Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Amazon reviews--how they help sales.


I've recently self-published on Amazon Kindle Select for the first time with my novella, Under the Tuscan Moon, and am not setting myself up as an expert on Amazon reviews or anything at all regarding publishing or promoting. I’m just sharing a small part of what I’ve learnt in hopes that it will help both authors and readers.
Image result for image person reading a book
Have you ever sent bloggers and/or other friends a free copy of your book and asked them to read it then leave a review on Amazon? I have. I was secretly hoping they'd love it and would post a review. They told me they loved it, but the loving didn't extend to an Amazon review (yet) for most. I understand this. Authors often send me PDFs of their books and because my TBR list is ginormous, I've not even gotten around to reading them all, let alone reviewing. That's a pity. Since learning how important Amazon reviews can be, I've been upping my Kindle reading of bloggers' books and posting more Amazon reviews. (If you've sent me a copy of your book, send me an email and remind me that you're still waiting for that review and I'll send you to the top of the list!) 
Blog Tours
Image result for image blog book tours
Most of us gladly participate when someone has a new book coming out and asks us to help spread the word. It introduces people to the book and the author. The 'To buy' link might even lead to a sale or two if the planets align. Really, anything that gets eyes on a book is good.
I review my reads on Goodreads because every year I participate in their reading challenge. (I read/reviewed 120+ books in 2015). You need over 10 reviews on Goodreads to be able to add your book/s to certain groups which gives you more exposure. I went off reviewing on Amazon when they took down some of my reviews of blogger friends' books. But we can’t let that stop us. Amazon reviews can impact sales rankings, so is the most useful thing we can do for our blogger/author friends if their book is available to buy on Amazon. (And fingers crossed they won't take it down).
Unless you're in the upper echelons, chances are you spent more on getting your book out there than you will ever recoup, especially if you self-publish. That’s a crying shame. There are LOADS of amazing books out there with way too few sales because people don’t know how good they are. Who is going to scroll to Page 500 to find a book? Some amazing books could be discovered if readers could take 10 minutes to write something—it doesn’t have to be long—that would be so helpful to the author's rankings and 'discoverability'. 
So if you follow a blog tour, do that author a favour--buy their book (usually cheaper than a cup of joe), find some time to read it (sure, this is the hardest part), then, for that author's sake, REVIEW IT!! Even if you don't like it THAT much, you can still review it. You don't have to give it 5 stars!!! I'm loath to say this, but apparently even a bad review is better than no review! It still ticks the algorithm boxes!
Why are Amazon reviews important?
Well, duh! More sales = higher rankings.  If your book is selling, it goes higher on the list. And reviews help sell books.
Verified Purchase reviews will count MORE towards the rankings of Amazon sales. 
But that doesn’t mean you can’t leave a review for a book you didn’t buy through Amazon.
Reviews with ‘likes’ count more towards rankings and *algorithms. (If you like the techie details, read the section at the end).
So if you read a review that you like – hit the ‘like’ button!  Not only does it help the reviewer’s Amazon review stats but it helps the author with a ‘higher ranking review’.
Amazon supposedly recommends books different ways based on the number of reviews.
20-25 reviews: Amazon will include your book in the ‘Others also bought’ section and the ‘You might like’ section.
50-70 reviews: Amazon may highlight the book in spotlight ads and possibly include your book in newsletters.
100+ reviews: Amazing promo results for authors (it is said).
Is it just reviews that help? Who really knows? But anything that helps an author up their rankings is a good thing. And we can all help this happen.
  • Getting your book out there into the eyes of readers will help sell books.
  • Building your author platform and engaging with readers and bloggers will sell books.
  • Great writing with great content will sell books.

And Amazon reviews matter.  They take 5 - 10 minutes to write. An author would prefer a quick review to no review. Do something amazing for your blogger/author friends.
  • How many reviews does your book have on Amazon?
  • How did you get those reviews?
  • What is the most successful part of your Author Platform?
  • Share with us!

And if you're up for another Valentine's writing challenge, WEP's Valentine's challenge goes live from Feb 17-19...flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photos, art...we're open to all! Please join us! You can sign up right here in my sidebar under the big red picture!


