Why do you need reviews? The obvious answer is to garner or increase your symbolic capital. A COMMON mistake many authors make is when they request that someone give their book a review is they either ask the reader to search for the book, or even send the person a link to their book, making the person click around hunting till they (maybe) finally get to the review page where they can write the review. Because of this, readers are more than likely not to follow through. I mean, would you? More than three clicks and they move on.
It is on you to simplify the process. You have to make it easier for your readers to leave a review. Send the reader a link DIRECTLY to the review page where they can enter their review. For Amazon, that looks like this:
Step 1. Depending on the format you want the review to be directed to, identify either your ASIN for the eBook or Audiobook, or the ISBN-10 for the Print book.
Step 2. Take the following link, and add your number from step 1:
https://www.amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin= + [ASIN or ISBN 10]
A link to YOUR book will not work for you, the author of the book, so don’t freak out when it throws an error when you try to load it under your own Amazon account. Load up the example link to one of Hallee’s books above and you will see what it looks like to qualified readers. Have a qualified reader who is not you load your link to test it.
On Goodreads, you need to go to your book’s primary URL.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/[yourbookinfo]?=[a bunch of garbage like “from search qid rank,” etc.]
If you see a question mark “?=” in the URL, delete it along with everything that appears after it and reload the URL.
You should end up with a URL that looks something like this.
Replace the words “book/show/” in the URL with the words “review/new/” and it will take you directly to the review page.
There are 4 types of reviews.
- Expert Reviews
- Trade Reviews
- Friends, Family, and Financially-tied
- Reader reviews
The first two types of reviews are essentially paid reviews. The third type is the type that online entities like Amazon do their best to get rid of for any product they carry, not just books. Due to the number of click-farms and other similar services that cropped up over the last decade, they do their best to wipe them out so that their buyers get the most honest picture of the products. This is also why Amazon will only let people who have spent $50.00 or more in the past 12 months post reviews. That rule is specifically intended to combat the click-farms.
Read the terms of service or community guidelines carefully. Amazon’s are found here: https://www.amazon.com/gp/help/customer/display.html?nodeId=G3UA5WC5S5UUKB5G
You are not allowed to incentivize to obtain reviews in any way. With Amazon Community Guidelines, there are more things you cannot do than things you can do. Here is a summary of what you can do.
- You can give away a copy of the book for free, or as an ARC to anyone you like.
- You can give away a copy of the book at a reduced cost or discount to anyone you like.
You may not do either of those things in exchange for a review. There’s more. Here is a summary of what you can’t do:
- Pay or Incentivize Someone to Leave a Review in any way
- Offer a free gift in exchange for a review
- Offer to refund the reviewer for the price of the book in exchange for a review
- You can give the book for free, or as an ARC. But you can’t cover their costs. While they are both essentially “free,” the second one requires a review in exchange for making it free, thus incentivizing the review.
- Ditto for offering to send an Amazon gift card to cover the book price
- Swapping reviews with another author is a violation and could get your account permanently closed.
Reader reviews are the kind of review they prefer and the kind you will have trouble getting. This is because reader reviews are not written for you.
- Reader reviews are written by readers, for readers. You, the author, are not the intended audience.
- Collectively, Reader Reviews potentially influence anyone who would have anything to do with your book from agents to editors to potential influencers to readers.
- Recent studies reveal that the majority of younger readers seek at least 20 third-party reviews with a 3.86 or greater average rating as symbolic capital before potentially making a positive purchasing decision (source, Forbes online Aug 21, 2019).
How many reviews should you expect?
- Research suggest authors can expect around 1 review for every 1,000 copies sold. That’s just 0.1%.
- Bestsellers might do slightly better: John Green has reportedly sold 10-12 million copies of The Fault in Our Stars and has 47,000 reviews on Amazon—at best that’s a review rate of less than 0.5%.
About 40% of Christian readers NEVER leave a 5 star review for any book since they reserve those ratings for books like the Holy Bible. Therefore, there is an automatic bell curve. Remember that reader reviews are not intended for you, and remember that a 3 star review or higher is a POSITIVE review, especially among a Christian audience.
With nearly a million sales, Hallee Bridgeman is a best-selling Christian author who writes action-packed romantic suspense focusing on realistic characters who face real-world problems. Her work has been described as everything from refreshing to heart-stopping exciting and edgy. Hallee has served as the Director of the Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, President of the Faith-Hope-Love chapter of the Romance Writers of America, is a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW), the American Christian Writers (ACW), and Novelists, Inc. (NINC). An accomplished speaker, Hallee has taught and inspired writers around the globe, from Sydney, Australia, to Dallas, Texas, to Portland, Oregon, to Washington, D.C., and all places in between. Hallee loves coffee, campy action movies, and regular date nights with her husband. Above all else, she loves God with all of her heart, soul, mind, and strength; has been redeemed by the blood of Christ; and relies on the presence of the Holy Spirit to guide her.