If you've been in business for an extended period of time, you've probably heard about the 3% Rule. If you're an author, you'll definitely want to get a handle on this treasured tool that businesses of all kinds have used as a measuring stick of their success.
As an author I have a bad habit of reading my reviews. I probably shouldn't, but it is what it is. I take my words very seriously and personally, so when I read a review that is singing my praises I feel good. Knowing that my work had struck a chord with a reader means everything to me. Conversely, when I read a review that more or less bashes my work, I take it personally. Yeah, yeah, I know, literature is subjective, to each his own, blah blah blah. I've heard it before and have probably written it even more. But bad reviews are still a bit cutting to me. I didn't work that hard on a book that hundreds loved, just to be told that it wasn't worth $1 by a few. Really? A buck? Who says that? What kind of person---?
Anyway, Back to The 3% Rule.
As an author, indie or otherwise, you need to understand statistics. There's a rule that has rolled into common business practices called the three percent rule. This rule says that out of 100 customers, there will always be an average of 3% who are never happy, never satisfied, inconsiderate, lawsuit happy, etc.
Businesses use the 3% rule to determine when it's okay to let customers go, as in drop them from their mailing list, or to determine if they are doing something wrong. In other words, the closer their customer satisfaction rate is to 97%, the better they are doing. The further away they are from 97% satisfaction, there is a greater chance that they need to make some changes.
How does this apply to authors? Simple. Authors can use this rule to determine if their book is actually a quality product, or if it needs another round of edits, re-write, etc. Also, if you have a quality product, you don't have to take your bad reviews as personally, because you can trust that 3% of your reviews are trash worthy.
This is a statistical fact. Look it up. Good to know, huh? I thought so anyway.
So here's the deal. I took a look at Reunion, did the math, and discovered that out of 79 reviews, 70 were good to great, and nine were okay to bad. Now here's how the math works. To determine the TRUE level of customer satisfaction, you automatically throw out 3% of the bad reviews. That's right. Pitch 'em. Lose 'em. Get 'em out of your head forever. They don't count. They are the same people who live miserable lives, make everyone around them miserable and wouldn't have it any other way. Their bad review is simply a reflection of themselves.
I bet you're feeling good about yourself now, huh? Good. You should.
I can feel fairly confident that some of those reviewers simply picked a genre that doesn't fit their interest or got something different then what they expected. In fact, those stats are a pretty good indicator that I did a damn good job.
On a side note, I will mention that of that half of the bad reviews came after I hit The Amazon Top 100, thereby getting a much higher level of exposure. After doing a little investigation, I found that most of the reviewers who gave Reunion bad marks did not have any other reviews to their credit. Not one. They talked about how many books they've read, but they didn't have a single review, except mine.
Do you see me scratching my head? I've chatted with other bestselling indie authors and they had a similar experience. We call those reviewers "The One Hit Wonders" because they hit and run. This happens all too often.
Not sure about you, but that seemed a bit questionable to me. Made me wonder if there are peeps out there seeking indie authors, spying out free, 99¢, and $2.99 books by no name authors and targeting them, to squash the indie movement. Just a thought. But I'm moving on.
WARNING: Never, ever, ever, comment on a bad review that you receive. That is bad form. Remain silent, bite your tongue, and then smile and wave. My #1 rule of author PR: Stay as far away from drama and negativity as possible. Learn it. Live it. If you get a bad review, bite your tongue; it's comes with the territory.
All to say, the 3% rule is a great tool to help you take an honest look at your work and the value it brings to the ebook market place. If your average customer satisfaction is bordering on the 80% and under, you might want to take a good hard look at what you're doing wrong. And I'll be honest, I do listen to my reviewers, because they can have valid complaints as well as compliments.
No matter which way the wind blows your reader response, I hope the 3% rule helps you get a handle on your quality. And I wish you the very best of success in 2012. If you need any help with your books, check out my author services page. I do a few things that can make your life a bit easier. Also, watch for my soon to be released book, The Indie Author's Guide to the Universe.
~Jeff Bennington best selling author of Reunion, Twisted Vengeance & Creepy