Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Sell More Books By Getting Featured Reviews on Amazon

Book reviews are the life blood of an author's income stream. The more reviews you have, the more people are talking about your book, and the more likely you are to be moving copies. Not only that, but a book with a lot of reviews is going to show up closer to the top spot in searches, and you're going to see it featured in those annoying "other customers with similar shopping habits to you bought this book!" section on Amazon. In short, a well-reviewed book is a book that sales algorithms are going to push onto new customers, doing a lot of your work for you. If your book isn't getting reviews, though, then it might be time to start taking a more active hand in that process.

Seriously, who could say "no" to such an experience in literary masochism?
"But wait," you might say, "Isn't deliberately jacking up your reviews on Amazon wrong?"

Very astute of you, theoretical reader. If you're thinking of people who create dummy accounts to leave positive reviews of their own books, or who pay shadowy organizations to say nothing but good things about them, then yes, that is very definitely wrong. That isn't what I'm talking about, though. What I'm talking about is soliciting reviews from people (typically in exchange for a free copy of your book), and making sure that your book has people talking about it.

Not All Book Reviews Are Created Equal

Some folks just stopped reading because they figure they've done this step already. They have friends and family members who are eager to get their hands on a copy of their latest release, and who have assured them they'll pay real money for a copy, and leave a positive review. Hell, if needs be, these mystery authors can enlist their co-workers to get another dozen comments put up on their Amazon page as well.

Even crazy Uncle Billy said he'd give you a good review!
Now, the truth is that for every 10 people who say they'll give you a review, you're probably only going to get 1 person who follows through. Still, that means even real introverts should be able to manage 20 reviews or so if they ask everyone they know both online and off. While that's great, and you should never turn down a review if someone offers it, you might be trying to buy a new car by saving pennies. What you need is a few bills with Grover Cleveland's face on them (and in case you've never seen such a bill, those are worth $1,000 or so).

Metaphors aside, what I'm telling you is that Amazon (and other, similar sites) don't give every review the same amount of weight. So while your mom leaving a positive note on your latest book is going to be taken into account, it won't give you the kind of serious cred that a 5-star review from Cliff Bigname will. Cliff, you see, is a featured reviewer who has written hundreds of reviews, many of which are checked as helpful by other shoppers. Cliff's opinion is therefore given more weight, and if he and 10 of his fellow featured reviewers all give your book 4 and 5 star reviews, each one of theirs may be worth dozens of reviews from readers who are considered much smaller voices in the community.

So if you want to get a big spike in your views, and possibly move yourself up the search results list in your genre, it's a really good idea to get those big names to stop by and read your book.

How Do I Do That?

You ask them.

If you don't know any featured reviewers on Amazon, that's okay. All you need to do is follow this link to go right to the current top reviewers. Once you have their information all you have to do is email them a polite request to review your book, along with a no-strings-attached electronic copy. Thank the reviewer for their time, and wait. Sometimes you'll get an email back telling you that they're your new #1 fan. Sometimes you'll get a polite "no thank you." Sometimes you'll hear nothing. Whatever the response is, accept it professionally, and move on to the next person.

You'll get about the same results with Amazon reviewers that you'll get with book bloggers or newspapers; 1 in 10, if you're lucky. So remember that when you're looking at the number of tendrils you've put out there, and you wonder if you should send just one more email before calling it a day.

Yes, you should. Because that last email might be the shout that starts the avalanche.

As always, thanks for stopping in! If you'd like to help support the Literary Mercenary then check out my latest release, the steampunk noir collection New Avalon: Love and Loss in The City of Steam! Or if you're more of a "tip in the jar" sort of reader, stop on by The Literary Mercenary Patreon page to become a patron. Lastly, if you want to keep up on all my updates then follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, and Twitter!


  1. *sigh* I tried sending review requests to the top Amazon reviewers.
    Crickets chirping.

  2. When in doubt, keep kicking in doors. All you can do!

  3. I've done this with mediocre results. The reviews I get from hot shot reviewers are usually only lukewarm. You also have to screen them carefully. On one occasion I requested and got a review from someone whose religious sensibilities were offended by my book. That guy still didn't completely trash it (it's a pretty solid book) but if I had checked his blog beforehand I could have avoided the incident.