article

Want to Self-publish? We Unpack How Amazon Reviews Work

Whether you’re a veteran or entirely new to publishing, there’s no doubt that it’s a challenging process involving a number of different tasks. For this reason, creating a detailed checklist is key.

A checklist will not only guide you to ensure that you don’t miss any crucial steps, but it will also allow you to set micro-goals, meet your targets and deadlines more effectively, and alleviate a great portion of stress. It will ensure you don’t rush important aspects of your book, paving the way for the most successful self-publishing experience possible.

Amazon reviews are vital contributors to the success and sales of your book. Amazon has been identified as one of the most popular platforms customers turn to to seek reviews before deciding to make a purchase. Below, we unpack Amazon’s review policy and explain what you can do to ensure you achieve more legitimate reviews.

Why Are Amazon Reviews So Important?

It is no secret that good book reviews result in increased sales. It has been established that a self-publishing author needs 35 or more reviews to remain in Amazon’s good books, while the typical best-selling author tends to have around 130 or more.

Establishes Credibility

Reviews, especially good ones, assist in establishing your credibility as an author. If you have many reviews, your customers are more likely to trust you and your writing based on the opinions of an abundance of sources.

Assists Decision-Making

Feedback from other readers can help a customer decide whether they will enjoy reading your book. If your book sounds like their cup of tea, they will be far more likely to buy it.

Creates Buzz

Humans are social creatures by nature; we don’t like to feel left out. Reviews can also hold great social influence over people and create buzz or hype around your book.

If a customer constantly reads reviews about your book and hears that many fellow customers are reading it, they might be drawn to purchasing it, simply because they feel everyone else around them is doing so. The sharing of good reviews will drive traffic to your Amazon listing.

Power in Numbers

Authors who receive many reviews tend to sell more books. This stems back to the credibility and popularity reasons.

A large number of reviews indicates to customers that your book is popular and as a result, they perceive you as a more credible author. Customers will be more likely to purchase your book as the risk of disliking it will be decreased and they will feel as though they can trust your writing.

What Is Amazon’s Review Policy?

Over the years, Amazon has been refining its customer reviews policy, making it increasingly difficult for writers to gain a high number of reviews.

Amazon has done this because they wish to provide readers with the most unbiased and trustworthy reviews possible so that readers continue to return to their platform. While other platforms do exist for book reviews, Amazon still tends to be the most sought-after among readers.

What Is Prohibited?

Amazon has set many rules in an attempt to restrict writers from obtaining illegitimate or biased reviews. The company is also allowed to restrict the submission of a review if it identifies abnormal reviewing conduct as Amazon wants to uphold the best possible shopping experience for its customers.

The following types of reviews are prohibited:

  • Reviews written by anyone with any kind of financial interest in your book, including editors, publishers, and agents
  • Reviews done by anyone viewed as having a close personal relationship with the author, such as close friends and family
  • Numerous unfavorable reviews of your book from the same customer
  • Negative reviews of your book from your competitors
  • Reviews received in exchange for a monetary incentive or gift
  • Positive reviews of your book from a fellow author or peers in exchange for a positive review about their product
  • You may not resubmit a review on the same book if it is disallowed or taken down because it doesn’t adhere to Amazon’s parameters regarding promotional content, even if it incorporates altered content

What Is Permitted?

To ensure authors receive only legitimate and unbiased reviews, Amazon has left little room for what is allowed.

While keeping in line with the rules, you may do the following:

  • Ask readers who have purchased your book to leave a review
  • Ask other authors to review your book; however, Amazon makes this incredibly difficult and as such they may have to get in touch with Customer Service in order for this to succeed (they will likely have to use a different account with a different email address)
  • Ask your social media followers to write customer reviews about your book
  • Provide free or discounted copies of your book to readers, as long as you don’t require a review in exchange or attempt to influence a review

Please note: Reviewers must have an Amazon account and must have used it to make purchases from the Amazon store accumulating to $50 or more within 12 months before they wish to leave a customer review

What Will Happen If You Break the Rules?

Amazon takes no prisoners. Unfortunately for writers, if you disobey their rules, the consequences can be far graver than simply having your illegitimate review removed.

If you decide to take a chance by manipulating the review policy on Amazon and you get caught, the company has stated that, depending on the severity of your misconduct, you may experience the following consequences:

  • Amazon may remove the reviews that have violated their rules
  • Amazon may delist the book on which the illegitimate reviews are based
  • Amazon may withhold or forfeit your remittances or payments
  • Amazon may immediately suspend or cease your Amazon privileges
  • Amazon may instantly suspend or bar your account
  • Amazon may pursue legal action against you if you breach any state or federal laws

What Can You Do If a Review Gets Removed Unfairly?

Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do if Amazon decides that you haven’t adhered to their guidelines as they own the site and, in turn, have the final say. What you can do, however, is kick up a fuss and complain.

If your review has truly been removed unfairly, your complaint will likely be taken into consideration as Amazon has received countless complaints from authors who’ve landed up in the same situation or authors whose reviews have been removed accidentally.

Reviews

How Can You Gain More Legitimate Reviews?

There’s no doubt that gaining more readers results in receiving more reviews. Fortunately, there are a number of ways in which you can do just that:

Compile a Mailing List

A mailing list composed of relevant people is a useful tool to gain reviews. It is often a good idea to offer them a free or discounted copy of your book and ask that they review it afterwards. Just remember, you may not propose such an offer in exchange for a review as this can be reported to Amazon as manipulation.

Use Your Social Platforms

As long as they’re not your close friends or family, you’re able to ask your social media followers to read your book and hop on to Amazon to review it.

Involve Beta Readers

One way to ensure you write a great book is to acquire beta readers. Once your final copy is published, your beta readers will often be the most likely readers to review it upon your request as they’ve been with you throughout your publishing journey.

Reach Out to Avid Reviewers

Amazon provides access to reviewers who are able to read your book and review it. Reach out to their top reviewers as they are likely to be willing and tend to provide detailed, helpful reviews.

Submit Your Book to Amazon Review Sites

There are various other book review sites where you can submit your book. Often, these sites will republish their reviews on Amazon, and if they don’t, you can always republish the reviews as an editorial review via your Amazon Author Central account. One example of these sites is Goodreads.

Outsource Professional Services

A fantastic way to make sure your book is up to scratch is to outsource professional services such as a relevant ghostwriting package from a highly endorsed website such as The Urban Writers. This will ensure your book includes all the elements that make up a great book, drastically increasing your chances of gaining multiple good reviews.

Closing Time

While Amazon has made it increasingly difficult to gain book reviews, there are still plenty of creative ways to achieve them. Amazon has merely done this to establish themselves as a reliable platform where readers can find trustworthy advice and opinions.

Remember, if you build a foundation of trust and credibility with your readers, they are far more likely to keep coming back for more. If you place your focus on writing the best book possible and engaging with your readers, the reviews will follow.

Want to get more awesome content like this delivered straight to your inbox and save 10% on your next order with The Urban Writers? Sign up for our newsletter by visiting our website and using the Get on the List sign up box.