Welcome to Part Two of a three-part summer series focusing on successfully and efficiently marketing your book on Amazon. Last time in Part One we discussed writing reviews for other products and books and explained why it is an important part of book marketing. Part two will discuss soliciting reviews for your book and how to do it properly. Part three will explain why reviews (both giving and receiving) can “tilt” Amazon’s search algorithm in your favor and how you can tilt it further by taking other simple steps.
Part Two: Soliciting Reviews For Your Book
Once your book is published and available for sale on Amazon, one of the first things you need to focus on is getting (positive) Amazon book reviews. “Positive” is in parentheses because it is typically frowned upon to out-and-out ask for a “positive” book review, but let’s face it — only the positive ones are doing you any good! So that’s certainly your goal — acquiring book reviews in the 4-5 star range. Ultimately, however, as you get more Amazon reviews, your average star-rating will be out of your control. So, all you can really do is seek out Amazon book reviews via the methods below, and hope your book is good enough to secure the “positive” reviews you need. Here are three great ways to get reviews:
1. Reviews in Exchange for Free Copies
A widely accepted and common practice for acquiring Amazon book reviews is giving away copies of your book in exchange for reviews. This is usually the most successful when performed in person, when you literally hand a paperback or hardback copy of your book to someone you know and say something like: “If you enjoy this, I would really appreciate it if you could post your review on Amazon.”
Offer to sign it. Then write something like, “I hope you enjoy this! ” as a “subtle” reminder. Not everyone you give your book to will write a review for it, but this has a high ratio of success. Obviously, the better you know someone, the more likely it is they will write a review. You can limit the number of free copies you give away by only offering copies to people who will appreciate or value your book. Don’t give your hardcore horror novel to your grandmother, for example (unless you happen to know that’s her cup of tea).
You can also do this online by offering your ebook edition to a community of readers in exchange for a review. Facebook is full of communities with this purpose, and Goodreads is another good choice.
2. Reviews in Exchange for Reviews
If you’re at an author event and you are following the suggestion above by handing out copies of your book for reviews, don’t be surprised to be on the receiving end of a similar request. This is a stroke of luck! Other authors are your most likely candidates for a book review, because they want you to write a review of their book, too. Swap copies, vow to swap reviews, and sign each other’s books! This type of networking is part of the benefits of being a published writer; take advantage of it by broadening your reading library, widening your network of colleagues, and increasing the number of reviews you receive.
Again, you can also do this online, where you offer to swap reviews with other writers. How do you suggest an online review swap? By asking for one. “Hello, I’m so-and-so, author of such-and-such, and if you’d like to swap Amazon book reviews, please get in touch with me.” You can either vow to purchase each other’s books (thereby increasing your respective best sellers rank and getting your author royalties back), or you can exchange digital editions.
This is a great way to build camaraderie in your writing community, but only if you follow through. Don’t participate if you don’t intend on fulfilling your end of the bargain (i.e., purchasing the book, providing the e-book, or writing your reciprocal review). It only take one rotten apple to ruin the bushel.
3. Amazon’s Top Reviewers
Contacting other readers within reading communities is all well and good, but what would be even better? Contacting REVIEWERS within reviewing communities! Reviewing communities? Is there such a thing? Not only is there such a thing, there is the best thing — a community of the top reviewers on Amazon. These are the individuals that Amazon has identified as consistently writing the most frequent, most helpful reviews.
There are two different listings of Amazon’s top reviewers: A listing of Amazon’s “Hall of Fame Reviewers” and a listing of Amazon’s “Top Reviewer Rankings.” You can find both lists at http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers.
Being identified as a “Top Reviewer” is a lifestyle for some of these individuals, and the only way they can maintain their ranking is by continuing to write reviews. That means they are highly motivated!
Some of them are impossible to contact; others are not. Some of them are very specific about the types of products they review; others are not. Some of them provide very specific instructions for how to solicit a review; others do not.
But if you start at the top of each list and work your way down through the profiles of each reviewer, you will identify candidates for your book review. Pay attention to the types of books they enjoy, since your chances of receiving a (positive) review will increase dramatically if you send them the type/genre of book they’ve reviewed positively in the past. Follow their instructions for contacting them to the letter, and always be respectful.
Stay tuned for Part Three where we explain how “activity” around your book can improve your Amazon search rankings. And, if you missed Part One, click here.