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.
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.
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.
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).
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).
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.
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!
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!
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All content © 2018 by BadRedhead Media aka Rachel Thompson, author, unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved. Permission is granted to use short quotes provided a link back to this page and proper attribution is given to me as the original author.
Rachel 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.”
Rachel Thompson is the author of newly released BadRedhead Media 30-Day Book Marketing Challenge: How to energize your book sales in a month - created to help authors market their book. She is also the author of Broken Places (one of IndieReader's "Best of 2015" top books and 2015 Honorable Mention Winner in the San Francisco Book Festival), and the multi award-winning Broken Pieces, as well as two additional humor books, A Walk In The Snark and Mancode: Exposed. She owns BadRedhead Media, creating effective social media and book marketing campaigns for authors. Her articles appear regularly in The Huffington Post, IndieReader.com, The San Francisco Book Review (BadRedhead Says…), 12Most.com, BookPromotion.com, and Self-Publishers Monthly. Not just an advocate for sexual abuse survivors, Rachel is the creator and founder of the hashtag phenomenon #MondayBlogs and two live Twitter chats: #BookMarketingChat (co-hosted with TheRuralVA, Emilie Rabitoy) and #SexAbuseChat, co-hosted with C. Streetlights and Judith Staff. She hates walks in the rain, running out of coffee, and coconut. She lives in California with her family.
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