Posted on May 29, 2018 at 9:50 AM by Sadye Scott-Hainchek

No one has to convince you that reviews are absolutely essential to your marketing game.

But once you’ve pressed your family and friends into leaving reviews – hopefully good ones – what’s the next step?

We turned to two authors with some impressive review numbers, to better answer that question.

Greg Enslen is the author of twenty-four books, the most popular of which has over 1,600 reviews on Amazon.

He recommends using book promotion sites (disclosure: yes, he uses us, but he uses other sources as well) on a regular, active basis.

“In my experiences, for every hundred copies of book sold or given away, I get one review,” Enslen says. “So, like Letterman used to say, it's all about volume.”

Maybe you can’t use a marketing service, for whatever reason. If you have a solid email newsletter list, then Enslen suggests sending out a request to those subscribers to read and review your work.

You don’t even necessarily need that list, though, just a few names. “Ask your best readers to review everything you write,” he says.

That’s exactly what fellow author Toby Neal, a USA TODAY best-seller, does: make smart use of a core following to spread the good word about her works.

She gives out twenty to forty advance copies to her “review team” of a hundred-plus readers, and keeps track of who follows through with a review.

“We drop folks who don't follow through,” Neal says. “It's competitive. ... I would have more reviewers but don't want to give away too many books!”

Those reviews serve far more purpose than simply providing a one-off rating on Amazon. Neal and her assistant share the most articulate (and spoiler-free) ones on social media, which then encourages other readers to step up their review game.

“It creates an environment where they want their review to be picked,” she says. “This has led to thoughtful, high-quality reviews.”

(It bears mentioning that without a strong online presence, whether that means social media or newsletters, you won’t have that pool of readers who yearn for your spotlight – so you’ll also want to follow Neal’s example in nurturing a relationship with them.)

Neal and Enslen together write in a range of genres – mystery, thrillers, sci-fi, contemporary romance, young-adult, and nonfiction – though of course that leaves many others uncovered.

In their experiences, readers in these categories all seem equally happy to leave reviews, though Neal has heard that racier novels can pose a challenge for review-seeking authors.

“Steamy romance seems to be tricky because folks don't want to be known to read in that genre,” she says.

That doesn’t mean that erotica authors – or any other writers, for that matter – should throw in the towel and look for a replacement for strong reviews.

“From the very first book you publish, make strong reviews a leg in your author platform,” Neal says. “It will help everything you do from there, from advertising to giveaways.”

Even if you have dozens of books under your belt, that’s no excuse.

“Stick to it,” Enslen says. “Promote the titles that need reviews, and keep writing. Each new title begets new readers – and new reviewers.”

From the archive: Author L.L. Collins shared her tips on getting early reviews in a 2014 guest post for us. Also, Toby Neal chatted with us in 2015 about participating in Kindle Worlds.

Categories: Behind the scenes

The article didn't mention the difference between book reviews that Amazon says were "a verified purchase" and those that were probably based on giveaways. Does Amazon discriminate against non-verified reviews in any way? Are giveaway reviews just as legit and useful as verified purchase reviews?
Michael Baldwin | 10/19/23 at 9:17 AM
This reminds me of a line from the poem An Ancient Mariner 'water, water everywhere, but not a drop to drink'. I see reviews, reviews everywhere whenever I open the books section of Amazon. Some books have hundreds, I have even seen thousands, but no one leaves a review for my book. I do not understand. The few that I have received are all gushing with praise, awarding the book 4 or 5 stars. I will take note of the advice given here and if anyone has other suggestions, wishes to help I will be appreciative.
Anil Nijhawan | 7/5/20 at 8:38 AM
An extremely informative concise article. Thank you! As a self-published author having a need for being "the multi-task-master" is overwhelming. The easiest part is the book signing and selling, but trying to get a buyer to write a review.......well, considering the number of books purchased and signed is so disproportional to the reviews on Amazon. Thanks for the info.
Laurie BUmpus | | 4/9/19 at 4:30 PM
Thank you Sadye, for that immensely helpful post. It would never have occurred to me to post Amazon or Goodreads reviews on social media. It's something I can do right away.
Holly Bell | | 10/26/18 at 5:34 AM
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