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In the last few weeks, there have been scandals about so-called sock puppet reviews, when authors have paid for fake reviews or even created them under false identities. Whatever your thoughts on this type of thing, there's no doubt that having great reviews can help your book sell.
Personally I give away books and ask for reviews if people enjoy them, and I consider reviews to be critical in the sales process online, so I will continue to seek them out (ethically) for my own books. Today, guest blogger Laura Pepper Wu provides a handy guide to getting Amazon's top reviewers to review your book.
We all want more book reviews but until you have a huge readership waiting for organic reviews can be… well, a long wait!
One way to get more high quality, (usually) well-written and highly regarded reviews is to ask the ‘Amazon Top Customer Reviewers' to take a look at your book.
Why target the top Amazon reviewers?
While I've seen some reviewers with 7,000+ reviews, the Top Customer Reviewer award is not only about the number of reviews one person has churned out. At the time of writing, the #1 top customer reviewer on Amazon has only (!) 671 reviews under his belt.
As always, Amazon uses a complex algorithm to determine this ranking – this top spot is also determined by the number of “helpful” votes the reviews have received (our #1 guy has 39,414) and “percentage helpful” (97%).
Since that #1 spot is highly coveted, and quite the achievement, you can be sure that the Amazon top customer reviewers put a lot of thought and energy into their reviews. That’s good news – these are the best and most compelling kind of reviews!
As a result, aiming at the Top Customer Reviewers is a good strategy to curating well-written, meaningful and thorough reviews for your book. Here are some more pros for putting in the time and energy to solicit these:
1. These reviewers have proven themselves to be fast, consistent reviewers who read fast (often a few books a week) and will therefore most likely have a quick turn around
2. They understand what makes a good, helpful review
3. They may also have a book blog/ large social media following or other online presence that can bring you additional exposure
4. An endorsement by one of these guys looks GREAT on your Amazon page. Remember the whole third party validation/ social proof thing from your Economics class? Well this is it exactly! Validation from someone who takes reviewing seriously and is therefore 100% objective. Here's how the review listing will look on your Amazon page:
In fact, according to the results of the recent self publishing survey by Taleist.com, Authors who submitted to popular reviewers on Amazon received 25% more reviews than average and earned 32% more revenue for their latest release. Not necessarily a case of cause and effect but a good sign nonetheless.
With the positive there are some potential downsides, and it's only fair to mention those as well:
– Doing this research, and doing it well, DOES take time and energy. You’ll be led down some dead ends, and some reviewers explicitly state that they don’t like to be pitched.
(But if it was easy, everyone would be doing it right? This is the kind of stuff that gets you ahead of the game!)
– They may well be more critical/ harsh. That's why it's super important to really do the research and only target those who would be interested in your book. Otherwise you're asking for trouble!
How to contact Amazon's Top Reviewers
Here are some step by step instructions on how to contact Amazon's Top Customer Reviewers to offer your book for review:
1. Head over to http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers
2. Click on any name or reviewer profile that takes your fancy!
3. Look at the books she/ he has reviewed in the past (be aware that some of these reviewers will not be book reviewers at all, some may focus solely on electronics, clothes etc)
4. Look at his/her interests for relevant info (if this section is filled out):
5. Look under their profile picture to see if their contact information is public (I have blacked it out for privacy reasons here). Also look to see if there are any common interests or a location that you can mention when contacting them.
6. Send them a short, brief pitch stating:
– How you found them
– Why you think they'll enjoy your book (mention other books they loved or genre preference)
– Offer a free copy of your book
– Thank them for their time, whether they decide to take up your offer or not.
Don't forget these people are busy (as everyone is these days!), and most likely receive hundreds of requests. Keep your pitch short and sweet to make sure it’s read.
7. Aim to contact at least 3-4 times more reviewers than the actual number of reviews you are looking for since some will pass or you won’t hear back from them.
8. Wait for your replies 🙂
High quality and plentiful reviews can go a long way to driving book sales.
It does take time and effort though but the payoff is big.
Have you tried contacting Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers? Why not share your experience by leaving a comment below.
*** UPDATE: Comments are now closed – Jan 2015 **
Laura Pepper Wu is a writer and the co-founder of 30 Day Books: a book studio and Ladies Who Critique, a critique-partner finding site. She has successfully marketed several books to become Kindle and print best-sellers.
Laura’s latest offering is ‘Fire up Amazon & Leave it on Autopilot!’, a video tutorial course on how to tweak Amazon to it’s full potential. When she's not glued to her laptop you can find her walking her dog, practicing yoga or “testing” out coffee shops in Seattle. Connect with her on http://twitter.com/LauraPepWu and say hi!
Images: Top Bigstock Customer Survey or Review, the rest provided by Laura Pepper Wu