It’s definitely true that one of the first goals every author should have with their new book is getting reviews on Amazon, GoodReads, and really everywhere possible.
Why? It’s just true that books with lots of good reviews sell better. Of course, that makes sense, because most of us like to look at what other people thought of the book before purchasing a copy for ourselves.
The exception to that might be if you are already familiar with the author or the book is in a specific genre that you know you enjoy reading. This whole realization that reviews are critical has led many authors to find various ways to conjure up reviews, or at least that is what I will call it here.
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They might do things like:
1. Review swaps with other authors
This is quite common but also actually is against Amazon’s review policies. Also, like any other type of influenced review, it can lead to actions taken against your book for manipulating the review system (up to remove it from Amazon). The reason why this isn’t great is it is very unlikely that in a review swap, either party reading the book is going to give the other author a bad review. So, it’s simply a biased review.
2. Pay-for-Reviews on various sites
These are sites that are going to guarantee you reviews (which can only happen if they control the reviewer or their accounts). They can be either low or high-cost sites, but the bottom line here is we are not supposed to pay people for reviews that are going to end up on Amazon. Once again, it is a skewed review because the reviewer was paid to complete the review.
3. Related party reviews
While it is probably very true that your family read your book and they have even loved it, it’s not a review that Amazon or other large service providers are going to allow. There just has to be fewer personal ties to make sure the review is an honest one.
So far we have only discussed some of the ways that authors can walk or cross the line related to reviews but we haven’t really addressed the issues that all of these cause for authors. Let’s start with some of the bigger ones and work our way down the list.
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4. Participating in review schemes
It’s been mentioned already, but if you participate in a review scheme that is against Amazon and other similar site’s policies, you risk getting banned or delisted from that service. This is a pretty harsh penalty and could really cause your book to fizzle out.
It’s ethically wrong, and nobody is really gaining from the review. If a review is biased, other readers aren’t getting the whole story or at least not an honest take on it, and the author is not getting any real feedback to improve his writing either. Everybody loses.
Finally, the people that you have encouraged or coerced into giving you a review are also risking their own reputations and ability to actually influence and help others in the future by providing a biased review. This can only hurt their credibility along with yours in the long run.
Okay, so what can you do if reviews are so critical but all of the ways that you directly control through either paying someone to do it or having an insider help you are risky?
There are reputable services out there that will do their best to match you up with potential reviewers. If they tell you or warn you upfront that the review could be negative, that’s probably a good start.
What you need to be seeking are honest reviews that will help someone on the fence about your book decide to or not to buy the book. It’s hard to resist the urge sometimes just to pick up some reviews, any reviews, no matter what it costs but just do your best to abstain.
Over time your book will be discovered by more and more readers, and then you will get the genuine reviews that you are looking for; just do your best to not conjure them up out of thin air (or your wallet).
Kenney Myers is the founder of https://ebookfairs.com and the author of Jon Bragg Blue Essence, a Norse myth. You can pick up the book on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and all other common retailers.