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Eccentrik said:
I see a lotta ppl post on these boards about not worrying about reviews, focus on sales. But sales come with reviews do they not? All other things equal (or similar) a book with significantly more reviews will have more 'social proof' and not just trigger that psychology in potential buyers but probly also get pushed up by the algorithm, right?
They're right. Besides writing the best book you can and packaging it the best you can (blurb, cover), the best thing you can do is focus on promoting it and sending people to your product page. (Read: Marketing) Worrying about getting reviews is a waste of time. No one will see the reviews if no one is going to your product page.

The number of reviews has much less bearing on the Amazon algo than other things, as far as we all can tell. There is no magic number that kicks some magic algo into action. (The rumor used to be Amazon started 'promoting' your book at 50 reviews. There is next to no proof of this.) Sending outside steady traffic, good also boughts and visit-to-sales conversions rate will juice Amazon in your favor much more than a review. That's why focusing on sales is always the better bet.

Yes, people like social proof. But, if you sell, people will leave reviews. And if you keep it up, you'll end up with lots of genuine organic reviews.
 

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Discussion Starter #22
Clay said:
It's easy to release a book and have a bunch of five star reviews if you have a decent ARC team. The book doesn't need to be great, it just has to be "good enough." Sometimes those reviewers are just happy they got a free book.

That's why it's usually a bad idea to make purchases on Amazon based on 5-star book reviews. I only read the 3 star or below reviews. If you see a ton of reviewers bashing the 5-star reviews that's also when you know something weird is going on.

Ilona Andrews is an example of a legitimately popular author who happens to have rabid fans.
My newbie understanding is that ARC teams get a free file format (like a PDF) in advance, and are encouraged to leave a review when the book is published. Since they got a free version, how many of them actually purchase the book or nab it on a KDP free day? Cuz otherwise aren't their reviews posted as "unverified" and weighted less?
 

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Discussion Starter #23
DmGuay said:
They're right. Besides writing the best book you can and packaging it the best you can (blurb, cover), the best thing you can do is focus on promoting it and sending people to your product page. (Read: Marketing) Worrying about getting reviews is a waste of time. No one will see the reviews if no one is going to your product page.

The number of reviews has much less bearing on the Amazon algo than other things, as far as we all can tell. There is no magic number that kicks some magic algo into action. (The rumor used to be Amazon started 'promoting' your book at 50 reviews. There is next to no proof of this.) Sending outside steady traffic, good also boughts and visit-to-sales conversions rate will juice Amazon in your favor much more than a review. That's why focusing on sales is always the better bet.

Yes, people like social proof. But, if you sell, people will leave reviews. And if you keep it up, you'll end up with lots of genuine organic reviews.
Gotchya. As a fledgling myself, I just wanna get as many of the right eyeballs on my product page as I can. I'm assuming that will translate to more purchases, reads and reviews, but the first priority is certainly just letting people know I exist haha
 

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Eccentrik said:
Gotchya. As a fledgling myself, I just wanna get as many of the right eyeballs on my product page as I can. I'm assuming that will translate to more purchases, reads and reviews, but the first priority is certainly just letting people know I exist haha
I very rarely read reviews myself--and when I do it tends to be more out of curiosity of what people thought (often for something I've already read) and I don't think I've ever used that as basis to decide whether to buy a book or not.

Things that *will* affect my decision: cover (to catch my attention), blurb (to see if the story is interesting), look inside (to make sure the writing is at least decent).

That's pretty much it.

Note that in reality the blurb is what sells it for me. The cover just gets me to read the blurb while the look inside is a sort of vetting process to make sure I'm not buying a book filled with typos or whose author has no idea how to tell a story :D

Reviews are only useful if you know the reviewer's tastes. Otherwise, I find them pretty pointless.

That's not to say I wouldn't want them for my books, BTW, LOL, just talking as a reader.

But as a writer, sure, you'll want the reviews for social proof, but I wouldn't worry too much over it either. Let it grow organically.
 

