own personal taste. In my experience, this is where 90% of all my 1 star reviews have ever come from. People who shouldn't have been reading the book in the first place. These reviews even often mention "such-and-such genre isn't my USUAL genre, but..." and I can't help but wonder "then why did you even buy it? Why did you read it? And if you went into reading it knowing that it wasn't your usual taste, why are you leaving me a 1 star review as if you're surprised or disappointed that it wasn't to your taste?"

It's like if I went to a Mexican restaurant for a Taco Tuesday special and then complained afterward because I never liked tacos in the first place.

I'm venting, I know, but you can't help but roll your eyes at the way some people's minds operate.

If anything, I guess it's just important to keep in mind: giving your book away or selling at a steep discount is a great way to reach a lot of readers, but be warned, you're going to reach a lot of readers who wouldn't be your readers otherwise and for good reason.
« Last Edit: September 17, 2020, 09:37:34 am by Mossy »

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    Offline DmGuay

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    So true!

     
    D.M. Guay | Web site

    Offline Rick Partlow

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    I don't know that I've gotten a lot of 1 star reviews from 99 cent deals.  I think most of mine have come from free days.

    Offline Mossy

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    I don't know that I've gotten a lot of 1 star reviews from 99 cent deals.  I think most of mine have come from free days.
    I'd wager it's the same principle.

    Offline Wired

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    The crap we endure.

    Offline NikOK

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    Totally true.  To the point where I thought back and was like, oh yeah, this is even way more true than I realized.  So, thanks, seriously, for pointing out that something like this happens.

    But, I don't know, I'm definitely settling in that one star ratings just happen.  I'd almost rather get a one star than a three star these days.  If it's between offending people sometimes or boring people sometimes then I'd much rather offend.  Heh, maybe that's me being a little bit of a jerk, or maybe learning to cope, who knows right?

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

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    A one star is still a review. And the more reviews you have, the more it looks to potential readers like tons of people are buying your books.

    I don't read individual reviews anymore, I just keep tabs on the number. If it keeps going up, that's good enough for me.

    So long as the average stays high, of course... If a slew of fifty one-stars suddenly came in, I'd start getting concerned, hahaha.

    Offline Trioxin 245

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    People sometimes try new food or books and are disappointed.  Look at review sites like yelp that are full of one star reviews. Tried X for the first time, hated it, cant see why everyone likes it.

    One star reviews suck  but I don't pay them any mind.  There is only one feedback that counts, the end of the month total. That's the true feedback that will tell you all you need to know :)

    Offline ShawnaReads

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    That does make me wonder if doing those cheap discounts is worth it.

    OTOH, as a buyer, I like to read the negative reviews because I find them informative. (Unless they're not, but if they don't give reasons, I discount them.) Often, the thing the reviewer didn't like is something that's a positive for me. If the reviewer at least says "this is what I didn't like" or "this isn't my usual genre," then that's not so bad.

    Example: I was looking at pillows online today. I need a very soft pillow. Soft as I can get it. Which is difficult, since most pillows tout how firm they are like everyone needs "support" and nothing else. Out of dozens of pillows on this one site, there was one labeled "soft". I checked out the negative reviews for it. Every single one was, "THIS IS NOT FIRM >:(". Which to me means it's exactly what I'm looking for. (The positive reviews also remarked on how soft it is.) So I was just like, "Oh, good, no one has any actual complaints about it."

    So it's like, if you've got a romance, and the negative reviews say, "Too much sex," or something, and you're someone who likes sex in romance, then that negative review gave you a better impression of the book. Or if you're someone who enjoys a Christian approach to stories, and the negative reviews say something like, "Too much God stuff," then that would be a positive review for you. You know?

    So, personally, if the negative reviews at least give details, I think they're fine. It's when they don't give details (or explicitly say something incorrect about the book) that I think it makes more sense for authors to be bothered. And one-star reviews, in moderation, do give your product a more legitimate look to a buyer. A lot of people would give a side-eye to a book that had nothing but five-star reviews.

