Thursday, July 23, 2015

How To Get Amazon Reviews by Sarah Nego

My very good friend, Sarah Nego is here today talking about how to get amazon reviews you can keep given the new policy.

If you're an author, chances are you've heard about the latest round of policy changes at Amazon. In case you haven't, it seems that Amazon has gone nuclear with its efforts to keep false reviews off the site. The result is that many authors are seeing honest reviews deleted because Amazon has determined that they know the reviewer.

There is a lot of speculation as to how all of this is being determined, but Amazon is giving away their trade secrets. Based on what I've seen so far, this stinks. And I encourage impacted authors to make their voices heard to Amazon. For all their faults, they have shown a willingness in the past to correct policies that aren't working.

In the meantime, we have to work with the system as it is, and that means getting more creative when garnering reviews for your books. Here are five ways to get reviews with Amazon's new policy.

1. Ask for a review at the end of your book

Seriously, you should already be doing this, but just in case you aren't, make it happen now. Like, right now. The best time to ask for a review is right after the reader hits the end of your novel and is (hopefully) reliving all the emotions you just gave them. While they are still riding that reader high and actively thinking about your book, ask them for a review.

Of course, you'll do this in a very polite way that is full of appreciation for them reading you book. When asking for reviews, we always ask, never demand.

2. If a reader contacts you, ask for a review

There is nothing better than getting an email or Facebook message from a reader who just finished your book and loved it so much they had to reach out to you. Seriously, the best. It goes without saying that you are going to take the time to write them back, thank them for reading and answer their questions. I'm just going to assume you already do this. 

But after you've done that, don't forget to ask for a review. This can feel a little awkward at first since it's so much more personal than asking for reviews in a general sort of way at the end of your book. But, as long as you are polite and not demanding, this is a great way to get new reviews from readers that you know loved your book. I've had a 100% success rate when asking for reviews this way.

And don't forget to ask the readers you meet in person as well. Not everything has to be done on the internet.

3. Be on the lookout for new bloggers

I've met some amazing bloggers during my short tenure as an author. Several of them I now count among my friends. And while I'll still offer them review copies of my next book, I realize that my relationship with some of them may mean they are unable to post to Amazon. I can say without reservation that those relationship are well worth the sacrificed review. 

But you still need reviews, and that means you'll need to go searching for new bloggers for each new release. By all means, still contact your previous bloggers, but you can't rely solely on them. Yes, this means more work. Honestly, if you're afraid of hard work, being an author is not the job for you. The good news is that there are always new book bloggers coming on to the scene (especially teen reviewers for us YA/NA authors). And don't you want to do this anyway? You should always strive to expand your circle of exposure and introduce your books to new readers. Finding new review bloggers for each book is a great way to do that. 

4. Ask your close friends and family for a referral instead

Confession time. I asked my mother to put a review up for my book (she said she loved it), but she said no. "Because that's not fair. I'm your mom." Maybe my mom has a secret Amazon crystal ball. Even though I was a little miffed at her refusal, my mom was still able to help me in plenty of ways.

Instead of leaving a review, I asked my mom to post about the book as much as she was willing on social media, recommend it to her friends and even gift copies of the book. Just because your mom can't review your book, doesn't mean she can't help you spread the word.  And when one of her friends reads the book, ask her to nudge them into leaving a review. I'm pretty sure your parents' friends won't get deleted from Amazon.

5. Don't stop asking the people you know for reviews

I currently have about 550 friends on my personal Facebook account. While I have had personal interactions with all these people, obviously, I don't consider all (or even most) of them close friends. And I'm guessing, neither does Amazon. While the giants over there seem to know when I've run out of clean socks, they don't actually have access to everything. Is there a chance that your friend won't be able to post a review? Yes. Should you ask them for one anyway? Absolutely. 

You've heard the phrase 'It never hurts to ask'. That certainly applies here.

Bonus Tip:

Amazon's algorithms are a mystery to all of us. but we can guess that the more online interaction you have with a person, the more likely Amazon will consider them too close to review your book. If you want to avoid getting reviews taken down, I'd like to suggest authors stop doing something that I personally think should have already been outlawed: Sharing your own reviews.

You've seen the post:
"Check out this great 5* review of MY AMAZING BOOK! Thanks so much @SuperBookBlogger!"

First, these posts are obnoxious and I have never once clicked on one of those links. Not once. If I'm interested in a book, there are a ton of places for me to go find reviews for it. I don't need them in my newsfeed.
NOTE: This is different than a signal boost for a blog post someone put up for your book. You should always do this and if Amazon takes issue, that's just a risk you'll have to take in order to show appreciation to the bloggers who do much for us authors.

Second, this tweet, which I have to imagine is fairly ineffective, has just created a new link between you and this blogger. More ammunition for Amazon to assume that the two of you wrote this review together while sharing chai tea lattes and cake pops.

Don't do this. I'm shaking my head at your objections right now. Don't do it.

Maybe Amazon will change its algorithms tomorrow and we won't have to worry that our late night tweet session with an awesome blogger will result in their 5* getting the take down. Maybe this policy is here to stay. The good news is that either way, you can't use all those tips to get effective, honest reviews. And that makes everyone happy. 

Sarah Negovetich knows you don't know how to pronounce her name and she okay with that. 

her first love is Young Adult novels, because at seventeen the world is your oyster. Only oysters are slimy and more than a little salty; it's accurate if not exactly motivational. We should come up with a better cliche. 

Sarah divides her time between writing YA books that her husband won't read and working with amazing authors as an agent at Corvisiero Literary Agency. Her life's goal is to be only a mildly embarrassing mom when her kids hit their teens.


  1. Very good advice, Beth. I hate to ask for reviews, but sometimes do. I haven't noticed any of mine being taken down, at least yet. Guess we'll see what happens. Thanks for the update.

  2. Thanks for all the tips. I have another tip. Get different acct names/email addresses for accounts on GR and Amazon. I have pen names in lots of different places (since I've used 4 during the past 6 years) and I haven't had a problem with my reviews.