This is How I Tackled Amazon’s Top Reviewer List by guest Rachel Straub @WtTrainWOInjury

This is How I Tackled Amazon's Top Reviewer List Rachel Straub @WtTrainWOInjury, Rachel Thompson, BadRedhead Media, @BadRedheadMedia

What you are about to read is not for the faint of heart. It requires endless hours of work (and is not easy). You will get frustrated. You will want to quit. But, if you want honest book reviews from the most respected people on Amazon (and are willing to put in the hours), then keep reading. You will benefit—I promise. Let me tell you my story.

The Dilemma: Getting Top Reviewers 

In the first week of December 2015, Weight Training Without Injury: Over 350 Step-by-Step Pictures Including What Not to Do! went up for pre-order on Amazon. It had editorial reviews from major names in sports medicine, physical therapy, and professional bodybuilding, which I had secured several months beforehand. However, the book had not a single starred Amazon review. And no one could post one anyway—Amazon reviews cannot be posted until the book is actually available. Weight Training Without Injury was due for release January 1, 2016, so this meant I had one month to figure out how to garner starred reviews.

This is How I Tackled Amazon's Top Reviewer List Rachel Straub @WtTrainWOInjury, Rachel Thompson, BadRedhead Media, @BadRedheadMedia

What did I do? Well, I had four choices:

1. Ask family and friends
2. Ask book bloggers
3. Ask Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers
4. Do nothing.

If you haven’t heard, Amazon has a very strict review policy. Family and friends cannot post reviews—if they do (and Amazon catches them), they will get removed. As for book bloggers, I hadn’t had much success—I did try this option early on. I found book bloggers gravitated toward fiction (and I had non-fiction). And of course the last option—do nothing—wasn’t going to work for me either.

Amazon’s Top Reviewer List 

I could “hope” that random people would buy my book (and thereafter post a thoughtful reviews), but I knew the odds of that were rather slim. So … I then went for Amazon’s Top Customer Reviewers—these people are consider cream of the crop reviewers. They write the most thoughtful and honest reviews, and they have gained their ranking because of this. However, getting them to respond is rather slim—many of them receive hundreds of emails a day (or so I have heard). According to the clinical research, which involved over 2.000 patients with muscle pain, the efficiency of Soma was almost 90%. Patients noticed significant pain relief after 20 days of treatment.

So how did I tackle this task? I made it my goal to secure 100 reviews. Once I had done so, I would stop asking. The Amazon Top Customer Reviewer list has 10,000 names. So I started with #1, and then moved on to #2, etc. Why didn’t I start at the bottom? Well, the best names are at the top! Yes, it would be easier to get #10,000 to respond (as opposed to #1), but I wanted the best. And I trusted #1 more than #10,000. Piracy was a big worry for me (particularly given the type of book I was selling).

My Review Process In Detail

So here was my process:

  • Start with reviewer #1.
  • Open their profile.
  • Do they have an email address?

If no, move on. Word of advice: Make sure you are actually signed into your amazon account! If you are not, many emails won’t show up. I have no idea why, and I didn’t figure this out until I was past #500.

If yes, yay! Now it’s time to read their profile. If they state they don’t review books (or they specifically state they don’t review your genre of books), please don’t bother them. If they are vague, send off a very polite email (and make sure to include a link to your Amazon book page). Unfortunately, many Amazon reviewers do not specifically state whether they review books or not.

  • Repeat the above process until you are satisfied with your response rate.

That’s it. How did I do? Well, here are my numbers (approximately):

1. I went through 3,000 amazon profiles.

2. I sent out 1,000 emails.

3. I received 80 replies of “sure” I would love to review your book. Ten of these people would only review my book if I sent them a hard copy. The other reviewers accepted an electronic copy. I gave people whatever they wanted, as I was just thrilled to get a “yes” at this point!

In total, I gave away 80 books. Originally, I was aiming for 100 reviews. But after reading 3000 profiles (and shooting off 1000 emails), I had had enough. And I did all this over 30 days. Approximately 25 of these people actually posted a review!

My Success Rate Is…

This means my success rate was less than 1%! That’s right! Some reviewers said it would take them several months. I said that was fine. Some reviewers posted right on January 1, or the first day a review could be posted. Some reviews are still trickling in. But it has now been over 8 months, and about 55 people have never posted. Will they ever post? That remains to be seen …

Was I successful? I would say so (but you decide). Was this exhausting? Yes! But would I do it again? Yes!


photo courtesy of pixabay



rachel-straubRachel Straub, MS, CSCS, is an exercise physiologist, nutritionist, biomechanist, certified strength and conditioning specialist, investor, and co-author of scientific papers in the fields of biomechanics, sports medicine, nutrition, and computational chemistry. She has been quoted as a fitness expert in publications such as Bustle, SparkPeople, WebMD, Livestrong, Prevention, and Women’s Health Magazine. In addition, she is the co-author of Weight Training Without Injury: Over 350 Step-by-Step Pictures Including What Not Do!, which has won 15 book awards and has been praised by Publishers Weekly as “… essential for anyone who hopes to get into weight training, and it should be mandatory reading before setting foot into any gym.”


