The Cold Hard Truth About Amazon Book Reviews

amazon-book-reviewsHow important are Amazon book reviews to you when deciding whether to buy a crime fiction novel?

I honestly don’t base my book buying decisions on book reviews. Here are the criteria I use.

  • I do judge books by their covers (an interesting cover and I’ll explore further).
  • The blurb (if it grabs me I continue to the inside look).
  • The look inside (seals the deal and convinces me to buy if it’s interesting).

I’ve often decided against buying books with lots of great reviews when the inside look contents just didn’t grab me. I’ve also bought and thoroughly enjoyed many books that had few or even poor reviews when the blurb and inside look convinced me the book was worth a try.

Every reader is different. I assume some shy away from books with few reviews or poor ratings. But I expect most readers are like me and make their own book-buying decisions without paying too much attention to the opinions of other readers. That said, Amazon reviews do remain critically important to independent authors and publishers like me for a completely different reason.

Like Google, Amazon can literally be described as a search engine, especially when it comes to books. Amazon uses algorithms just like Google does. No one outside of Amazon knows for sure how the algorithms work exactly, but it is widely accepted that ratings and reviews make a huge difference with regards to the visibility of a book on Amazon.

In other words, the more reviews a book gets, the more potential book buyers visiting Amazon that are going to see the book. A book with few reviews or no reviews might be the best book ever written, but it will remain largely invisible. Few people will buy it because few people will ever know it exists.

While I can’t personally attest to the accuracy of it, many of those who claim to be in the know say that a book must have a minimum of 10 reviews before it receives any real visibility on Amazon.

Since publication, my first crime fiction novel, Come What May, has received only one Amazon review. It is a 5-star review which I’m thrilled about, but still, I’m nine reviews short of the 10 that the experts say a book must have as a minimum. That pretty much explains why the book at the time of this writing languishes at #3146 for Police Procedurals in the Kindle Store.

In large part, it is my own fault my book doesn’t have more reviews. I’m new to fiction writing and independent publishing. I focused on the research, writing the book, editing the book, book cover creation, and publishing the book. Only then did I concern myself with the part of book publishing I like least and have the least experience with, marketing the book. Only after I’d published Come What May, did I learn from those with experience and knowledge in book marketing that I should have been lining up reviews long before the book was launched.

Now I’m playing catch up. I’ve been asking for reviews from people I know, friends, family, co-workers, etc. I’ve asked here on the site. I’ve asked on social media. But nothing has seemed to work. I’ve now pretty much resigned myself to the fact that I’ll just have to wait for reviews to come in and more and more it seems that will be a painfully slow process.

The point of writing this article isn’t to make you a guest at a personal pity party. It isn’t even an attempt to convince anyone to review my own book. The point is simply to raise awareness about the importance of book reviews for independent authors and publishers in general.

Until recently I didn’t know how important reviews were to the ultimate success or failure of an independently published novel, so I expect there are a great many readers out there who are also unaware of it. So, if you have read some indie authors and really enjoyed their books, please take the few minutes required to write and post an Amazon review for their books.

Writing and posting a review on Amazon is easy to do and needn’t take a lot of your time. All you really need to do is write a sentence or two to say you liked the book or you didn’t. If you’re feeling particularly industrious, you might add another couple of sentences explaining why you liked the book or didn’t. It really shouldn’t require more than 5 minutes to do. We’re all busy these days, but honestly, we can all spare 5 minutes to express our appreciation for the work of an author who produced something that provided us with several hours of entertainment.

I’ll go now because I just remembered, there are a couple of independent authors out there I owe a book review.

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