When I’m looking for a new book on Amazon, I often wish I had the psychic ability to look at a novel and know right away whether I’d enjoy it. But sadly, I don’t have psychic powers. But I do have Amazon’s Customer Review section. And this is why I’m here to teach you the importance of securing Amazon reviews.
Why in the world do you need Amazon customer reviews? Wouldn’t your book be able to sell itself from the title, the cover design, the blurb, the store category and keywords, and the preview of the first few pages? All of those are important, but they’re not enough.
Amazon itself encourages shoppers to leave customer reviews. The power of reviews pans out in practice, as successful self-publishing authors observe that sales increase with positive reviews.
Generally, readers are reluctant to buy the book of an unknown author. It’s understandable, as a reader spends both money and time when buying and reading a book. But conversely, readers love to buy books from their favorite authors—so what can you do when you’re starting out?
That’s where customer reviews can bridge the gap. If they see that the book has stellar reviews, customers are much more likely to take a chance on buying it.
Now, reviews are a pain point for many self-publishing authors. Reviews are key for attracting sales, yet they’re one of the factors authors have the least control over. You can write a great story and craft a solid product description, but you can’t write reviews of your own book.
(Seriously, don’t pretend to be a reader and review your own book. Amazon will catch you and kick you off their storefront.)
Don’t know where to begin with reviews? You have several methods for soliciting reviews, and you should employ multiple approaches simultaneously.
- Ask your friends and family not only to read the book (which they should!) but also to post a review on Amazon. Yes, friends and family are allowed to leave reviews.
- Run an office contest for your coworkers. The first colleague to leave a great review gets lunch on you.
- Post on social media channels, especially Facebook and Twitter, asking your followers to leave a review. Emphasize to your readers that reviewing is a great way to support their favorite authors and that you appreciate each review. You could even read positive reviews and share them on your feed, engaging your most supportive fans in a fun way!
- Research book reviewers and review blogs in your book’s genre and category, then send complimentary copies. Recurring and professional reviewers have an audience who read their writing, making them a great publicity asset. Just be careful to contact reviewers and bloggers who read the type of book you’re publishing. For example, if you send your steamy romance novel to a Christian memoir reviewer, she will not be happy!
- Keep publishing more titles. With more books, you’ll get more opportunities to obtain reviews from regular readers. There are few other people you want on your team than a power customer who recommends all your books!
Don’t be stingy in giving away free copies to potential reviewers. If a reviewer is willing to buy your book, awesome! If they’re not, it doesn’t hurt to be generous to reel in a reader who would’ve otherwise passed up your book.
Remember that under Amazon guidelines, you can’t force a reader to leave a review in exchange for a free copy, so don’t take it personally if some prospective reviewers don’t follow through.
This is an excellent point to emphasize one perk of digital publishing. When you have eBooks, you don’t have to spend money to produce galleys or advance reviewer copies. Instead, you can send a reviewer an eBook with a single email. In addition, Amazon provides options for you to gift a reader an eBook to make it easier on both ends.
Nevertheless, it’s always a good idea to have physical copies on hand to give away, as Amazon lists the reviews from all a book’s formats under one section. Believe it or not, there are still readers out there who want a physical copy. I certainly wouldn’t turn a print book down!
It can be frightening to ask readers to review your book on Amazon. The ask can be intimidating by itself, and the prospect of a negative review can be outright terrifying. But even with those risks, an author is her best publicist and a self-publishing author more so.
With practice, you will get better at asking for reviews. As your titles grow, so do your audience and the reviews. Over time, more readers will review your books without you asking, and even the dreaded one-star reviews will soon be buried underneath an avalanche of five-star praise.
If you’re in self-publishing for a long and exciting career, you need to secure Amazon reviews right now. Fortunately, you can start today.
Maybe someday, I’ll find your book, be impressed enough by its reviews to click that buy button, and leave a review of my own. I look forward to the opportunity to do so.
Now, I’ll turn it over to you. As a reader, what leads you to review a book? As a writer, what tips and tricks do you have to secure Amazon reviews?
ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.