An Amazon Reviews Tip That Will Help You Sell Books

September 12, 2012 · 9 comments

I did a lot of driving over the last two weeks — like, 20 hours worth of driving, getting myself to and from a writer’s colony in Georgia.

One of the ways I passed the time was listening to interviews with entrepreneurs on Mixergy and Blogcast FM. These (free) shows are priceless — listening, even while you drive or clean, is one of the best ways to teach yourself something new.

Of the half dozen podcasts I bulldozed through, my favorite was Blogcast FM’s chat with Mike Michalowicz, blogger and author of The Toilet Paper Entrepreneur.

He talked about some interesting business principals, including putting systems in place (automation) that do the dirty work for you, something I’m getting better at by the day. But the best tip he offered, and the one that will be most helpful to all of you writers, was about how to land reviews on Amazon. Because we know reviews are so important for selling books.

(Also, a quick lesson here: whenever you give an interview, whether it’s video, audio or text, don’t just talk about yourself and share your experiences. Take it a step beyond and offer true value for the listener, practical tips they can apply to their own career and life. This is what will make you memorable.)

Mike shared how he targets the top reviewers on Amazon — the people who write the most reviews and whose reviews have been voted by Amazon users to be the most helpful — and emails them to see if they’ll review his book. He even offers to send them a free copy. (Tip: If you can offer a digital copy, it costs you nothing.)

This might sound a tad bit shady at first, but he’s not asking for only positive feedback; he’s asking for a review. Obviously he’s confident most of those reviews will be positive, that the readers will like his book and want to recommend it to others, or he wouldn’t put himself out there.

So how do you find top reviewers?

Go to http://www.amazon.com/review/top-reviewers. Here’s what you’ll see:

How to get your book reviewed by Amazon's top reviewers

From there, you can browse the most prolific reviewers and identify those who review books in your genre.

Here’s the story about how this strategy worked for one author, plus more details on how to make it work for you.

In the interview, Mike sort of explains how to drill down into that list of reviewers and pluck out people who review books on certain topics, but his instructions aren’t specific enough for me to follow. If I figure out how to do this — or anyone can explain it in the comments — I’ll add that to this post.

As for finding each reviewer’s contact information, they sometimes make it easy for you by including an email address on their profile page (which you get to simply by clicking on their name). Reviewers also sometimes explain on their profiles (left side, under their photo) what types of books they do and don’t review.

Now, you can easily combine this tip with Mike’s advice on automating menial tasks so you can spend more time on what matters. He said he crafts an informal, friendly email, then uses that same email to approach each reviewer. (You could use Gmail’s Canned Responses Lab for this.)

Even better, once you’ve got this system down, you don’t have to do it yourself. You could easily hire someone at a reasonable rate and pay them by the hour to do this work for you, so you can focus on other, bigger-picture promotion strategies.

And know what would probably be even more effective? Personalizing that form letter ever so slightly to include the reviewer’s name and maybe even a reference to that person’s reviews and why you think he’d want to review your book. In other words, writing an effective email pitch the recipient will actually read.

Here’s the full Blogcast FM interview, if you’re interested. The part about Amazon reviews is about two-thirds of the way through the interview.

Anyone planning to try this approach? If you’ve already tried it, how did it work for you?

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Jade Craven September 12, 2012 at 9:40 am

I have to say, Mike used this on me and I instantly accepted :-) I don´t care if it´s him or a VA. I do a lot of reviews on Amazon because I sincerely want to help people. Referencing a previous review I´d made – including acknowledging my candor – made me feel like the time I spend is worth something.

(The best thing for authors is that you may not know about their other talents. So, while I review a lot of stuff on Amazon I am also an awesome superconnecter :) When I like someones book, awesomeness happens.)

This technique has the potential for abuse, just like normal email pitches. Fake familiarity (something Mitch Joel wrote about recently) may piss people off.

For me, though, it felt nice to be acknowledged as a professional rather then as someone to suck up.

Another effective technique is to monitor twitter conversations about your book and see who says ´I want to read this but….´ Spike Jones did this in regards to the Brains on Fire book. I instantly accepted as it meant I didn´t have to debate whether I wanted this more then another book on the kindle. The pitch was extremely personalized and it was autographed with a nice inscription. The book was good and I referenced it on Problogger today. I probably wouldn´t have read it if not for that outreach as I don´t read as many biz/entrepreneurship books currently.

It´s so easy to rock at outreach for your books. Saving me from making a decision makes me more likely to read something.

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Alexis Grant September 12, 2012 at 4:28 pm

Thanks for these ideas and insight, Jade!

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Norman Tarala November 3, 2012 at 7:54 am

Thank for this article!

I am happy to see that you are giving the details for free. I bought these kind of information for $9.95 and the “inurl” details for 5$. It was totally a waste of money. I hope I saw this article first before I made the purchase.

But nonetheless, thanks for posting this for free so that other authors may benefit.

Regards,
Norman

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Dana September 12, 2012 at 9:57 am

I might, actually. I’m just starting to pull together my promotional strategy now, so this could definitely be a part of it…

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R J Rogers September 14, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thanks for the ideas. Sounds like a great way to jump-start your marketing!

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John Phythyon September 17, 2012 at 11:07 am

Thanks so much for this information, Alexis! I’ve spent a lot of time researching book blogs that review my genre and sending emails to the bloggers. I didn’t know you could research reviewers directly through Amazon!

It’s funny, no matter how much I learn about the e-publishing business, it seems there is still so much I don’t know. Thanks for the tip!

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Srinivas September 24, 2012 at 4:01 pm

Hey Alexis,

I finally broke it down now that our book came out today. Here’s the part that was a bit unclear in the interview. Go into google and type the following

1) site:www.amazon.com inurl: “social media” or keyword of your choice
2) Go look at who the reviews are on each of these books
3) Reach out via email or contact them if they are available.

-Srini
Srinivas recently posted…Dealing with the Fear of Failing at Something BigMy Profile

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Alexis Grant September 24, 2012 at 6:00 pm

Thank you for this, Srini!

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