You are launching your new book, and you know how important reviews are, so you ask your friends to write a review and post it on Amazon. You offer to send them a copy; perhaps even draft a few ideas they might use. Three months and 2 reviews later you’re wondering what you did wrong. Sound familiar?
You aren’t alone, and you shouldn’t take it personally. Consider these 5 possible reasons why your request met with inaction:
- People are busy, or they honestly forgot.
- They might not like the book and instead practice what their mother taught them: “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”
- They wouldn’t mind submitting a review, but don’t know what to say.
- Some people are reluctant to take a public stand; to get their name out there.
- To write a review you first need an account, then you need to figure out how to do it leave the review.
Before assuming that everyone you ask wouldn’t mind leaving a review, invest some time culling your list down to the most relevant and obvious potential reviewers.
Here are 5 practices to follow when it comes to personal outreach.
Definition: by personal we’re referring to people we have some connection to, someone you know on a first name basis.
- First, a word of caution: never ask family members to leave reviews. Amazon in particular is adept at connecting you to family and close friends.
- The best people to approach are those who have left reviews for other books or products. Reviews are connected to profiles, and the profiles show how many reviews that individual has left. If your book is the only product the reviewer has ever left a review for, that sends a signal to the shopper that the reviewer was likely a friend. Especially if the review is 4 or 5 stars.
- Follow-up. Getting reviews is essentially a sales process and like all sales, success is in the follow-up! As noted above, people get busy or forget. A respectful nudge from you should do the trick.
- Offer some ideas; suggested points or wording. Again, this depends on how well you know the person and your personal ethics. Never violate the website’s terms of service.
- Create a link to the page where they can leave the review. The easier you make it, the more likely someone is to follow through.
How to create a link to leave a review for your book
Every book sold online has a unique identifier. Most of the time it is the ISBN, but in the case of eBooks the identifier is often unique to the retailer selling the eBook. Amazon calls their unique identifier ASIN: Amazon Standard Identification Number. It’s the ISBN-10 for print books and Amazon’s own number (ASIN) for eBooks*.
Look at the product details section for your book, find the ISBN-10 or ASIN, and place it at the end of this link to send someone directly to the place they can leave a review:
Here’s an example using George Orwell’s novel 1984 (as if it needs another review…currently at 6,490!).
Then add it to the end of this URL:
Link to leave a review for the hardcover print edition:
Link to leave a review for the eBook:
Manage your expectations
Unless you are blessed with large network of close personal contacts, relying on them alone is not going to result in a steady stream of book reviews. But it an obvious place for many of us to start, especially if we are just getting started or launching a new book.
Keep your expectations in check and do everything you can to make it easy for the right people to help you get those pivotal early reviews.
* Here’s how to get an ASIN before your book is formally released: How to Include a Link to a Kindle Review Page Before Pub Date.
Image credit: Ben White