How To Get Amazon Book ReviewsGetting Amazon book reviews is hard work

It’s no secret that the more reviews a book has on Amazon, the more likely it is to sell. While there are countless other marketing tools that can be used when promoting a book, reviews are, and have always been, the most important element in promoting a book. In days past, publishers sent out hundreds of advance copies to beta readers, newspapers, television and radio stations as well as well as well-known authors to gain reviews that very often ended up being quoted on the back of the book when it was finally published.

The same process is being used today, however with the advent of ebooks and Kindle, in particular; these reviews now need to be gathered and published on a book’s page on Amazon and other online retailers as well as book-related websites such as Goodreads. So how do publishers get so many reviews for a new book?

When scanning reviews for books released by the large publishers on the Kindle Store it’s worth noting how many reviews were actually posted by readers who bought the book. Amazon makes this easy by identifying those readers who bought the book by labelling the review with ‘Amazon Verified Purchase’. While I didn’t spend weeks analysing lists of reviews, I did sample about twenty books that were listed in various bestselling genre lists. The one similarity was that on average only a very small proportion of reviews were posted with the ‘Amazon Verified Purchase’ tag. The other similarity was that among the first twenty or so reviews there were next to none of these verified tags.

It doesn’t take a lot of brain power to figure out what’s going on here. These reviews were posted by the publisher. Either by their own staff, their teams of beta readers or by reviewers who are paid to post. Book marketing is the same as any other form of marketing. It’s all about hype and gaining exposure, not about independent and unbiased opinion.

For self-publishing authors, though, the process of gaining reviews for a new book can be a long and arduous process. Relying on paying readers to post reviews can take years to build a decent list. Very few paying readers have the habit of posting reviews, so reviews have to be sought by other means. While social media offers the possibility to gain some reviews, it’s usually friends, relatives and a few online buddies who are the best source. While book bloggers can be useful, I’ve found them to be a bit hit and miss and often too genre specific. There is also the option to pay for reviews. I did a quick search and found the going rate now to be $5 -$10 for this service.

The other practical method, of course, is to exchange reviews with other self-published authors. ‘You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours‘ as the old saying goes. Simply write your own reviews for your own books and post them for each other. Dishonest? Well, perhaps a better label would be hype, marketing, building your brand and competing with what the big publishers are doing.

If you were selling dishwashing detergent instead of a book, how scrupulously honest would you be in your product marketing? Of course, it gives your hands a skin rash.

How To Get Amazon Book Reviews

73 thoughts on “How To Get Amazon Book Reviews

  • 05/07/2012 at 7:00 am
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    Hello authors!

    I just had to add to this discussion.

    I love reading and reviewing books! Recently I have received emails from authors asking me to review their books because they saw me on the AmazonTop Reviewers list. Now this may not seem like a big deal to others, but I was thrilled! I didn’t even know I was listed there until receiving the emails!

    When I read and review a book, I take a lot of pride in signing my name to it. Whether it be one star or 5 stars. I post my reviews on other sites too, for example, Twitter and a month on Hoot Suite, my Facebook, Goodreads, both my blogs,Smashwords ( if an author gifts it to me as I can’t post a review there otherwise, their rules). Sometimes I can post on my public library site if the book is available there, but that isn’t often.

    I always write the author and attach my review with a thank you for allowing me to read and review their book.

    Authors are requesting my reviews because I am on other lists now too, I’m assuming because of making it to Amazons Top Reviewer List. Not really sure.

    I am so excited because these new authors and books (except for one) have been a step up from when I first started reviewing. I am having so much fun reading and learning things before I review the book.

    I feel terrible to see the hell authors go through. But please know, I’m sure there are others who enjoy and take pride in reading and reviewing books. I do not charge a fee, never have and never will. I don’t care what people think about this, I just choose not to. I know how hard authors work to write their books.

    It is so uplifting for me as a reader and reviewer to now tell authors who request me to review for them that I would love to if they don’t mind a bit of a wait. I actually have a waiting list! I love it!

    I am an eclectic reader, and authors find this appealing. I can’t imagine reading any other way. It is both new and challenging to read outside my comfort level.

    Anyway, sorry if I’m rambling, I just wanted to say I love to review and I hope you all will find reviewers you like and trust out there.

    Thanks for listening! Keep writing!

    Mary

  • 05/07/2012 at 4:00 pm
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    I’ve been reading these comments with interest as I have recently started a book website. I am currently working on a way for authors to create their own profiles and I was thinking of implementing a way for authors to provide copies of books for reviewers to review. I’d only make the books available to users who had previously posted a number of genuine reviews. I believe similar schemes already run on Librarything, Goodreads and Netgalley so any pointers about a system that would suit indie authors would be useful to me.

