How to Get Reviews by the Truckload on Amazon

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AmazonEbooksThese days, we hear a lot about book discovery. As more and more books hit the market, readers are deluged with choices and authors are struggling to get in front of new readers and even existing fans.

Recently Bowker announced that the number of books published each day in the US is up to 3,500.

This does not include all eBook data since many eBooks are published without ISBN numbers that Bowker can track. What this has done is create a strong need for a reader’s voice. Reaching these readers, however, is another matter entirely.

What’s an aspiring publisher or author to do? Well, it’s time to get serious about being seen in places where your reader will find you. It’s time to realize the things that are important to your reader: reviews and engagement. Authors who focus on those two things alone are head and shoulders above the rest.

More Reasons to Love Reviews

The other reason to love reviews is that the more reviews on Amazon the more visible your book becomes. This is largely due to the Amazon algorithm which is based on a few things, one of which is the number of reviews you get to your page.

It’s called Social Proof and Amazon loves it. More reviews on your page push your book higher in search ranking when someone enters your book’s search term into the Amazon search bar.

Different Types of Reviewers, Do They all Matter?

Reviewers, like anything in marketing, are very relationship based. That’s why it’s often easier to get reviews for your second or third book, but first-time authors, don’t worry – I’m going to show you a tip in a minute that can help you double or triple the amount of reviews you get.

There are a few different types of Amazon reviewers. Let’s look at each:

Top Amazon Reviewers: These folks can review anything, not just books, and they often do a lot of reviews. I had one reviewer tell me she once posted 100 reviews a month on Amazon. These reviewers also get a lot of credibility in that their reviews are often accompanied by attributes such as Hall of Fame Reviewer, Vine Voice and Top Ten Reviewer. Here’s an example of how a top reviewer shows up on Amazon:

AmazonReviewexample

It’s a great thing to get a top Amazon reviewer to consider your book but they are tough to target. Does it mean you should ignore them? No. We’ll talk more about how to creatively target them in a moment.

Amazon Reader Reviewers: These are readers who just love books. They aren’t part of the top list like the high profile Amazon reviewers, but they can also review a lot of books. Their reviews are thoughtful, insightful, and thorough.

They tend to be very genre focused, which means that they stay true to one genre, possibly two. Many of them are also on Goodreads, which is another reason why it makes sense to be on that site, too.

Consumers: Do consumers review books? Yes, but according to a review statistic I read recently they don’t review a lot. Often only 1% of consumers will review a book they read, but I’ll show you how to quadruple that number for your next book.

Bloggers: We love bloggers. They have this tireless passion for books and if you can get them to review yours, this relationship can last the length of your career. But keep in mind that while book blogger relationships are great, not all of them review on Amazon so if your goal is to really populate that page with reviews, you’ll want to make sure they do.

Curious about how to find great book bloggers? You can search for many of them on Google and search “book blogger” + Your genre. You can also go to sites like: Blogger Directory or Blog Metrics to find bloggers in your genre.

Different Ways to Find Amazon Reviewers

A quick Google search will take you to this link: http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers. The problem is that this link takes you to an endless list of reviewers you now have to ferret through:

AmazonTopReviewers

As you can see, the list has two tabs on it, Top Reviewer Rankings and Hall of Fame Reviewers. The Hall of Fame list is really the top of the top. If you can get picked up by one of those folks, you’re golden. Not all of them review your genre, and some don’t even review books. There are other ways you can reach them, though.

Some authors I know will just find reviewers based on other, similar titles. You can do this by going to books that cover the same or a similar topic and see who has reviewed their book on Amazon. You follow the reviewer’s link to his or her Amazon profile page, look for an email address, and send a pitch. It’s a very time-intensive way to get reviews, though it’s 100% worth it.

If you start this process early (i.e. before your book is published), you’ll be able to target these folks as soon as your book is ready to go. The other way to find reviewers is to use the following search string, which I’ve seen a few times in various formats.

Keep in mind that this search string isn’t an exact science, and I’ve also found that it works better for some genres than for others. First, let’s take a look at the search string structure:

Search String in Google:
http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers “Top 500 reviewer” “Romance”
Or you can also use:
http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers “Top 1000 reviewer” “Romance”

The string is broken down as follows:

1. First is the site you want to search: http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers this is the profile link on the Amazon page—that’s the URL you are searching from so you must include this in your search string.

2. Next you want the Top X reviewers, in this case I recommend putting in 500 or 1000. You won’t pull up that many, but it’s a nice high number to shoot for. Why the difference in the number? Because I recommend that you search it both ways. Oddly, though you’re just changing a number, each of these searches may produce different results.

