Listen. I am not buying a product that doesn’t have reviews. And I know I’m not alone on that.
We have all had the experience of discovering a product on Amazon and passing it up for a similar product where people have left positive reviews. Whether it's an appliance, a book, or clothes, we want the best thing we can get. It’s one thing for the description to say its a great product- it’s so much better when someone else says it.
Reviews demonstrate social proof. The more the better, and the higher the star rating, the better.
As authors, this is super important, and overlooked way too often. No one wants a book that no one else has read, especially if they’ve never heard of you. Of course, we can't completely control the rating that we get on our books, but we can absolutely control the number of reviews. And naturally, as long as you have a good product, the positive reviews will outweigh the negative ones.
So how do you get these reviews in the best and fastest way? Here are my top 3 methods for getting more Amazon reviews so that readers discover your book.
Reach out to people you know
The first set of reviews are the hardest.
I already mentioned that people aren’t going to buy a book that doesn’t have reviews. Your mom, best friends, and cousins are probably the only ones so you might as well start there!
In the beginning, you’re probably going to have to tell people about your book, request a purchase, and and ask directly (in the nicest possible way, of course) for reviews. This is going to be so much easier when you reach out to people you know and you already have a good relationship with them.
I see a lot of authors posting in author groups to request reviews. It doesn't hurt to do it, but in my experience, it's hard to get people's attention this way. Also, if I'm being honest, I personally don't want to take time in my day to write a review for someone I don't even know.
Your friends and family usually want you to do well, so start there. It's much easier to track them down too. Chances are, they can't avoid you forever 😉
Offer a free or discounted book
Another great way to get reviews is to make your book free or discounted for some period of time. If you write children's books, e-books are a great way to do this. Most of your sales will come from your paperback or hardcover anyway, so giving away a free e-book usually doesn't affect your book sales too much.
If you have a different format, you may want to offer your book at a discount for a limited period of time to avoid the people that just want freebies but aren’t customers.
Once you have this offer going, you can let people know that the reason you are offering it is to collect reviews. This exchange tends to work well because of reciprocity: when someone receives something at no cost, they naturally want to give something back in return.
Of course, some people will take advantage of the offer and not give you a review. That’s okay, and very much expected. It's a numbers game, so the more people that discover your book, the higher your chances of getting reviews.
By the way, I'm a huge fan of Kindle Unlimited for this very reason. You get 5 free days per quarter. It’s a free, easy promotional opportunity.
Follow up when you don't hear back
Don’t quote me on this super unscientific stat, but a fellow author once told me that 10% of the people they reach out to for reviews actually leave a review. If this is true, that means out of every 10 people you reach out to, you’ll get 1 review. 😲
The exact number will likely vary from person to person, but the general idea is on point. You're not going to get reviews from everyone. People are busy, forgetful, and honestly - some people don't like your book and don't want to hurt your feelings.
But you will definitely increase this percentage with each time you follow up with someone. I switch this up depending on the people that I think are most likely to leave reviews.
For people that I know personally, I may follow up 2-3 times after the initial request. For a broader set of people like my email list or on social media, I may reach out 1-2 times. Also, for people I don’t know that well, I may combine the request with some useful info so I'm not too much of a pest.
As a very forgetful, doing-the-most type of person, I can definitely say that I appreciate a good reminder. The number of times my daughters have to remind me that they asked for something is insane. Of course, sometimes I’m just hoping they’ll forget or leave me alone, but other times…mommy brain!
So moral of the story, be a toddler and ask away!
Once you start getting reviews, they just roll in
It’s a grind in the beginning. But once the reviews start going, they keep going.
I’ve found something like 75 reviews to be the point where it all tends to take off. People naturally discover your book more often and you get reviews without even needing to ask. I do like to supplement this by continuing to ask people for reviews - you can never have too many.
Hope you find these suggestions helpful and continue to get lots of love and reviews on your books!