Kindle Reviews: Why Are Customer Reviews on Amazon So Crucial for Indie Authors?

 

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You might be wondering: why do authors make such a big fuss over getting customer reviews? I mean, positive reviews can certainly make us feel great from a writer’s perspective, and it’s always nice to know that someone appreciated your work and found value in your book. But there’s a much bigger reason that you want to get as many positive reviews as you can, as early on in your book’s launch cycle as possible. And that’s…

Social proof

Books that have overwhelmingly positive reader review averages and a high number of reviews tend to be more attractive to customers who are browsing for books on a given topic. That’s because reviews are one of several key ways to get positive social proof for your books.

When people see a lot of reviews and a positive overall score, it subconsciously builds trust and tells them that your book is popular and that readers are enjoying it. This can be a powerful factor in helping them decide whether a book is worth spending their hard-earned money on.

Customers are more likely to take a chance on new books or unfamiliar authors if it seems that the books are high quality and popular among readers. Many browsers are more hesitant to buy a book that has no reviews or a higher number of negative reviews.

Granted, reviews alone aren’t the ONLY factor that can influence book sales. Your book’s title, description, cover, category, and topic choice are just as if not more important. But the number of reviews and the overall score average are among the first few things a potential customer will notice when considering whether to buy your book or not.

So…getting honest, positive reviews is really important for building social proof that will help sell your book. You want to get reviews on the board early on in your launch cycle and work to build on them over time as your book continues to sell.

Beyond sales: other perks of Kindle reviews

It’s important to note that getting positive customer reviews can help you out in a few other areas beyond influencing direct sales, too. While it’s not clear exactly how much of an impact they have in this area in terms of Amazon’s algorithm, reviews do affect your book’s visibility on the Kindle storefront.

Books that have a large number of reviews and an exceptionally high rating are featured in the “top rated” tab for each individual category. Much like the best sellers tab, this is another area of the Kindle store interface that highlights the 100 top-rated books in a given category. If you can rank high on that list, you’ll get a nice visibility boost on the storefront.

Also, other aspects of Amazon’s automated promotions don’t seem to kick in until you hit a certain review number threshold, too. Again, exactly how this works isn’t 100% clear, but from what I can tell from my own experience and in talking to other authors is that the 10 to 12 customer review mark is where you have to hit to have your book start showing up elsewhere on “Customer’s also bought” and in other tabs throughout the site.

It’s possible to trigger that without reviews, sure, but getting those reviews up there seems to help speed the process along. Amazon also seems keen to put promotional power behind books that sell well and are highly rated, so good reviews can’t hurt.

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