When it comes to Amazon book reviews, they are necessary to proactively marketing your book.
There’s almost nothing as important as Amazon reviews when it comes to generating consistent book sales month after month and creating an effective book marketing strategy.
It’s not enough to publish your book and hope reviewers will find you. They almost certainly won’t. You need to work hard to find them and convince them to review your book.
But even that isn’t enough!
If you go about getting reviews the wrong way, you risk incurring the wrath of Amazon. Your book will sink before it ever stood a chance of succeeding.
Related: Amazon Self-Publishing
So how can you get the reviews you need in an ethical and effective way?
We’ve gathered together everything you need to know.
This guide to Amazon book reviews covers:
- Why are Amazon book reviews important?
- How many book reviews do I need on Amazon?
- How to get your book reviewed on Amazon
- Can I review my own book on Amazon?
- Book review services
- Can I contact the top reviewers on Amazon?
- Does Amazon support editorial reviews
- Guidelines for Amazon reviews
- Why does Amazon remove book reviews?
Why are Amazon book reviews important?
If you’re new to the world of self-publishing, it might be unclear why there is so much importance placed on getting Amazon reviews for your book.
After all, if you create a good book, produce an attractive cover, and write a catchy description, shouldn’t that be enough?
As much as we might see our book as special, Amazon won’t.
At least, not at first. And neither will the vast majority of book browsers.
While the benefits of self-publishing are well-known, there are also some challenges you need to overcome in order to experience success.
One such challenge is the abundance of books released on Amazon.
The vast majority of books are lost amidst the noise. New titles are added to Amazon every few minutes, and there are endless titles already available.
What does this mean for you?
If you want to see your book reach the right readers, you need to do everything in your power to get it in front of them.
One of the most powerful ways to do that is by ensuring your book has reviews.
A lack of reviews harms your book’s prospects in two ways.
First, a book without reviews is unlikely to even get noticed by the vast majority of book browsers.
Second, even if people do somehow stumble across your book, they are unlikely to borrow or buy it without a credible number of reviews.
Here are the befits to make your reviews worth it:
- Trust. Book reviews are especially important when you’re just starting out as an author on Amazon. Put yourself in the shoes of a customer. Why should they trust your book? They almost certainly haven’t heard of you. Reviews overcome this problem. When people see that others have been helped or entertained by a book, it gives them the confidence they will experience the same result.
- Algorithm. Amazon is famous for having one of the most powerful and effective algorithms out there. The company explores and experiments with every possible way to get customers to spend more. Reviews are a huge signal to Amazon that your book is worth promoting. Without a respectable number of reviews close to the time of launch, your book will miss out on the immense power of Amazon’s promotional machinery.
- External promotion. There are plenty of promotional services out there willing to help introduce your book to readers who are likely to benefit from it. However, most of them require you to have a certain number of positive reviews before they will even consider your book. You can also promote this on your author platform.
- Feedback. Reviews are also a valuable source of feedback on your work. Yes, even the negative ones! You can get a sense of what readers did and did not like about your book and take this feedback on board for your future releases.
When it comes to success on Amazon, it’s almost impossible to overstate just how important reviews are.
Now that you know the benefits of reviews for your book, let’s take a closer look at exactly how to get them.
How many book reviews do I need on Amazon?
Getting people to take the time to review your book isn’t always easy, especially when you’re new to the self-publishing scene.
Given the difficulty of getting reviews, it’s natural to wonder just how many you need.
No matter what people might say, there is no magic number that you need. It varies from book to book.
However, there are some proven principles and guidelines you can use to inform the number of reviews you aim to get.
- Check competing books. Take the time to check out other books that your ideal reader might be interested in. For example, which books rank for your keywords? Which books are selling well in your intended categories? Try and look for books of similar stature to your own. How many reviews do they have? How many would you need to seem respectable in the eyes of a buyer choosing between your book and a competing title?
- Aim for 10 minimum. 10 reviews seems to be the number that starts to move the needle for a lot of authors. When you’re putting together your initial strategy, make 10 book reviews the minimum number you aim for.
