I was speaking with an Amazon employee recently.
I asked her, “What’s the most helpful thing an author can do to improve conversion of their book page?”
This is what she told me:
“By far, the most important thing an author can do is get more customer reviews.”
I was able to launch my own book with more than 25 book reviews on Day One, and recently saw it click past 200 customer reviews.
If your book hasn’t hit 200 reviews yet (or 25), don’t despair.
I’ve developed a tried and true method that will ensure that, when you launch your next book, you’ll immediately get more than 25 customer reviews the first day your book is released.
I’m going to walk you step-by-step through that process, so that you’ll have this system working for you when you launch your next book:
First Step: Get Your Thinking Straight
In coaching many authors through this process, I’ve found that it’s important to dissolve the common mental blocks that can try to keep you from success.
1. It’s OK to ask people to help you.
Of course, if you’re going to ask someone to write a review of your book, you need to it do it correctly and politely.
But that aside, it really is OK to ask someone to be a part of your book launch. The person on the other end is a grownup — they can say “No” if they need to.
Also, this is a huge event in your life! You’re publishing a book!
When you ask people to be a part of that — and trust them to give an honest, intelligent opinion — you’re actually paying them a compliment.
2. It’s not unethical to request Amazon reviews.
I’ve studied the official Amazon Review Creation Guidelines, and nothing that I recommend in this article breaks any of their rules.
3. You won’t be cannibalizing your book sales.
Having a lot of customer reviews reaps you more sales. It’s a great investment.
So don’t worry that the people you’re sending free review copies to would have otherwise paid for a copy. Most of them probably wouldn’t have bought a copy anyway — and now you’re getting a review from them!
4. Believe me, you can do this.
Everything I outline in this article is stuff any author can do.
Once you see how it works, you’ll realize that it’s a simple process that you can do over and over again, to get the same great results.
So now that we have our thinking straight, let’s jump in!
The step-by-step process for launching your book with at least 25 Amazon reviews
1. Start early.
Start this process at least 8 weeks before your book comes out.
2. Make a list of people to ask.
Make a list of all the people in your life whom you’d like to have review the book. This is the time to call in favors from friends, colleagues and family.
The great thing about Amazon reviews is, they all count the same!
Whether it’s a bestselling New York Times author or your crazy Aunt Martha, the reviews all look the same on the Amazon book page.
Bonus Tip: Put each name and email address onto a spreadsheet so you can keep track of the entire process.
How it works: In my experience, you need to ask about three times more people than the number of reviews you’re working for. So you need to come up with at least 75 names to end up with 25 reviews.
That number allows for the one-third who will say “No” to the request, and the one-third who will forget to put their review up on launch day.
3. Offer each of them a free copy of your book.
Email each of these people individually, and offer them a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) to review.
How you fulfill these orders is going to depend on your publisher or your means:
* If you’re self-published: I recommend sending out a .MOBI, .EPUB or .PDF file, with directions on how to open the file.
You’ll also want to order 15 to 20 print copies of the book for those who either can’t or won’t read it in digital format.
* If you’re traditionally published: Coordinate with your publisher on the best way to send out ARCs.
In most cases, they are not going to allow you to send out the digital file to readers, so you’ll be stuck with print copies. However, your publisher should ship these copies for you.
Below is the exact copy you can use to offer an ARC to everyone on your list.
SUBJECT: My New Book
Hi [FIRST NAME],
Hope you’re doing well! [And other niceties . . . “It’s been a long time!” etc.]
Over the last [X MONTHS/YEARS], I’ve been working on a new book titled [TITLE OF YOUR BOOK].
I’m excited to announce that in just [X WEEKS] it’s going to be available on Amazon!
One of the most important things an author can do for their book is to launch it with a lot of Amazon customer reviews.
I’d love your help with this.
May I send you a free copy of my book to read? All I ask is that you leave your honest feedback/thoughts as a customer review on [XX/XX/XX <— pub date] — the day my book comes out.
