Fiction and Writing

Let’s Talk About Reviews.

This post is something that’s been brewing in the back of my mind for a little while now. I’ve finally sat down to write it because I keep seeing this image floating around on Twitter:


I apologise for the harsh cropping of the image.

I am a published author, all of my books do have ‘also boughts’, and some of my books have been in the Amazon newsletters, so this information comes from experience.

I’ll start by breaking down this image and correcting the misinformation before broadening this out into a larger topic.

The opening point in that image is accurate. Authors are a small business and the vast majority do make less than $10,000 a year. I have to ask, why is that relevant? Take a step back and think about that comment as a reader, how does it make you feel? To put this into a copywriting and psychological perspective, the author who posts that is using that to tug on the viewer’s emotions. In blunt terms, it’s a guilt-trip. Do you really want to guilt-trip readers into leaving you reviews? As a reader, to me, that feels really slimy and awful. I want to make my readers feel good, I want to give them a boost, an emotional high. I want them to be excited to deal with me and my books, the last thing I want is for them to feel guilty.

Point number two states that a book with 50 reviews will get ‘also boughts’ and have a chance of going in the Amazon newsletter. That’s just straight up wrong. ‘Also boughts’ kick in after around about 20 sales, I don’t know the exact number it may be as low as 10 or as high as 30. I’ve had ‘also boughts’ kick in with 0 reviews. I’ve also had books in Amazon newsletters with as few as 6 reviews.

The third point says that reviews are a great way to say thank you to the author. Reviews are for fellow readers, if a reader wishes to say thank you to the author they can get in touch with them via email or whatever method the author provides. Reviews are there purely to help readers decide if they want to spend their hard earned money on a book, they are not for authors.

The fourth and final point is potentially harmful and also wrong. Again I ask you to step back and think about this as ย reader. If you were to find a book you were considering that had say 5 reviews that simply said “I love this book it was awesome!” how seriously would you take those reviews, and thus that book? Again as a reader, I would discount those as comments from friends and family and ignore them entirely. If there were a lot of them I’d likely discount the book as it looks really shady.

Now to broaden this out.

Reviews are important for authors, there is absolutely no denying that. However! They are not the be all and end all. This depends on your end goal of course, if you want to get millions of reviews and not much else, then I suppose they are everything ๐Ÿ˜› If however you want to establish yourself as a professional, and be a financially successful author, then you should be considering the big picture.

The opening point in the image way back up there stated that authors are a business. Yes, we are entrepreneurs and we need to keep that in mind. How would you feel if say your local family baker started guilt-tripping you into buying cakes from them? That’s a good tactic when you’re doing anything as your author persona. Step back and ask yourself, how would you feel if another small business, say that baker, did that exact same thing. Be honest with yourself.

Try and view this from a psychological perspective. Ask yourself what emotions you’re likely to trigger in your viewers and readers when they view/read that marketing tweet, or that blog post, or whatever else it is you’re doing. Remember that you want to elicit positive emotions. Happiness, excitement, those good things. Don’t beat them over the head, don’t make them feel guilty, make them really want to buy your books. Make them eager for the next installment. Isn’t that our purpose as authors, to make people happy? To entertain them and give them respite from the dark world?

We’re in this together, we all make mistakes, but together we’re going to rock our reader’s worlds. ๐Ÿ™‚



10 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Reviews.

  1. I honestly wish they were more people like you. You’re really amazing. How much you care about readers and how you’re a reader yourself.

    The way you’ve handled explaining that image. I’ve seen it a lot of twitter today too. And you’re right, it is a guilt trip. I didn’t fully realize until you pointed it out.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I am nodding so hard about everything you say here! The whole “X number of reviews means Amazon will…” comes up over and over, and it’s plain wrong. And reviews are not for the author! They can be helpful for us, but we’re not the target.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not entirely sure where the whole “X number of reviews means Amazon will…” comes from. I mean, you can look at Amazon and see… Oh well, hopefully this post will help some people ๐Ÿ™‚ Thanks for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. The first time I saw the 50 reviews number, I nearly choked. Actually, my first thought was, “That’s a lie.” Because it’s obvious from the newsletters I get (and not everyone gets the same newsletters from Amazon) that it ISN’T true. I get ads for books about my obscure interests all the time, and very few of them have anywhere near 50 reviews.
    I also think that most people miss the idea that server-side programming means that not everybody gets the same Amazon newsletters. Most of them are tailored specifically for the customer. And it’s very hard to tell from the customers’ end whether a book was mentioned to a million customers or just one.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m not entirely sure where they get these supposed facts from, to be honest. It’s so easy to look on Amazon and see books with single digit number of reviews with ‘also boughts’ in place. The same applies to the newsletters, I have my Amazon newsletters going to an account that has no purchases on it because I’m curious about what that sends. Either way, it’s really not hard to take 2 minutes to double check these ‘facts’.

      I wanted to help people, a lot of new authors are terrified by these figures, they should know the truth.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. What a great post! Thank you for sharing this, I completely agree. I’m not published yet, but I want readers to write a review if they want to write a review, not because I make them feel bad about not writing one. Reviews should be honest, and how truthful can they be if I guilt-tripped someone into writing it?

    Personally, I don’t like reviews or comments that only say ‘I liked it’. Every time I see one, be that on something I’ve written or something someone else has published, I think ‘Well, you didn’t *have* to comment!’ It doesn’t say anything and doesn’t really mean anything, and I never know how to reply since there isn’t much to respond to.

    I’m fine with not making a killing with my writing, I don’t expect to – just consider how cheap eBooks are and how many you would need to sell before you’re rich! – but it shouldn’t be used as a way to guilt people into reviewing books.

    I’ve never read a review that said ‘Thank you, [author name here], for writing this!’ so I’m not sure how common this is, but there are better ways to thank the writer!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Once again here you are proving how amazing you are! Your perspective is so refreshing, your words so inspiring. I completely agree with your thoughts. I don’t expect anything from my readers. I am the one honoured to share my stories!
    Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re welcome ๐Ÿ˜€ I want to help people, and I feel like false information like that is harming people, so I wanted to help. ๐Ÿ™‚ Thank you, you’re always so kind!


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