IF MY BOOK GETS 50 REVIEWS ON AMAZON, IT’LL BE PROMOTED IN THEIR NEWSLETTER!
SO FAR I’VE SEEN NO REAL EVIDENCE THAT THIS IS A HARD AND FAST RULE AND TURNS OUT TO BE A LITTLE BIT TRUE BUT MOSTLY MYTH
AMBER LOVE 29-AUG-2016 I’m constantly asking readers and bloggers to give reviews to my books. The reviews and star ratings, authors have been told, drives the search results to bring visibility to the titles. When it comes to consumerism, products with high ratings will get more sales. Even though I wrote about this one month ago in a Patreon backers-only post (July 28, 2016), book reviews are still harder for me to get than scaling the wall of Trump tower.
Edit: I asked MixtusMedia if they would give some insight about how to get book reviews.Link added Nov 10 According to Random House Penguin, 37% of readers discover new books through the power of blog reviews, 49% by magazine/newspaper reviews, 69% of readers found new books on Goodreads.
Recently a meme was circulating which I haven’t been able to find since the day I saw it, which claimed that a specific number of reviews gets your book promoted by Amazon and put in their newsletter. Since it wasn’t a graphic meme it’s impossible for me to trace; I saw creators copy or re-write the text and then add a link to their own books urging how important it is it review them. Positive ratings and reviews are definitely good, but this specific claim is completely unfounded.
DO WE LOVE REVIEWS? WELL…
As an author, sometimes you get advice not to read reviews of your work because there’s a high probability that you’ll have trolls who hate you, your characters, your content, or if you’ve changed something important that people held dear. Some of the best and most horrifying examples of this are death threats (rape threats, targeted harassment) which has happened to notable authorsFan Entitlement like Kathleen McGowan, Chuck Wendig, and Charlaine Harris.
No author wants trolls in their review sections.
When I say “reviews” I do include the microblogging endorsements such as fans or book bloggers on Twitter and Instagram talking about how much they love/hate a book; taking pictures of the books on the beach or spotted in a store. Micro-reviews are still reviews. However, those can’t be analyzed. No way to crunch the numbers unless you care to see the insights of tweets mentioning you that were RT’d the most, but that doesn’t equal sales or positive feedback.
THIS BRINGS US TO AMAZON:
Amazon won’t inform anyone on how the magic of the math happens when determining good reviews boosting the presence or sales of a book. There isn’t even a known quantitative metric to say “X amount of sales makes this book a best seller.” If there is, I haven’t seen a resource on that research and trust me, I have tried googling it several times. It depends on other factors like categories and star ratings.
What I have seen a lot of is confirmation that yes, sales go up if there are more good reviews on a product. There are other factors on Amazon like labels of “best seller” or having a book alongside another in the “customers who bought this also bought that” and there’s a section smack in the middle of a book’s page called “books with buzz” where other books appear.
Amazon is responsible for 71% of online book sales so that’s why I focus so heavily on it. (stat via the authorearnings.com presentation)
This article is the most gutted explanation I have seen about how Amazon determines book sale ranks: http://selfpublishingadvice.org/amazon-sales-rank-taming-the-algorithm/
And if you don’t feel like reading through that, there’s a slide presentation referenced in that article and the direct link for that is: http://authorearnings.com/2016-digital-book-world-presentation/
But, when that analysis says, “Sales rank is governed by sales and downloads, with a little adjustment by Amazon’s algorithms. Sales rank is unaffected by the number of reviews, ratings, or any aspect of a book other than its sales performance,” it’s leaving out part of the picture. That post goes on to say that sales rank does not even determine where in the search results a product will come up.
If it’s not based sales (ie, not even best sellers get preference) then what the hell does determine the level of promotion by Amazon?
There’s tons of speculation; that above-linked authorearnings presentation has some serious math on the slides.
My best guess after reading several articles on the subject, is that placement is determined by sales, price, reviews, categories (keywords), what else the customer bought that may be similar, and publisher. I definitely believe that a big publishing house book will show long before an indie or author/publisher book.
ABOUT THOSE REVIEWS:
A review contains the 1 to 5 star rating that the reviewer is assigning (5 being most excellent). Unless you hate a product and want it to plummet, never give less than 3. It’s one case where less than 3 is not love. <3
The body of the review contains words. Now that may sound stupid to point out, but words are, in fact, KEYWORDS. Keywords are picked up when people use search engines. Amazon’s “search” bar is its own built-in search engine scouring all of its listings for matches.
For example, reviews on Cardiac Arrest could include words like: best, female, protagonist, mystery, crime, cozy. Keywords are mentioned in this article by the marketing director of ILOVETOREVIEW: https://www.skubana.com/amazon-updates/how-to-optimize-your-amazon-reviews-strategy-to-e-commerce-success/
In a nutshell, this quote is what I took away: “Reviews absolutely make a difference in your ranking. Rankings get you noticed. The more high quality reviews earned, leads to greater conversion, which then begets an organic upward move on page listings. Reviews provide additional content about your product which increases your SEO. Ultimately that could mean showing up first on any search terms used to find your product. All points being equal for competing products; the listing with more and better reviews WINS every time.”
RATING VS REVIEW VS RANK:
Here’s another piece of the Rubik’s puzzle to why reviews matter: the “Top Rated” lists.
Those stars that authors want and have to pull like wisdom teeth? Those stars are “ratings” so more five star ratings make a big difference. So unless one of my books gets thousands of 5-star ratings, it’s not going to land on the Top 100 Mysteries or Best Books of the Month lists. Cardiac Arrest is in the Top 6,000 of Amateur Sleuth books!
IS THIS REAL LIFE OR IS THIS JUST FANTASY?
According to several authors on the forums (kboards), having 50 or even 70 reviews has not magically driven more sales, given them better placement in searches, or gotten them into Amazon’s newsletter.
But someone said it was sort of true!
On that thread, a user named PeanutButterCracker said, “They do promote your book on the lock screen of Kindle devices if you are a top rated book. They did this for my last book. It was an OK seller for me, not like some of my others. However, the reviews were phenomenal and I had 100 on release day.”
And user Boyd said his sales went through the stratosphere after Amazon promoted their work: “… 50 to 100 organic reviews equates to a ton of sales!! When they (amazon) started promoting my series, I don’t think I had more than 20 reviews.”
Well, dammit, Boyd and PeanutButterCracker! Now you’ve just undone and redone the original myth!
Does Amazon promote books if they have X number of ratings?
I guess we’ll never know.