 * If you're really into this, read on...with thanks to Aimee at Hello...Chick Lit
Amazon uses algorithms to place products rankings – their system is called A9.
What is algorithm?  
Algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer. 
What helps the Amazon algorithm? (this is according to research through Amazon… like I said, they change the rules daily so… take this as you will)
There are more factors in the Amazon algorithm than I could even explain or know but these are the ones they make public.
More sales = higher rankings.  If your book is selling, it’s higher on the list.
Verified Purchase reviewers reviews will count MORE towards the rankings of Amazon sales. 
You can review anything on amazon even if you didn’t purchase it (unless you have NEVER purchased anything on Amazon I’ve learned).
Reviews with ‘likes’ count more towards rankings and algorithms.  
So if you read a review that you like – hit the ‘like’ button!  Not only does it help the reviewers Amazon review stats but it helps the author with a ‘higher ranking review’.
Certain numbers of reviews can do different things within the Amazon algorithm. (Supposedly – Amazon changes the rules daily so everything is iffy)
Amazon (supposedly) recommends books different ways based on number of reviews.
20-25 reviews Amazon will include your book in the ‘Others also bought’ section and the ‘You might like’ section.
50-70 reviews Amazon may highlight the book in spotlight ads and possibly include your book in newsletters.
My conclusion:
Amazon reviews can matter.  
Authors working on their platform can matter just as much – this takes time and consistency.
I’ve heard authors who say their promo of their book with 25 reviews did just OK… but their promo of their book with 100+ reviews did amazing.
Was it the reviews that helped?
Who knows.  It could be anything.  But reviews, good and bad can help with your sales.
Is my 100 reviews guaranteed to help my book sell mass amounts, you may ask?
No.  Maybe more people will buy your book because 100 people said how great it was but reviews alone can not sell books.
Amazon reviews will help Amazon slot you in different places with their algorithm.

It will help place you in different rankings.

Amazon reviews can help make your book more visible to potential buyers, which is why they are so important.  

But it won’t happen over night.
It’s a journey, not a race; you have to fit all the pieces of the puzzle to succeed.
Don’t forget to check your Amazon keywords and categories… those can make a load of difference in who can find your book.
If it’s miscategorized, the wrong readers will be finding it resulting in less sales.
If you read a book, do the author a favor and also go put up a review on Amazon (US, UK, CA...). Good or bad, they all help.

Owner/Blogger @ 
Hello...Chick Lit
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Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I don't have an Amazon account (my wife has one, mine's with iTunes, which is where I get most of my books) but I do try to review on Goodreads.

Yolanda Renée said...

Wonderfully informative post. From your blog to all readers everywhere.

Karen Jones Gowen said...

I never review on Amazon due to being both a writer and a publisher, I'm "not allowed." But I will nearly always review on Goodreads. Also, if someone is a published writer and has a blog as well, at WiDo we like to use snippets of their reviews in the Editorial Reviews section on Amazon. These are separate from reader reviews and can be quite helpful for increasing sales and interest as well. So if I ask you to review my book, Denise, I'd be just as happy to have you send me the review and I can then use a blurb from it on the Editorial Review section of my book's Amazon page. I like the title of your novella, Denise. It really intrigues me!

N. R. Williams said...

Hi Denise
Great post. Amazon is doing crazy things and we are all wondering what will come next.

Goodreads removed my books. I emailed them about a month ago but I haven't been back in to check. Amazon is now controlling Goodreads so there will probably be changes there.

As of yesterday, I had 29 reviews. I would have 31 but Amazon deleted two of my more recent reviews. Ugh!

I've seen Amazon advertise my book in emails.

I put a link to my book in the back of the book to make reviewing easier. You have to wait until they have it available. Copy the number Amazon has assigned to it. Add it to the back of your book and resubmit. The turnaround time is usually one day. My more recent reviews are all around two sentences with either a 5 star or 4 star ranking.

You never added a review to my book on Amazon.

I bought your book. I'm swamped this month with edits, writing for WEP, and judging 30 plus entries to D. L. Hammon's 'Write Club.' So I may not get to your book until next month. When I do I'll leave a review.

Good luck.

Anonymous said...

I read another blog post last week that suggested that you should leave reviews ALSO on Amazon, so I've been sort of aware of this, but didn't realize how much it actually does matter! I need to get all those indie/self-pub books I've read over the past year and copypaste my reviews from GR to Amazon..

Roland D. Yeomans said...

I have never gotten 20 reviews ... ever. I go now to write a review of your Kindle novella.

I have given up on getting reviews. I ran contests where I would pull from the names of those people who reviewed my book. I would set 20 as the number from which I would pull. Imagine having a 1 in 20 chance of getting a Stephen King autograph? Or a 1 in 10 chance of getting a Johnny Depp autograph? I never got close to the number needed.

Goodreads reviews help the reviewer not the author essentially. So of course most review on Goodreads.

I am on the cusp of giving up. Obviously, I am not a good enough writer. There are worse fates.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for linking to me!! Amazon is such a tricky little site for authors. I wish it was easier (and made more sense). So if you review books, please review on Amazon!!

Thanks again!!

H.R. Sinclair said...

I'm beginning to think I need to take a class on using Amazon. :) I agree with Hello Chick Lit, it needs to be easier.

Chrys Fey said...

I know what you mean about having so many books by authors and bloggers that need reviewing. And I will review them because I know how important Amazon reviews are. Whenever I read a book by a lesser-known suthor, I post reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It's the books by bestsellers I usually don't review.

Botanist said...

An author would prefer a quick review to no review - how true! It's a Catch-22 - you need sales to get reviews, and reviews to get sales.

Denise Covey said...

It is a Catch 22 Ian,but we have to learn how to use Amazon just like they use us.

Denise Covey said...

Time is the thing. I agree the best selling authors do not need our reviews as much as indie authors.