  1. C thehappymeerkat on September 15, 2016 at 2:28 pm

    Being a amazon top UK reviewer I can say that well done for persisting through 3000 profiles. The problem with this is that in the UK many of the top hundreds don’t review books or don’t accept author requests. Plenty of decent book reviewers are in the top 10,000 and many of them are in the lower ranks as books take time and don’t always garner the most ‘helpful votes’ from customers. There are plenty of things in an email to them that would make your book appeal more to a reviewer and months later it may be alright to send a simple enquiry letter. It’s true about getting lots of emails. I get around 30 a day or more and I have sometimes ‘lost’ an email and thus lost the link to an electronic book. 🙁 Worth it to always follow up but only a good time after :). Hope some other reviews still come in. A late review can still be a great review :).

    • Rachel on September 16, 2016 at 5:55 am

      Thanks for the feedback! Unfortunately, with a follow up several months later, the above is about as good as it gets. But several reviewers were several months behind, so only time will tell. My results may have differed had I started at reviewer 3000 or higher, but I will let someone else try that experiment. 🙂

  2. Hans Maerker on September 18, 2016 at 11:17 pm

    Rachel, I know where you’re coming from, but can understand both sides. Take my situation for example. My daily ‘To Do’ list is packed, and it happens more than ones that the original priority ranking has to be changed because ‘something came up’ that needed to be addressed now and wasn’t planned. That includes household issues as well as pharmacy visits, and I need time to work on my own writing as well. I also have a stack of bought eBooks sitting here, that I want to read (none of them was given in exchange for a review).

    We’ve moved to Malta [a small Mediterranean island] several years ago, and our local resources are very limited. That brings Amazon in the picture for many things, ranging from books to vitamins, and even special water filters. Things you can take for granted in regular [mainland] stores. 🙂 Our order list showed 44 items last month. Yes, that’s more than one item per day.

    Each item asks for review, be it about the packing or the product itself. I’m sure you know the drill. 🙂 Guess who is way behind with these reviews. You guessed right. 🙂 I go in our account once or twice a week and try to reduce the waiting list. Yet, that’s a struggle without end at such a rate, and this doesn’t even include eBooks which need more than a few lines for a correct review .

    The few non-fiction books I asked for in my communication circle, needed to be read first. Authors deserve a honest in depth review, and not a quick, shallow statement just because it’s pending.

    That’s why I don’t even offer book reviews. It would be unfair to have an author waiting for an eternity to get a well deserved review. So, bottom line is, that it might be not just laziness that causes an extensive delay for you reviews. Just my two cent of wisdom to this issue. 🙂


  3. Terry Tyler on September 19, 2016 at 12:35 am

    How interesting, and I applaud your tenacity! I think the problem here is mentioned by The Happy Meerkat, above – I, too, am an Amazon Top 1000 reviewer on UK, but I don’t accept requests, I just review the books I read (and am on a review team where we choose books from those submitted). I think that 30 reviews, all by top reviewers, has to stand the book in good stead for future sales, but I wonder if you could have trimmed down the time by searching for everyone you contacted on Twitter, seeing if they have a blog and if they accept requests, before writing to them all. I’ve been self-publishing for 5 years so know it is, alas, quite normal for book bloggers to accept a book but not review.

    Now… about those book bloggers. Try looking on Twitter under hashtags like #bookreviewer #bookblogger #fitness #health, and you may well find some reviewers. We do review non-fiction on the one I review for, but I am not sure about the genre – you could get in touch with the woman who runs the blog @rosieamber1 and just ask her if she could ask her reviewers if any of them are interested in reviewing a book about weight training without injury; that’s what she often does if she gets an ‘odd’ one! And you could look at the Twitter profiles of magazines of this type. If you find any likely book bloggers, it’s a good idea to build up a bit of a relationship with them BEFORE submitting your book (ie, read, comment on and share their posts).

    I presume you are in the US, but most UK reviewers post on as well. If you go for the ones higher in the list, they are more likely to be reviewers who have blogs and accept requests, rather than just avid readers who review.

    Hope that helps!

  4. Rachel on September 19, 2016 at 5:12 am

    Terry, thanks so much for the great info! The problem with the majority of reviewer profiles on amazon (at least the ones I went through) is they are rather sparse—the majority of them don’t tell you if they review books at all. It’s basically a massive fishing expedition—there is no way to sort anything or easily eliminate people. If I had only contacted reviewers that specially said they received books, my numbers would have been much worst. Actually, I had quite a number of people tell me personally they rarely did books, but mine sounded intriguing (so they were making an exception). I never tried to verify anything with social media, but my guess is that would have just added more time. Ideally, I would have made it through all the profiles, as I know I missed people but not getting past #3000.

    Now with book bloggers, I had absolutely no success there. Being a non-fiction author placed me at a significant disadvantage. Thank you so much for your helpful suggestions!

