Be honest: when you’re shopping for books, how often do you head straight for the one with the most reviews? Like it or not, Amazon has forever changed the way we buy and sell books. As knowledgeable educators who recognize the value of data, we look to reviews to help us determine the quality of the work. And those comments, especially on Amazon, not only influence sales; they also influence the author’s visibility.
We have a chicken-and-egg problem, though. In order to get reviews, we need to sell books; in order to sell books, we need good reviews. So, what is the single best way to get Amazon reviews? Start by simply asking.
“Almost every important human encounter boils down to the act, and the art, of asking,” says Amanda Palmer, author of The Art of Asking: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let People Help.
If the idea of asking for reviews makes you feel uncomfortable, here are a few tips that can ease your nerves.
Start with a Launch Team
The publishing process includes a lot of people: editors, publicists, marketers, social media specialists, and designers, to name a few. While many people on your team are provided by the publisher, you can, and should, bring in outside reviewers to look over your work. These can be close colleagues, but because of the highly savvy Amazon algorithm, you should avoid family and friends. “Amazon can track your close relationships and will remove these reviews because they are seen as biased,” according to the Author Learning Center.
Make a list of 10 to 30 people who might be able to read the work. But even if you can’t reach that many, just start with a few names. “One month before the book release, send this team a copy of your book so they can read it in advance. It’s easiest to email the book as a PDF, along with a short call to action,” says Tucker Max, cofounder of Scribe Media.
- DO: Give out free, advanced copies of your book in exchange for an honest review.
- DON’T: Pay for a review or offer compensation for a positive review.
Choose Your Words Carefully
When asking for reviews, you want to respect the complexity of your readers’ opinions. Avoid saying things like, “If you really loved my book, please leave a review.” While this is a common ask, it doesn’t leave space for an honest assessment. You want the review to be positive, of course, but you want the reader to get there organically.
A better way to phrase the question is, “Did this book help you in some way? If so, I’d love to hear about it.” Honest reviews help readers find the right book for their needs!
Scribe Media suggests something like the following:
- DO: Use the “Editorial Reviews” section on your Amazon book page.
- DON’T: Review your own book.
Get Personal with Visuals
Asking for Amazon reviews via video is a great way to deliver a personal message to your readers. Here’s an example from author Ken Williams.
- Tip: When creating your video, remember our 6 Quick Tips for Video Marketing.
Harness the Power of Social Media
If you don’t have social media platforms set up, consider doing so. You don’t need to learn all the latest influencer trends, but casting a wide social media net will catch more readers than you could accomplish without it. Specifically, you should have a presence on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook. If you have a more visual approach, you can also consider Instagram and TikTok.
As part of your marketing strategy from Solution Tree, you have access to a digital marketing kit. We know the importance of social media and give you the tools you need.
- DO: Repost, comment, or “like” positive comments about your book.
- DON’T: Promise to trade positive reviews with other authors.
Selling a book can be challenging. You’ll need to put in some solid legwork. Start with Amazon, prime the pump with reviews, and help spread the word.