It's pretty easy to get obsessive about the 3 R's on the Amazon Kindle page of your book. Reviews, Rankings and Returns-- oh my! What do they all mean?
Every book needs at least 6 reviews to look serious. Once your book goes live, make it your personal mission to get them. Give out ARCs or free downloads to friends, family, blog followers, Facebook cronies. Do not rest until you have 6 - 10 reviews posted on your Amazon page!
I've heard of sites where you can pay for reviews. Totally unnecessary. Give away some books, call in favors, let a few hints slide--whatever it takes to get those precious initial reviews (which will most likely be positive since they're from people who know you.)
They don't need to be gushing, 5 star lengthy book reports. In fact, brief can be better. When someone mentions they enjoyed your book, a subtle hint is in order, like "Would you mind posting that up on Amazon on my book page? I would really appreciate it." Do that a dozen times and soon you'll have a decent showing.
What about bad reviews? Don't worry, they'll show up eventually. They're like armpits. Everyone has them and they all stink. Especially if your book goes free, readers who aren't in your demographic and would never have bought it otherwise will download and not like it but of course will post a one-star review-- "I couldn't finish this book. Its boring and do not hole my intrest." (misspelling and grammatical errors included, because the worst reviews are loaded with them)
A couple of bad ones can set back sales for a time. If you see too serious an impact, call up a friend who hasn't posted yet and ask for positive feedback to counteract the evil. Resist the urge to respond to the troll or to leave a comment. Because, after all, you are way too cool and productive and popular to bother with such drivel.
Watching rankings is like looking for animal shapes in the clouds. You may see a thrilling one but don't count on it to stay. Many things can affect the numbers, like how many times your book is borrowed, or sales in the UK, or sales per hour compared to sales per day.
Rankings are comparative, which means the more books on Kindle, the more competitive it becomes. Selling 100 books a month a couple years ago would get you a 3 or 4 digit ranking. Now it will be more like a 5 digit ranking, simply because hundreds of thousands more Kindle books are published--daily.
Another fantasy is that rankings will continue to rise. High numbers this week, higher next, and on and on until it hits the top 100. No, sorry, that's not how it happens. Please don't let your mood be determined by your ranking, or you will need some serious medication.
Amazon allows returns of ebooks. Nothing to get disturbed about, unless your returns are ridiculously high. And the more books you sell the more likely you'll have higher returns. Sometimes it's because someone meant to borrow the book but accidentally clicked Buy, and they have to fix it. There's a refund. No biggie.
Kindle returns are nothing compared to bookstore returns, when the bookstore can send back unsold books to the distributor for full credit, months after the publisher thought they were sold goods, bought and paid for. Bookstore returns are a travesty of this business that has helped to fuel the rise of ebooks. *excuse my mini-rant*
That's my brief overview of the Three R's on Kindle. I'd love to get your feedback, and hear of any experience or suggestions.
And oh wait, I forgot the most important R of all-- the READER. Write the best book to enrich the reader's experience, and all the rest will fall into place!
"Never give up. And most importantly, be true to yourself. Write from your heart, in your own voice, and about what you believe in." ~ Louise Brown
"Write something to suit yourself and many people will like it; write something to suit everybody and scarcely anyone will care for it." ~Jesse Stuart
"A writer's job is to take one thing and make it stand for twenty." ~ Virginia Woolf