3. Next up is the genre. I put in romance here but yours might be mystery, sci-fi, etc. Whatever your genre is (fiction or non-fiction), put it there.

When you do this, you still have to sift through the results. Keep in mind that not all Amazon reviewers list their email address on their profile so you may have to hunt for them by searching their name and their blog (most Amazon reviewers have blog sites they repost their reviews to).

If you’re willing to continue your search, you can also try this search string:

http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers “Top 500 reviewer” “Young Adult Fiction” “E-mail:”

Note the spelling of the term e-mail. For the purposes of finding the right reviewers, we want to mimic how the term e-mail is referenced on the reviewer site. This process, while time-consuming, can help you start building your top Amazon review list.

How to Double the Amount of Blogger Reviews You Get

You’ve now identified the bloggers you want to pitch and they also review on Amazon. You know that they get a lot of review requests, so how will you make yours stand out?

Last year I conducted an experiment. I wanted to see if there was a way I could double or triple the amount of reviews I could get if I were an unknown, newly published author. If you’ve ever attempted to get reviews, you know it’s never easy as a first-time author.

You’re lucky to get one or two at the most. I always tell authors to personalize their pitches whenever they can because it’ll net more review requests. Most of the time authors sort of nod in agreement, but I suspect that very few actually do this.

I mean let’s face it; it’s a big time suck to personalize pitches, right? You have to go to their blog, find their name, look up some of the books they’ve done reviews on, see if they’re right for your book and then pitch them.

Seems like a lot, right? Now I’m going to ask you to take this a step further. I want you to include some personal information on them, too. I did this anytime I could and, as I said, I tripled the amount of review requests I got for this unknown author. In some cases I quadrupled the amount.

Turning Your Book into a Review Machine

We all want to turn our book into a sales machine. Now I’m not talking about turning your book into a cross-promotion tool (though that’s good, too) I’m speaking about getting your book to work for you in other ways.

We’ve worked with many first-time authors, but earlier this year I had an idea I wanted to try. I wanted to find a way to encourage readers to review the book by adding a specific request. We asked the author to include a letter in the back of her book asking for reviews:

She reminded readers how important their voice is. Did it work? Yes. In fact she’s got well over 70 reviews of which only 10 were solicited. Remember, this is a first-time author with no history online and this book was self-published.

All of these things worked against her and still she succeeded in getting tons of reviews. Were they all five-star? No, but that’s not the point. Let’s face it, a book page that’s populated with tons of five-star reviews is pretty suspect anyway. All of the reviews are authentic, written by real readers the author engaged with.

Want to know another secret? These readers are now part of her “tribe;” she stays in touch with them and lets them know when her next book is out.
How did she ask for reviews? She crafted a letter to her readers. Here’s a sample of the letter we included in the back of her second book:

AmazonReviewRequestLetter

Keep in mind that as I mentioned earlier, generally only 1% of consumers review books on Amazon. Using this letter helped to beat that average by a lot.

A Little Known Amazon Tool

Did you know that you can respond to a review on Amazon? Using access to your Author Central account you can now write a note thanking the reviewer, or, you can let the various reviewers know that you have another book out and ask them if they want a free copy for review.

To gain access to your Author Central Page, go here and log in using your regular Amazon login: https://authorcentral.amazon.com

Once you’re inside you’ll see this header. Click on Customer Reviews (see red arrow)

AmazonAuthorCentral

If you click that button, it’ll take you to this page where you’ll see a bunch of your reviews. Under each review you’ll see “Add a comment”—this is where you want to click.

That will let you respond to the reviews. It’s a great way to connect with your readers on Amazon!

Here’s a screenshot:

AmazonReviewsComments

Reviews and the process of getting them has gotten more challenging and time intensive as new books continue to flood the market. Reviewers have a lot of choices.

But if you’re smart about your efforts, and leverage Amazon’s features wisely, you can really boost your book’s exposure, and your sales.

One final note on Amazon reviews. Sometimes in order to get reviews, you need to become a reviewer. I’m not suggesting you compete for their top review spot, but instead help other writers in your market by reviewing their books. It’s not only a great way to pay it forward, but they may offer you a review, too.

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Penny Sansevieri
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She is the author of twelve books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon and Red Hot Internet Publicity.
Penny Sansevieri
Penny Sansevieri

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  1. Raymond Jennings says:

    Great article, Penny. I’ve been struggling for reviews and sales but with the release of my second book I’m starting to see the latter improve and I hope with the great tips you’ve provided I’ll see the former grow, too. Your advice is much appreciated. Thanks.

  2. Thank you Penny for the great article. As a first time inde-published author, I found your information invaluable. I’ve gotten great reviews on my book, Elusive Obsession, but as you indicated, I would like to get more reviews. Thanks again for your help.

