With only 3% of readers leaving reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, it’s no wonder that authors (both traditional and indie) are struggling to encourage their readers to leave book reviews.
Amazon and Goodreads are like the TripAdvisor and Yelp equivalents for books and many readers rely on reviews to guide them on what book they should purchase next.
Unfortunately, although Amazon acquired Goodreads in 2013, the reviews on each platform stay where they were originally placed so you need to encourage readers to leave the same review in two places. Annoying, for sure.
While I can’t guarantee that every review will be favorable, here are some tips for getting more reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
1. Encourage your readers with every newsletter you send out
First of all, your readers should be subscribed to your newsletter (I use MailerLite but I’ve also used MailChimp in the past and have enjoyed both.) At the end of each newsletter you send out, make a strong appeal to them asking for reviews and hyperlink your request directly to your book’s page on Amazon and Goodreads.
Go ahead and say something like,
“Readers rely on honest reviews to inform their book purchases and I’d love your review on Amazon and Goodreads if you enjoyed the book. I personally read each review and really appreciate hearing your feedback.”
“Without reader reviews, books will go largely unnoticed on large websites like Amazon. I’d love it if you could kindly leave a review if you enjoyed reading my book(s). For every review you leave for an indie author, an angel gets its wings.”
Or something like that. You get the idea. Have fun with it but remind your readers that you love and appreciate their reviews.
2. Add an image to your sidebar on your blog/website
The one I have on my sidebar is a standard social media post sized graphic from Canva and it took me approximately 4 minutes to create. Clicking on that image takes my readers directly to my books’ Amazon sales pages.
You’re welcome to steal it/borrow it/modify it however you want.
3. Give books away for review
I’ve done this a few ways—handed out physical books to friends in person, ran giveaway contests on my Facebook profile to drive social media attention, and have run a free download giveaway of the Kindle version on Amazon. All approaches have their pros and cons but I’d recommend doing something where you giveaway books to people for free.
That’s right, I said free.
“But Lisa, that will cost me money and sales rankings and and and…“
I know, it will cost you all of that but when you’re marketing, you have to think of the long game. The more copies you have circulating in the population, the more chances you have that people will read your book. More readers equals more reviews which should equate to more people purchasing your book.
If you give away books for review purposes, be sure to have your reviewers declare that in their Amazon reviews. Amazon wants transparency in their reviews so as long as they include something along the lines of,
“I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes but the opinions are my own.”
Amazon will be satisfied that your readers are providing honest and transparent reviews about your book. Don’t get dinged by Amazon!
When I was new at this game, I was extremely protective of giving away free copies. I was like, “No way! If they want to support me they will buy 5 copies!” And that’s true to a certain extent. Your family will buy more than one copy and they will help you in so many ways, but you can also generate a lot of goodwill and loyalty by giving away copies to strangers (gasp!).
Build a loyal following. Enroll your book in KDP Select for 90 days and see what happens. Knocked Up Abroad has been on KDP Select since I launched it and it currently has 37 reviews (which I am very happy with.) My second book, released only 10 months later, has 23 reviews. It has never been enrolled in KDP Select.
Is my first book that much better than my second book? No, not at all. I think a lot of readers in the KindleUnlimited program exclusively read books that are enrolled in KDP Select. Those folks are avid readers and are more likely to leave book reviews.
I also flubbed up a bit on Knocked Up Abroad Again and that leads me to my next point…
4. Move the acknowledgements section to the beginning of your Kindle version
Kindle readers are automatically prompted to leave a review on Amazon whenever the reach the end of the manuscript on their Kindle device. If you have 4 pages of acknowledgements like I did in Knocked Up Abroad Again because you have to thank hundreds of Kickstarter backers, many readers aren’t going to flip through to the end that generates that review prompt.
Move your acknowledgements to the beginning or shorten them entirely and take advantage of that Kindle prompt that will do a lot of heavy lifting for you.
5. Encourage your readers at the end of your book to leave a review
Jen Mann is the New York Times bestselling author of People I want to Punch in the Throat and she has created her own publishing imprint and is a total badass. Read her work and learn from her.
At the end of her first YA novel, My Lame Life: Queen of the Misfits, Jen includes a short and sweet call to action for her readers.
“Notes from the Author
Thank you for reading this book. I appreciate your support and hope you enjoyed it. I hope you will tell a friend—or 30 about this book. Please do me a huge favor and leave me a review on Amazon and Goodreads. Of course, I prefer 5-star, but I’ll take what I can get. If you hated this book, you can skip the review, it’s cool.”
Encourage your readers to leave a review while they are still holding your book in their hands and maybe, just maybe, they’ll leave a review for you.
Pro tip: Readers love 4-star reviews
My first 4-star review really stung. It was from someone I admired and someone I thought would give me a 5-star review without question. Fortunately, she softened the blow a bit by letting me know that she was leaving me a 4-star review.
She said, “I absolutely loved your book but I think that readers are suspicious about 5-star reviews. I always leave 4-star reviews so that readers take me seriously and that will help you more in the long-run, trust me.”
At first I thought she was yanking my chain and just trying to make me feel better about my horrible 4-star book, but now, after reading a ton of 4-star reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, I agree with her.
If every book you read gets 5-stars, then the rating loses its value.
Also, reviews on Goodreads are a bit more honest than reviews on Amazon. If you get 5-stars on Goodreads, you really knocked someone’s socks off.
If you have any tips for getting more book reviews, be sure to leave them in the comments.
Want to watch my video on getting book reviews on Amazon and Goodreads? Head over to YouTube and I’ll basically say all of these things I mentioned above but with more stories and anecdotes. Here’s the link to the video.