How do you get more book reviews?
Many authors ask that question, and the answer is surprisingly simple: Ask for them! But how can you go about asking people to read and review your book without seeming like a shameless self-promoter?
In this article, we’ll discuss six ways to get more book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. These methods will help you build credibility and visibility as an author, which leads to more opportunities from publishers, agents, and readers alike!Want more book reviews on Amazon or Goodreads? Try these 6 tips. Click To Tweet
1. Understand the Importance of Book Reviews
One reason authors shy away from asking for reviews is that they don’t understand the value themselves. Do you? Maybe you’ve been to a writer conference and heard peers talking about reviews being important, but you don’t quite understand why.
Aside from helping potential readers make informed purchasing decisions, book reviews are essential to the success of a book. The average consumer assumes that a high number of reviews indicates popularity and quality. It’s the equivalent of testimonials on a consultant’s website — we all want to know the experience of other buyers before we invest in a product for ourselves.
Behind the scenes, book reviews have a huge impact — mainly on Amazon. For promotions, books usually need to meet certain review standards to qualify. Promotions get your book in front of a wider audience, which means more sales and — hopefully — even more reviews. We assume 25 interviews is the minimum to qualify for promotions, but we know for a fact there is no such thing as too many book reviews. More is always better.
2. Know the Rules for Amazon and Goodreads Reviews
If you’re focused on getting online reviews for your book, you need to know each website’s rules.
Over on Amazon, you can’t review any products — including books — unless you’ve spent at least $50 using a valid credit card or debit card on the site in the past 12 months. Promotional discounts don’t qualify toward the $50 minimum. Reviews from verified purchasers (people who bought your book through Amazon) are prioritized by Amazon’s algorithm, which is something to keep in mind when you’re looking at your reviews and average star rating.
On Goodreads, any registered member can review any book, but there are standards of conduct to follow. Read through each site’s policies so you know what you can and can’t ask readers to do, and also so you can educate them on how to satisfy review requirements.
Though you can use giveaways and contests to promote book sales and social sharing, you can’t reward people based on reviewing your book.
Both sites have strict rules against conflicts of interest. Amazon doesn’t allow you to incentivize reviews. You can’t offer anything in exchange for a review, including entries into a prize drawing, gifts, purchase rebates or invitations to special events. You also can’t review books written by relatives or anyone who has shared your home address. Sometimes, Amazon will allow reviews when the potential conflict of interest is explicitly revealed in the review.
I’ve worked with John Doe for several years and it’s so nice to finally see his business philosophy and practices captured in a book that anyone can read and review.
3. Use Your Email Signature to Invite Book Reviews
The simplest way to make sure you’re asking for reviews often and consistently without being pushy is to add an invitation as a P.S. in every email you send. You can include it as part of your automated signature or copy/paste it as a P.S. at the bottom of your emails.
Your email signature is a great way to get more reviews because it’s passive. It doesn’t take any extra time or effort. Whenever you send an email, the recipient will see your invitation for a book review and may be inclined enough by curiosity or goodwill to either leave you a review or at least check out the book for themselves.
Here’s one approach to try:
Have you read my latest book, [insert title]? If so, consider leaving a review on Amazon [insert hyperlink] and Goodreads [insert hyperlink]. If not, you can check it out here [hyperlink to purchase page on Amazon].
4. Recruit a Launch Team to Support Your Book
Launch teams are a great way to get your book out in front of several people all at the same time. The more people who know about your book, the more people who will buy it. And more buyers means more people qualified to review your book.
Usually, launch teams are created with the specific purpose of getting online reviews published. You can choose to communicate with your launch team entirely by email, text messages or you can gather everyone together in a pop-up Facebook group that only opens for the launch period and closes afterward.
Most authors or publishers offer launch team members a free copy of the book to read and review. Printed advance reader copies used to be the standard, but not any longer. Now, launch teams usually get a digital copy in the form of a PDF, graphics for sharing on social media and closer access to you as the author.
I enjoy using pop-up Facebook groups for launch teams because it’s creates a centralized location to communicate with launch team members and to share resources and information with them. Readers get excited when they are in a Facebook group with the author, especially when the author takes on an active role in posting, commenting and hosting live video broadcasts exclusive to the group.
Asking launch team members to buy a copy of the book so their reviews get the highly regarded “verified purchaser” is becoming more common, but not everyone likes this practice. I’ve encountered several people who’ve served on launch teams for years and are taken aback by this new era of book promotion. I don’t mind explaining the business end of book launches (and importance of verified reviews) to grumpy launch team members, but you have to do what feels most comfortable to you.
5. Get Creative on Social Media
Socializing the message of your book and getting it seen far beyond your own personal network will require thoughtful promotion on social media.
Rather than a never-ending cycle of “buy my book” posts, take advantage of the natural opportunity for creative marketing.
You can mix up promotional content by sharing graphics that feature your book cover, title, or quotes.
This builds both name and brand recognition for your book, and boosts your credibility. Share these images with hashtags relevant both within social media circles (e.g. #bookstagram and #readers) and within your niche (e.g. #crimefiction, #historicalromance and #biblestudy). Choosing a branded hashtag for your book can help you stay organized and aware of how others are talking about your book on social media.
Social media is a great way to get more reviews, but it can also be used as an opportunity for creative marketing.
Vary how you share links to buy the book. Mix it up between putting the link in a post, in the comments of a post or through direct message with people who comment on posts about your book.
You can also share screenshots of reviews and your Amazon ranking on social media to boost your credibility.
Whenever someone comments that they love your book or shares positive feelings about it on social media, make sure to leave a comment thanking them for being a reader and asking if they’d be willing to copy and paste those words into a review on Amazon and Goodreads.
6. Manage Your Own Expectations
Every author wants a 5-star rating but that’s not how the world works, and it’s not even that important. The only thing to focus on as an author is the number of reviews you get. Everything else is subjective.
Goodreads reviews tend to be a bit more critical than Amazon reviews. Don’t be surprised if your rating is 1 to 1.5 stars lower on Goodreads than on Amazon. On both platforms, you can mark reviews as “helpful” or “unhelpful.” Asking readers to mark positive reviews as “helpful” influences how Amazon displays reviews in the “top views” section, so it’s a task worth asking folks to do.
When it comes to asking for reviews, keep in mind that not everyone who says they’ll leave a review actually does it. Even on book launch teams, where the whole goal is to get book reviews, you’ll find only about 25% of the members follow through on leaving a public online review of the book.
Why? People get busy, distracted or lose their momentum. Sometimes, they don’t finish the book or don’t like it and are too embarrassed to say anything.
The reason doesn’t matter. Your job is to keep asking.Getting book reviews is a long game. Not everyone follows through immediately, so ask often. Click To Tweet
What Will YOU Do?
Successful authors understand that getting book reviews is an ongoing process. It’s a big mistake to only focus on reviews during your launch period, because your book has a longer shelf life than that. If you want people to continue buying your book, you have to keep asking for reviews.
Think of it from a book buyer’s perspective: Would you rather buy a book that hasn’t been reviewed in the past three years or one that has more recent reviews?
This is why we say getting reviews is a long game. You will get more reviews when you understand the value of reviews on Goodreads and Amazon (so you can communicate that value to others), know the rules for leaving online reviews, leverage your email signature to ask for reviews, consider recruiting a launch team, get creative with your social media promotion and manage your own expectations.
There is no time in the lifespan of your book when reviews won’t be important. Do what you can to make the experience enjoyable and stay consistent.