  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing this very useful information.

  4. Gretchen Grossman Mobley
    Twitter:
    says:

    Hello Penny. My website is still being built. It shouldn’t be long now. Thank you for your clarity and thoroughness in writing this article. I can certainly understand why you’re a star in this industry. My first book has finished CreateSpace review, and a copy has been sent to my house. It’ll arrive on Tuesday. It’s a memoir, which I’m discovering, doesn’t count as a real book in some circles. I understand that too. But I’ve carried around so much for so long, that I had to get it out or I’d have a perpetual jungle fight in my head. I just wanted to tell you how much I appreciate your ability to communicate. First there’s the skill, and then there’s the desire to share. You’ve got both. Gretchen

  5. Interesting article. I liked the suggestion on requesting readers to submit a review to Amazon. I have acted on it and included an appeal in my Ebook.
    Thanks again. God bless.
    Ignatius Fernandez.

  6. Penny,
    I liked reading your article – it provides useful tips and is written in a warm and friendly style. I shall certainly try out some of the methods. I hope something clicks. God bless. Ignatius (Fernandez)

  7. Hi Penny,
    Great article! I have 2 questions. First, I’ve heard that Amazon doesn’t like book reviews by authors. I have always written reviews of books I like; now that I’m also an Amazon author, does that mean I should stop? Will my reviews actually harm the authors whose books I enjoy enough to write a review on?
    And the second question is related, should I NOT use your suggestions here to ask other authors who write in my genre to review my book?
    Thanks again for a great article.

  8. E.Van Johnson says:

    A great article, many thanks, I must admit to being lazy when it comes to selling my wares. I spend so much time writing and teaching that I seem to have little time for promotion so this hopefully will allow me to pass on some worthwhile information to my pupils and who knows I may even try it myself.

  9. Hi Penny
    Just read your article. Sounds great. However, How do all of these reviewers get access to my book? You never mentioned anything on that subject. I am new at this and I would appreciate some good guidance.

  10. am having trouble getting the search string that you provided to work on Amazon. It keeps giving me a 404 error.

    http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers “Top 1000 reviewer” “Romance”

  11. Wow, this article is jam-packed with practical tips that are immediately implementable. Thanks so much for sharing your experience with strategies that have really increased the number of book reviews you and your clients get.

    As a Top Amazon Reviewer, I completely agree with Marquita and JD about the importance of approaching a reviewer with some knowledge of the type of books they review as well as a respectful request.

  12. Really enjoyed this read… Chock full of useable tips and tricks for the first time AND multiple book authors. I am half way through Red Hot Internet Publicity by Penny C. Sansevieri so this comes as no surprise – as a self-published author, I am always looking to expand my visibility to both readers and reviewers and I have underlined or highlighted something of use on practically every other page. Thank you and Bravo Penny!

  13. Thanks Penny, great article and a few tips I didn’t know, especially the author central add comment tip.

  14. Great tips… I especially love the Google search ideas!

  15. Thank you, Penny. A lot of good food for thought here!

    Ah, but “so many books (to read), and so little time (to review them).” As one who reads and reviews a fair number of DEAD authors, I can certainly sympathize with LIVING authors who’re still looking to get reviews. Problem is (that I can ascertain), Amazon’s algorithm doesn’t reach out to DEAD authors. It simply lets them lie. Dead. And their reviewers? As good as dead.

    Russell

  16. Of course I’m familiar with Penny and these are all great tips. As an author and reviewer who has been targeted by writers attempting to follow similar advice I have a suggestion – make that a plea. I normally don’t mind being approached to review a book – if I have time and if it’s in a genre I enjoy – chances are pretty good I’ll do it. The problem is more than half of the requests I’ve received were poorly worded, came off more like assumptions that writing reviews is a responsibility, and quite often for books in genres I never, ever read. What I’m saying is do your homework and take time to craft a professional (respectful) message if you want a chance at getting a positive response.

    • Marquitta I love this – and it’s so true. Over the years I have worked with authors who feel they are “owed” reviews which makes me crazy. Being grateful and saying please and thank you goes a long way…

  17. I\’m a Top 500 Reviewer for Amazon and I do get a lot of review requests. Many of the requests are from people who have just gotten my email and haven\’t bothered to check to see what sort of books I read. If you ask me to review salsa music or a cookbook or truck tail lights (all recent requests) then I know you don\’t know a thing about me or what I read and I don\’t bother to respond. If, on the other hand, you show me that you\’ve read my Profile and can give me a reason why I would like to read your book that makes sense, then I\’ll usually take you up on your offer and review it.