How to encourage readers to review your book

Two people reading
Customer reviews are one of the key ways that readers decide whether to try a new book or author. For authors, they’re essential to marketing their books to a wider audience.

We know that authors are modest souls who don’t like to blow their own trumpets. But you’ve written a great book and if other readers are going to get the opportunity to read it, you need to help them to find and learn about it. The opinions they value highly are those of fellow readers.

There are few places more important to have those reviews than Amazon. Amazon is the world’s largest book marketplace and it accounts for more than half of all ebook sales and a big slice of print book sales (especially for self-publishers). Its reviews are placed right where customers are looking to buy, they’re widely trusted by readers, and they influence the ‘algorithms’ that decide how visible a book will be to readers browsing or searching for their next book. For Kiwi authors, Amazon reviews can help to get their books in front of both a local and global readership.

Ask your readers to post a review on Amazon

Many readers don’t know how important these reviews are to authors, so in the nicest possible ways you should let them know and ask them to help get word about your book out. Amazon is the number one place to do that, and Goodreads is a close second. How can you do this? Well, here are just a handful of ways.

  • Add a note to the back of your book — but don’t specify a particular site to place reviews on or you’ll run into competitive problems.
  • At your book launch and any talks about your book, explain how important customer reviews are and ask people who buy or read your book to post a review.
  • When you sell copies yourself, insert a brief note requesting a review. You can even insert an Amazon gift coupon for a complimentary Kindle ebook as a thank you with the bonus that the reviewer can post the review as an “Amazon verified purchase” which carries more weight. Go online to Amazon where you can create and print these gift cards.
  • Send eGift cards to potential reviewers by email. This can be especially useful when you approach reviewers directly through your networks but be aware that you’ll have to buy your own ebook (though you’ll receive your royalty back), and the reviewer will not be obliged to review your book or spend the gift voucher on your ebook. Some may even resent this approach so you should qualify their interest first.

Now, here are a few tips on how to write a review. While most of these are specific to Amazon, many are fairly general.

How to write an Amazon book review

The good news is that Amazon will walk you through the review and rating process, so even if you’re not sure how to go about it, just get started and follow the prompts.

How long should it be?

Amazon recommends a review should be from 75-500 words.

Getting started

Reviews should be honest and useful but they don’t have to be long or complex. Start your review with a couple of sentences to introduce the book. What was the book about? This should be brief.

The main content of the review

Expand on the review by considering:

For fiction:

  • How did the author handle key elements like characterisation, plot, atmosphere.
  • How convincing were the characters, could you relate to them? Who was your favourite?
  • How did the plot unfold – predictable, fast-paced, unexpected twists, etc. What about the ending?
  • No spoilers! (or, if you must, signal a spoiler well in advance). Concentrate on the earlier half to avoid giving away too much.

For non-fiction

  • What was the central argument?
  • What new information did you learn? Was this a useful addition to the field?
  • What was the quality of research, illustrations, clarity of writing and presentation?

Wrap up and summary

Did you enjoy the book? Why (not)? Would you recommend it? Which readers would you recommend it for?

Rating the book

Amazon provides reviewers with a five-star rating system. Here’s how it defines the ratings.

1 = I hated it
2 = I didn’t like it
3 = It was OK
4 = I liked it
5 = I loved it

Putting your review on Amazon

You can write your review directly on Amazon or you can write it ‘offline’ and paste it into the Amazon review form.

The most important site for Kiwi readers is Amazon.com so you should ensure that your review is placed on this site. But you can also copy your review onto other Amazon sites, especially Amazon.co.uk if you create an account there.

Amazon’s review guidelines

http://www.amazon.com/gp/community-help/customer-reviews-guidelines.