My publisher asked an analytics firm to study their sales data and determine the key factor that determines sales. Here’s what they came up with:
When all the basics are covered, the number one factor determining sales is, without question, the number of reviews (not stars, but reviews). The more reviews, the more sales. In other words, “people are interested in buying what other people are interested in reviewing”. This is the basic definition of Social Engagement.
(The basics include a commercially viable book, a good cover, wide distribution, and good sales copy.)
I find this a bit hard to believe in its starkest form — if a book has 800 reviews that all say it stinks, I’m not going to buy it, and I don’t think you would, either. But it makes sense as a rule of thumb. So please review my books! It doesn’t take long! On Barnes & Noble, you don’t even have to say anything! If you hate one of my books, I promise to do better next time!
My publisher also suggests that authors leave polite comments in response to reviews.
By establishing your presence among reviewers you accomplish several things.
1. Your presence will temper reviewer responses because readers see that you’re watching.
2. Reviewers will be anxious to leave a favorable review because they want you to talk to them (and they’ll expect it too, so consistency is key).
3. If you create a reputation for talking to readers, they will talk back to you and (mostly) say nice things.
Overall, this back-and-forth effort creates social engagement, which increases reviews, which creates curiosity, which leads to sales and more reviews, which leads to more social engagement, all of which can lead to even more sales.
I didn’t know you could do this! I actually can’t figure out how to it works on Barnes & Noble, but it’s easy enough on Amazon. So if you leave me a review on Amazon, I will actually talk to you! And if that isn’t exciting, I don’t know what is.