I was speaking recently to a clever chap who knows about things, and he told me of a self-published author he knows who has had a bit of code written which queries the Amazon API for regular daily sales figures and the latest reviews on her books. He told me that there was a direct correlation on Amazon between a bad review hitting the system and the sales numbers; they dropped by 75 per cent immediately.
So this author does this: every time a bad review hits the bit of code she uses, she contacts one of her friends and asks them to write a five-star review. They do so, and hey, whaddya know? The sales go up again.
This, I must admit, made me feel a bit queasy.
Firstly, it made me wonder why publishers in Britain don’t have similar bits of code to this author, telling them in real time what’s going on; or, if they do, why they don’t seem to use this information particularly aggressively.
Secondly, it made me ask myself if I should be doing something similar to this: watching the reviews, and instantly responding to them by calling in favours.
Thirdly, it made me ask myself why I feel such a colossal reluctance to do anything like that.
Fourthly, it made me wonder at the value of Amazon reviews.
Fifthly, it made me wonder why I’m so horribly naive.