  5. Terry Tyler on September 22, 2016 at 1:24 am

    It’s all about building up the relationship with them first, Rachel. I’ve got a new book coming out next month, and I’ve contacted 15 book bloggers to review it so far. 13 of them have said yes. If I didn’t retweet them regularly, share their posts, comment on their posts, etc, I’d just be another name. But they ‘know’ me a bit, which gives me an advantage. The point I was making about going in ‘blind’ with the Amazon profiles is that the vast majority of them will not do review requests, whereas on social media you can see if people do or not.

    I don’t think you can promote a book without using social media, these days, or spending some time out of most working days doing so, alas!.

  6. janeriddell on September 22, 2016 at 2:27 am

    Hallo Rachel, I was interested to read your article because I did exactly as you did with the Top Amazon Customer Reviewers lists, for the UK, US and Canada. And of course it took hours and hours. I haven’t worked out percentages, but I would expect that the number of published reviews I received would be extremely small compared to the number of reviewers I contacted, even following the same filtering process as you did. What’s most depressing, I think, is when a reviewer replies to say that they’d love to review your book, you send them the mobi version, as agreed, and nothing happens. True, life events get in the way, and this happens to writers as well. I keep going, however, as such reviews are free. You might be interested to know that I am also trawling through my linkedin connections (circa 1800) and approaching those who are writers and teach writing – this is for a book I’ve just published on editing.

    • Rachel on September 23, 2016 at 4:58 am

      Thanks so much for your insight, janeriddell! Yes, the review process is depressing, but that’s life! Great idea about linkedin. Good luck and thank you!

  7. […] Marketing is something all writers must deal with. Amazon reviews are a must for a book to be successful, and Cate Baum goes over what is and is not allowed in Amazon book reviews, while Rachel Straub shows how she tackled Amazon’s Top Reviewer list. […]

  8. velescoinc on November 14, 2016 at 9:46 pm

    This method is now illegal according to Amazon policy. You can not offer any product free or at discount in exchange for review… We used it to before, it was great.

    • Rachel Thompson on November 14, 2016 at 11:20 pm

      Actually, it’s still just fine — read closely. The new policy does NOT apply to books. 🙂

      • Myrna on May 7, 2019 at 9:45 am

        Just asking for clarification. So is reaching out to top Amazon reviewers and giving them free products to review allowed for books only?
        I sell supplements so want to know if I can reach out to top reviewers and give them free products for reviews.
        Just want to be sure what is the right thing to do without violating any amazon TOS.
        Thank you!

        • Rachel Thompson on May 7, 2019 at 10:03 am

          To be sure, contact Amazon. This is a book marketing blog, and books have a different set of guidelines. Good luck!

  9. Chet McAdams on August 2, 2017 at 6:34 am

    Hello Rachael,
    It’s a pleasure and an honor to contact you.
    I enjoyed your post on Amazon reviewers – phew!
    It’s like panning for gold, but I’ll give it a try.
    I’m finishing an epic thriller, The Deadly Icon, that I’ll publish on Amazon.
    I think it’s good, it’s 500+ pages, with an anti-hero named Milton
    investigating an art crime in Cyprus.
    However, I haven’t had any feedback because I live in Gdansk, Poland, and
    my wife doesn’t read English. All of my relatives and friends in the States’ have died. I’m in my eighties and waiting for Charon.
    My question: What should I put in my letter to the reviewers?
    Can I let you know when my book will be available on the Amazon free days?
    Do you think should set up a website?
    I’m reading Epictetus. He says not to sweat it about things over which we have no control.
    Chet McAdams

    • Rachel Thompson on August 3, 2017 at 9:47 pm

      Hi, Chet! Wow, sounds like you have a lot going on. Getting reviews isn’t easy for anyone, so kudos to you for giving it such a good try. I recommend doing research on connecting with readers, book bloggers, and reviewers, to find the best reviewers for your genre. Two sources: the and Barb Drozdowich, who has written many short guides to help authors. I know Barb personally and she’s a wonder.

      Best of luck to you. You can read many of my articles here for more advice when you go free as well.

  10. Beth on September 19, 2017 at 7:16 pm

    I’m an Amazon Top 100 reviewer; I have been for over 15 years and held the #1 spot briefly. It is NOT correct to say that friends and family cannot post reviews–even the guidelines you linked to do not state that. Here is what they DO say:

    “Customers in the same household may not post multiple reviews of the same product.”

    So, if your family members all live in the same household, they can’t post multiple reviews of your book/product. Otherwise, there is no limit to family members or friends posting reviews. Of course, disclosure is always best (e.g. “my best friend wrote book, and I love it!”).

  11. Isabella on February 28, 2018 at 11:18 am


    I am a single mom starting my own company with only 1 employee myself. I started making at home Natural Detox Teasand I am selling on Amazon. As my first language is not english it is hard for me to write an email. Could you send me how you sent the email to the top reviewers? I do not know what to say. Your post is incredible and I am already collecting the emails.

    Thanks a lot!

  12. Bruce Miller on April 3, 2020 at 7:14 pm

    Excellent article. Thank you. Also, FYI Team Golfwell does free book reviews >>

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