I have a confession to make. I purchased books on amazon for more than 10 years and not once did I bother to leave a book review. I read the reviews and often used them as a tool to evaluate prospective purchases, but never contributed myself. Why not? Several reasons. Who cares what I think? This book already has several reviews, another won’t make a difference. Too much of a hassle.
I never really understood the value of amazon reviews until I found myself on the other side of them. Your reviews are much more powerful than you think. Fifty strong reviews can help catapult an unknown author up the charts. A few negative reviews can kill an indie author’s dreams, or at least help them face the harsh reality that they’re a hack.
Reviews can influence a book in several different ways. Customers can organize book lists while they are browsing to weed out low-rated books and place highly rated books at the top of their genre lists. In this way, higher rated books become more visible and attract more customers and books with low ratings drop off the radar.
A book’s average review rating along with the number of reviews submitted is displayed prominently next to the title and has a strong influence on a book-browser’s first impression. “Wow, a hundred people reviewed it! It must be fantastic.” Or, “Oh, only 6 reviews and an average of 3 stars? This isn’t worth my time.”
Customers can vote on individual reviews and indicate the review’s value. A single well-written rave review can convince hundreds of “on-the-fence” book browsers to at least download a free sample, and if these customers indicate the rave review was helpful, that review gets displayed more prominently so more people will see it. A single harsh review can have the exact opposite effect.
So next time you enjoy a read, consider contributing your own review. Keep the following things in mind:
- Always be honest but try not to be brutal.
- Amazon allows you to create a “pen-name” for your reviews so you can remain anonymous (you have to navigate through your account settings to create your alias, but it is fairly simple to accomplish.)
- Don’t give a book five stars unless it truly deserves it.
- If you give a book less than 4 stars, try to be specific about why you didn’t like it.
- If there are already several reviews and everyone has already said what you want to say, leave your own review anyway. Your review still holds a lot of value because it adds to the number and affects the average. Think of it as a way of thanking the author for their hard work, or punishing them if you felt ripped off. Trust me, authors pay attention to their reviews.