How do I attract genuine book reviews?

Joanna Weber Joined the corporate masses (account no longer active)

January 24th, 2018

I have a background in writing and figured my market research would be valuable, so I wrote a book with another early-stage founder. So far, so good.

We even got it (briefly) to number one in Amazon's e-commerce chart via a short-but-snappy advertising campaign.

However, nobody has reviewed it yet and it's been out several weeks. In passing, friends have said that at the very least it's entertaining and really quite useful, with much broader appeal than the niche of UK-based startups in the parcel delivery space. It would probably go further if it had the 'social proof' of reviews, but my choices seem to be:

  1. Pester friends and family to write a review
  2. Pay someone and probably get myself banned
  3. Painstakingly trawl through reviewer profiles to try to find the contact details of someone who might (might!) feel like reviewing it
  4. Hope that someone who downloaded it might finally go to the trouble of reviewing it (given that I rarely do for things that I buy)

I've sent PDFs to a blog or two, but wondered if you had any tips on spreading the word.

Any ideas?

Kristen A. Luciani CEO of Sand Hill Romance, LLC, Creator of Vorbii App (vorbii.com), Entrepreneur, Bestselling Author

January 26th, 2018

Hi! Do you have an email list? If so, run a giveaway and offer a certain number of copies to your subscribers in exchange for a review. Make that clear as part of the giveaway. You can have people share news of the book on Facebook or Twitter to enter - create a post or tweet and include the link so they can easily share/retweet. Then pick as many as you want to gift and follow up to make sure they submit a review. If you really want to go the extra mile, give them something else for free that is a value add to make them even more inclined to share their thoughts. Good luck!

Paul Garcia marketing exec & business advisor

January 26th, 2018

There may be some missing information from your question. Are you asking where you can get your book read for free? By known book reviewers? Or just reviewed by readers on Amazon in the comments section? Is there a hardcopy of your book or is it only an e-Book?

Unfortunately eBooks are very difficult to get anyone to read and review. They're frequently considered vanity projects. And without some "celebrity" endorsement, are not always considered real writing, even with desirable content.

I don't know much about the UK publishing system, but in the USA, publishers use professionally paid readers who receive hardcopies of books, typically in advance of publishing, and they're paid to finish and write synopsis statements (not the same as reviews) that will more likely get the right people to read the book. The publisher then pays to distribute the preferred synopsis statements to booksellers along with another copy of the book, and issues paid press releases that contain the buzzwords for the book that might trigger other pickup services to notice. Self-published books, you have to do all of that yourself. And most writers' groups will tell you that publishing a book is 95% a sales job and 3% a research job, and 2% a writing job. The full-time job of a self-published author is promoting their book.

It's not really a fairness system where books get read based on merit. Just like acting in the movie business doesn't employ the best actors, they simply use whomever is testing as popular to attract viewers to some (frequently recycled) story.

As for getting Amazon reviews? Well, I'm not sure it will help sales of your book very much. But you may need to make some hardcopies of the book and send those out to key targets. There is still a preponderance of folks who will never read a digital book.

I do appreciate that you would like to receive some recognition from more than friends and family for the effort you put into writing something useful and interesting. I wish you lots of luck, but it's about all I can promise. Luck combined with a massive sales and advertising effort. Wish I had better news.

John McDowell KUSUNOK ltd

January 25th, 2018

There are many different ways that you can attract people. Increasing your exposure by doing blog tours, doing a free promotion, and other types of marketing activities allow people to learn about you. They may not be ready to buy yet, but getting them to know about you is the important first step.

Andrew Chapman Publishing Entrepreneur and Author

January 26th, 2018

Hello, Joanna!

Though Amazon's promotional algorithm is a secret, many armchair analysts have concluded that customer reviews *do* have an effect on Amazon's promotion of a book within its ecosystem. (And they should.) I've heard various assertions that the sweet spot is between 30 and 50 reviews. An author friend of mine said it was like the "lights went on" when his book hit 50 reviews; causation or correlation or coincidence? We'll never know for sure. But all that's to say you're not wasting your time trying to chase down Amazon reviews.

And you're certainly not alone. I'd say this is one of the hardest nuts to crack for most authors I hear from. Unfortunately, from those who've succeeded, the solution seems to be nothing less than polite persistence and "the numbers game." If you want 50 reviews, you'll need to probably directly and personally solicit at least 500 people (i.e., not spam). For this reason, "a blog or two" is far short of enough.

So yes, you need to pester (again, politely) friends and family. You need to reach out to dozens of appropriate bloggers. You need to go after relevant thought leaders. Unfortunately, you can't get Amazon data on who bought your book, but you *can* put a prominent notice near the front and at the back asking customers to review the book with a direct link to your Amazon listing. And every time you blog about it, write about it, speak about it, or anything about it, ask people to buy AND review your book. Polite persistence.

As for bloggers who review books, here's your resource:


Check out the accompanying ebook and print book for sale that includes many other types of book reviewers.

The whole process is very frustrating, and I've never done well with it. Luckily, I focus more on large-quantity sales, sponsorships, and other avenues outside of Amazon. But I've resolved for 2018 to come up with a successful "review system" for myself.

Oh, and last... you're 100% correct... NEVER pay for a book review! Aside from potentially being banned from Amazon, if the word were to get out (and it can) you'll lose valuable trust and may incur the wrath of the Internet. (Thankfully, I'm not warning you from my own experience.)

I hope all this helps — and by the way, I love the title of your book "101 Albums You Should Die Before You Hear." :-)

Fred Cohen We help grow companies

Last updated on January 29th, 2018

The normal 3rd party publishing process is intended to address this. As a self-publisher, you are responsible for that part of the business. Generally, you want to get reviews from the top folks in your field - recognized experts whose names are known around the world (or at least to your intended audience). Friends and family, pay someone, trawl, hope, are all lacking in the fundamental understanding of what works in the market for references/endorsements (which is what you are seeking). You might apply your own marketing research approaches to identifying the best reviewers for your book...