What happens when you write a review?

If you’re an e-book reader, chances are you’re seen at least one request by the author for a review. Why? Why do indie writers, like ourselves, make such a big deal about it? Let’s break it down…

Online Reviews

Picture Amazon as a huge bookstore

As of March 2016, there are almost $4.4 million e-books on Amazon. 120,000 e-books debuted in the last 30 days.

The most popular books (bestsellers) with hundreds of starred reviews are seen first. Imagine them sitting in the window or on a table right by the door. It’s nice and bright and you know that the books here are selling like hotcakes to super satisfied customers and fans. (There’s discussion about positive and negative reviews, but we’re focusing on the positive for now.)

Our brand new e-book (one of 21 that arrives at Amazon every 7-1/2 minutes) is shoved at the very back of the store, some 3 city blocks from the entrance. It’s black back there. The lights burned out long ago. Not even the bravest of readers loaded with time, tracking devices, and a couple of stiff martinis ever make it all the way. We arm our family and friends with directions, but it’s not enough.

A big publicity budget would perhaps haul in some Hollywood spotlights, but we’re indie authors, and the budget is non-existent. The best hope we have are reviews.

Book stats for Amazon

Here’s what happens when you review

A review pushes the book up from the back and a few racks closer to the front of the store. In this section, a few browsing readers wander around squinting at the titles in the dim light. Perhaps they see our book, like the idea, and buy it. It moves a couple more racks to the front. A ‘bot comes out of the darkness and slaps up a small spotlight: “Customers who bought this item also bought…

And so it goes.

We’ve been trained as consumers in the digital age to check reviews, whether it’s for Amazon or Yelp or Trip Advisor. If the average reader has the choice between a book with no reviews and one with reviews, the chances they’ll select the reviewed book is higher, especially if they’re parting with hard-earned money (of course, this means the reviews give them information they like, reveals something they didn’t know, or confirms their internal bias–this is the type of book I already enjoy).

With enough reviews, that book will continue to move up to the front of the store where more browsers are wandering.

Reviews also help customers who know what they want, but are looking for something new. Reviews lead to sales, which leads to that “also bought” list, which leads to appearing closer to more popular titles, which ultimately connects customers with the type of book they want.

If you like a book, please leave a review

It doesn’t have to be long. It can be as simple as “This was fun to read” or “Really enjoyed the story”. Don’t feel intimidated, we don’t need long summaries or newspaper-like reporting. Think of book reviews like a thumbs up or a thumbs down. It can definitely help your favorite indie writer reach a wider audience.

We appreciate all our supporters and thank you for your reviews!

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