I am, of course, referring to the wonderful Mrs Amazon's 5-star classification system for customer reviews (see picture on the left). I'd like to say that the picture was a screen grab of the reviews from one of my books, but alas it is not. This particular item has had 31 reviews - sounds like review heaven to me. The most I've had on one book is two reviews - I mean, what's that about? Anyway, I'm sure I will re-visit the lack of reviews further along in the blog. First though, I'd like to dissect the whole idea of reviews, because I don't want you to take them at face value. Ha, you're thinking: A review is a review, isn't it? Unfortunately, Grasshopper, no it's not. Read on, and all will be revealed.
Anyway, I thought a shilling was an old British coin - just goes to show what I know! Only this morning, my wife and I were harping back to the good old days of the farthing, halfpenny, penny, threepenny bit (my gran used to save them up in a bottle and give my brother and I a handful when we went on holiday to Colwyn Bay in North Wales. There was an ice cream shop on the corner that sold the best ice cream in the whole world with bits of ice in it), the tanner (sixpence), the shilling (bob), the two-bob bit (florin), and the half-crown (we were poor, so I never had a crown - five bob). Those were the days - you could get four liqourice Black Jacks for a penny! They used to make your lips, gums and tongue all black, but they were great to chew on. Do you remember the Jubbly as well - I loved sucking on those babies in the summer - they made your lips and your tongue numb!
So, in my experience, getting reviews is like trying to push a piece of string uphill, or skydiving with a concrete parachute, or skating on thin ice, and equally impossibile pastimes! My books have been on Amazon for 8 weeks, but lets just take one book - A Life for a Life - which has sold 119 copies (in the US and UK), but has only attracted two reviews on the US site and two reviews on the UK site. I mean, why don't people leave a review? Is it overly difficult for readers to post a review? Some feedback from readers here would be useful? Maybe, after reading the book, readers are disappointed and just can't be bothered writing a scathing review? Maybe... Well, who knows? Certainly not me. I'd like a few honest reviews.
I'm enjoying this! So, let's do one more for the road, but feel free to examine your own favourite books and see if the theory holds up! Let's look at 3) Steig Larsson's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, which in my humble opinion was brilliant (as was the trilogy and its a damned shame he died, and died intestate). It has 938 reviews (that's a serious number of reviews) - (465 x 5-star, 211 x 4-star, 115 x 3-star, 56 x 2-star, and 91 x 1-star). Although still skewed towards the higher reviews, this distribution lends a bit of support to the theory. So, it might be that you have to have a whole bucketful of reviews before the theory holds up. Or, maybe the Normal Distribution doesn't apply to books! I think I'll stop there, because I have the habit of rambling on. I did want to talk about book review sites, but I'll save that 'till the next blog!