One Week Kindle Sale, and A Plea For Reviews

Amazon have recently changed their customer review system, so that comments from some of the reviews — even ones marked by most people as “unhelpful” — are put *above* the full list of reviews ranked by helpfulness.

On two of my books, the Beatles and Monkees ones (which happen to be the two biggest sellers), quotes that look extremely critical out of context (and sometimes in context, bits from one-star reviews have shown up there) have been placed above the actual review section. And while correlation does not equal causation, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that over the last two months I’ve earned an average of £90 a week from my writing, but this week I made just £18, and for the first time since it came out in late 2010, a week’s gone by without a single sale of the Beatle book. Note that I’ve had no new bad reviews in that time, just quotes from those bad reviews have been taken out of context and made prominent.

Unless something changes, I don’t know if I can carry on writing as much as I do. I’ve had a lot of periods of sickness from overwork recently, and I don’t think I can put in the time and effort I have been if these review quotes can torpedo my books quite so badly.

So I’m trying two things. Firstly, I’m dropping the price of all my full-length books on Kindle for a week to $2.99, to see if that boosts sales. You can find all my books here (US) or here (UK).

Secondly, I’m going to *beg* anyone who’s read my books — especially the Monkees or Beatles ones — and who bought them from Amazon (so they’ll be a ‘verified purchase’) and hasn’t yet reviewed them, to do so. Maybe that way the quotes that are plastered up there will change. I only want HONEST reviews — DO NOT go over there and praise my books if you think they’re rubbish — but I do want to have a lot more reviews posted.

Please note I’m NOT complaining about the reviews themselves — I’m complaining about single sentences of long reviews that are given undue prominence.

I may seriously have to think about whether I should bother continuing to write if this doesn’t work.

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6 Responses to One Week Kindle Sale, and A Plea For Reviews

  1. I can’t see the comments you’re talking about. Have they changed it back already?

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      It seems to be some browser-specific Javascript. I can see it in Iceweasel, but not in Epiphany or Chromium, and someone said on the Kindle boards that they couldn’t see it in an old version of Firefox on Windows.

      Happily, this shameless begging seems to have worked. I’ve sold enough books just since I posted this that it counts as a good day financially even with the price drop.

      • Now I can see them at the top of the reviews section of the page, but they weren’t there earlier. They do also appear in a popup if I hover the mouse over the stars near the top of the page. It seems to be only on .com for me so far. No sign of them on yet, even for books that have lots of reviews. I’m in Firefox 11.0 on Ubuntu 10.04 with javascript enabled.

        If this hurts everyone’s sales as much as it seems to have hurt yours then it’ll be very bad for Amazon’s profits and they’ll probably stop it soon.

        • Actually I’ve just found this in the What’s This? link, which explains it all: “This feature is something new that we’re trying out, so you may not always see it, and it won’t be available to all customers yet.

  2. Don Alsafi says:

    If it helps (anecdotal data points and all), I’m using the latest version of Firefox on Windows and also don’t see it.

    • Andrew Hickey says:

      I’ve just had another look, and it looks like it’s actually meant to pop those lines up if you hover a mouse over the number of stars, and it only does this in browsers with NoScript turned on. Which may mean I was overreacting and there was no connection, though it still seems a coincidence that this would happen in my single worst ever week for sales… I wonder what those pages look like when actually accessed from a Kindle or from the Kindle application on a tablet or smartphone?

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