Denise Covey said...

No good H.R. as Amazon changes the bar constantly.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks so much Aimee for letting me plunder your post and for turning up to say hello!

Denise Covey said...

Yeah, Roland, getting 20 reviews seems like so much hard work. When I see the number of followers you have it makes me wonder. I remember your contests. I won a Dean Koontz autographed book. Please don't give up. We'd be poorer without your lyrical prose. :-)

Denise Covey said...

That's the thing, Nancy, I have reviewed some of your books, especially Treasures. I will look at them again and try to get one to stick.

Thanks for buying my book!

Denise Covey said...

A good way to make reviews work, Karen. I'm reading Afraid of Everything at the mo'.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Denise - some really useful points here in your post and from 'Hello Chick Lit' .. then your commenters ... as long as we don't cross the line in Amazon .. we need to make more use of them - and learn from here.

If we are customers and readers, and by definition being here authors/bloggers - then we should all be helping that little bit more ... liking a review etc and making sure we write reviews for books we've read or are reading: a goal for the summer.

Cheers Hilary

Denise Covey said...

You're so right Hilary. I've been going around 'liking' reviews and am upping reading Kindle books.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Verified sales is so misleading though. Someone can buy a book, read it, and return it and still get a verified purchase on their review. No one else allows returns on ebooks and I wish Amazon would change their policy.

Crystal Collier said...

I second everything you just said. Typically I review everything on Goodreads and Amazon. It wasn't until I had a published book that I realized how important reviews were. Friends would tell me how much they loved my book, and I'd ask, "Will you leave me a review on Amazon?" So many of them were intimidated by the request, but I told them, "Just a single sentence is fine. Just say you loved it!"

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Denise, Oh how cool, I hope you like it and that Amazon lets you post a review LOL. I checked on your novella and saw it was on KU, which is how I read all my books now. I downloaded it and hope to get into it soon!

Denise Covey said...

So true that being published really raises the review stakes. But short is good!

Denise Covey said...

Ridiculous that you can return a cheap ebook! And that's just asking for bad reviews! Oh, Amazon!

Trisha said...

I'm guilty of not posting my reviews on Amazon - I don't usually use Amazon for anything, except looking for free ebooks or cheap ones. I use GoodReads almost daily, and am a little addicted. But I do have a few reviews up!

I don't remember ever having a review rejected from Amazon though. What was their reason??

Denise Covey said...

Their reason is they're scared since the bad publicity re top selling authors paying for reviews. Now if they think anyone is a friend of the author or has paid for a review they delete it, no questions asked.

Denise Covey said...

Thanks Karen. Let me know what you think!

Denise Covey said...

Yes you and me too Madilyn! I wish I had more time...

Sandra Cox said...

This is a great post. Very helpful and so true. The only thing I have differing thoughts on are negative reviews. I'm a big believer in, if you can't leave a good one or an okay one, it's better not to leave one at all. A negative review might help the algorithms but it doesn't help the sales, at least for those that don't have super star status:) One of my buds got a negative review right out of the chute and never recovered.
Have a Happy Valentines, Denise:)

Denise Covey said...

I only leave positive reviews. We can't control negative reviews that someone decides to leave. A negative review doesn't stop me buying a book. And I hope others overlook the occasional bad one.
Happy Valentine's Sandra! :-)

cleemckenzie said...

After I started this writing business, I became very aware of how much reviews help authors. I tell my friends, but they don't seem to "get" it. They love to read, but when I ask if they've left a review for the book, they say no. Why? The usual answers:
1. I don't have time.
2. I don't know how to write a review.
3. I don't like putting information online.

So it's a challenge for writers to encourage non-writers who read their books to give them a boost with a review. Still I keep telling people, so I'm doing my best. Great to read your post.

Stephanie Faris said...

I try to read five books a month by my fellow authors. For every book I read, I include it in my Best Books of the Month post and copy my review from there to Goodreads and Amazon. Surprisingly, I've found few authors return that favor with my books...but we can't control that. Even if 20 percent pay it back, those are more reviews than we would have had if we hadn't helped other authors. I just love seeing an author's review count go up a number after mine posts. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy!

Denise Covey said...

I hear you Stephanie. I wish authors would return the favour and to actually thank people for a review. Nice to know we're helping though! I like your idea of reading books and posting on your blog along with GR and Amazon. Good work.

Denise Covey said...

Seems to be many reasons people won't review for us. I will review Alligators Overhead when I finish it. :-)

Ann Carbine Best said...

Yes, reviews are important. But after reading your post here, with all the awesome information, and the comments, I'm going wow. How things have changed since I got my memoir published. What a nightmare. I WILL get your novella read and reviewed. I've had a bad week. I've sent you an email....I'm posting here because WordPress wouldn't let my comment go through...it ate it up! You're morning there, we're night here...am about to fold. ((( ))) from me and Jen

Ann Carbine Best said...

I did set up a static blogspot blog to comment with it if all else failed!

Denise Covey said...

That's good news Ann!

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