Friday, June 17, 2022

views and reviews


The publishing world is a total confusion to me.

  Don’t understand it. And I don’t really want to.

 I like the writing books bit and I really like the thinking about killing people and getting away with it bit.  Having a very good agent and a very nice publisher, I think I am safe leaving it all in their hands.  In fact, I have one agent and three publishers. And two editors. All for the same book so yeah, it hurts my head.


                            The branding is the girl in the red coat walking away.

                            I wonder if that Teddy Bear has been hit by that car?

I have never really paid any attention to how my books are selling, or how many ‘units’ I’m shifting, as a very famous writer once said.

But with my retiral from the day job on the horizon, it’ll take two years to sell the companies and do all the legal stuff that needs done, I thought I might pay a wee bit more attention to what was going on.

And I discovered some really clever types of people who monitor their sales day by day, they spreadsheet every sale and return, and can produce stats and graphs and all kinds of stuff.

I have my hardbacks published by Severn – the new book is there on Amazon ready for preorder - and it’s not published until the 4th of December. My paperbacks are now being handled by another publisher (or the boss imprint of Severn), Canongate. and the E book goes to the e-book specialists Joffe after a certain period of time.


                            You can see the branding in operation here.

And the most lucrative out of all those, apart from the advances, were the e-book sales, not surprising as it was all of them – all 14 books - out on the market at fortnightly intervals within a year.  That’s a deal through two publishers to the agent then to me, so in the end I get pennies – but those pennies really added up.

 Is that a ball that keeps rolling? Surely not. It must drop down to negligible sales after a while. But unlike hard copy, e book doesn’t go out of print, the back list is always there.

So, these are the 99p and £1.99 sales. The amount of them needed to produce that income in royalties is eyewatering. My agent warned my that few of these purchasers will actually read the book. There are folk out there with thousands and thousands of books on their kindle/e reader who just buy the daily deal with some intention of reading the books at some vague point in the future that never comes.

 The other thing that spikes is reviews. So, I thought, is there any ratio between the folk that buy the book and those that leave a review.  1;6, 1;100, 1;1000? any ideas?

I asked around to see what the consensus of opinion was.  Basically ‘fans’ will leave are review, those who have just read your book and liked it will tend not to. Those that loved the book will leave a review, as will those who really hated it, or who took exception to something said. A smaller profile author with a large fan base will get a better ratio, than a celebrity where a review disappears into the thousands already there.


                     Joffe really excel at these E-book marketing. 

                      Ads that are different but anyone looking knows it's that series of books.

                     Interesting that they didn't buy the standalone.

(As an aside, somebody left a review of one of my books suggesting that I get help for my mental health issues, (maybe they know me), and that I must have a reason why I hate dogs so much.  Not sure what to say about that but Mathilda Bubbington The Staffie said that it showed I was good writer if I came across as somebody who hated dogs. Staffies are like that. And likewise, I am a dog lover who can write about dog haters. I also write about serial killers and I’ve never done that either)

Any way, there’s a proper statistic that 16.9% of purchasers left a review of an audiobook.

50 to 1 for downloaded books, was a calculated figure for one author.

Another author sold 80 000 books, got 8000 reviews – and those reviews included the star rating but no comment review. So, an actual written review is much less than the 8000 number. That number is slightly slewed by the Netgalley type of reader, free copy in exchange for a review but the percentage is still startling.

To look on the positive side, it can be good as if you multiply the reviews to get the purchasers, then work out the percentage that goes to the author after two publishers and an agent have their nibble at the 99p…. I suppose it gives you a good guide on how little you will be able to turn the heating on this winter.

Thoughts anybody?



  1. 'retiral' ??? Is that one of those British words, where we'd say retirement? Or is it a Scottish pecuniarity? It actually sounds like the state of catching covid a second (or third, or fourth...) time. Or maybe that's when you get new rubber on the selfmobile.

    I'm with you: total confusion.

  2. Or an autocorrect has it ...retrial. which might be more apposite......

  3. Join the world of the totally confused, my dear. From publishers who often seem to not want to sell books, to reviewers who leave one star reviews because the book was damaged in transit, I find it very difficult to know what is going on. What is not confusing are the friendships made with other writers. That's worth all the weirdness.

  4. I only read the reviews that Soho Press sends me, because those ones are always good. Otherwise, I don’t bother. The bottom line for me is did I make some royalties.

  5. When I finish a book on my Kindle, it asks me how many stars I'd rate that book. I think these then appear on Amazon and Goodreads. If I really love a book, I'll take the time to write an Amazon review (if I remember). I'm more inclined to do that for a debut author or someone little known.