A couple of months ago we bought a new TV for our front room. We went to the shop and looked at all the TVs, the different sizes and prices. And then what? We came home and looked at all the reviews on Amazon.
What better way to find out the quirks and quibbles of a range of items than by looking on Amazon at the reviews?
The views of ordinary people like you and I, with no vested interest in convincing you to buy a product, just their honest opinion on what they thought.
When readers are browsing online, they will do exactly the same for your book. They’ll look at its reviews for the social proof – should they buy it, or not. Bad or negative reviews are bound to put potential readers off.
So, can you do more to encourage positive reviews on your book? Of course you can. Here’s how.
Firstly, why are reviews important?
Well, firstly it’s great for you to get feedback on your writing. After all, that’s the reason you’re writing in the first place; so readers can appreciate and enjoy your work. It’s a fantastic boost to get positive comments, and means you’ll probably produce better writing as a result.
But the bigger reason reviews are important is because they encourage other readers to buy your book. It’s like when you’re shopping for clothes and someone picks up a top you had your eye on too. That top becomes more attractive somehow – because someone else likes it! It becomes more desirable. It’s the same with your book. It shows your book is credible if others have read and enjoyed it.
Does it matter how many reviews I have?
Yes, the more, the better.
Obviously, if you’ve just released your book, it’ll take some time before readers start buying, reading and reviewing it.
If a friend or family member would genuinely be interested in the type of literature you’re producing, ask them would they like to read a copy and leave an honest review. Once there is one review, other readers will be more encouraged to leave one too.
Note: It is NOT a good idea to encourage anyone to leave phony reviews on Amazon.
The number of reviews you have also has a psychological effect on readers, because the more reviews you have overall, the less any negative reviews will matter.
If you have 379 reviews, just the sheer fact that 379 people have bothered to review your book is powerful enough in itself to convince others to buy it too.
So, the less reviews you have, the higher the average rating needs to be to help convince others to buy.
So, how can I encourage good reviews?
Without doubt, the best way is to produce a well written, edited and produced book, to the most professional standard you can.
You know you can’t please everyone all the time. If a reviewer didn’t find the plot believable, that doesn’t mean every reader will feel the same; it’s just one person’s opinion after all.
But if the content is not worthy of good reviews to start with, then you’re asking the impossible.
So take the time before publication to make sure your book is the best it can be.
Then, here are the other things you can do:
(These tips are all fair and ethical ways to encourage positive reviews. By using these methods, you’re not trying to influence the content of any of the reviews in any way [which is something you should NEVER do]. You are just increasing the chances of the reviewers being people who are likely to enjoy your book, and leave positive comments.)
Give away review copies of your book
Don’t give these out to just anyone, remember these two tips:
- Make sure the people who review your book are your target demographic, as they are the people most likely to enjoy your writing.
- If you have an email list, or a fanbase list, these are the people you should contact. They already have enthusiasm for you and your writing, and are your target demographic.
Ask people who’ve reviewed your books before to review your new book
In addition to the above, where possible narrow down your list to only include readers who have left reviews for your other books.
This means they’ll be more likely to take the time to leave a review again. After all, there’s no point in giving review copies to people who will never actually leave a review.
Ask people who’ve left good reviews on your books before to review your new book
If you can narrow down your list further, you could start with only asking the people who left positive reviews about your previous books to review your new book.
Again, these are the people most likely to enjoy it.
Do not tell your reviewers that they can have a copy of your new book as a ‘reward’ for a good review of a previous book, or in return for a positive review. This is not the point; you are NOT trying to influence the content of your reviews.
You are just trying to start at the point most likely to generate the positive reviews.
Promote a giveaway to incentivise readers to leave a review
There are a couple of points of caution here:
1 . Make sure you promote to your fanbase, not random readers
Think of your objective – to get positive reviews. As we’ve already said, the people who are most likely to enjoy your book, and leave good reviews, are your existing fanbase.
If you have an email list of fans, send an email specifically for them. This is the best way to target only your fans.
If you don’t have an email list, promote your giveaway on your website or Facebook page. This is the next best thing.
The main thing is to be as targeted as you can with who you encourage to leave a review.
2. Be clever with your giveaway item
Don’t give away something that isn’t connected with your writing, as you may encourage people who are not really your demographic to review your book just to win the giveaway item.
Examples of good giveaways are:
- a signed copy of your book
- a taster chapter of your next book
- a free copy of your next book
- a spin-off novella giving more away about one of your characters
Don’t worry, you don’t have to give every reviewer a giveaway. If the ‘prize’ is more substantial, offer it as a prize draw, with all reviewers having their names included, and a ‘winner’ being drawn at random.
Ask readers who compliment you privately to also leave a public review
If readers contact you personally through your website and social media pages to compliment your work, ask them if they would also leave their review on Amazon.
These are fans who have taken the time to contact you, so they are likely to be happy to also leave you a public review too.
Some readers won’t, but of course it’s worth asking people to.
Reviews will have a big impact on the sales of your book. Follow the steps above to encourage as much positive feedback on your book as possible, and you should see a boost in sales as a result.
What else has worked for you when trying to build up your reviews? Leave your answers in the comments section below.
We’re Peter and Caroline O’Connor. Creating beautiful book cover designs for authors all over the world is our passion. Every author should be able to benefit from a beautiful book cover design (not just the lucky few who get signed by a big publisher). We design, podcast, and coach authors full-time so we understand your struggles. Currently accepting new clients.