The Upside of Bad Reviews

October 12, 2014 at 12:40 pm (Interesting stories, Publishing) (, , , )

A fascinating blog post from author Anne R Allen, who not only survived bad reviews from the Amazon bullies – she got a huge sales lift. Thanks Mean Girls!

Read the full blog post here.

All successful authors get terrible reviews. Every. Single. One. Here’s a hilarious sampler of one-star Amazon reviews of classics from the Huffington Post. But bad reviews don’t always bring down sales.
In fact, bad reviews can actually stimulate buying. It happened to me.

I got a swarm of one-stars on my buy page for my Camilla Mysteries Boxed Set as “punishment” for standing up for a bullied writer on a high profile publishing blog. Probably not a wise thing to do at the time my mother was dying and I’d been diagnosed with a breast tumor, but I thought I was in a safe place when I wasn’t (there are no safe places).

Even though the blogger wisely deleted the troll-infested thread almost immediately, the mean girl army had already been deployed and had orders to swarm. “Swarming” a buy page with one-star fake reviews is a major sport on Amazon. It has even happened to the Zon itself. Its new Fire phone has over 1500 one-stars, apparently as a protest from Greenpeace, who don’t like Amazon’s environmental policies.

But when it’s just you and you’re already stressed this stuff can be pretty upsetting. I dreaded booting up my computer every morning for months. I knew better than to go to Goodreads, the native habitat of that particular denomination of meanies, but I had to go to Amazon occasionally. Each time I had a new review it would be one or two stars, containing a veiled personal attack that also showed the reader hadn’t read anything but the “look inside”.

Then a weird thing happened. My sales started to climb. And climb. After a couple of weeks, it hit the bestseller list in humor. One day I woke up and found I was ahead of five Janet Evanovich titles and my favorite humor book of all time, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. The book sold over 2000 copies that month and stayed on the bestseller list for half a year. Thanks, Mean Girls!

Read the full blog post here.
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