He’s self-publishing superstar Hugh Howey, whose Wool books about people living in underground silos have taken off like wildfire. He published a report awhile ago (and alas, I’m playing catchup here) claiming, among other things, that books released from the Big Five Publishers tend to be priced higher and yet be reviewed more negatively than average:
Note the shortest bar in one graph correlates to the tallest in the other. Is it possible that price impacts a book’s rating? Think about two meals you might have: one is a steak dinner for $10; the other is a steak dinner that costs four times as much. An average experience from both meals could result in a 4-star for the $10 steak but a 1-star for the $40 steak. That’s because overall customer satisfaction is a ratio between value received and amount spent. As someone who reads both self-published and traditionally published works, I can tell you that it’s getting harder and harder to tell the difference between the two. Most readers don’t know and don’t care how the books they read are published. They just know if they liked the story and how much they paid. If they’re paying twice as much for traditionally published books, which experience will they rate higher? The one with better bang for the buck.
– Hugh Howey, “The 7 K Report”, AuthorEarnings.com
What say you, reader? Personally, I think he might be on to something. For a ten buck steak, I won’t be too annoyed if there’s a lot of fat and gristle. For a forty buck steak, that had better be the most succulently juicy and tender, mouth watering, flavorful to die for steak I have ever tasted, or gosh darn it, someone’s going to get an ear full out of me!
Now, I tend to criticize everything, even when it is information I want to be accurate, such as Howey’s report. It’s just my cynical mind at play. Give me two differing points of view, and I can tell you in great detail how both sides are wrong and right at the same time. It’s a gift. Or a curse. I haven’t decided yet.
My gut reaction says, – “Well, everyone knows the James Patterson (Or Insert Favorite Big Publishing Author Here) Steakhouse because it is hustling and bustling every night. Therefore, more people are in and out of that steakhouse, and therefore, just by the sheer volume of business that steakhouse does, that steakhouse is more likely to get more negative reviews just through the sheer law of averages that if more people are eating your steak, then the number of people who don’t like it will be on the rise. Meanwhile, the nice folks at “Indie Author Hole in the Wall Steakhouse,” may have a very have a very tasty and reasonably priced steak, but the steakhouse is in a back alley, off the beaten path, and there’s very little walk-in traffic since it is not near a busy street. Ergo, fewer people eating there=fewer people to say they didn’t like the steak.”
But then I catch myself and note that in fact, Howey’s report does claim to be taking statistics from bestsellers. In other words, when he’s comparing Indie Authors to Big Publishers, he’s looking at Indies who have had some success, i.e., Indie Steakhouse Owners who have managed to put up a big neon sign on their back alley steak house that says, “COME ON IN, THE STEAK IS FINE!”
I don’t know. I’m not a numbers person. I’m just giving you my take on Howey’s report. I could be wrong. I could be right. I don’t even know what I think about it so I don’t even know what I’m trying to say.
But personally, as a prospective self-publisher, I hope he’s right.
Unless the Big Five sign me up, in which case, I hope he’s wrong.
See that fence? I’m playing both sides!