Amazon ratings negatively correlated with sales?

Well not exactly but Heather Rose Jones (of the Alpennia books) has done a quick analysis here that shows some interesting things. Specifically that 5 star reviews tend to indicate books with a narrow reach.

That makes a lot of sense as she points out:

Do you know what unfavorable reviews and ratings mean? They mean that your book is engaging readers who are outside your narrow inner-core target audience. Not just that it’s reaching them, but it’s engaging them sufficiently to express their opinion in public. And up to a certain point (I’ll talk about that point later) the more reviews you get, the lower your average rating is. Because the more people you engage, the more likely you are to engage people who may have liked your book but didn’t absolutely love it. Sure, that hurts. It would be nice to be universally beloved. NO BOOK IS UNIVERSALLY BELOVED.

If a book isn’t reaching people who don’t like it, then it probably isn’t reaching enough people.



  1. Mark

    Interestingly, I saw an allied point from (IIRC) one of the Mad Genii recently, saying that running low/free priced promotions had the negative effect of getting poorer reviews from people who aren’t your core audience.


  2. Ken J.

    This is the problem with the concept that one can use Amazon or Goodreads rankings to demonstrate that the Hugo Best Novel winners are less worthy than other books. Because the Hugo winners are so publicized, a larger and more diverse group of readers try them, and a larger absolute number of people will bounce off them. In contrast, a generic-looking rockets-and-blasters book is only going to be read by people predisposed to liking that sort of story, so the Amazon or Goodreads rankings will reflect fewer disappointed readers.


  3. KR

    Just checked, my book is ranked in the range of 1.2 million overall sales of books overall, so I do not believe there is a quality correlation.

    On the other hand, it is ranked in the top 50 in the world in another category, so I totally believe there is a quality correlation.