When it comes to marketing a book– whether it is self-published or traditionally published— most book marketing experts agree that one of the best ways to drive more sales on Amazon is having a high number of customer reviews.
Why? Because customer reviews, especially when you can land 50 or more, help boost your book’s searchability and even more important they increase customer confidence in your book. If enough people have purchased your book and felt compelled to write a review then that will help sway other potential readers to give it a try.
What is a Customer Review?
A customer review on Amazon lives at the bottom of your Amazon book description page. These reviews are written by customers who have presumably purchased your product and can leave you both a star rating and a verified customer review.
Unlike editorial reviews or testimonials that you add through your Amazon Author Central account and have creative control over, customer reviews are directly from your customers and more often than not you may not even know who they are. The reviews can be good, bad, ugly, or indifferent, and yet for self-published authors they are worth more than gold because the majority of shoppers on Amazon will check customer reviews before deciding whether or not to make a purchase.
Do Book Reviews Help Sell More Books?
To put it simply, book reviews can positively alter the Amazon search algorithm in your favor and possibly help you sell more books.
A positive book review sends a little signal to Amazon that an item was well received by a customer. Items that are well received are likely to continue to sell to more people, so Amazon takes those stamps of approval and uses it as a benchmark to show your book to more potential customers. In other words, positive customer reviews help your searchability and your sales ranking, which can in turn help you sell more books.
While increasing your book’s searchability is obviously a good thing, verified reviews also build customer confidence. Potential readers can vet your product through your reviews, which reflect an unbiased customer experience. If other people have purchased something and liked it enough to leave a review, it feels like less of a risk to a new buyer. Any item with no reviews on Amazon is a red flag and I think we can all understand why. No one wants to be the first to purchase anything.
But if no one wants to be the first, how can you begin to get enough reviews that Amazon will increase your searchability and customers will feel confident in your book, especially if you are a first-time author?
Let’s look at some different ways to get more customer reviews on Amazon both during and before you launch your book.
How to Get More Book Reviews on Amazon
1. Ask For Book Reviews in Your Book
This tactic is easily overlooked by indie authors but it shouldn’t be. Consider adding a sentence at the end of the book asking readers to leave a customer review to help more readers discover your book. This is a great tactic to keep asking for reviews long after your book has launched.
2. Consider ARC Reviewers
One way to get reviews for your book prior to its release is to send out Advanced Reader Copies (ARC) in exchange for honest reviews. An Advanced Reader Copy is typically a digital (though sometimes print) version of your book that you send out to a handful of selected readers who you have asked in advance to read your book and leave a customer review when it launches. They are not required to leave a positive review.
You can find ARC reviewers by asking your author network, your friends and family, or by using social media. Instagram is great for finding ARC reviewers. You can either post on your own channel that you are looking for ARC reviewers, or you can do a search for hashtags like #arcreviews and direct message people who are seeking books to review.
If you are a first time author you might not be able to get some of the more well-known book reviewers to read your book, but you can still find people just getting started as book reviewers.
If social media isn’t your gig you can also look for book reviewers and ARC readers by doing a google search for book reviewers. Look for ones with an active blog who are ideally well-versed in your specific genre. They may even have submission guidelines for ARC reviews, or you can look for an email address or contact form and ask them directly if they would like to review your book before it premiers.
3. Use Your Network
One advantage of building your author network is of course to have a large group of people who are interested in your work and ultimately interested in helping your book be a success. One way they can help you is by leaving customer reviews during your book launch week. You can even solicit your network for ARC reviewers. Continue to remind them after the book launches that a great way to offer their support is to leave a 5-star rating and a customer review.
4. Incorporate a Soft Launch
To help overcome the hurdle of zero customer reviews when you first begin marketing your book, consider having a soft launch period. The trick with Amazon is that no one can leave a review for a book until it is live. Even having your ebook available for pre-order can’t get you around this rule. So there is virtually no way to publish your book and have a plethora of reviews because the technology just doesn’t work that way.
This is why we encourage authors to do a soft launch. This is when you make the book live, but you don’t start actively marketing it yet. You can use this time to engage your network, friends, and family to go to your book listing page, purchase a copy, and leave a review. Then, when you’re ready to do your heavy marketing pushes you have real purchases and customer reviews on your page
5. Run a promo
Another way to potentially get more customer reviews is to take advantage of Amazon’s different price promotions – things like Kindle Countdown Deals or a 5-day free promotion where you can drop your ebook price to 0 for 5 days. Then, while the book is free you have the option of promoting it through various websites where people look for free kindle books. There are dozens of these types of promotion sites and many allow you to submit your listing for free. Some sites offer paid promotions to guarantee your book gets premium placement.
This is a good strategy to boost your customer reviews, but works best if there are already a handful of good reviews in the bank. In other words, this might not be your strategy for a soft-launch, but something you consider after you’ve already landed your first 10-15 reviews.
How many reviews do you need?
The more the better! One review is obviously better than none, but typically books with 50 or more customer reviews start to see an uptick in searchability and potentially book sales. The quicker you can populate your page with customer reviews and ratings the better, but collecting reviews should be an ongoing strategy well beyond your book launch.
We hope this helped you get more ideas on landing book reviews. If you still need more help, reach out to our book launch expert, Joel Pitney, for a free consultation.