Before I became an author, I didn’t think too much about reviews or their impact. If I came across a book that really moved me I might write a review, but more likely I would go the word of mouth route, telling others in emails, blog comments, and social media what I was reading and how I liked it. Sometimes, I would drop the author a note to tell them how much I enjoyed the read.
After becoming an author, I found myself all too often staring at Amazon and Goodreads pages hoping for a review. At first, it was about seeing if people understood how The Emotion Thesaurus could be used, and finding out if it helped them as we hoped it would. After all, not everyone knows about this blog, and so for many, seeing the ET in book form was their first exposure to the idea of an Emotion Thesaurus. We wanted to make sure readers understood our intent for it to be used as a brainstorming tool for describing their character’s emotions, not a shortcut for cutting and pasting body language (unless it was for place-holding purposes).
|photo: Adikos via photopin cc|
It didn’t take long though for me to understand that in a sea of books, especially on a site like Amazon, reviews were the difference between someone taking a casual look (because maybe the title or cover caught their eye,) and actually sticking around (because someone was enthusiastically recommending the book.) I suddenly saw just how important reviews are for discoverability: they draw attention because no one wants to waste time or money. Visitors need to decide if the price is worth the investment before they hit “buy.”
The first reviews can be the most important, as they seemed to gather the most ‘likes.’ They float to the top, remaining visible, and so visitors would see that many people agreed with the review by liking it. Becca and I were lucky to get some great 5 star reviews at the start, and so it hopefully encouraged others to try out the book.
Reviews also help by enticing visitors to put the book on their ‘wish list’ as a way to keep track of it. This puts the book on Amazon’s radar for their top 100 “Most Wished For” and “Gift Ideas” lists. Suddenly a book becomes discoverable in a new way–friends and family looking to buy books at Christmas or for a birthday can just check out what other people are pining for in a particular genre or category.
Amazon Reviews are the starting point for a giant promotional wheel. Reviews lead to sales, which lead to ‘customers who bought X also bought’ matches, which leads to more visibility and sales, ‘adds’ on individual wish lists, and finally, Amazon promotional emails to customers pairing your book with others like it. This of course leads to more sales, more reviews and more visibility! All because a person who read your book took the time to review.
Becca and I are taking this opportunity to send you all a big THANK YOU for all your reviews, emails and feedback on this book. We appreciate all your support of us here and elsewhere! We also want to encourage you to get out there and write a review or two. It really does make a huge difference, and the author will appreciate it.:)
Do you review books?
Angela is a writing coach, international speaker, and bestselling author who loves to travel, teach, empower writers, and pay-it-forward. She also is a founder of One Stop For Writers, a portal to powerful, innovative tools to help writers elevate their storytelling.
Laura Pauling says
I read the 3 star reviews b/c they tend to be the most honest. I don’t trust what 5 star reviews say but I do look to see how many there are. I know that sounds like a contradiction.
I do write reviews esp. if I felt the author accomplished what they set out to do.
Congrats on 200 5 stars!
Traci Kenworth says
I am so glad your book is taking off!! Can’t wait for the next one!! I used to do reviews on my blog but I found myself not wanting to read more and more because it seemed like such a clinical thing, detailing everything. There are much better reviewers out there and I, too, thank them for pointing us to great books!!
Susanne Drazic says
Interesting post. I should make a point of sharing my thoughts on books on Amazon. I do share about books on my blog and I post the links to Twitter, Facebook, and Google +, so I feel that I am helping authors by reaching out to different readers through those social medias.
Love this! And congrats on all of the success for The Emotion Thesaurus… you deserve it!
Ellis Shuman says
Great article! I envy you for having so many reviews, but I guess it takes time. I promise not to keep staring at my book’s page on Amazon all the time.
Susan Flett Swiderski says
WOW! Two hundred??? That’s fantastic. Congratulations. One was mine… and I hope you get at least another two hundred!
Nancy LaRonda Johnson says
Congratulations on that many great reviews! That’s awesome. I was like you, never understood the importance of reviews until after I’d written a book. I would have gladly done reviews before hand, but was no one I knew who had written a book ever asked me to. Maybe they didn’t understand that reviews are important.
