The Importance of Reviews

In the first of a new series of blogs I’m calling: The Writing Journey”, I want to talk about reviews and the vital role they play in a book’s visibility. I am starting with this topic because at the time of this writing, increasing my reviews is a current challenge I’m facing and working to overcome. So, I want to share what I am learning during this leg of my journey.

The Thing About Reviews…

One of the things I’ve learned during my personal writing journey for Cargo 3120, is just how much visibility for your books is determined automatically by search functions that are built into platforms like Amazon and other online retailers. It all happens behind the scenes based on rules that we’re predetermined and then programmed into the search function by the creators of those platforms.

On Amazon, these “rules” determine (on the fly), which books and products get more visibility than others. In the case of books, these rules take into account more than just the sales. The number of reviews is weighed heavily in this calculation. Customer reviews (not to be confused with editorial reviews, which are written by professional reviewers), have a significant impact in determining how often your book is shown to readers.

A Game of Visibility…

Yes, as an author you need a great cover, a well-edited manuscript, and a great ad copy to make the book stand out. But also, the number of reviews plays a big part in helping authors win the game of visibility, resulting in your books being displayed to more readers on platforms like Amazon.

The point of the game is simple: the more people see your book, the chances that those people will buy your book will likely increase. Even when using Amazon marketing services for advertising, their own training courses suggest that having at least fifteen reviews with an average of 3.5 stars or more is needed before a book or product is considered “Retail Ready”.

Retail Readiness?

The reason reviews are among the elements considered for retail readiness is that reviews help to build credibility and trust for a product.

You can check Amazon’s training course for optimizing for retail readiness. In fact, Amazon has a lot of resources like this to help you understand how to be successful in selling on its platform.

Why does Amazon offer these free courses? I believe it’s because their financial success depends on their seller’s success with using their platform. If we make money, they make money… and everybody wins, right?

In my experience, of all the elements that make a book retail-ready, getting reviews is the hardest part. Let’s face it, most readers just don’t leave reviews. It’s not always because they don’t like the book. People have busy lives and sometimes forget to leave a review or rating. Others may not feel comfortable writing a review. The list could go on and on. And sitting around waiting for reviews to come in organically can be an exercise in frustration.  Yet these reviews are critical. So, what is one to do? Well, the answer is not as hard as you think. You have to actively ask readers for reviews.

The key is being creative in your approach. Whether you offer something like a free review copy in exchange for an honest review or use services like NetGalley to find folks to help you out, the ability to get those reviews is possible. It’s just going to take time, so don’t give up!

A Call for Reviews…

Sometimes people just need a reminder. So here is that friendly reminder:

If you’ve read Cargo 3120 Ties that Bind, please leave a review on Amazon, Barnes and Noble Online, or wherever you purchased the book. If you’re not sure where to leave a review, sites like Goodreads or Bookbub are excellent places to start. If you’re up for it, you can leave the same review in multiple places.

And please, don’t just leave reviews for my book. Please go out there and support other authors you enjoy by leaving reviews for their books as well. It all helps us to reach more readers like you.

Wrapping it Up…

Well, that’s all for now. Thanks for reading, and I hope you found something here helpful, especially if you’re a fellow writer trying to navigate the ins and outs of getting your book noticed. So, go out there and get creative in asking for those reviews.

Be blessed everyone!

Aaron Walker Sr.