- 20 is ideal. If you’re capable of proactively getting 10 people to leave an Amazon review of your book, you’re more than capable of getting 20! Just double down on what you’re doing. We’ll explore exactly how shortly.
- Don’t go overboard. After a certain number of reviews, you’re unlikely to experience much extra benefit. The effort needed to seek out reviews is not commensurate to the benefits you will experience. Also, after getting a large number of reviews, buyers are likely to review your book of their own accord. You won’t need to seek them out. 30-50 reviews is a good guideline here, but a lower number may suffice depending on the books you are competing against.
- Your promo strategy. Many authors make book promotion sites or services an integral part of their marketing strategy. If you have a particular promotional site you want to be featured on, you’re probably going to need a certain number of reviews to be eligible.
Even though there isn’t a particular number of Amazon book reviews that’s right for every book, there’s definitely a number that’s right for yours.
Use the above ideas to find it and make this a target you strive to hit.
Can I review my own book on Amazon?
Sadly, no. Some authors might think it's a good idea to review their own book to get an initial momentum going for their reviews, but that's against the rules specified on Amazon's Guidelines.
How to get your book reviewed on Amazon
So how should you go about getting the reviews you need for your book to succeed?
Seeking out reviews in the right way isn’t just a matter of doing what’s likely to get results.
It’s also a matter of respecting Amazon’s rules and regulations. If you fail to do so, you run the risk of having your reviews removed.
If you’re unsure of how to get the reviews your book needs, here are some effective techniques.
- Set up a review plan prior to launch. A lot of authors learn the hard way that you can’t leave book reviews to chance. You need to have a clear plan in place way ahead of your book launch. This should involve a clear approach to hit your review target number as close to the time of your book going live as possible.
- Reach out to existing readers. Do you have an email list of readers? Have you written anything in the past? Even if you don’t have books out, do you have a blog with readers? Could you leverage your author network to promote your book to another writer’s fans? Existing readers, either your own or another author’s, are a great potential source of book reviews.
- Use social media. While social media is a valuable source of potential reviewers of your work, you should approach it with caution. If Amazon’s algorithm deems you to have a close connection with people on social media, their reviews of your book may be removed. In spite of that, it’s still worth utilizing options such as Facebook reading groups, relevant hashtags on Twitter or Instagram, visual platforms like Pinterest, and even Tik Tok if you have a younger audience, to seek out people who might be interested in your book.
- Consider offline readers. Most authors will focus their review approach on the online world. By seeking out book clubs, library groups, and other interested communities offline, you open the door to a rich source of potential reviewers that many other authors aren't aware of.
- CTA in your book. There’s no harm of asking for book reviews within your book itself. You can also include a link in the ebook version to make it as straightforward as possible.
Be aware that by asking for reviews in any of the ways mentioned, you are seeking something of value from them. To make them want to take the time to help you, you need to frame your request in the right way.
Instead of coming across as self-serving or even desperate, why not base your review request around:
- Feedback. If people respect your work they are likely to want to help you out as an author. If you make them feel like their feedback is valued, you are more likely to get a review.
- Helping other readers. Another angle to take is appealing to a sense of community among readers. Rather than making your request for reviews about yourself, make it about informing fellow readers about a book that might benefit or entertain them.
- A promotional price point. It’s human nature to love a good deal. By emphasizing your book being offered at a low price point for a limited time, you tap into the psychological appeal of both value and scarcity, making it more likely that people will see it as worthwhile to review your book.
Combining the right sources of potential reviews with the right type of request is the best way to get your book the review score it needs.
Book review services
As well as seeking out relevant readers by yourself, a range of professional book review services exist.
While this can form a valuable part of your overall approach to reviews, you need to be careful.
Amazon is known for being incredibly strict about people selling reviews. Many people on Fiverr have experienced this firsthand!
The Amazon review guidelines are elaborated on a little later in this guide, but as a general principle, always avoid paying for a review directly. That includes offering a gift of some type.
