Amazon’s Book Ratings System and BIG ENOUGH

January 25, 2021

By: Lee LeFever

I write books and run a company called Common Craft. I recently moved from Seattle to a rural island. Here, I write about online business, book publishing, modern home construction, and occasionally, dumb jokes.

In book publishing and promotion, few things matter more than ratings and reviews. They are used by customers to evaluate the book, by industry pros considering distribution, and more. A high number of positive reviews help to validate the book and author.

Recently BIG ENOUGH reached the 50 review mark on Amazon, which was a goal that I’m excited to cross off my list.

big enough word cloud

Part of earning reviews is understanding Amazon’s review system and what it rewards. or punishes. The problem they face is making sure that the reviews are genuine and not someone (or an organization) gaming the system. It’s an arms race and, to their credit, the system (or more directly, it’s algorithm) is constantly evolving to stay a step ahead.

Three Lessons

In promoting my book, I learned a few big lessons regarding the review system. You can learn more in this Wired article.

  1. Verified Purchases – Amazon knows if a reviewer purchased the book. This is an indication of authenticity and reviews from verified purchasers are rewarded as such.
  2. Ratings Instead of Reviews – Reviews, where someone writes a message about the book are helpful. However, they can be misleading and gamed. For this reason, Amazon is making their 5-star rating system more prominent. Today, a customer doesn’t need to write anything. They can simply select 1-5 stars and their rating counts like a review.
  3. Time – Reviews and Ratings don’t happen quickly. It may take a few days for a review to appear. This is apparently due to Amazon’s validation process.

Asking for Reviews

I put a lot of effort into getting BIG ENOUGH into the hands of people I thought would enjoy it. That involved a pre-order campaign, launch promotion, and a request for authentic reviews. The review request took the form of an email I sent to people who ordered or pre-ordered the book.

The message was short, casual, and focused on ratings versus reviews, because they’re so much more efficient. I think Bootsy helped too.

Email screenshot bootsy collins

If you’ve read BIG ENOUGH, I’d count it as a huge favor if you’d give it a review or rating. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

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