7 Ways to Get Book Reviews on Amazon without Begging Everyone You Know

Reviews are a critical, but challenging part of any book’s marketing strategy.

Authors rely on reviews to build credibility and word of mouth marketing, while readers rely on them to decide whether or not to purchase a book. The more positive reviews an author has, the more books he or she is likely to sell. Having a lot of positive reviews on Amazon, the world’s leading book retailer, can mean the difference between success and failure with a book. The details behind Amazon’s search algorithms are a mystery, but it’s clear that reviews play an important role in a book’s search rankings. The more positive reviews your book has, the higher it will rank in Amazon’s search results, increasing your book’s discoverability. This will ultimately lead to more book sales.

Amazon book reviews are a critical part of any book's marketing strategy, but can be very challenging to acquire.

Acquiring a large number of book reviews on Amazon is difficult, especially for new or unknown authors that are still building a readership. A big part of the issue is Amazon’s ever-changing review guidelines, which can be a little hard to decipher. Here is a breakdown of the current guidelines:

What you CAN’T do:

  1. Pay someone to leave a Customer Review, or, offer a free gift or gift card in exchange for a Customer Review.
  2. Offer to refund the reviewer’s money if they purchase your book and then leave a Customer Review.
  3. Review your own book or swap reviews with another author. Authors that write books similar to yours are seen as “competitors”, and Amazon will likely remove these Customer Reviews.
  4. Have your friends and family leave Customer Reviews. Amazon can track your close relationships and will remove these reviews because they are seen as biased.

What you CAN do:

  1. Give a free, advance review copy of your book in exchange for an honest review. You cannot require a review, require that it be posted specifically on Amazon, or demand that it be positive. You can only state that the free review copy is being provided with the expectation that the individual will leave an honest review online.
  2. Use the “Editorial Reviews” section on your Amazon book page to post reviews that you paid for or garnered through independent review services or book bloggers. There’s more on this below.
  3. Review the books of other authors if they are not direct competitors and if you were not a part of their book publishing process – cover designer, editor, collaborator, etc. Don’t do this because you want a review in exchange. Do this for the books that you truly enjoy and to support your favorite authors.

So, how do authors find readers to provide these coveted reviews and start building a buzz for their book? Here are 7 ways that authors can garner book reviews, without badgering family and friends to “Please, please, PLEASE leave a review on Amazon!” (Which Amazon doesn’t like, anyway):

1. Build a launch review team with an advance review copy (ARC) plan.

A book launch review team is a group of people who have agreed to read your book in advance of publication and follow up with a review immediately after the book is live. This group does NOT consist of your close family and friends. When it comes to creating a launch review team, it is about building relationships over time. Start assembling your team as soon as you have a close-to-finished manuscript and a book publication date. How do you find these reviewers?

  1. If you have a following on social media, ask your followers if they would like to be a part of your review team.
  2. If you’ve started to build an email list of fans, ask them in an email newsletter if they’d like to join your review team.
  3. If you have a day job outside of writing, ask your work colleagues or others in your professional network.
  4. For nonfiction authors that are writing a book to supplement a business or service, ask your existing client base.
  5. Find groups relevant to your topic or theme on sites such as Facebook, engage members over time and add value to the group. When ready, ask members if they’d like to join your review team.

The key to a good book launch review strategy is to start early and communicate clearly to your team members. Make it easy for them to participate by providing a free, digital copy of your book (ARC) with plenty of time to read it, and simple instructions on how and when to leave a review. Your goals is to have at least 10 to 20 Amazon reviews shortly after going live.

2. Include a personal note in your back book matter that requests reviews.

“Thank you for purchasing and reading my book. I am extremely grateful and hope you found value in reading it. Please consider sharing it with friends or family and leaving a review online. Your feedback and support are always appreciated, and allow me to continue doing what I love. Please go to (link) if you’d like to leave a review.”

Use this opportunity to share a little about your writing journey with the reader, or what inspired your story, but most importantly, be authentic. Be sure to include this note and link in the back of all formats of your book.

