Building Your Karma With Amazon Reviews

020916-KarmaI have to say, I’m a big fan of Amazon.com’s reviewing system. Any product or book you’ve purchased (from Amazon or elsewhere) can be reviewed.

Reviews – especially positive, well-written reviews – impact sales. Rumor has it (because let’s face it, a LOT of what goes on at Amazon is rumor and speculation) that if your book can receive enough reviews, Amazon will promote it.

Personally, I’ve found that a book having reviews, any reviews, is a boon to sales. Once a book has its first real review, a review not written by a family member, sales start trending upward.

Here are Amazon’s “rules” about reviews:

  • No “objectionable” material
  • No promotional content
  • No off-topic information
  • No inappropriate content, which includes hyperlinks and references to other products
Getting reviews on your #book can help its sales. Are you creating good review karma? Share on X

Amazon also doesn’t allow reviews that were written for any form of compensation other than a free copy of the product. This includes reviews that are a part of a paid publicity package.

Now here’s the inside scoop of Amazon that they enforce but don’t publish: Amazon reserves the right to remove any review they deem was written by a friend, family member, or business associate. It doesn’t matter if it’s a positive review or a negative review either!

But here’s the thing:

Reviews are like karma: if you give good reviews, you’ll get good reviews.

When I say “good” reviews, I don’t mean 5-star reviews. I mean reviews that clearly show that you took the time to read and evaluate the book. Say what you liked and why. Give examples of what you didn’t like and why. Amazon requires that all reviews are at least 20 words long.

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I aim for 100-300 words every time I give a review.

What do I review?

Pretty much everything. Any time I read a book, I try to leave a review. I save all my reviews and try to post them about once a month. I read a LOT of books so I find that it’s easier to post reviews in batches.

I also try not to leave 1- or 2-star reviews. A 3-star review can be constructive; a 4- or 5-star review means the book is awesome.

Why don’t I do 1- or 2-star reviews?

Well, a book has to be pretty abysmal for me to want to leave a 1- or 2-star review. And I just usually don’t pick up books that are that bad. I use the “Look Inside” feature first. If the author has me cringing in the first few pages, I don’t buy the book.

Plus, call me biased, but I understand the hard work that goes into writing and publishing a book. For many authors, that is a labor of love and their dream. I know from experience that a 1-star review can ruin a good day.

However, that being said, there are books out there that were clearly NOT a labor of love; somebody just slapped it together and hit publish. If that’s the case, (and you can totally tell the difference between somebody who cares and somebody just trying to make a buck!) then I have no issue with leaving a 1- or 2-star review. I still make sure that I am being comprehensive and that I read the book.

And I’ve found that since I started taking the time to leave thoughtful, well-written reviews, the quality of reviews on my own books has gone up.

Your Opinion Matters:
Do you leave reviews? What do you do if you think the book should only get a 1- or 2-star review?

Kim Galloway
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