Most of us authors have a love-hate relationship with our book reviews—as in, we love the good reviews and hate the bad ones—but aside from our emotional responses to them, reviews are a powerful tool for book sales, particularly when we’re talking about Amazon.
Think of Amazon reviews as the modern “word-of mouth”: like talking to a friend or the person behind you in line at the grocery store, potential buyers will look at your reviews to assist them in making a buying decision. If you don’t have many reviews, it can make your book look less popular than competing books in the same category or genre with more reviews. And if you have too many negative reviews, you will undoubtedly lose buyers. If this happens, take a step back and look objectively at the negative feedback. Often you will find a trend that needs to be addressed in a revised edition of your book. Also, pay attention to how frequently you’re receiving reviews. If your book often receives feedback on Amazon, it shows your book has ongoing interest and relevance—staying power. If, however, you had a flurry of reviewers post around the time of publication, and then have received nothing since then, it may make your book look dated.
The point is that all authors need to focus on generating reviews on Amazon on an ongoing basis. Legend has it that reviews also help Amazon rank your book. The more reviews your book receives, the more likely Amazon will display your book as an option in related search results.
Following are ways to generate more book reviews on Amazon:
Ask via social media – There is nothing wrong with reaching out to your social media audience to ask for their help—especially if your social media platform is set up around your identity as an author. An effective post could look something like this: “Did you like XYZ book? I’d appreciate it if you’d post a review on Amazon!” Don’t forget to include a link to your book’s page on Amazon in the post. Make it as easy as possible.
Reach out to your email subscribers – If you maintain an e-newsletter list, and you should, ask your readers to write a review. It’s amazing what happens when you simply ask.
Give away review copies – Many authors host campaigns where they give away free books specifically for review. In exchange, if the reader likes the book, he/she should write a nice review on Amazon. You can offer up this option via any means at your disposal (email, social media, to trade associations you belong to, etc.). Dan Poynter also facilitates campaigns like these through his publishing newsletter. Sign up at ParaPublishing.com.
Ask buyers – When you sell books through your website or at a live event, consider inserting a note inside the book asking the reader to post a review. You could print this request up on a postcard or even on a business card, or if time allows, hand-write a note to include in each copy.
Offer incentive – Recently I reached out to my audience and offered up a bonus report to anyone who posted a review within a specified time period (several weeks). This simple campaign inspired several dozen reviews from my readers with very little effort. A bonus report is something you offer as a free download, usually in PDF format. It might be some worksheets or templates that go with your books, or a list of 20 tips that would be helpful for your target audience. Bottom line, a bonus report should be something your target audience would find valuable.
Friends who have actually read the book – This one is tricky. You don’t want to ask Great-Aunt Edna or your mom to write a review. It will be too hard for them to be objective, and the results will show up in the reviews. But you do want to reach out to friends and family—those who have actually read the book—and ask them to take a few moments to write one for you.
Remember, sometimes all you have to do is ask. The key for most of us is to remember to ask!
Lastly, it is perfectly acceptable for you to send a friendly email to those who promised reviews and ask them about the status. They may have simply forgotten, and a gentle reminder can’t hurt. If that still doesn’t work, then just let it go. Other opportunities will arise.