One strategy that can help catapult your book to page one on Amazon results are your Amazon book reviews. Of course, your book needs to be categorized well on Amazon (with the right keywords and categories). It needs to be well-written, too! But after these “givens” reviews rock.
Why are Amazon Book Reviews Important?
#1: Amazon Takes Reviews Seriously. The Amazon Algorithm looks at book purchases but also at reviews. A large number of 5 star reviews (and 4 star as well) shows Amazon that the book has merit among readers. Amazon will, however, discount reviews if they are from people who did not purchase on Amazon or, so I have heard, if it looks to their algorithm as if you are closely related to the reviewer.
#2: Readers Take Amazon Reviews Seriously. Many potential book buyers read reviews. First, almost everyone looks at the average number of stars before buying a book. A 4 or 5 star book is helpful! Most potential buyers tend to read a few reviews in detail as well. When it comes to self-help, how-to or business books, people are searching for a book to solve a problem. The more specifically the reviews address how the book helped them with a particular goal, challenge or problem, the more motivating it is for potential book buyers.
Don’t wait until your book comes out—or is even written, for that matter. Start your work today. First off, you want to be a contributor to your greater community—other authors in your field, book buyers and readers. The Amazon book reviews you post help other authors and they help buyers make the buying decision. Only review books you can authentically rate a 4 or 5 star book.
I once reviewed a book lower than a 4 when I was disappointed in it. I’d planned to give it as a gift and it just wasn’t the right gift for this person. The author contacted me personally and told me how much work she put into the book. Perhaps I just wasn’t the right audience for it: I took off my review. I haven’t reviewed a book under 4 since then. Focus on the books you love (or at least super-like!).
If you start reviewing related books (and others) now, it will be much easier to ask colleagues to write Amazon book reviews for your book later. So, don’t wait!
- Ask your colleagues. Before the book comes out, encourage your colleagues to pre-order the book. Mention how grateful you would be for their review, if they like the book. It’s always a good idea to include those last 5 words! You may want to draft an email you can send to colleagues and personalize it for each person.
- Ask your fans and wider community. If you send out a newsletter, send a special emailing sharing why you’re so excited about the book. Share what it can do for the reader and your hopes for the difference the book will make for readers and those they love! Include a request for Amazon book reviews (and book reviews in general), again, if they love the book.
- Give out bookmarks or postcards. If you do any public speaking, teaching or just meet lots of people, print up bookmarks or postcards that invite people to buy your book. You can include a QR code on the bookmark for easy purchase with a phone, plus a request that, “If you love TITLE, please review it on Amazon and elsewhere.”
Find Readers Who Are Passionate About Your Work. Stephen Snyder, MD, author of Love Worth Making, has 47 Amazon book reviews in the few weeks since the book came out—and a 5 star average! He suggests, “Reviews are a book’s life-blood these days—just as they are for any product sold online. But a book is more personal, so readers are less eager to go public with their opinions. An author needs readers who are passionate enough about the book to want to share their opinion online. To get consistently great reviews, you’ll first need to write a great book—then encourage people who love it to say so!”
Ask admirers to take the next step. Dr. Craig Malkin, author of Rethinking Narcissism, which has 122 Amazon book reviews and an impressive 4.3 star average suggests, “When people rave about your work on your Facebook page or Twitter, make a simple request: ‘Thanks you so much! I welcome reviews on goodreads and amazon. If you feel so moved, just cut and paste this wonderful comment into either. It’s terrific as is!’ and link to amazon reviews to make their job easier. 100% of the time, they’ll do it. People have alway been willing to take this tiny extra step to share their enthusiasm over Rethinking Narcissism.” This tip is especially helpful because Amazon does prefer reviews from people who don’t know the author personally.
117 Amazon book reviews
6. “Make a video and include it in your book via QR code. Tamara Monosoff, author of The Mom Inventor’s Handbook has 117 Amazon book reviews for that book, with a 4.8 star average. Tamara teaches authors strategies to get their book noticed, as well as how to monetize their books. One of her favorite strategies involves using video (via a QR codes that readers can scan with a phone). Her book review suggestion, not surprisingly, utilizes this fresh and proven method as well. “I suggest authors include a 30-second THANK YOU video message at the beginning and end of their book. In the video say something like, ‘Thank you for purchasing my book! If you love what you learn, I would greatly appreciate a review on Amazon. Your review matters and I greatly appreciate your time.’ Include a link to your Amazon review page to make easy for your readers to click and review.”
7. Encourage and Engage Your Tribe Step by Step: Jeff Goins’ books on writing have between 240 to over 700 reviews each with You Are a Writer topping the list at 724 and an average review of 4.5! Jeff offers this, “My simplest tip is quite simple for getting more book reviews: Ask for them. I recommend creating a Facebook group and email list for your book and encouraging people to read the book. When they do, ask them what they thought about it. When they respond, ask them to copy and paste that into a review. Offering incentives and rewards are great, but the best way to get an honest review from a reader is simply to ask.”
8. Create a Discount Code for Purchases Accompanied by a Request for Reviews. Jody Rein, literary agent and co-author with Michael Larsen of the 5th edition of How to Write a Book Proposal, says, “Although, in support of independent bookstores, I often send people to www.Indiebound.com, there’s no denying the power of Amazon reviews! We all have come to rely on the strong opinions of strangers, whether we’re buying books or blouses. I have to admit that for our book launch I was much more focused on asking publishing industry pals to recommend How to Write a Book Proposal, Fifth Edition than I was about creating a review campaign. It’s never too late! Thanks to Lisa’s advice, I’ve started asking anyone who sends a complimentary letter to write a review. I also recently asked our publisher to provide a discount code that we could connect to an ‘ask’ for purchases and reviews. It’s a great dual-purpose promo, because we’re creating positive work of mouth on the book even if the campaign doesn’t get a ton of reviews. We put the discount code on our new Facebook page for the book, and promote the discount code a little through social media. Please like the page and use the code (and, of course, write a review!)”
And Another Tip to Add to Your Promotion Plan
Jody adds, “Ours is a little bit of a “carpenter’s shoes” situation. At least our inside-industry promo paid off—we just learned today that our book earned out its advance before its first royalty statement was issued! That NEVER happens! But now we need to sustain those sales, and reviews are permanent, free ads, so that’s our next focus. Self-publishers, you can create your own discount code based review campaign!”
Jody’s point about focusing on asking for recommendations is well taken. Asking for recommendations from people who influence your target market is one of the best ways to sell books, as evidenced by the success of How to Write a Book Proposal. So, add that to your book launch plan, in addition to asking for Amazon book reviews.
2020 Update to the Post
It’s March 2020 and I was recently contacted by a reader recommending this excellent post by author C.S. Lakin. You’ll learn the latest tips and also can download a copy of her free guide: 8 Simple Secrets to Big Book Sales on Amazon.
Have a tip for getting Amazon Book Reviews? Please add yours below. Feel free to ask questions as a comment as well!