  • 05/07/2012 at 8:43 pm
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    I suppose it’s a cultural thing Dina. Being from Europe, it’s not something that comes naturally. When someone spends their money on my books, I’m reluctant to ask for anything more because we have completed our deal, to use an expression. Before the advent if ebooks, it would have been unheard of to ask a reader to write a review. It is only in the the last year or two that we as authors have decided that we would like more from our paying readers. While I was self publishing paperback only (prior to ebooks) I never bothered with reviews at all. So much has changed, it’s hard to know what the new protocols really are.

    • 05/07/2012 at 11:03 pm
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      I’m with you, Derek.

      I feel it’s a little rude to respond to a reader who has taken the time and trouble to communicate with me by asking them to do something else for me. That’s the time to give back to them, not to ask more from them. However, if I had built up a relationship with a reader over several books, I think I would feel comfortable about asking for a review then. (That hasn’t happened yet as I have only just started my Indie author journey.)

      • 05/07/2012 at 11:20 pm
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        Ack! Perhaps I should specify that I was referring to my friends, not people I didn’t know. LOL! My friends and colleagues had written me privately to tell me how much they liked BABY GRAND, and I felt comfortable enough asking them if they’d mind writing a review. But folks I didn’t know? Yes, I agree. I could never ask for a review. I’m just happy they read the book! Thanks for your response, JB. It made me realize I wasn’t being clear.

        • 06/07/2012 at 4:29 am
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          Ah, yes, that’s a different kettle of fish altogether, Dina.

  • 07/07/2012 at 2:51 pm
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    Wonderful post, Derek, and I hate to be the fly in the ointment but I’ve never experienced difficulty receiving quality reviews from book bloggers. Most of those bibliophiles happily post reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, B&N and other sites. I think more novelists would garner these unbiased reviews if they’d simply send out queries.

    Here’s another thought: recently Amazon has begun stripping reviews from some author’s books if the review was written by another author. Amazon Executive Customer Relations Chief Jonathan Norberg has stated, “We do not allow reviews on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product.”

    Now, I don’t think Amazon will halt all reviews posted by authors–we’re also readers, after all–but I do purchase an eBook before posting, thus ensuring my review appears as a “verified purchase.”

  • 07/07/2012 at 3:22 pm
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    Taking the discussion on a slightly different tack folks, in the unlikely event that a reader gains a copy of our latest when as writers, we take advantage of the promotional ‘free’ give away system KDP/Amazon currently have. Should they actually read the book and write a review, would Amazon still remove it?

    Just a thought…

    ;)

    • 07/07/2012 at 4:25 pm
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      Jack, since no-one can get a straight answer from Amazon, who could answer that question? I can’t, by the way, that email I sent to Amazon and you posted has not received a reply. It’s been a week or more.

      I have a catch-22 type of problem with paid reviews. I know that people think a paid review is biased and I tend to agree with that. But on the other hand I can’t understand why everyone thinks someone should do a time-consuming job and not get paid for it like everyone else does for work they do.

  • 07/07/2012 at 6:25 pm
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    This has been a really great wall to have been a fly on! Great information here, since deciding to leave my publisher and ‘go it alone’ I’ve figured out a small portion of what I just haven’t got figured out

  • 07/07/2012 at 7:30 pm
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    This is an interesting discussion. I review books (don’t review indies), and do review books from netgalley in addition to print. Aren’t tools like netgalley helpful in getting reviews? I believe many netgalley reviewers do post their thoughts on the book on their blogs/goodreads/amazon.

  • 08/07/2012 at 12:14 am
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    I offer pdf copies to anyone who requests and All my reviews on AMAZON are earned, even if there is no purchase verified. Some people may well mislead but I am certain many of us do not.
    :)

  • 26/07/2012 at 3:24 pm
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    This was very helpful.

    I have had a few family and friends read my book. They say they will write reviews, but they seem to be taking forever. :-) Exchanging books with other authors seems to be great, but I find there is a little pressure to give that person a good review. I’ve just recently sought out sites and people who will review for free or a fee. Some of them are booked up and others are more available. It just takes a bit of searching around and submitting the book’s information. But that is the plight of self-publishing. We have to pound the pavement and put our nose to the grindstone.

    Your post lets me know that I’m going about it in the right way. So, thanks a bunch for that! :-)

    Theresa

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