[SELF-PUB] I’d be happy to send you a digital copy that you can read on any of your devices. Or, if you’d rather have a print copy, I have a few available. Just reply with your address and I’ll drop it in the mail right away.
[TRADE PUB] I’d be happy to send you a copy of the book. Just reply to this email with your mailing address and I’ll drop it in the mail right away.
Let me know what you think, and if you have any questions.
Thanks so much!
Send this as a personal email to each individual on your list.
Bonus Tip: Keep track of everything on your spreadsheet, including when you sent the original email, when they responded, what their response was and, if applicable, their mailing address.
How it works: You have to make the condition that, if they want a book, they have to agree to leave a review on Amazon on the launch date.
Because if you just send out books and hope people will leave reviews . . . they won’t.
Let them know up front that you are asking them for a review in return for the book.
4. Immediately send them a copy of the book.
Don’t delay. Immediately get the book sent to them via email or shipping, depending on which format they request.
Bonus Tip: Create a .ZIP file that includes the .MOBI, .EPUB and .PDF of your book, with a separate PDF with instructions on how to load the book onto their device. That will make your life easier.
Then whenever someone requests a review copy, you can immediately reply and attach the .ZIP file, and know they have everything they need.
How it works: You need to give them plenty of time to read the book, so get them a copy immediately.
5. Put all of the reviewers on an email list.
Create an email list in MailChimp, or your email marketing platform of choice, and name it “ARC Reviewers.” From here on, you’ll want to be able to email them en masse.
But don’t add them to that MailChimp list until you’ve sent them their review copy.
6. Email your reviewers one week before launch date.
One week before your book launches, send an email to everyone on your ARC Reviewer list, reminding them of both your publication date and their commitment to leave a review.
You can do this in a very polite way. Here’s the copy I recommend using:
SUBJECT: One Week Left!
Hi [FIRST NAME],
Thanks again for agreeing to review my new book [TITLE OF THE BOOK]!
I’m so excited to be putting this book out into the world next [DAY OF THE WEEK — TUESDAY, ETC].
I just wanted to follow up to see if you had any questions before you leave your review on launch day.
If you don’t know what to say in the review, just leave a couple sentences with your thoughts and feedback.
Also, be sure to mention that you received a free review copy of the book.
Have a great rest of the week!
How it works: This is a polite way to remind your reviewers that they agreed to leave a review on launch day.
And for those who forgot about their commitment to review the book, it lets them know that they still have a week to read it!
7. Email them early on your launch day.
The night before your book launch, schedule an email to go out to your ARC Reviewer MailChimp list at 6:00 am Eastern Time the following morning.
The purpose of this email is to give everyone one last reminder to leave a review.
Here is the copy I suggest you use:
SUBJECT: Launch Day!
Hi [FIRST NAME],
I just wanted to send you a quick reminder that today my new book *[TITLE OF THE BOOK*] is available! This means you’re now able to leave a review.
Click here to leave an Amazon customer review for my new book. [<— Link that sentence to the actual review page on Amazon.com]
Thanks so much for helping me with this launch! I truly appreciate it.
And please let me know if there’s anything I can do for you!
Keep the email short and be sure to include a link directly to where they can leave their review on Amazon.
You want to make the path between your email and their review as short as possible.
How it works: The people who agreed to review your book are well-meaning, but are apt to forget about your launch.
This final reminder email will make sure many of them follow through.
8. Send a personalized follow-up email.
After the first week of your launch, send every single person on your list who posted a review (even if they didn’t post it on launch day) a personalized Thank You email.
Each of them took the time to read your book and to leave a review, and that deserves a big Thank You!
Bonus Tip: Mail each of them a handwritten Thank You note!
That’s it — that’s the entire process!
It’s not difficult or complex, just a bit time-consuming.
To help it all run more quickly and smoothly for you, I’ve created a downloadable package that includes:
- A sample spreadsheet, so you can see how to track all of your reviewers
- A PDF containing all of the email content
- A PDF with instructions on how to download .EPUB, .MOBI and .PDF files onto electronic readers
September 30, 2014