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Discussion Starter #25
CassieL said:
Wow. That's a bold claim to make against Ilona Andrews who in all the years I've been watching them have never shown the least signs of being shady. (Unlike others...)

To clarify my error, that was ratings, the number of global reviews is currently in the 700s.

The series this book is related to is normally a trade-published series that's been highly successful. I know they did use NetGalley for advanced reviews like trade publishing normally does. I don't know total sales numbers but they did state that it sold more in the first week of release than the last book in the prior series sold in its first month of release and it made #5 on the New York Times Bestseller list the first week of release and looks to be #2 on USA Today right now. They also have one of the most enthusiastic fan bases I've seen. But, hey, you know, it's Kboards so let the mud-slinging ensue...Sorry to have tried to provide a counter-example to the OP and brought a well-respected author in for shade instead.
There's no doubt she's killing it and giving many of us hope for more lucrative writing careers. That said, I think it's fine to wonder if that level of clout and traction enables an author to take advantage of certain 'benefits' upon which lesser authors cannot capitalize. I don't think it's a denigration of her personally, as much of it is an inquiry into the system where we're all embedded.
 

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Discussion Starter #26
ASG said:
I very rarely read reviews myself--and when I do it tends to be more out of curiosity of what people thought (often for something I've already read) and I don't think I've ever used that as basis to decide whether to buy a book or not.

Things that *will* affect my decision: cover (to catch my attention), blurb (to see if the story is interesting), look inside (to make sure the writing is at least decent).

That's pretty much it.

Note that in reality the blurb is what sells it for me. The cover just gets me to read the blurb while the look inside is a sort of vetting process to make sure I'm not buying a book filled with typos or whose author has no idea how to tell a story :D

Reviews are only useful if you know the reviewer's tastes. Otherwise, I find them pretty pointless.

That's not to say I wouldn't want them for my books, BTW, LOL, just talking as a reader.

But as a writer, sure, you'll want the reviews for social proof, but I wouldn't worry too much over it either. Let it grow organically.
I mostly agree with your process of potentially purchasing. It's very similar to mine. My main point is that, books that have higher reviews will be easier to discover. I've seen books in the top lists that don't have that many reviews, but most do. That's obviously a function of how many readers they've attracted and how many readers were motivated to review.

Here's my question: why did you click on the thumbnail in the first place? Because all you saw was the cover, the title, the price and the reviews at that point. Which factor affected your decision most?

That's what I'm getting at
 

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Eccentrik said:
I mostly agree with your process of potentially purchasing. It's very similar to mine. My main point is that, books that have higher reviews will be easier to discover. I've seen books in the top lists that don't have that many reviews, but most do. That's obviously a function of how many readers they've attracted and how many readers were motivated to review.

Here's my question: why did you click on the thumbnail in the first place? Because all you saw was the cover, the title, the price and the reviews at that point. Which factor affected your decision most?

That's what I'm getting at
In my case: the cover and the title. The number of stars or reviews *never* is a factor for me at that point. But that could be just me.

OTOH, I don't know how Amazon works internally, but it's possible that what they display at the top might be influenced by the number of reviews. In fact, I'd be surprised if it wasn't, to some extent. Though my guess would be that sales matter more (after all, reviews don't bring them money, sales do). So if you focus on selling, the rest should follow.
 

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You release a book in a very popular series, a book that many readers are eagerly awaiting, particularly if it has been on preorder. You meet and even exceed their expectations for that series. Many of them will stay up and read the whole thing over a day or two, even if it is long, and they will love it enough to want to review. That is how.

Some reviews will be long and eloquent. Others will say, “I love his books,” or, “Great.”
 

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CassieL said:
Ilona Andrews released Blood Heir as a self-published title on January 12, 2021. It has 3,662 ratings on Amazon so far with a 4.8 average. Sometimes authors have rabid fans that support their work.
Actually, Blood Heir was published by a publishing literary agency (yeah, I never heard of such a thing either) if you scroll down the book page to the publisher info, you find NYLA. That makes a huge difference because Nancy Yost Lit Agency can draw on a vast list with trad industry connections to get respected endorsements (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist), etc. The skids were well-greased for that particular launch.

