Well, according to my first literary agent, Berenice Hoffman, there is no such thing as bad PR. Any review, negative or positive, is good. The review gets your name out there (wherever “there” is), and we all know that name recognition (Today, we call it a brand) is what it’s all about.
I needed to remind myself of Hoffman’s pronouncement (Was she preparing me for the shit to hit the fan?) because I got a one-star review today on Goodreads. I have to assume that the reviewer HATED the book, but she didn’t have the guts to say so. She just clicked on one measly little star and sent her non review out into the world of social media. Couldn’t she have shown a little mercy on this first weekday of the New Year and clicked on one more star?
Okay. My day didn’t start well. But I was determined not to let one illiterate nobody ruin my life. So, I went online. And what do you know? The first article (rather, study) I found was titled “Positive Effects of Negative Publicity: When Negative Reviews Increase Sales.” Bingo! And if the authors of the study representing The Wharton School and Stanford didn’t know what they were talking about, who would?
Now, in all fairness, the study does give sway to situations when negative PR is . . . well, negative. But as I scanned the piece, I found this:
. . . negative publicity may increase sales when product awareness or accessibility is low. If few people know about a book released by a new author, any publicity, regardless of valence, should increase awareness.
Well, I’m not exactly a new author but I’m surely not a household name. (Hell, even friends have trouble spelling it.) But, in the scheme of things, despite my dogged efforts to the contrary, those friends and a few strangers know about the book. (Okay, so it made it to #1 on Amazon in its category for about a day or two. Let me crow just a bit because, right now, I want to disappear into the proverbial sludge pile and never return.)
The study’s big wigs went on and analyzed book sales of books featured in the New York Times Book Review, and also did experiments in which people read reviews of both real and fictitious books and were then asked how likely they’d be to buy them. The results?
- Positive publicity does have a positive impact. Overall, a positive review in the New York Times Book Review boosted sales of that book by 32 to 52 percent. (Oh, how I wish that someday . . .)
- If you’re relatively unknown, there is no such thing as bad publicity. For unknown authors, a bad review actually increased book sales by 45 percent. (Yippee!)
- If you’re more established, bad publicity is actually bad. For authors that were better-known, a bad review resulted in a 15 percent hit to sales. (No worries.)
You’ll excuse me now, won’t you? I have some 5-star reviews to reread.