Instead of paying for a review on Fiverr, consider using one of these services:
If you’re considering paying for a review service, make sure to check both of these two things before investing your money:
- Compliance. Ensure any review service you’re considering is compliant with Amazon’s rules and regulations. Otherwise, you risk losing your money, having the review removed, and possibly even worse consequences if Amazon feels you’re being particularly underhanded.
- Results. Check out what kind of results a review service promises, and what kind of success they’ve had in the past. Have they produced good results for books similar to yours? What kind of ROI can you expect?
Book review services can be a valuable way to help your book get the momentum it needs. Just make sure you’re dealing with a reputable and effective service provider.
Can I contact the top reviewers on Amazon?
No, the top Amazon reviewers are no longer available.
In the past, a popular way of seeking book reviews involved trying to find and contact the top reviewers on Amazon.
This may have worked well back in the day, but it’s not really something to pursue in the here and now.
The top Amazon reviewers no longer have emails available to reach out to. Even when they did, the odds of having a top reviewer take the time to check out your work was pretty slim.
Does Amazon support editorial reviews?
What exactly is an editorial review, and why does it matter for your book?
So far, we’ve talked about customer reviews, which are exactly what they sound like. A customer reads your book and leaves their opinion. If they purchased it from Amazon, this would count as a verified review.
The other type of review to utilize is the editorial review. This involves a trusted source such as a magazine or publication giving their take on your book.
While editorial reviews aren't included in your book's review score and don't show up with the customer reviews, this is actually a good thing.
Some of the main benefits of editorial reviews are:
- They won’t get lost in the middle of the (hopefully) large number of customer reviews your book has
- You can add them to your Amazon Author Central page
- You are allowed to leverage your connections as Amazon can’t remove these in the way that they can remove customer reviews
- A reputable publication or individual may carry more weight in the mind of a potential book buyer than an unknown customer reviewer
There’s no denying the value of editorial reviews, but think of them as icing on the cake.
Make customer reviews your priority, at least initially, as they will move the needle in terms of the Amazon algorithm.
Guidelines for Amazon reviews
Spend some time around the indie author community and you’ll come across some fairly angry writers.
A common source of frustration is the seemingly ever-changing Amazon review rules.
In reality, the Amazon review guidelines aren’t as bad as you might have heard.
You can check out the full picture here, but some basic principles include:
- You can’t pay for reviews. It’s absolutely prohibited to exchange money for a review of your book.
- You can’t ask for conditional reviews. Although it’s completely fine to ask for someone to review your book, you cannot request they review it in a certain way. Asking for an honest review is the best approach.
- You can’t review a rival book. If Amazon feels someone is negatively reviewing a rival product of any type, they will remove that review.
- You can’t rely on friends and family. Amazon state that reviews from close personal connections are not allowed. This can involve being friends with people and interacting on social media.
- You can’t offer gifts. It’s not permissible to over an Amazon gift card or anything else whatsoever in exchange for a review. You can offer an ARC of your book but that’s all.
While it’s definitely worth respecting the Amazon review guidelines, try not to worry too much. As long as you’re operating from a place of good faith, the worst that will happen in the majority of cases is Amazon will remove some of your reviews.
Why does Amazon remove book reviews?
Amazon can remove reviews for violations of any of their guidelines mentioned above.
However, some of the most common reasons for a review to be removed are:
- You have reviewed your own book
- Someone with the same address with you has reviewed your book
- A reviewer has attempted to leave multiple reviews of your work
- The review is obscene, defamatory or otherwise unacceptable
- The reviewer is a customer who has spent less than $50 on Amazon
- The reviewer appears to be a spammer who leaves too many reviews in a short space of time
- You have reported the review to [email protected] and Amazon agrees it is unacceptable
Having some reviews removed is a fact of life for most authors. Although it might seem frustrating, try and see the system as being in place to preserve the integrity of the entire process.
We hope you’ve found this guide to the dos and don'ts of Amazon book reviews useful.
If you have any tips on getting book reviews ethically, or warnings about Amazon’s rules and regulations, feel free to leave a comment and help your fellow authors out.