I've noticed the same phenomenon for books published by the Amazon presses. They throw a ton of ad effort behind a book they like. A friend of mine published her work independently for many years (25 books did OK) then got picked up by Lake Union and bam! Literally an overnight avalanche. Bear in mind, she's a top-notch writer with creds, but that book topped 1,000 reviews in about a week. Two years later it's topped 6,000, 4.4/5.

An indy's organically grown list can make similar numbers--200 is quite possible if you pitch the book well to ARC fans and maybe continue a series or produce a second or third book on a well-loved theme. Aa number like that is not always dodgy.
 

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Usedtoposthere said:
You release a book in a very popular series, a book that many readers are eagerly awaiting, particularly if it has been on preorder. You meet and even exceed their expectations for that series. Many of them will stay up and read the whole thing over a day or two, even if it is long, and they will love it enough to want to review. That is how.

Some reviews will be long and eloquent. Others will say, "I love his books," or, "Great."
Well, I was gonna say, you're living proof.
 

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I have close to zero reviews on my books at the moment. In saying that, I have not focused on marketing the novels hard, I have just been testing the waters. With two complete books under my belt, a novel and novella,

(the novel currently being edited and proofed again by someone more qualified, the cheap job I got of fiver I wasn't to impressed with. But still extremely polished so I'm wondering what this new editor has got for me.)

with a third novel 50k words into first draft.

Long story short, here's the punch line...

The two reviews I've got on those books is from the only bloke in my group of friends who is an avid reader... and his name's in my acknowledgments section of the book lol!

Suffice to say he give me five star reviews! When I questioned him vigorously about whether the books were actually good, of course he said yeah "I was thoroughly impressed" etc, etc... In circumstance such as these, it can be hard to trust friends.
 

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Doglover said:
You can - and get your kdp account banned when Amazon find out.

OP, you need report the ones you think dodgy to Amazon. If they agree, they will remove them. I agree that if they look dodgy, walk and talk dodgy, they probably are dodgy.

I saw one once on a badly written 5 page pamphlet which simply said 'amazing' - yeah, what's amazing is that it ever saw the light of day.

I don't tend to read reviews much when I'm buying a book. I've bought too many that were supposed to be wonderful and bored me to death after the first chapter. But, I don't find a lot of five star reviews in themselves to be fake looking. I have a lot of five star reviews myself and I can assure you they are all genuine.

Of course, now that Amazon allow just a rating with no review, they could have come from anybody's Uncle Fred who doesn't speak a word of English, or read it, but have spent their required $50.
They can get banned, if they are stupid.. I'm not here to talk about the methods but.. This is the problem with reviews and stars and ratings and public purchase counts and likes and all that.. It creates a new industry for publicity.. There are ways.. and anything they do to subvert it.. there are ways around.. Even verified purchase of physical book..
 

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Illona Andrews is huge....rabid fan base.

I'm not as big as she is, but my fan base is growing. I average close to 20-25k sales during release week, between preorders and sales. When you are doing that kind of volume, reviews come in quickly. I don't have an ARC team. It's just all avid readers--during my first week I usually get close to 300 reviews. In the first month, close to 3k reviews. You also have to consider that's not all reviews--it's more ratings, which is no written review. Of Illona's reviews on that new book, 3806 total, 800 something are reviews, rest are ratings.

The more popular you get, the more quickly reviews come in and the percentage of people that review goes up--because you have more avid fans and they are eager for that release. Many read it the minute it's available.
 

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fivedragons said:
Actually, Blood Heir was published by a publishing literary agency (yeah, I never heard of such a thing either) if you scroll down the book page to the publisher info, you find NYLA. That makes a huge difference because Nancy Yost Lit Agency can draw on a vast list with trad industry connections to get respected endorsements (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist), etc. The skids were well-greased for that particular launch.