    Offline AlecHutson

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    I feel the same way about Prime reading. You get a bunch of people reading your books . . . even if they don't like your genre. My review average always takes a hit after a Prime reading stint, and I get reviews like this: 'I don't usually read fantasy, but I thought I'd give this one a try. Still don't like it! 1 star' Yeah, great, thanks. Why is it readers who get books for free or heavily discounted are the harshest when it comes to reviews?

    Alec Hutson

    Offline JohnHansen

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    Isn't this a consequence of ratings having two different functions? On the one hand, a reader gives a product a rating to improve the recommendations they get, but once ratings are made public it is also seen as a measure of the quality of the book.

    How should a reader rate a book that they don't think is bad, but simply not for them? It might be most fair to the writer to rate it highly, or not rate it, but they also want to tell the site that they are not interested in this kind of book.

    Offline jb1111

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    The thing that sort of grates is when you have a low priced book and some reviewer takes it apart like it's supposed to be Shakespeare or Tolstoy, when it's just a $2.99, $1.99 or $.99 or whatever pulp entertainment book in electronic form.

    But at the same time, it shows other potential readers that there must have been something to the book for the reviewer to complain about.

    Reviews, positive or negative, can draw attention, and I think a lot of readers peruse the LookInsides anyway, where they at least get a glimpse of whatever quality the book has.

    Offline C. Gockel

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    I don't know that I've gotten a lot of 1 star reviews from 99 cent deals.  I think most of mine have come from free days.

    Yep.


    I write books about Change, Chaos, and Loki
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    Offline markpauloleksiw

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    My experience has been similar. My lower reviews on Goodreads came from readers who got my novels through Netgalley and paid nothing for them. If you discount your book or give it away, you have more of a chance of someone picking it up outside of their "genre" preferences.

    Most of my lower reviews have been related to the readers' who should never have picked up my book in the first place.

    Mark

    Offline EmberKent

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    You're in a Costco. There are free samples. You don't normally like salami, but you figure you'll try out the one on display. You don't like it. The attendant asks you for feedback on a slip for the other customers so they can see what other tasters thought. You say you usually don't like salami, and that remained true here. The attendant looks down, reads your feedback slip, puts their hands on their hips, and tells you you never should have tried it then.

    You would look at the attendant weirdly, and you would probably tell them that this is the whole point of free samples and discounting: to broaden appeal and hopefully attract new customers.

    This is the review system working as intended. The review system for books doesn't exist for the author, it exists for the consumer. A consumer is entitled to their opinion, regardless of their previous biases and tastes. A heavily discounted book, or one offered for free, will attract readers you normally wouldn't. That's why you're running that deal. You're surely not doing it out of the kindness of your heart. So of course you're going to have readers who aren't normally your target demographic, and of course many of those readers won't like what they've read.

    If you don't want reviews from people who wouldn't normally read your books, don't incentivize them to do exactly that.

    Online Gareth K Pengelly

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    All very valid points everyone's putting forth.

    It's a powerful marketing tool, but a double-edged sword. Gets lots of reviews, not always the ones you want.

    People just have to work out for themselves whether the pros outweigh the cons.

    For me, yes.

    Offline kwest

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    My highest voted one star review makes me laugh. Pretty much all the reasons they listed they DIDN'T like the book (that it's YA dystopian with monsters in it) are reasons someone else WOULD like it. And they imply anyone who would enjoy this type of book in the first place just isn't well-read. It's not so much the bad review that irks me but the pompousness of it.

    I think if you do permafree (as I've done for most of my writing career), having a 4 star average or above is pretty damn good. Applies even more if the rest of your series is 4.5 or above. I've also noticed my reviews on Amazon are so much harsher for some reason. On other vendors like Google Play and Apple, the reviews almost make it almost sound like a different book entirely.

    I wish Amazon did a better job of balancing reviews. My first page is chocked full of 3 stars when the vast majority of my reviews are 5 stars.

