Amazon reader reviews are like a box of chocolates. You never know what you'll get when you bite into one of the tasty morsels in that box, but, hey, it's chocolate! How can you lose!
You'll never really lose with reader reviews either, but you may end up preferring some over others. Both readers and authors love the taste of the very best ones. But what makes one reader review better than another?
I'd like to answer that question in this post, but first I want to clear up one GIANT question about Amazon reader reviews that had me confused for a long time.
WHO CAN WRITE AN AMAZON REVIEW?
My first confusion was about who could write Amazon reviews. I wondered if Amazon reviews could only be written by people who bought the book on Amazon.
Makes sense, in a way. Amazon would want the business, for sure.
But the truth is, Amazon benefits from reader reviews whether or not the reviewers have bought the books from them. Reader reviews are what other potential buyers use to decide on their Amazon purchases, which makes those reviews a boost to all Amazon sales.
So the happy fact is, ANYONE can write a book review on Amazon, about ANY book Amazon SELLS, whether the person bought the book from Amazon or got it somewhere else!
Now a word or two about the KIND of review that's helpful. It's not what you might think.
ARE ONLY 5-STAR REVIEWS GOOD ONES?
Of course authors love the five-star rankings. They're wonderful. But if readers don't feel they can give a book five stars, that's okay. It's much more important that reviews be obviously HONEST than that they be totally COMPLIMENTARY. Honest reviews are more helpful to readers, get more attention on Amazon, and good authors will appreciate the honesty every bit as much as they do the 5-stars.
DO REVIEWS HAVE TO BE LONG?
Reader reviews do not have to be long. They do not need to include a synopsis of the story, or cover every aspect of the book. Long synopses can, in fact, be harmful. They might give away too much of the story, or emphasize something that will misrepresent the author's message. In this case, less is much better than more.
And readers don't need a complete rundown of every element of the story either. They only need a taste to help them decide if they want a bigger bite. All a good review needs to do is make a recommendation of the book to other readers, either good or bad.
WHAT MAKES A REVIEW A GOOD ONE?
The most important element of a good review, as stated above, is honesty. The next most important ingredient is probably specificity. It is good if reviews give readers at least one reason WHY they might, or might not, like the book.
General statements such as, "I love this book," or "I don't like it at all," make good introductory statements in reviews, but they don't really say anything useful to readers, and they won't have the impact that a clearly stated specific example of what the reviewer likes or doesn't like will have. The best reviews give readers a clear taste of what they'll be getting when they bite in.
WHO BENEFITS FROM AMAZON REVIEWS?
EVERYONE benefits from short, honest, specific reader reviews on Amazon.
Authors love them. I so appreciate the twelve reviews of Zinovy's Journey that readers have posted on Amazon! They are heart-warming and encouraging to me! They prove that the book is doing what it was created to do. Thank you, so much, if you are one of those reader reviewers!
And reviews also contribute to the success of the book. I've heard a rumor (unjustified so far by research, but interesting all the same) that when any book gets as many as 20 reviews on Amazon, it will become more accessible to buyers. Amazon considers the magic number of "20" a milestone, for some reason, and will bump the visibility of the book when the reviews reach that number.
Readers benefit as well, of course. "So many books, and so little time!" Readers like information that will help them wade through all the options to get to books they'll actually want to read. So if you're a reader, you have a chance to promote your favorite books, or save other readers from wasting their time on books they won't enjoy.
And here's AN ADDED BONUS! When you write a reader review on Amazon, you get to see YOUR OWN WRITING IN PRINT, out there for ALL THE WORLD to read! Instant publication! Any author will tell you that's an exhilarating experience.
If that idea scares you, you can give yourself a mysterious pen name and enjoy the thrill from the safety of your own favorite easy chair!
But be careful. Seeing your words in print is addictive. You might end up starting a reader's blog of your own, or even writing a new best seller yourself!
Now why don't you go looking for that box of chocolate you got for Christmas, and curl up in your reading chair with a good book.
I do so appreciate all the encouragement my readers have given me about Zinovy's Journey. Thank you! Readers are essential. No book is worth anything if it's not being read, and the more readers the better!
If you are a Zinovy reader who has not yet posted a review, would you consider doing so? I'd love for many more people to experience Zinovy's Journey, and I appreciate any help you can give me in spreading the word. It would be great if I could reach that magic milestone number of 20 reviews this year.
Here's a direct link to the Zinovy's Journey Amazon reader review page. It's easy to do. Simply click on the button that says, "Create Your Own Review" and follow the directions. Then sit back and admire your own delicious words in print!