Your book just came out, and it needs reviews on Amazon. Not just any kind of review, but positive ones.
Do you rally your supporters on social media? Ask friends and family to post (implied glowing) reviews? Email anyone who’s ever complimented you and ask them to post?
According to Amazon, all of the above methods lead to “manipulated reviews.” The company is deleting thousands of them, says this story in The New York Times.
If you’ve already employed these strategies, don’t worry about it too much. Most of the time, Amazon is not looking for small fry like us, but for authors with huge followings who can incite people to write reviews on the first day of publication, sometimes without reading the book. But even so, we smaller authors are not immune. The article includes interviews with authors who say that Amazon removed reviews by family and friends.
My first reviews on Amazon happened in a fairly unusual way. I’m not sure that publishers still do this, but when the first edition of Will Write for Food came out in 2005, the publisher paid Amazon to send my book to premium reviewers, who posted reviews immediately on my Amazon page. Were they instructed to write positive reviews? I doubt it, given their status as premium reviewers.But I can’t know for sure.
That strategy got me 10 reviews or so, but I wanted more and over time, they arrived. Most appeared organically, where I had never heard of the reviewers and they took it upon themselves to comment. It’s always a thrill to read the nice ones.
Sometimes, when readers emailed me to tell me how much they enjoyed my book, I replied by asking if they would be willing to post a review, and included a link to my Amazon page. Was that wrong? Maybe. But in my defense, authors are supposed to drive book sales, and the people who emailed me could have chosen to ignore my request.
(A side note: The review I’d love to manipulate comes from a neurosurgeon in Tennessee (I Googled him because I was so mad), who gave my book one star. “Worthless to anyone wishing to write cookbooks,” he wrote. On top of that insult, three people found his review helpful.
Actually, I’ve come to terms with my few negative reviews. Without them, my page would be all positive reviews and less believable. That’s what this Amazon page on getting reviews says. And I’m always telling food bloggers who write products reviews to avoid hype and include some pros and cons. I try to suck up 4.5 stars out of 5, but it’s a struggle.)
How do you feel about solicited or manipulated reviews? What do you think is appropriate behavior for book authors? And what have you done to drive online reviews?
(Photo courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net.)