I've noticed the same phenomenon for books published by the Amazon presses. They throw a ton of ad effort behind a book they like. A friend of mine published her work independently for many years (25 books did OK) then got picked up by Lake Union and bam! Literally an overnight avalanche. Bear in mind, she's a top-notch writer with creds, but that book topped 1,000 reviews in about a week. Two years later it's topped 6,000, 4.4/5.

An indy's organically grown list can make similar numbers--200 is quite possible if you pitch the book well to ARC fans and maybe continue a series or produce a second or third book on a well-loved theme. Aa number like that is not always dodgy.
I wonder if we're gonna see this more with big name authors.
 

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Discussion Starter #36
Justawriter said:
I'm not as big as she is, but my fan base is growing. I average close to 20-25k sales during release week, between preorders and sales.
whoa that's awesome, good job! any websites you recommend for the best exposure for newbies?
 

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fivedragons said:
Actually, Blood Heir was published by a publishing literary agency (yeah, I never heard of such a thing either) if you scroll down the book page to the publisher info, you find NYLA. That makes a huge difference because Nancy Yost Lit Agency can draw on a vast list with trad industry connections to get respected endorsements (Publishers Weekly, Kirkus, Booklist), etc. The skids were well-greased for that particular launch.
Nope. This likely has little to do with her agency. This is not a new thing. Lots of agencies opened up a service where they would publish for their primarily trad pubbed authors who didn't want to deal with doing it themselves. Most agencies don't know all that much about self-publishing. But this author is so big--like massive, #1 NYTimes bestseller.....it's just what happens with some authors when they hit really high levels--huge fanbases. They don't need ARCs because they have readers anxiously waiting for the books, read them immediately and leave reviews.
 

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fivedragons said:
I've noticed the same phenomenon for books published by the Amazon presses. They throw a ton of ad effort behind a book they like. A friend of mine published her work independently for many years (25 books did OK) then got picked up by Lake Union and bam! Literally an overnight avalanche. Bear in mind, she's a top-notch writer with creds, but that book topped 1,000 reviews in about a week. Two years later it's topped 6,000, 4.4/5.
I'm sure your friend's book is good, but there is an explanation for her overnight avalanche. It was part of a well-oiled machine that consists of free books counted as "verified purchases" and tremendous visibility.

If a book is published by one of the Amazon presses, Amazon can select it to give away free in Prime or in a program that is called something like First Reads. Even though people get the book free, Amazon counts it as a "verified purchase" and gives it prime display space. Massive numbers of these free books that are counted as "verified purchases" are given away. People who get the free books are encouraged to leave reviews.

Discovery is everything. When prospective buyers see a new book climbing the charts in valuable display space with hundreds of reviews from verified purchasers, it catches their interest.

This formula is repeated month after month for Amazon press books. This could be a reason why some big name trad published authors have signed on with Amazon presses. Their contracts are probably considerably better than the deals lesser known indies get, but their names give Amazon presses more respectability. Money can buy almost anything.
 

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I'm really glad the OP asked this question. It's been the biggest question I've had, and never solved, for over the past 12 years. I have been STUNNED when I see books that have received hundreds of reviews within days. I subscribe to nine marketing companies that send me their book specials, either free or 99 cents. I click through them every day and always end up seeing (90%) with dozens and dozens or even hundreds (sometimes 1,000s) of reviews within a few weeks. Many of these books are debuts and many other authors do not have huge back-lists. Some manage hundreds of reviews in days. These are not, primarily, best-sellers. I'm sorry, I just cannot imagine that hundreds will jump on a book or ARC, read the book through that fast and lay down that many reviews. A Big-5 or Indie A-Lister? I can see that. I see something abnormal going on here. Free Arc or e-copies does not a "verified" purchase make. Why am I seeing nearly all verified? There is one another exception--many of the books were published years ago when they did receive and build-up reviews, then they decided to pitch out a recent ad for it. I'm not talking about those. I wish somebody would really set me straight on this. Could anyone game the system in any way about this? Not that I would or have done such a thing. 
 

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Pardon me, the post above mine answered about the "verified" purchases when Amazon gets involved in promoting it by themselves. That's a revelation to me.
 
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