This is nice post expressing the many reasons why reviews are important. Will spread the word! Writer’s Mark
Cathy Brockman says
I even started my own review page to post my reviews as well as on amazon etc.
I write reviews for the Sacramento Book Review and the San Francsico Book Review which are often picked up by the Tulsa and Portland Book Reviews. They used to all be posted on Amazon as well, but Amazon put the kibosh on that. I seldom post reviews of my own simply because I don’t have much time, but I will try to do more of that.
C. Lee McKenzie says
Most people who aren’t published or seeking publication don’t understand the importance of the review–at least those I talk to. When someone says, “I just read your book” I always ask if they’ll review it. Usually I get a blank stare. Wish there were a way to tell the reading public how much authors today appreciate and need those reviews.
Thanks for this post.
Stina Lindenblatt says
I tend not to read reviews, so I tend not to write them. I base my decisions on the ratings. I found if I read the review, it will taint my opinion of the book, which might not have happened if I hadn’t read them. Usually, I pick books based on friend recommendations.
Theresa Milstein says
200 5-star reviews? WoW, congratulations!
I often do leave reviews, but sometimes just stars. It’s amazing the impact they have, so I’ll be more consistent.
Pk Hrezo says
Oh nice! You know I’m glad you mentioned this cuz I’m terrible at leaving reviews. Matter of fact, I need to leave one for ET right now.
Big congrats on your 200th!!! So fantastic!
Rachna Chhabria says
I review books for a newspaper in India. I try not to be too harsh in my reviews, try to balance the good with the not so good points of the story.
Becca Puglisi says
It’s funny how something that takes so little time can have such a big impact—not only on an author’s rating, and therefore, future book sales, but for the sake of encouragement. Sadly, I never realized this until I had a book out myself. Now, I’m happy to take a few minutes to do this for books that I really like.
Angela Ackerman says
HI Linda, I am so glad you ran into this post! I think most authors read reviews (even though some say they do not). The fact is, we are interested in what people have to say. For me, even reviews where the person was not 100% happy are still important, because I can take them into consideration when I write future books. Each review takes time to write, and I appreciate that someone took that time, no matter what they had to say. 🙂
@ Natalie, it’s all good, no matter where the review goes! Now that Goodreads *is* Amazon, it will be interesting to see if the ratings on GR affect Amazon ratings & list placements. At the very least I suspect that it will factor in as to where they put their advertizing dollars!
@Nancy, I think we all get a little obsessive at times (haha, I do!). 🙂 But the best thing we can do is put that energy into writing more, learning more and trying to make the next book even better than the last. 🙂
@R.E., it is so funny you mention this, because I was just discussing this with someone last night. It is possible I could lose all my reviews, or at least all the ones written by writers, which are, you know, most! Yet I suspect they won’t because my book is FOR WRITERS, so the exact target audience. Still, you never know–it would be awful for sure.
Thanks everyone for commenting!
R. E. Hunter says
One big problem I can see with Amazon reviews for a book like yours is Amazon’s recent decision to remove all reviews posted by authors (apparently on the assumption that all authors are either backstabbers or dishonestly willing to trade positive reviews). I no longer post Amazon reviews for that reason.
Goodreads on the other hand is a good place for reviews, as long as Amazon leaves it independent, as they’ve promised.
Nancy Thompson says
Yes, reviews mean everything!!!…to the author. It’s been 6 months since my book was released and I STILL check my reviews daily. And I cannot tell you how much I hate that about myself, because it’s an obsession, really. And it gets in the way of my writing. But in all honestly, readers have no idea how important those reviews are, because they help get your book on an Amazon list, and that is where it becomes truly visible. So it’s no wonder we obsess over it. *sigh*
Natalie Aguirre says
Thanks for reminding us of the importance of posting reviews. I don’t post many on Amazon, but I do try to post them on Goodreads.
Linda Maendel says
Enjoyed this post! I review books and submit everyone to Amazon and have wondered how much this means to authors and if they actually ever see them. Thanks!