Will your Book Stand Out From the Crowd?
YOU WANT MORE VERIFIED AMAZON REVIEWS!
HOW CAN YOU OBTAIN VERIFIED AMAZON BOOK REVIEWS?
Ask your readers directly
ARCs (advance review copies)
ARCs are used by authors to offer free books in exchange for a review, either directly to readers or via services such as NetGalley. This is usually done several months prior to the launch of a book.
ARCs offer the opportunity to receive reviews prior to the launch of your book or in the very first few weeks after the book has launched.
People who receive freebies tend to treat them like freebies, and that’s also true of ARCs (see more info in the Free Promotion section). There is the potential to receive a few positive reviews, but also negative ones, and reviewers who receive free copies tend to be more severe in their ratings than regular readers.
The other problem with ARCs is that to be accepted as verified reviews by Amazon, reviewers must list that they were given a free copy in exchange for an honest review, and from a reader’s perspective this doesn’t sound nearly as appealing as someone who actually purchased the book and voluntarily left a review.
ARCs can also be delivered via NetGalley, which has its own pros and cons. NetGalley is a service that promotes and publicizes books to readers of influence (reviewers, bloggers, booksellers, librarians, educators, and the media). Interested readers will receive a free copy and may choose to leave a review.
You pay to have your books listed, but there is no guarantee the book will receive any reviews.
If you’re lucky and your book gets picked up for review by one or more top influencers, you may not only receive a couple of reviews, but also traffic and sales from their followers.
In addition to all the cons shared by all ARCs, NetGalley is very expensive and offers absolutely no guarantees. Your simple listing will compete with thousands of others, and the chance of having your book selected by a top influencer is quite low. You could possibly see zero return on your investment.
Professional reviewers and influencers tend to be much stricter with the star ratings they give compared to regular readers. They might love your book and still only give it 4 stars. If you’re aiming for a 4.8- or 5-star average, this may not be the best way to go. If they don’t really love your book, your star rating may be lower than what you’d receive from regular verified buyers.
This may be a good service to consider for self-published authors who have extra money to spend and aren’t afraid to either see no results or possibly as many negative reviews as positive. If your book is truly a masterpiece and you’re lucky to have it picked up by the right influencers who love your genre, you may reap a great benefit. It’s not for everyone, but an option that could be good for some authors. If you choose this route, you may find discounts through Kindlepreneur and IPBA.
The greatest benefit of a well-marketed free promotion is that many people will download your book. This will populate your “also bought” list, and it will momentarily boost your book in the Amazon display and search algorithm.
This offers you great visibly to many new readers, and this works particularly well if you have a series of books and offer the first book free. People who get the first book for free will purchase the rest of the series if they like it.
It’s very strange but the cons are exactly the same as the pros! Free promotion will populate your “also bought” pages on Amazon, but maybe not with the books you really want to be associated with; in fact, those books may be in different genres.
Freebie hunters will take anything, including books in genres they would otherwise never purchase. These books are often not the targeted “also bought” books that would be appropriate comparisons for your book.
The boost in Amazon searches will instantly die after your free promotion ends, and it could drop your new Amazon ranking even lower than it was prior to the promotion.
You will gain visibility with new potential buyers, but they already have your book for free, and they will not buy it again. Unless you have more books to sell, or better yet a full series, you’ve given your book away to potential buyers.
Many people download free books just because they are free. They’ll download all the free books they find, but may never read most of them. The percentage of readers who purchase your book and leave a review is very low (1 out of 150-200 readers), but the percentage of readers who’ve received a free book and leave a review is much lower. It’s so low that you shouldn’t expect a single review from a thousand downloads: if you get a couple, you’ll be very lucky.
Many internet marketers highly recommend running occasional free promotions. We disagree and believe that unless you have a full series for sale, a free promotion may hurt your book ranking and sales more than it will help; and to be done properly, it will cost you a lot in advertising.
For authors with a single book, a discounted promotion is much better.
Your close circle of friends
Purchasing fake or unauthorized reviews
A big word of advice: DON’T!
It’s against Amazon rules and when (not if, but when) Amazon finds out, you’ll lose everything: your account will be terminated and that will be the end of your book and author career before it even begins.
Purchasing reviews that won’t get you penalized
There are a few legitimate services that sell reviews. They take steps not to go against Amazon’s rules. They have real reviewers who purchase your book and leave real verified reviews.
Many of the reviewers from these services are bloggers. This means that they may boost the sales of your book a little for a day, but don’t expect a huge spike in sales overall.
These services work within the rules of Amazon and are fine to use, but they aren’t without issues.
These services are usually very expensive.
Many of the reviewers for these services are professionals. It’s both a positive and a negative thing. They review many books in multiple genres and they tend to be much stricter with their ratings than regular readers.
If your goal is to reach your first 10 reviews with a 5-star average rating, you’ll need straight 5 stars.
Even if your book is an award-winner and deserves 5 stars, the likelihood of getting 5 stars from half of the reviewers from these services is very low.
Some professional reviewers consider 4 stars to be an excellent rating and the maximum they’ll ever give. And many of them, if they love your book, will give it a 4-star review where a reader might have given you 5. Some of them just never ever give a 5 — 4 is their maximum.
These services offer a good way to get started with fair, quality reviews from verified buyers, but considering the very high cost and, more importantly, that the reviewers may be stricter with their ratings than average Amazon readers, they are not for everybody. Thus, we only recommend them to start collecting your very first reviews but not over the long term — a maximum of ten reviews.