When I talk to authors about getting reviews, most struggle to get just twenty, while other authors can’t seem to reach much beyond that.
The problem is that bloggers are inundated, and since there are 4,500 books published every day in this industry, the system is cluttered. Further, studies have shown that readers in general don’t always review the books that they buy. So what’s an author to do? Before we dig into some tips, let’s first look at different types of reviews:
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.
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: http://bookbloggerdirectory.wordpress.com/ or http://www.blogmetrics.org/ to find bloggers in your genre.
How 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.
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.
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 any time 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 250 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 the group and lets them know when her next book is out.
Here’s a sample of the letter we included in the back of her second book.
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 arrow):
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: