01 Dec 2020

As an author who has self-published 63 books, I totally understand the value of Amazon reviews. A book with at least a few good reviews will sell far better than one that doesn’t have any or one that has a majority of negative reviews.

Amazon accepts reviews on all products sold on their site. However, in this article, I am referring to reviews on books only.

What is an Amazon Review?

Make a Living as a Professional Self-Published AuthorAn Amazon review is an explanation (good or bad) by someone about why they liked (or didn’t like) a book. These include a rating from 1 to 5 stars. One means the book was terrible and five means it was incredible. Very few books deserve a one star rating, in my opinion, as it means it  had no value at all.

  • 5 Stars – Fantastic.
  • 4 Stars – Good.
  • 3 Stars – It’s an okay book. This is not a positive review.
  • 2 Stars – Not very good
  • 1 Star – Garbage

Reviews are valuable for shoppers because they get real information from people who have purchased and read the books. This is more useful than the author (or manufacturer or publisher) explaining the wonders of their newest book or product. Business networking works the same way – if a friend you know, like and trust tells you about a chiropractor, you are far more likely to believe him than an advertisement or promotion from the doctors office.

What is an Honest Amazon Review

A good Amazon Review is like you are giving a thumbs up for the bookAll reviews should be an honest opinion from the reader describing what he thought about the book. Even if an author gave you a copy of the book (which is allowed by Amazon), you still need to give your honest opinion.

If you have any kind of affiliation with the author, you are a close family member, close friend, or helped produce the book, you should not write a review of the book.

All Amazon reviews should be an honest opinion by the reader.

What should be in an Amazon Book Review?

A book review should be about the book and nothing else.

  • Did the book fulfill on it’s promise as described in the Amazon Book Description?
  • Was the thesis supported?
  • Was the writing clear and concise?
  • If fiction, was the plot well paced, the story enjoyable, the characters well described and so forth.

And reviews should never mention:

  • Issues with shipping.
  • Issues with the vendor.
  • The physical print quality of the book.
  • The authors political or religious beliefs, sexual orientation, or anything unrelated to the book.

Personally, I don’t mention a few minor grammar or spelling errors in a review – instead, I send a note off to the author. After all, in the world of self-publishing, these things can be fixed quickly and easily. Of course, if the book is rife with errors (more than a handful), that’s a different story.

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Amazon Reviews are Important for Authors

Books without any reviews have a hard time selling. Because of this, authors must spend a lot of time finding people to write reviews of their books. This is especially important in the week or two right after a book is published – authors want to get some reviews fast so people get an idea of what others think of your work.

Online reviews are the modern media world-of-mouth; they’re immensely powerful and can have a huge affect on how your business is perceived. 5 Ways to Get 5-Star Amazon Customer Reviews

Good reviews are always preferred, but believe it or not, you don’t want all of your reviews to be 5-stars if you can help it. Having 20 five-star reviews appears suspicious and readers may believe they are fake or have been bought. So don’t get discouraged if you get a few 3, 2 or even 1-star reviews. You can’t please everyone, and they may actually help make your book more credible. Of course, if MOST of your reviews are 3-stars or below, then well, yes, your sales are going to suffer.

All reviews are valuable, and a mix of positive and negative reviews helps to improve consumer trust in the opinions they read. Ecommerce consumer reviews: why you need them and how to use them

Are Amazon Reviews Real?

Amazon works very hard to ensure that reviews are honest and written by real people. According to their terms and conditions, the only thing that can be given to reviewers is a free copy of the book. That’s standard practice in the publishing industry. However, the reviewer cannot influence the review in any way, and must accept anything, good or bad. Note for all other product reviews, nothing may be given in exchange for a review. Books are the only exception.

Can You Buy Amazon Reviews?

When you ask people for reviews you can give them a free copy to read. You cannot ask them for anything in return, other than the review, and you cannot REQUIRE the review for a free copy. Additionally, you cannot attempt to guide them as to what to write in the review in any way. Finally, don’t ask family, close close friends, or anyone involved in the bookmaking process to write a review (and NEVER pay for a review.)

When are Amazon Reviews Removed?

Sometimes a review will be removed by Amazon either because they believe it’s tainted or the author pointed out it was irrelevant or inaccurate. Some reasons a review could be removed include:

  • Amazon believes a close friend or family member wrote the review.
  • Amazon determined the review had been purchased.
  • The review was fraudulently obtained (by creating a second account, for example.)
  • The author requested Amazon removed the review because it was inaccurate, hateful or violated their terms and conditions.
  • Someone reported the review because it violated Amazon terms and conditions.

As far as I know, there is no notification when a review is removed. It’s just deleted.

How does Amazon know you are a friend, relative or associate? Sometimes the reviewer writes it in the review. Rumors have been floating around for years that Amazon monitors social media (although that’s hard to believe.) Mostly likely, others report the review to Amazon.

How Do I Get Amazon 5 Star Reviews?

If you’ve written an excellent book that educates or entertains your readers, had it well proofread, have a good cover, and what’s inside the book is well-represented by the Amazon description, than you should be able to get a majority of positive reviews (4 or 5 stars.)

On the other hand, if your book is rife with grammar and spelling errors, is poorly written, or it’s contents don’t fulfill the promises made in the Amazon description, then you’re going to get more negative reviews (1 to 3 stars.)

Even the best books will occasionally get a negative review. Don’t sweat it.

I always, always encourage authors to put a letter in their book, asking for a review. Not a good review, just a review – good or bad. How to Get the Best Amazon Reviews (Legit 5-Star)

Can I Use Amazon Reviews on my Website?

There is some debate about whether or not Amazon owns it’s reviews. You could argue a review is the property of the person who created it (the reader.) In any event, the best policy is NOT to use Amazon reviews on your website or other materials. According to fair use (part of US copyright law) you can use short quotes, but keep it to a minimum.

Instead, get reviews for your website from the media, influencers, friends, family and anyone else you can think of. There are no restrictions at all on reviews that you get on your own for your website.

Amazon Honest Review strategy

The strategy I use is:

  • A few weeks before publication date, ask people if they want to do reviews.
  • Send out PDF versions of the book in advance.
  • When the Kindle version is published, send the link to all of them.
  • Always follow up at one week, two weeks and three weeks to make nudge them to write a review.
  • Ask more people to do reviews of the Kindle version, and offer to send them a PDF copy.
  • Ask for reviews on each book I’ve published at least once a month.

So in summary, you need to get reviews on your book fast. Send out free copies, ask for as many people as you can for an HONEST Amazon review, and follow up. People get busy and forget.

Good luck!

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