3. Engage with fans through an author newsletter.

If you haven't already started building an email marketing list, start now. Email marketing can be even more effective than social media networks and can help an author build lasting relationships with his or her audience through weekly, monthly, or quarterly newsletters. Let your followers know that you have a new book coming out and that they have the opportunity to read and review an advance copy. These readers can be added to your launch review team.

Your author newsletter can also be a great way to subtlety remind those that have purchased your book to please leave a review. As with the note in the back matter of your book, use your newsletter to share a little about your writing journey or what inspired your story. If you let your readers get to know you personally, they will be more inclined to take the time and leave a review. 

4. Garner reviews from book bloggers or independent reviewers.

Another great way to gain reviews, especially at launch, is through a book blog tour. Get in touch with bloggers who cover the sort of work you create, and see if they’ll review your book. There are book bloggers that specialize in reviewing certain genres. Authors can also submit to independent review services, free or paid. Getting a positive review from reputable services such as Kirkus, Publisher's Weekly, or BlueInk Review is not a small feat and the review should be included in any of your marketing material, including your Amazon book page. This is where the "Editorial Reviews" section of your Amazon book page comes in. In this section, the author gets to choose and list meaningful reviews, comments, or testimonials. It's the perfect place to include blurbs of notable reviews from other sites or services and should not be ignored!

5. Get active on highly trafficked sites like Goodreads.

Goodreads is a website with social media elements that is focused around books of all genres. It allows readers to post reviews on books, find their next read, see what friends are reading, form book clubs, and connect with authors. It is an ideal book marketing tool for authors to gain exposure, find their niche audience, and build deeper connections with their readers. Readers that review your book on Goodreads may not be leaving a Customer Review on your Amazon book page, but you can use blurbs from these reviews and include them in the "Editorial Reviews" section of your Amazon book page. If you receive a stellar or notable review on Goodreads, make sure anyone browsing your Amazon book page can see it. 

6. Use an automated platform like Booksprout or StoryOrigin to find reviewers.

The goal of platforms such as Booksprout, StoryOrigin, and BookFunnel is to connect authors with readers. If you are struggling to build a review team on your own or need help with managing your advance review copy plan, sign up for one of these services and get access to their database of eager readers. These services help automate and streamline the process, while also introducing you to a huge pool of potential reviewers. In addition, some of these platforms offer helpful author tools such as seamless digital file delivery, group promos, newsletter management and swaps, and more. 

7. Look at the Amazon Customer Reviewers for books similar to yours.

This last effort can be tedious and time consuming, but can also target the type of reader you are looking to engage with your book. What are some of your favorite books in the genre you are writing, and who has reviewed them? If you find reviewers that really enjoyed those books, they might enjoy yours too. Some reviewers share their social media links, websites, or emails in their profiles.

You can also browse the Amazon Top Reviewers list to see if it makes sense to reach out based on their review history. Even if you get only a few reviews this way, every positive review can help.

What Amazon Link Should I Share?

If your book is live on Amazon and you’re sharing a link that readers can click on or type in to leave a review, be sure to include the URL linking directly to the Amazon review page for your book. This will save the reader a few steps and they will be more likely to leave a review. This direct link also removes any unnecessary information and should follow this format:

Amazon.com/review/create-review?&asin=insert your books ASIN or ISBN-10 number

For more on this, see Kindleprenuer's "How to Make a Special Amazon Book Review Link".

Already published and need reviews?

Is your book already published and you’re afraid you’ve missed the boat? Don’t worry, it’s never too late to start garnering reviews for your work. Consider adding new content to your existing book, or enhancing it in some way so that you can release a new edition. This will allow you to work on your review strategy before you relaunch.

Last, be sure to personally thank those that have left a review for you if you have their contact information. It's not a small task to read a book and then write a meaningful review, so show genuine appreciation for their support. Once you have a team of loyal reviewers, you can continue to use them for future books.

Share this story
Facebook Twitter Pinterest LinkedIn