Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Amazon Expects Readers To Pay If They Want To Leave Book Reviews

Online customer reviews are a way of life. Whether you're going out to eat, buying a car, getting your gutters cleaned, or buying a book, you always check to see what previous users have had to say before you put your hard-earned money on the line. In fact, as Invesp points out, as many as 90 percent of people will do a quick check on a local business's online reviews before trying them out. Of those folks, roughly 88 percent said they trusted online reviews just as much as they would a personal recommendation from someone they know.

This one looks good... let's give it a try!
If you're an author, then you already know how important good reviews for your book can be. Especially when it comes to the Internet's biggest marketplace, as I mentioned back in How Many Book Reviews Do You Need Before Amazon Promotes You? However, if you're hoping to get your readers to leave you a whole bunch of 5-star reviews on Amazon, prepare to run face-first into an unexpected hurdle.

You Want To Leave Feedback, Make Sure You're Paid Up!

Ideally, the book review process is a simple one. If someone reads your book and likes it, they can sign onto their Amazon account, call up your title, click how many stars they think you deserve, and maybe leave a little blurb about what they liked. Or hated, if that's the case. The more reviews you have, the more likely your book is to be seen, and the more sales you're likely to make. After all, if more than 50 people thought this book was great, then this is clearly something you need to check out for yourself!

In case you were looking for your next recommendation, you should check this one out!
It's already hard enough to get readers to go and leave reviews on your book, but as I've found with my sword and sorcery novel Crier's Knife, Amazon recently enacted a policy change that makes it even harder.

These days it isn't enough to have an Amazon account if you want to leave reviews. It's not even enough to buy your book through Amazon. In order to leave a review on it, the account holder needs to have spent at least $50 through that website in the past year. Otherwise they're not allowed to leave reviews. Even if they discovered your book through Amazon in the first place, and that's where they bought your book to read it. Unless they've spent that money (gift cards don't count according to the Amazon policy), then they can't share their thoughts with the community at large.

That's a kick in the teeth no matter who you are. Because whether your fans came across your book during a free giveaway, or they simply don't have a lot of spare dosh to throw around, leaving a review is one of the best ways to help the authors that you love without spending any money in the process. Unless, that is, you're trying to leave that review on Amazon.

So Go To Goodreads Instead!

If this is a problem you've ever run into (I've had three readers message me personally to inform me they ran into this wall, so I can only guess the number who had this problem and didn't tell me about it), then I have a workaround for you! You can still help the authors whose work you want to promote, share your opinion, and do it all for free.

Head over to Goodreads, and leave your review there.

Seriously, everyone is welcome over there!
While Amazon's algorithm is seriously powerful, Goodreads is no slouch at getting the word out about your work either. It even has buy links right on the page (as you can see on the page for Crier's Knife), in case someone sees it, thinks it looks good, and wants to pick up a copy. It also shows how many people are currently reading your book, and how many people have marked it to-read, which can be helpful.

This is not an either-or proposition, of course. If you're a reader who really wants to help an author you like reach a bigger audience, then leave reviews in as many locations as you can! But if you find yourself standing on the other side of Amazon's velvet rope because you don't order enough stuff from them to share your opinion, well, you're more than welcome on my Goodreads page!

We Can't Do It Without You!

Authors might be the ones writing the books, but it's the vocal readers who boost our signal that really drive our careers. Remember that, without you, there's no way we could afford to do this sort of thing for a living! Also, if you want to know some more ways you can help the authors you love without spending green to do it, check out 10 Concrete Ways You Can Help Authors You Like!

That's all for this Business of Writing installment. If you're an author, make sure you have a place all your thrifty fans can go so that Amazon doesn't silence their voices (and cost you money).

For more work by yours truly, check out my Vocal archive, and stop by My Amazon Author Page! To stay on top of all my releases, follow me on Facebook, Tumblr, Twitter, and now on Pinterest where I'm building boards to keep track of both my books and RPG supplements. Lastly, to help support my work, consider Buying Me a Ko-Fi or going to The Literary Mercenary's Patreon page to become a patron today!

1 comment:

  1. Funnily enough I was going to suggest goodreads to you when I started reading this post. But well looks like I don't need to! lol