A few days ago, my friend Shawn wrote this great post – 20 Free Ways to Help Your Writer – Friend Survive the Writing Life – and it goes without saying that most of us who are his friends and who are also writers shared the post widely.  Because here’s the thing, writers need help.  In order to pay our bills, we need readers . . . so when Shawn suggests that you share a writer’s post or suggest a book to your book club, he’s helping us all . . . and we need your help.  images

The one thing that all the marketing and publicity materials I’m reading talk about is the importance of Amazon reviews and rankings.  Now, most of you know that I have a real love/hate relationship with Amazon, but since they are THE key place for marketing books these days, it’s important that I make the most of their services . . . and reviews are a huge part of how they recommend and rank books.

So here are five things I’ve learned about why Amazon reviews matter:

1. The more reviews a book has the more often it shows up on Amazon.  So if a book receives 20-25 reviews, it gets listed in the “You might also like” and “Readers who bought this book also bought” lists that pop up on everyone’s pages.  If a book gets 50-75 reviews, it becomes eligible for Amazon’s promotions like their newsletter.  So the sheer number of reviews is important. *

2. Reviews – as they are intended – also help people decide if they want to read a book. Now, if you’re like me, you don’t really turn to reviews to determine if the book is a great fit for you. You can probably determine that from the book description.  BUT reviews do tell potential readers if a book is beyond their expectations or if it falls flat.  They do influence sales.

3.  For writers who take them seriously (as I do), reviews help shape our next work.  If someone says a book was sloppy or lacked detail, or if someone says they loved the characters or the historical discussion, a wise writer will remember that feedback as she writes her next work. (Of course, a mean-spirited, unspecific review isn’t helpful at all, so be wise and kind – but critical – with your comments.)

4. Sometimes other websites or book bloggers only review books that have a certain number of reviews.  We are all – bloggers and authors alike – trying to be sure to deliver good content and information to our readers, so if a book is largely unreviewed, a blogger doesn’t have enough data to form a clear opinion about a book.  Thus, more reviews means more readers in this way, too.

5. Reviews make writers happy AND give us another tool for publicizing our work. When someone reviews my work – okay  when someone reviews my work positively – it absolutely lifts my spirits because it means someone read the words AND liked it.  (It’s not as great a feeling to get a negative review, but still, it means  – most of the time – that someone cared enough to read and comment).  Many of us use those reviews as a way to get the word out about our book either through social media or in press releases. So your words help us sell our words.

There they are, the reasons so many writers ask for your reviews.  It’s self-interested yes, but also so important. We need you, even if you didn’t love what we wrote

So when you finish a book, think about stopping by Amazon – or Goodreads, too, if you’re a member – and writing up a couple of sentences for us.  Nothing fancy, just a couple of words to say what you liked or didn’t about the book.  We’ll all appreciate it.

What are your feelings about Amazon reviews as a writer or a reader? 


*I loved this write up on reviews from Gwen Perkins.