Sunday, 1 March 2015

An experiment

I'm carrying out a little experiment on reader engagement for my latest novel, 'AFK, in Pursuit of Avengement'.

I want to get more ratings for my novels at Amazon.  It's crucially important for independent authors that they get these.  A whole load of prompting and soapboxing on my part (see, for example, here and here), however, has only really managed to raise the number of ratings I'm getting by a very small amount.

I'm in the somewhat fortunate position that I've created a series of books which a few people, at least, seem to enjoy.  It's not like I'm earning a fortune or anything, but I do know that the number of purchases of my books far exceeds the number of reviews I get, and the reviews I do get tend to be positive.

So I thought I'd try a little experiment.  At the end of all formats of 'AFK, in Pursuit of Avengement' (pictured above, by the way, is the print paperback version that I read from at my launch event) you'll find the following text:

Thursday will return… or will she?

What’s that, dear reader?  You’d like more?
Ok.  I think I could manage that.  I reckon I have at least one more AFK novel in me.  There are even a few clues I planted in this book to a storyline that could be picked up in another entry to the series.  Did you spot them?
If you really want it, though, you’ll have to do your part this time.
Here’s the deal: I’ll write a fifth AFK novel when – and only when – I get a hundred ratings for this one at
How do you leave a rating?  You’re going to have to have an Amazon account, I’m afraid, but that’s the only real obstacle.  Log in, go to the page for this book and leave a rating.  You’ll have to leave a sentence or two review as well because the system won’t let you leave a rating without some text.  But that’s no big deal, right?  It’ll take you less than five minutes for a book that cost you just over a dollar.  I don’t need your review to be poetry; I just need more reviews.  All independent authors need reviews because we don’t have big promotional budgets like the large publishing companies do.  Reader reviews and ratings are all we have, and they make a difference.  Do you like independent publication?  Do you want this to be a world in which the writing you buy isn’t only that which big companies deem suitable for you to read?  You do?  Then please leave reviews.
100 reviews and I’ll write another AFK novel.  Do you think we’ll make it?

It’ll be exciting if we do.

Aside from meaning every word - I really won't write another AFK novel until 100 reviews is reached (I'm perfectly happy to write other stuff) - I'm genuinely interested to see if this achieves its aims.  I don't really see why it shouldn't in an era where crowdfunding involves large numbers of people actually handing over cash to get a project going (obvious, I would actually need 100 readers, since I have no interest in soliciting reviews from people who haven't read the book).  If it does, this could be a useful technique for series authors to engage their readers and encourage them into the habit of leaving ratings.

A note on anonymity.  On reader has raised the issue that since you create your Amazon account in your real name, this will mean I get to see your RL identities.  Whilst it's true that I will get to see your Amazon ID, so long as you don't indicate in your review who you are in SL (or tell me in SL which review is yours) this information is completely meaningless to me.

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