    Offline NikOK

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    You're in a Costco. There are free samples. You don't normally like salami, but you figure you'll try out the one on display. You don't like it. The attendant asks you for feedback on a slip for the other customers so they can see what other tasters thought. You say you usually don't like salami, and that remained true here. The attendant looks down, reads your feedback slip, puts their hands on their hips, and tells you you never should have tried it then.

    You would look at the attendant weirdly, and you would probably tell them that this is the whole point of free samples and discounting: to broaden appeal and hopefully attract new customers.

    This is the review system working as intended. The review system for books doesn't exist for the author, it exists for the consumer. A consumer is entitled to their opinion, regardless of their previous biases and tastes. A heavily discounted book, or one offered for free, will attract readers you normally wouldn't. That's why you're running that deal. You're surely not doing it out of the kindness of your heart. So of course you're going to have readers who aren't normally your target demographic, and of course many of those readers won't like what they've read.

    If you don't want reviews from people who wouldn't normally read your books, don't incentivize them to do exactly that.

    I think you have some good points in the writing world, but your analysis of Costco is a little off.  They don't do samples for feedback, it's just to sell overstock items before they expire.  If they cut a salami into 20 samples and 1 out of 19 people buys one, then they are happy (if it's 50% markup).  And, it's not like when you come back next week that salami will have a sign on it saying, "lowest rated salami" where people will see a book's rating even before the see the blurb.  I get where you are going with the idea of attracting customers to try something new, but I'm just not sure if it's the right analogy for selling digital artistic properties on the internet.  Ultimately it's up to the writer how to market, but it's also good to have the knowledge that doing a discount may not lead to exactly what you want and there might be a reason why, as the OP suggests.

    Offline EmberKent

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    I think you have some good points in the writing world, but your analysis of Costco is a little off.  They don't do samples for feedback, it's just to sell overstock items before they expire.  If they cut a salami into 20 samples and 1 out of 19 people buys one, then they are happy (if it's 50% markup).  And, it's not like when you come back next week that salami will have a sign on it saying, "lowest rated salami" where people will see a book's rating even before the see the blurb.  I get where you are going with the idea of attracting customers to try something new, but I'm just not sure if it's the right analogy for selling digital artistic properties on the internet.  Ultimately it's up to the writer how to market, but it's also good to have the knowledge that doing a discount may not lead to exactly what you want and there might be a reason why, as the OP suggests.

    Might be a country difference. Most of the samples I come across in Canada are from new brands or companies focus-grouping new products, not the store trying to clear inventory. They always had feedback slips that you could look through, and which would be sent to corporate at the end. But yeah, if you take the analogy completely literally, it falls apart a bit (the feedback portion in particular). It was more to demonstrate that you can't incentivize people to consume your product and then be upset when the people you don't like end up consuming it. Major discounts and freebies will attract people who want to take a chance on something they normally wouldn't. Sometimes that ends well, sometimes it doesn't. It just comes with the territory.

    Offline NikOK

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    Might be a country difference. Most of the samples I come across in Canada are from new brands or companies focus-grouping new products, not the store trying to clear inventory. They always had feedback slips that you could look through, and which would be sent to corporate at the end. But yeah, if you take the analogy completely literally, it falls apart a bit (the feedback portion in particular). It was more to demonstrate that you can't incentivize people to consume your product and then be upset when the people you don't like end up consuming it. Major discounts and freebies will attract people who want to take a chance on something they normally wouldn't. Sometimes that ends well, sometimes it doesn't. It just comes with the territory.

    Ha, got you :D  It's funny that they do the same thing but in Canada it's for actual feedback and in the US it's to squeeze pennies out of products.  Like, I've done samples at a grocery store and they even told me, hey we don't care what people tell you, but give it to as many people as you can and smile.

    But yeah, bringing in new audiences that don't normally read the genre is interesting.  I guess I always just assumed that doing a discount would just incentivize people who like the genre to give it a shot.  But the, people trying something new and maybe not liking it factor makes a lot of sense.

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