Nothing feels better than knowing that people are talking about your book, but having your book reviewed can be nerve-wracking, too. What if the reviews are negative, or what if there are no reviews at all? By taking your word-of-mouth buzz—or influencer marketing—into your own hands, you can get your book into more conversations and guarantee yourself a number of fair reviews that will boost your book sales.
Reviews are an essential tool for creating credibility and exposing your book to more people. Of course, a book review in the New York Times is fantastic, but reviews by your readers are important too, especially when it comes to Amazon. Your book’s rating on Amazon is determined by reader reviews. Many people will scan a few Amazon book reviews before committing to a purchase.
What authors should know about Amazon book reviews
Amazon reviews are often a first point of contact for people who are interested in your book. If they’re on the fence about purchasing your book, a set of rave reviews could persuade them to hit the buy button. On the other hand, negative reviews, or even a lack of reviews, might send them back to browsing.
These reviews aren’t only good for attracting readers. Amazon algorithms give priority to well-reviewed books. That means books with more verified reviews (where the customer’s purchase is confirmed), helpful reviews (which have been upvoted by customers), and new reviews than its competitors are more likely to be shown to browsing book buyers.
You can measure a review by its positivity and its quality. A review’s positivity measures how favorably the reviewer looks at your book, while a review’s quality determines how well it’s written and whether it’s fair and accurate. This is an important distinction, as a negative yet objective and well-thought-out review may actually help you down the road. If an articulate 3-star review prevents someone not suited to the book from buying it and later leaving an unfavorable rant, you’ve saved yourself a little sleep at night.
How to request Amazon book reviews
Because Amazon reviews play such an important role in your book’s success, you want as many of them as possible—preferably 5-star. Of course, the nature of your reviews will be dictated by your readers’ impressions, but by actively requesting reviews from your friends, colleagues, and fans, you’ll likely ensure yourself a handful of positive, well-written reviews.
Before you start asking for reviews, there are a few things to note. In the beginning, you should focus on getting at least ten quality reviews soon after its release; this is a good threshold to bump your book up in Amazon’s algorithms. Also, customers will often take time to read a few reviews, so make sure there are a number of positive, unbiased reviews that have been upvoted to the top. However, you should never try to cheat the system by soliciting 5-star reviews. Instead, ask for fair, impartial opinions.
You don’t want to attempt to eliminate negative reviews either. When it comes to negative feedback that stems from differences in preference and opinion, don’t sweat it too much. Although it never feels great to get negative reviews, they can offer useful insight if they’re coming from a well-considered position. Reviews exist to help readers decide whether your book is right for them; if it isn’t, it’s better for them not to buy it. You don’t want to attract readers who are bound to be disappointed because they had misguided expectations. If you truly believe some reviews are inappropriate, check Amazon’s review guidelines. If the negative reviews are against Amazon’s policy, then you can contact Amazon support to have them removed.
Here are some tips for getting good Amazon book reviews.
1. Start with your network
Reach out to your professional network, friends, and family, to ask whether they would be able to do you the favour of giving your book a review on Amazon. If they agree, send them a copy. This can be an ebook or a print copy. Ask them to read it and prepare a review in advance, so that it’s ready for posting as soon as the book is available on Amazon.
Amazon won’t allow customers to post reviews before the book is available for sale. This means your readers will need to visit your book’s Amazon page to post the review on or after its publication date. (In the interest of full disclosure, they ought to mention that they got the book for free.) By pursuing this in an organized way, you should easily get ten or twenty reviews—plenty for a brand-new book.
Consider asking your friends and family to purchase their own copy of the book from Amazon, even if it means reimbursing them later. If you have the resources to do this, their review will be noted as a verified purchase, which will boost your standings on Amazon’s algorithm.
2. Next, ask your fans
Once your book is out and you have a healthy set of reviews from your network, you can start asking your audience to share a review as well. Explain that you want their reviews to help you understand which parts of the book they liked, or simply let them know how helpful their review is in allowing you to keep doing the work that they clearly care about.
3. Consider Amazon Vine
Vine is an invitation-only program that Amazon created to get high-quality reviews on select new items, such as books. Under this program, Amazon sends high-ranking reviewers a copy of your book. The reviewers then read and (possibly) review your book. The program can give you a series of thoughtful and credible reviews, sometimes coming from reviewers ranked in the top 1,000 or even 100.
Vine reviews are also the only type of review that can appear before the book is published, making them useful even for pre-orders. It’s worth noting that Vine reviewers are in no way obligated to give a positive review, so if you are anxious about a few negative reviews coming in before publication, this may not be for you.
4. Reach out to top reviewers
Top reviewers are people who consistently provide reviews—often thousands of them—that are consistently voted as “helpful” by Amazon’s user base. You can directly ask top reviewers to give you a review by sending them an email or a copy of your book, though you’ll want to do some research first.
Look for top reviewers who seem most likely to be a good fit for your subject matter, and whose review style is fair and insightful. To find them, you can go to the Amazon pages of popular books in the same category as yours and check out the top reviewers who have posted there.
Getting Amazon book reviews can be a tricky situation to navigate, but by taking these considerations into mind, you’ll improve your chances of getting the word out about your book.
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