I’ve always enjoyed writing reviews. Long before I was ever an author, I liked to leave feedback for things, whether it was for a service I’d received or a product I’d bought. I’m not sure if it was an altruistic desire to help other customers or if I’m just outspoken and opinionated by nature, but it’s something I’ve always done since becoming an internet user back in the early 2000s.
Now that I’m an author, I’m even more fervently pro-reviews. This is because I’ve witnessed first-hand just how integral reviews can be to a book’s success or failure on Amazon (and you can probably apply this to most other products, too). There are two main reasons for this.
Reviews influence customers’ perception
The first reason is obvious: the more positive reviews a book has, the more likely it is that people will purchase it. Some people will probably be convinced by the five stars themselves whereas other people may want to dig deeper and read a few reviews before making their mind up. Personally, when I buy anything on Amazon I tend to look for negative ratings and read those reviews first, then I read some of the positive reviews for balance. We all have our own ways of reaching buying decisions, but there’s no getting around the fact that customer reviews are influential in that process, for most of us at least.
REVIEWS INFLUENCE AMAZON’S ALGORITHM
The second reason why reviews are critical to a book’s success is Amazon’s algorithm. Just like Google, the retail behemoth employs a formula that uses various metrics to determine where a book appears in search results. One of those metrics is Amazon Bestsellers Ranking. Each book on Amazon has its own ranking based on book sales with the book ranked #1 being the overall bestseller at any given time. For example, at the time of writing, the paperback version of my book Sarah’s Shadow is ranked 7,014 on Amazon UK:
Another influential factor in the algorithm is the number and quality of Amazon verified reviews that a book has (‘verified’ here means that you bought the book on Amazon before you left the review). The more verified reviews a book has, and the higher its average rating is, the better.
UNVERIFIED REVIEWS HELP TOO
It’s worth pointing out that while verified reviews help determine a book’s visibility on the world’s biggest marketplace, unverified reviews are helpful in their own way, too. A lot of people don’t even realise they’re allowed to review a book that they didn’t buy on Amazon. Well, you are allowed, and while it won’t influence the rankings, your unverified review’s star rating will be visible on the product page and it will still count towards the book’s total number of reviews (see the screenshot above – not all of those 32 customer reviews are verified purchases as I sell my book in bookshops and on other websites such as this one).
So, if you loved that book you were given for Christmas, or that book you bought from Waterstones a few months ago, you can still review it on Amazon.
it only takes a minute
I’m a father of two and a business owner as well as an author, so I know what it’s like to have precious little spare time, and I can understand why people would rather not spend that time writing reviews on Amazon. But remember, your review doesn’t have to be a literary masterpiece. A few sentences, or even one sentence, will suffice. And trust me, your author will love you for it!
Finally, if you’re not sure how to go about leaving a review on Amazon, check out this short and easy-to-follow video created by a friend of mine, fellow author Lulu Allison: