How To Get More Amazon Book Reviews

Child Typing“Take a letter please Miss Skelton…”

Did you know that in Victorian times, and right through to the 1970s, the very first thing a business manager would always do was hire a dictation typist?

Why?

The number #1 reason is that typing a letter was the most tiresome chore a manager could imagine.  It was also an inefficient use of their time. So they were more than happy to pay someone to do it for them – a person who’d note down their ideas, and tidy them up into a letter.

Unfortunately, a similar dislike of such work applies to fiction readers today.

Reading your book can be a delightful experience and an enjoyable escape, but writing an Amazon review is a mentally taxing task most readers simply don’t want to do, and will almost invariably avoid.

Even readers who’ve promised to review your book will usually fail to do so.

So, How To Get Amazon Reviews If No-one Will Write Them?

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logo with books2

Well, let me outline a way for you to get more reviews.  (Even though this is very obvious, it seems to escape most writers.)

The secret is to remove the roadblock.  Think about it:  Over 90% of your readers will be perfectly happy to talk about your book.  So let them do exactly that; let them talk about it while you record or take notes, and then transcribe it for them – as a review.

typingBe their ‘dictation typist’ to save them the task: Interview them, record what they say, and type it out.  Of course you must accurately reflect their views so it’s authentic.

Once typed, send it back to them with an exact link to your book’s Amazon review page so they can upload it.  Remind them to check the review to be sure it genuinely portrays their opinion, and edit it for ‘personality’ if they’d like to.

With this one action, you’ve removed the roadblock that’s preventing them from reviewing your book on Amazon.

The sad truth is that Amazon’s review system has been significantly damaged by fake reviews, but in this case, these are genuine reviews from your readers – precisely the type Amazon wants.

It all comes down to how strongly you want more reviews, and whether you’re willing to make it easy for your readers to write them.

Crucial point: The Review Must Maintain A Reader’s Unique Objectivity

This method not only avoids interfering with the normal objective reviews posted by readers, but also gathers the honest opinions of readers who would never write a review at all otherwise.  

 Crucially, interviewed readers must be encouraged to view the text you send as merely a draft, and edit it to make it entirely their own – with their unique objectivity.  This method is essentially to get them moving, rather than make up their ideas for them.

What To Ask A Reader?

author reader chatHave a set of these types of review questions ready:

1. What did you think of the story?
2. Was it exciting?
3. Extremely romantic?
4. Did it hold your attention?
5. Did it provoke emotions?
6. Did you care about the main character?
7. Did you like the writing style?
8. Would you recommend it to a friend?

Note:  There’s no point in just sending these question to a reader so they can write a review. That means they’re still having to do 90% of the work.  Instead, you must do all the work by interviewing, recording and transcribing to get them going.  You are the catalyst.

Do this every couple of weeks, and over time it will build up a sizable number of genuine reader reviews.

How To Find And Contact Readers To Interview?

On Amazon you cannot directly promote your book for free in exchange for a review. It would be VERY easy to misinterpret this article as being about swapping free books for reviews.  Absolutely not.  You need to contact your readers and form a connection first.

For example, search for readers who talk about your book on Twitter and Facebook, or by offering an unrelated book for free as a PDF in exchange for an email address – not the book you want reviewed.  Remember – this is not to be directly in exchange for a review.

typewriter reviewOnce you have developed a relationship, and are in touch by email, phone, Skype ,Viber or Whatsapp etc, ask them for honest opinion of your book for a reader review, and point out that that you’ll do the tedious typing part.  They can then check and edit the review to be sure it accurately portrays their opinion.

Most readers will feel privileged to be contacted by an author, and pleased to be involved in your writing career.

The Bottom Line: Are These ‘Real’ Reviews?

Truth is, this is not anywhere near a perfect solution, because it’s difficult to genuinely mirror a reader’s thoughts and unique, objective views.  But one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that this approach is far more likely to produce a review that’s close to the genuine views of a reader than the gazillions of fake reviews that litter and corrupt Amazon.

Jonathan Gunson


Article written by Jonathan Gunson

Author / Book Marketing Coach 

 


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Comments

  • Jeff says:
    March 6, 2014 at 5:31am

    Interesting concept, and it’s definitely thinking outside the box. I think I’d be willing to give this a try for no other reason than I’ve found it is so much more difficult to garner reviews in the religious non-fiction genre. You almost need to have a huge backing for people to be willing to read what you’ve written. I have handed out quite a few print copies to people who I’m looking for endorsements from, I think tacking this into the conversation can be an amazing way to also produce reputable reviews.

    Thanks a bunch for this idea.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 6:40am

      Jeff
      You totally ‘get’ this. It’s all about making a personal connection.
      Which reminds me that I forgot to mention in the post that if you encourage people to write reviews for you in this particular way, the personal interaction is of long lasting value. The individuals will talk about the interaction and become your life long advocates. They’ll never forget you. This means that as you produce books one after another, you can go back to them again… and again, and they’ll stay with you in increasing numbers.
      I’ve checked out your blog and thought it helpful to include Amazon link to your book: http://amzn.com/B00IQVE6WS
      ~Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 7:47am

    Thanks for this great idea. I’ll try it and let you know how it worked out for me. I’ll send a message on What’s App and ask them to send a voice message.

    http://www.amazon.com/Living-Your-Potential-Journey-Destination-ebook

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:38am

      Alexi
      All the best with ‘Living Your Potential’. I’ll look out for a message via WhatsApp :) Seriously, this is a clever, clever idea of yours to record using What’sapp vid as the communication media and then note down the content – a great development of this approach.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 8:56am

    I have some doubts about this method. When I do see people tweeting that they bought my book, I think it’s a little too intrusive to afterwards approach them pushing for a review, and/or suggesting to help them write a review.

    If someone has something good to say about a book after openly tweeting “I bought your book” – they will go ahead and post a review.

    Contacting them in the manner you suggest may result in getting negative feedback that otherwise you wouldn’t have heard.

    Putting something inside your book at the end – like a direct link to Amazon so that a reader can immediately write a review, might be a more effective method.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:38am

      Ellis
      The author needs to develop a meaningful relationship with readers to do this, not hit them cold out of the gate.
      Plus, you definitely don’t ever need to ‘push for a review’ either. Instead, take time to form common ground then seek their opinion. Yes that still requires some guts, but this is your career were talking about. Plus, readers who say ‘I bought your book’ almost never leave a review, which is why the author needs to put work in such as using this approach. Simply hoping people will leave reviews because they ‘like it’ is not a strategy that’s likely to produce significant results.
      ~ Jonathan

    • March 6, 2014 at 3:51pm

      I’ve been reviewing books for a good 12 years. Yes, it is taxing, but it gives me joy to promote an author whose work I have enjoyed. Since I am also a writer, I know that reviews are hard come by. Like you, I would not feel right to compose a review and then expect someone to post it on my behalf. However, in some instances you have to be bold and agressive. Unfortunately that is not my style.

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:00am

    As a reader I don’t rely on Amazon reviews as I find they often vary so wildly for the same book that they’re meaningless. I just read the sample for myself. Way more reliable and has worked for me 100%. The reviews and recommendations that I do find meaningful are on sites outside of Amazon and are those written by acquaintances and professional reviewers.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:41am

      Rhyll
      According to Amazon’s own stats, the majority of people who buy books on Amazon do read the reviews and are heavily influenced by them. Plus, the number of 4 & 5 reviews also has an impact on the Amazon book ranking.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Lollie Barr says:
    March 6, 2014 at 9:02am

    Hey Jonathan, I’m so delighted to find your website! My novel ‘The Adventures of Stunt Boy and his Amazing Wonder Dog Blindfold’ is being released by Pan Macmillan on the 1st of April. I had a book out with Random House previously and have realised just how much promotion is needed to be done by authors. Tips like this are invaluable. Thank you!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:43am

      Lollie
      All the very best with your book. I’m sure you’ll succeed – your enthusiasm is palpable!
      ~ Jonathan

      • March 6, 2014 at 5:45pm

        And your book title is interesting and already sets a tone for the content of the book!

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:08am

    I’ve done this kind of thing with close friends but hesitate to ‘interview’ strangers on how they found my book, and how do you physically do that? Meet up in a cafe? Well, I suppose I have done that too! However, most of the folk I meet who’ve read my books are fairly literate though I agree your checklist of what to use in a review is excellent. Another problem is that we need to get people to buy and read the damn books first!
    I’ll tweet for reviewers again – tweets have only a 10 second lifespan but someone might spot it. I’m really trying to get more for my ARIA: Left Luggage book / ebook pushing like hell as it has a unique premise- hard these days.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:51am

      Geoff
      All good points. But the idea is to keep the interview electronic. Skype / phone / Google hangout / mobile / Viber.
      And I would not ‘Tweet for reviewers’! That’s exactly what readers don’t want to do. Instead, this is a removal of effort exercise. You are seeking the verbal opinion of readers, so they don’t have to do much work at all.
      Re the effort of approaching strangers. The idea is to get to know them a little first. Very easy on Twitter and in Facebook groups etc etc
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:09am

    Hi Jonathan,

    Thank you very(!) much for your article. I have recently published my first science fiction novel and I have exactly the problem you described.
    People are interested in my novel, but are reluctant to buy, because of the lack of reviews. I have sent out free copies in exchange for an honest review, but not wanting to “harass” them; it seems to have fizzled out.
    I will certainly try your approach and engage more with my potential reviewers.

    Thank you,
    Hendrik

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:52am

      Hendrik
      ‘Engage’ is the operative word here. You’ve nailed it.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Mirel says:
    March 6, 2014 at 9:12am

    Brilliant idea! I also like the idea of offering one’s next book free for whoever signs up.Thank you so much for sharing.

  • klmagnus says:
    March 6, 2014 at 9:12am

    That’s a very interesting approach…thanks for the advice, I’ll test it out a.s.a.p.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:56am

      KLM
      Keep me posted here re progress.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:14am

    what a brilliant idea, but it may not work for me just yet. We are still at the beginning, building our platform and connecting with people. It’s proving to take longer than we expected, probably because we are floundering around in the dark most of the time. Gradual progress is happening, thanks in part to people like yourself Jonathan, who are kind enough to share vital information and enthusiasm to spur us on, so thank you for all your help.
    We have wanted to ask you to guest post for us, as we are sure there are loads of people out there who would love to meet you and be equally inspired as we have, maybe later?
    Anita

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:57am

      Anita
      Hope your developments work out for you. Keep that enthusiasm bubbling – it’s more than half the battle.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Mario says:
    March 6, 2014 at 9:14am

    Hi Jonathan
    Ta for the info in this post, but isn’t that cheeky?
    I did the ‘free book for an honest review’ thing on Goodreads and got two takers, but. They thouroughly enjoyed the book and left 5* reviews, but I don’t feel it turned out that well.
    BTW, I loved your post on twitter and actually talking, because I already have a few readers (yes people, they exist) chatting about my book. I am not sure that twitter benefits that much though as people don’t even read the tweets, and it just seems like one endless stream of ‘pick me-buy me.’

    Ta again for the info

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:29am

      Mario
      You just may have missed the point! Thing is, the type of offer you mention requires the poor old reader to do all the work, which is probably why your experience didn’t go so well. Instead this approach requires the author to do all the work for it to be successful. Re Twitter, I agree with you re streams of ‘Buy my book’ Tweets. If you do it the right way however, it’s an amazingly powerful resource, and is how the entire community around this blog was built.
      See my post on the right way to proceed: http://bestsellerlabs.com/most-effective-author-social-media-method/
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:16am

    I Like what Alexi George had to say about using what’s App for a video review and then reviewing and writing the comments down on the amazon website. I am not a fiction writer, my book Your Baby Can Do This: A Concerned Parents Guide To Help Your Baby Catch Up and Move Ahead. is a “how to” manual for parents of infants with physical developmental delays. It has great techniques they can use to help babies increase the strength and control of their muscles, thereby improving their movement capabilities.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:10am

      Cherrick
      Agree that Alexi’s use of Whatsapp is a clever, clever way to leverage this idea. Great use of free social media to extract reader comments and then post them. Of course for optimum effect one needs the reader to also post their easy to do review on Amazon as well. Keep me in the loop re your book progress.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:17am

    Brilliant idea, Jonathan, which hadn’t occurred to me yet. So now, ahum, I’ll start tormenting some of Facebook friends to speak up (yikes, I’ll have to travel – will this work over phone?).

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:03am

      John
      Phone / Skype et al.
      Keep it all virtual,otherwise you’ll be run off your feet Sir.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:23am

    Thanks very much for these interesting suggestions. Writing a review is definitely an investment of time that’s always scarce. When I think of the books I have promised to review for friends and not delivered in time I’m overcome with guilt. There are rarely enough spare minutes! The thought of approaching strangers can be awkward, but at the end of the day you need to promote the book you may have spent years writing. For this reason I really appreciate this very practical approach!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 11:10am

      Deepa
      To quote you: “The thought of approaching strangers can be awkward, but at the end of the day you need to promote the book you may have spent years writing…”:
      Exactly so – you have it perfectly pinned in a single sentence.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:27am
    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:02am

      Thanks Deepa.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:30am

    A very labour intensive way of getting reviews, but then, if it works… Your articles really highlight the nature of the job – getting personal contact and finding people to champion your books; not an easy process. Any technique for getting in front of people is always welcome, thank you.

    Writing the book really turns out to be one of the easier aspects, doesn’t it?! :-)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:02am

      Keith
      Yes, labour intensive it is. We’re on the same page. Plus, one can hardly expect readers to put a big effort into reviews if we are not prepared to do ton of work as well.
      And agree… the writing sure is the easy bit :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 10:07am

    We’ve all had moments when we think to ourselves ‘Now why didn’t I think of that?’ And after reading your post, that’s exactly what I thought to myself. Some people have contacted me to say that they loved my books and that they’d write a review, but they just can’t write well enough and don’t want their poor writing to be on view at Amazon. This is the perfect answer and so simple that I can’t believe I didn’t think of it.

    http://www.amazon.com/Transformative-Travel-Nepal-Fulfilling-Himalayas-ebook/dp/B008EAUYEA/

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:17am

      Kate
      You obviously get the idea in its entirety immediately – like a flashbulb went off in your mind. Once you see how beautifully it works it’s blindingly obvious yes? Some of course may take longer to figure out just how good an idea this actually is, or perhaps they simply want it all to fall in their laps. :)
      ~Jonathan

  • Cinthia says:
    March 6, 2014 at 10:38am

    As a journalist and someone who makes her living interviewing people and reviewing books/entertainment events I have to say this idea sounds good in theory. At the same time, it makes me uncomfortable too, since it removes the window between author and reviewer. I know you used the word personable, Jonathan, and as a writer I want as much personal time with readers and positive reviews as possible. But as a journalist I also want authentic reviews, and typing what someone says about my book as they’re speaking directly to me would remove the necessary bias that would lead to an honest and accurate review.
    So, I don’t know, I’ll have to think about this some more.
    Thanks for another pondering post.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:47am

      A fine point you make Cinthia – and one of which I’m acutely aware. I tend to agree re the ‘window’ between author and reviewer, and in light of that feel it’s very important to encourage the reader to tweak and edit the review so it reflects their unique perspective as much as is humanly possible.
      But, irrespective of that subtlety, one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that this approach is far more likely to produce a review that’s close to the genuine views of a reader than the gazillions of fake reviews that litter and corrupt Amazon.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 10:40am

    Hi Jonathan,
    An excellent idea. The only problem being in my case not knowing who my buyers are in the first place! Some go to my website (www.rhardie.com) and send me an email from there…. so we have an interaction at that point, but other than that and the occasional Tweet my audience is anonymous!
    As you know, Jonathan, my first book Leap of Faith has been nominated for the 2014 People’s Book Prize and that should get some interaction going, especially if it wins!
    Leap of Faith is available on Amazon at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Leap-Faith-Richard-Hardie/dp/1909841269/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1394101779&sr=8-1 and the Amazon.com equivalent.
    All the best and keep up the great work.
    Richard

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:58am

      Richard
      Hunting down those readers en masse is nearly impossible, but one by one they crop up via the means I describe, and also serendipitously – so diligence and patience are the required virtues. Exciting news re ‘Leap Of Faith’ – thank you for including me with that. I think I shall have the image of the ultraviolet archway fixed in my mind’s eye forever.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 10:42am

    Dear Jonathan,
    What a jolly good idea.

    I’ve got a number of real, genuine reviews for my books but like Kate says, sometimes people are put off reviewing as they don’t ‘think’ they can write well enough.

    Well your idea removes that worry for them….and if it means a little bit more effort on my behalf, that’s nothing compared to a book floundering because no-one reads it!!

    I shall make some plans for next week and see how I get along….thanx again!
    In Peace
    Mary
    Astrological Author
    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mary-English/e/B002T5OG4A
    https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/MaryEnglish

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:52am

      Mary
      Believe it or not I often quote your thoughts, because you understand both the simplicity and also the wider ramifications of these types of dynamic concepts immediately and intuitively. Please keep me updated re the astrological series progress. It’s a wonderfully clever idea and continues to enthrall.
      ~ Jonathan

      • March 6, 2014 at 7:44pm

        Thanx Jonathan, the 12 book Astro series is complete now AND translated into Portuguese for a Brazilian publisher…I’ve written two self-published Kindle books… and now my publisher has asked me to write a book on Homeopathy….so that’s what I’m doing now! xx

  • March 6, 2014 at 11:59am

    This is great information.I shall hang onto this post as it is so helpful. Thank you for taking the time to do this. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:14pm

      Katy
      Good to hear. Keep me in the loop re your books.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Devorah says:
    March 6, 2014 at 12:18pm

    Thanks. My fans have been so sweet and have posted reviews when I’ve asked them to do so. They even wrote kind words which I put on the book back covers. But I could make it easier for them so thanks for the idea.
    http://www.amazon.com/Devorah-Fox/e/B006L9BJAO/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1394108106&sr=8-1

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:19pm

      Devorah
      You are incredibly fortunate with your fans. Do you mean when you asked, you managed to communicate personally and ask them to write reviews?
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 12:19pm

    I know this will come as a major shock to all who know me but I am NOT an introvert. I like people, love to chat with them and build relationships. Unfortunately, I suspect many writers are not quite so social. After all, we did pick a profession where we sit by ourselves for hours every day communicating with imaginary people–there’s likely a reason for that. I point this out by way of commenting that actually making contact, as in TALKING to readers could prove an intimidating prospect for a lot of writers. So I have a possible remedy. Rather than recording their responses to open-ended interview questions, how about sending out to readers a multiple-choice survey? A DETAILED multiple-choice survey that gives them enough options to be honest about their thoughts. 1. I thought the book started: A. Too slow B. At a good pace C. Dropped me right into the action D. Sucked me in from the first page E. Was a bit confusing F. Wore me out. You could tailor each questionnaire to a specific book, so you could highlight its strong points as well as allowing readers to point out its weaknesses. Then, as you suggested, type up the review and send it to them along with the link to the review page.
    This method would even remove the roadblock of shy authors. I might try it myself, wallflower that I am.

    • March 6, 2014 at 2:04pm

      I’ve gotten this from professors a couple of times when I’ve asked for recommendations. “You write it, and I’ll sign it.” Writing a recommendation is a huge amount of work, and I suppose this is a legitimate approach, but it still makes me uncomfortable. I actually like Ninie’s multiple-choice questionnaire idea. It would be easier to get reviews if the process were simplified, something along the lines of Amazon’s seller feedback ratings – pick a number of stars and write one line about your experience. That way readers can express an opinion without having to invest a lot of time in doing so.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:16pm

      Ninie
      Your enthusiasm abounds as usual! Agree entirely with a specific point you make: Most writers are intimidated by the marketing process. But the overriding point is do they want reviews or not?
      Regarding your main suggestion. Let me quote from the article:
      “…Note: There’s no point in just sending these question to a reader so they can write a review. That means they’re still having to do 90% of the work. Instead, you must do all the work by interviewing, recording and transcribing….”

      I’d love to think your approach would help, but it seems the only thing most readers are prepared to do is TALK. Readers don’t want to write anything at all, won’t write, can’t write, hate writing or doing any such work. So giving them multi-choice or the list of questions, providing a template or any other variation might make it a little easier, but they’re still being asked to think, initiate and write down their thoughts. The approach I’m talking about is designed to remove that roadblock even though it requires (as you say) the intimidating process of actually making contact with a reader.
      ~ Jonathan

  • Margaret Taylor says:
    March 6, 2014 at 12:21pm

    Wow! I never would have thought of this at all. Thank you, as always Jonathon for your insight and ideas for us struggling Authors!

    I will try this with my newest release: The Seer – http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00IPIGQ4I and see what happens…:D

    Your devoted Student!

    Margaret

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:27pm

      Margaret
      It’s never easy, but a little enthusiasm goes a long way :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 12:29pm

    Sometimes it’s the little things that ultimately make a huge difference in successful book
    marketing!

    Thank you!

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Ten-Prison-Commandments-Federal/…/099138740...

  • March 6, 2014 at 12:41pm

    This is such a great idea and definitely something I’m going to think about doing. I’ve already got a good relationship going with many of my readers through my facebook page. Some have been kind enough to write a review already when I’ve asked, but a lot haven’t. I have some great reviews on amazon from readers who have bought my book and bloggers who I’ve giving my book to for free in exchange for a review. I found my blog tour to be really successful with that. Took a lot of hard work. I approached a lot of blogs with my google sign up form and was fortunate that quite a few of the blogs that signed up chose to review.

    This is definitely something I’m going to try so thanks so much for this post Jonathan.

    My book Awaken (Divine Hunter #1) has 17 5* reviews on amazon UK and more on US and I’m over the moon!
    http://goo.gl/w6w3Cb

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:23pm

      LJS
      Congratulations on progress so far. You’re putting in the hard marketing yards I see. Regarding “Some have been kind enough to write a review already when I’ve asked, but a lot haven’t.” Yes, this is the very issue this approach is designed to solve.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 12:41pm

    Hi Jonathan!
    What a FANTASTIC idea. I love it! I’m so super stoked to try it out. I just posted it on my FB author page and I’m getting ready to post it on my blog! I think it’s brilliant. It helps me, it helps the reviewer. I personally think it’s a win-win situation. I just love your golden nuggets of information! They’re priceless. Thank you.
    Have a super day :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:20pm

      Sheila
      Thanks for spreading the word.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 12:49pm

    It’s highly original, Jonathan. I’m sold. I shall definitely give it a try.

    Tony McManus
    http://amzn.to/1e566no

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:19pm

      Keep me updated re progress Tony.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 1:15pm

    One of the reasons I love the web is precisely this: great ideas from other writing world people. These can cover a wide range but this one, today, impacts on us all. I’ll bet I’ve had 50 people tell me they would write a review and yet, my number on Amazon is considerably less than that. I will definitely try your method, Jonathan. Thanks!

    Elaine Cougler, author of The Loyalist’s Wife

    http://amzn.to/1mYt2Ov

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:51pm

      Elaine
      Enjoy. (50 reviews coming up? That will take you a while!)
      ~Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 1:42pm

    Jonathan, this is a brilliant idea — I have a lot of contacts on both coasts and a lot who have read my latest crime thrillers, Interception City and/or Killing Liberty, but most of them are too damn busy to get back to write anything online.

    It’s also an excuse to talk to a lot of people I’ve lost personal contact with (except for facebook/twitter/linked in/etc) over the years.

    Thanks for this. I’ll let you know how it goes…
    Bob Fisher

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:50pm

      Robert
      “…most of them are too damn busy to get back to write anything online….” “It’s also an excuse to talk to a lot of people I’ve lost personal contact with (except for facebook/twitter/linked in/etc) over the years.”
      Excellent reasoning.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 2:49pm

    I like this idea! I have great reviews on Amazon, but not as many as I’d like. I will definitely give this a shot – why not?

    Thanks!

    And you can check out my reviews here: http://dld.bz/djxZp

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:47pm

      Thanks Andi. Let me know of progress.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 2:53pm

    I see problems with this. First off, if you are transcribing the review, there is no objectivity. I wouldn’t give an once of credibility to a review I knew was written in this manner.Even the act of recording the review ruins objectivity because most times the reviewer will not be totally honest for fear of hurting someone’s feelings. There are also any other numbers of reasons a person may not want to offer a review.

    This might work for some, but it is not a practice i would use nor advise. Sorry.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:46pm

      CDM
      The very point – this is far from a perfect solution, which is why the reader must be encouraged to edit the review to bring in their unique voice and perspective. The author by contrast acts almost purely as recorder / typist, not as the originating writer. But, irrespective of that potentially endless debate, let me repeat a chunk of the article:
      “…Truth is, this is not anywhere near a perfect solution, because it’s difficult to genuinely mirror a reader’s thoughts and unique, objective views. But one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that this approach is far more likely to produce a review that’s close to the genuine views of a reader than the gazillions of fake reviews that litter and corrupt Amazon….”
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 2:58pm

    Hi Jonathan. I love the “thinking outside the box” aspect of your suggestion. In fact, I’ve posted your article to my Facebook page and asked my followers if, as readers, they were contacted by an author in this manner, would they help the author? I’ll be interested to see what the response is. Thanks again for making me re-think the answers to an old question. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:19pm

      Debbie
      This certainly isn’t ‘easy street’. But as I have done in my reply to CDM (just above), and to maintain your spirits, let me repeat a chunk of the article for you:
      “…Truth is, this is also not anywhere near a perfect solution, because it’s difficult to genuinely mirror a reader’s thoughts and unique views. But one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that this approach is far more likely to produce a review that’s close to the genuine views of a reader than the gazillions of fake reviews that litter and corrupt Amazon….”
      ~ Jonathan

  • Nancy says:
    March 6, 2014 at 3:35pm

    Great idea, and definitely a face-palm moment. Amazon doesn’t help the author. Reviews disappear all the time. We have had them remove about a dozen 5* reviews from my husband’s book. This seems an excellent way to get those replaced though. Thanks Jonathan, for once again helping provide a simple yet seemingly productive way of keeping the momentum!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:42pm

      Nancy
      Remember, you will be acting almost purely as recorder / typist, not originating writer.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 3:36pm

    Jonathan,

    Thank you for another great post. I have a couple of nice reviews on Amazon for my newly-published novel, and one of them is at my request. The reader contacted me to tell me she loved the book, and I asked if she would leave a review. She did, but she wrote it herself.

    As a writer for a local newspaper, I frequently interview people and write down their comments. Accuracy and objectivity are of tremendous importance, and such would be my concerns if I were to write down other people’s comments about my book and ask them to post my “interviews” with them as reviews. But it’s definitely something I will think about – not only from the angle of adding book reviews, but also as a way to add quotes and comments to my web site and to the inside cover of my next novel.

    ~ Angela

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 11:05pm

      ACT
      “Accuracy and objectivity are of tremendous importance, and such would be my concerns if I were to write down other people’s comments about my book and ask them to post my “interviews” with them as reviews”

      Yes, this is a valid point, but it remains true that essentially these are still the reader’s ideas, not the authors. Plus, by not having to type something, but being able to edit, tinker, tweak and add their own personality, a review is made – even to the point of them adding any criticisms which will serve to underscore the validity of the reviews.

      This method also not only avoids interfering with the self-created objective reviews by readers that you mention, but also gathers the honest opinions of readers who would never write a review at all otherwise.

      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 4:07pm

    I’d be interested to hear Amazon’s views on this – seems to me it would require a disclosure along the lines of the one reviewers who received a free book in return for an honest review are required to make. Perhaps something along the lines of “this review was written by the author based on an interview with the reader.” And not sure how you would differentiate a ‘genuine’ version of this from one where an author might write a five star review, send it to an acquaintance and ask them to post it under their name! (Wasn’t this how the whole issue of shrill reviews started?)
    And what if the reader wants to give less than 5 stars? Will the author be as willing to go to such lengths for a 3 star or less?

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:34pm

      The entire point Mel is this
      “On Amazon you cannot directly promote your book for free in exchange for a review. So you need to contact your readers and form a connection first.”
      You NEVER ask for a review in exchange for book. That is a transaction which is not allowed. The other point is that this requires the reader’s views to be out front, NOT the author’s. All one is doing is acting as typist, and NOT as writer and originator. That is an unequivocal and clear distinction.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 4:14pm

    This is an excellent idea! And we undoubtedly write better than our readers do, so their reviews will come out sounding more professional if we pen them. Thanks for another great tip, Jonathan! http://www.amazon.com/Skylar-Robbins-Mystery-Shadow-Hills/dp/0989414302/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375800772&sr=8-1&keywords=skylar+robbins#reader_0989414302

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 11:08pm

      Carrie
      The point is to accurately reflect the reader’s objectivity and ideas first and foremost. Plus, this method not only avoids interfering with the reviews by readers you’d get anyway, but gathers the honest opinions of readers who would never write a review at all otherwise.
      ~ Jonatha

  • March 6, 2014 at 4:19pm

    Thanks for this, Jonathan – I probably need to do this more, although have done a bit of it via Facebook. People have commented on my posts after having read my book to give some feedback, and I have asked them if I could post that comment on my site, after editing their post and making it sound like a review, without changing any of the words they’ve used. I’ve done this three times now but haven’t posted them on Amazon because I actually make a loss on each copy sold there.

    Could I ask your opinion on this? I have self-published so am heavily in debt. Is it wrong of me to try and avoid Amazon sales as I make nothing on them, or should I gladly accept the ‘contribution’ that sale makes? I didn’t write my book to make profits, but I do need to cover my outgoings as I have a family to take care of. Here’s the link to my Amazon page:

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Making-Pandemonium-Nadeem-Masood/dp/1783062495/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394122706&sr=8-1&keywords=making+pandemonium

  • March 6, 2014 at 4:50pm

    I’ve actually considered doing this before. I often have readers that message me on Goodreads and Facebook, post on my wall or tweet about how much they had enjoyed my books and why. I always find myself thinking what a great review that would make.

    The only reason I’ve decided against it, is that I’ve read some reviews from an author whose work I am very familiar with and I could tell from the word usage and style that she had written more than one of those reviews. That really bothered me and turned me off of the idea

    I believe the reviews are likely honest, because I love her work myself, but I’d hate for a fan to recognize that same thing and lose interest in me as an author because they don’t understand that those aren’t fraudulent accounts to better my rank.

    *Just something for authors to consider if they do decide to do this. :)

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 11:10pm

      Christa
      True, and to the point. The reader must be encouraged to view the review as mere draft, and edit it to make it their own. This method is essentially to get them moving, rather than make up their ideas for them.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 4:58pm

    Hi Jonathan, Thanks for an interesting article, as always. I do believe that many readers look at reviews on Amazon. I’ve certainly done it. As someone who used to review books, I agree it takes a lot of time. Your suggestion seems like a good way to encourage people to put on paper their reflections about a given book. Even if people don’t end up dictating the review, I believe that providing the Amazon links to your books is key. No one will look them up afterwards. I’ve actually provided several Amazon links to my books, i.e. to Amazon.ca, Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.in. These are all huge markets and places where I want my books to be reviewed. The same review can be posted on these different links to one’s books. One just needs to take a couple of minutes to sign in and copy and paste one’s review. I noticed that, though I’m Canadian, most of my books are sold in the USA. So I now encourage reviewers to not forget Amazon.ca
    Also, another tip, if one is featured in a certain category, such as in my case “Arthurian fairy-tales and myth” — it’s not as difficult to climb up rankings and be more visible on Amazon.ca as on Amazon.com These are just my findings. Hope they help. And thanks again for the enlightening article. Cheers!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:56pm

      Barbara
      “providing the Amazon links to your books is key” Absolutely true. Do place a link to your book here.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 5:05pm

    Great solution to a very pressing question. Thank you!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 8:56pm

      Thanks Anita. Good to see you back here.
      ~Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 5:49pm

    Thank you for the information, Jonathan. I will try this out with some friends first to get my feet wet, and maybe branch from there if I can figure out how to contact more readers (assuming I get more readers! :)
    My book “Prince S” is my latest release at http://www.amazon.com/Prince-Avalon-Hall-Anita-Renaghan-ebook/dp/B00HK3TTIO/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394128160&sr=8-1&keywords=Anita+Renaghan+Prince+S

  • March 6, 2014 at 7:05pm

    Great tip Jonathan. Thanks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:30pm

      Rio
      Your constant positivity is always welcome Sir.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 8:47pm

    Well, this is certainly the most unique idea I’ve come across. Not sure I’ll use it, as everyone who received a free copy in return for a review has reviewed it – including many people I’ve never met and only “know” online, who heard about my offer through groups we both belong to. So it’s only people I don’t know at all who I’d like reviews from, and as you say, those are not the people you’d do this with. Still, it’s another tool in the box if I run into this situation, and a good one, so thanks. My strategy right now is to write 4 more books, THEN turn my attention to marketing them, because right now, every sale is a single sale, from people who’ll forget me by the time I’ve written enough to make it worth interesting them in me as a writer.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:00pm

      Jane
      I see that you’re about to carry out the best marketing strategy by far – write more books. (Preferably a series)
      ~Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:27pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    You’re psychic!

    I just got an email from a friend apologizing for not making time yet to review my eBook even thought she bought it. As much as I like to use audio, I hadn’t thought of this technique.

    Thank you for this tip, and although my book isn’t fiction, thanks for allowing me to post a link to it http://www.amazon.com/Start-Successful-Home-Based-Business-ebook/dp/B00CRHZKTU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1394141005&sr=8-1&keywords=flora+morris+brown

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 9:29pm

      Hi Flora
      Psychic? I shall try to maintain this new standard you’ve set. And your experience is indeed a case-study of the point in this article.
      ~Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 9:30pm

    Thank you Jonathan – you know I’ve had tons of friends and readers tell me they loved my book, couldn’t put down and all kinds of positive feedback, but yet only about 30 reviews on Amazon, so you concept is a great way to get honest reviews and not the fake ones you mention. Thanks for the idea and will also look at some the replies on here too
    http://www.amazon.com/Forgotten-Soldiers-Happened-Walden-ebook/dp/B007WMQWGK/

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 10:05pm

      Warren
      This concept does have limitations in fully reflecting the reader’s point of view and their objectivity. But there’s no question these are their ideas, not the authors. Plus, by not having to type something, but simply being able to edit, tinker, tweak and add their own personality, a review is made – even to the point of them adding any criticisms which will serve to underscore the validity of the reviews.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 10:36pm

    Jonathan, fascinating (and original idea). While you do suggest it isn’t perfect, and might be slightly uncomfortable for some parties—on both sides of the review—it is more likely to produce reviews than many other methods. Particularly if it the contact between author/potential reviewer doesn’t seem desperate or coerced.

    I wrote a piece on WriterUnboxed recently about the considerable efforts I spent seeking reviews for my short-story collection, and the quite modest results: http://writerunboxed.com/2014/02/24/the-book-promotion-balloon-wheres-the-helium/

    I might try your approach for my next book. And thanks for the chance to provide the link to my collection:
    http://www.amazon.com/Flowering-Other-Stories-Tom-Bentley/dp/0984580174

    Appreciate your work, Tom

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 6, 2014 at 11:24pm

      Tom
      Handy viewpoint thank you. It would be very easy to misinterpret this article as encouraging authors to write reviews for other people. Au Contraire! Quite the reverse is the case: In fact I’ve pasted the following two quotes from the post into several of the comments so far because it’s the key point:

      1. “…Crucially, interviewed readers must be encouraged to view the text you send as merely a draft, and edit it to make it entirely their own – with their unique objectivity. This method is essentially to get them moving, rather than make up their ideas for them…

      2. “…Truth is, this is not anywhere near a perfect solution, because it’s difficult to genuinely mirror a reader’s thoughts and unique, objective views. But one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that this approach is far more likely to produce a review that’s close to the genuine views of a reader than the gazillions of fake reviews that litter and corrupt Amazon…

      ~ Jonathan

      • March 6, 2014 at 11:37pm

        Jonathan, yes—you are sensitive to the nuances of this, and you express the unknowns or potential pitfalls well. Good stuff!

        • Jonathan Gunson says:
          March 6, 2014 at 11:43pm

          Thanks for your support Tom. To be honest, I was a little concerned about posting this concept in a way. Because it has some obvious limitations I thought the ‘judgment’ trolls would misinterpret this and jump on it. But as you can see it is well intentioned and simply intends to produce honest results for writers.
          ~ Jonathan

  • March 6, 2014 at 11:57pm

    Hi Jonathan,

    Recently I’ve been involved in two discussions online about reviews. (I have 33 reviews on Amazon UK – 29 5* and 4 4* and 12 on Amazon US – 6 5* and 6 4* for Turn of the Tide)

    What I’ve come up against in these discussions is people feeling that if a book only has 4 and 5* reviews that they are automatically suspect. – I didn’t pay for them, and they are genuine reviews, but it seems you can’t win!

    BTW my book is through to the final of the People’s Book Prize – quite exciting, I’m hoping to do well in May, and interestingly in my heat (Summer) 107 people left comments on that site – if only 50% of them would leave a review on Amazon I’d be delighted.

    Here’s the Book Prize link http://tiny.cc/athj4w

    and the Amazon link is http://tiny.cc/kli0ow

    Thanks for inviting us to post links.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 7, 2014 at 1:03am

      Margaret
      29 5* reviews. That’s well on the way. :) You can safely ignore any concerns about people wondering if all those 5 stars are genuine. Only people in marketing worry about such things, not readers.
      ~ Jonathan
      PS. Brilliant new re the book prize finals.

  • March 7, 2014 at 12:42am

    What a great tip, Jonathan. I never considered writing down what readers had to say about my books and then turning it into a review. Thanks again for the help you give writers.

  • March 7, 2014 at 12:43am

    I love this idea for getting reviews out of those won’t-budge friends and relatives. I am all over this, Jonathan. Thanks!

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 7, 2014 at 2:11am

      Anne
      Perfect – a truly intoxicating idea. :)
      ~ Jonathan

  • Cindy says:
    March 7, 2014 at 1:32am

    I can’t say I agree with this method at all. This is coming from the viewpoint of a book reviewer, editor, and author. To give away free books or to pay cash for reviews up front is basically the same thing. How can you be sure you’re receiving an “objective” review when you’re essentially encouraging the reader to give you a “good” review or none at all? Are they going to say anything “bad” about their “new friend’s book” and to your face via Skype, etc.? I think not. The review is worthless and is essentially a “fake”.

    That’s why I tell people to not depend on their friends and family members to give their writing an honest critique. Those who care about you don’t want to hurt your feelings. And just like those poor tone-deaf people who get on American Idol and then get laughed at and ridiculed by millions because they carry a tune in a bucket (and they don’t know they can’t sing), you’ll have millions of “authors” who need to take a decent writing course and join a critique group before trying to publish their books and they won’t do so because their “new reviewer friends” tell them their work is perfect as is. There’s no room to improve on perfection, is there? More “not-ready-for-primetime” stuff to clutter up the ‘net! (And why would Amazon care as long as they’re making money off it?)

    If you want to gain some useful writing tips I formulated after working over a decade and a half in the publishing industry, try my funny how-to guide DEFEATING THE SLUSHPILE MONSTER now at Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1452834946

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 7, 2014 at 2:25am

      Cindy
      Most early stage writers are not as stupidly moronic as you make out. Hardly the best way to encourage them to take an interest.
      Not only do they already know they need writing training, they can also quickly discern after a critique by a qualified editor whether their work is up the mark… or not. Furthermore they also know the truth about the limited value of ‘family and friends’ reviews.
      The entire point of this article that you seem to have missed is that this is about recording a reader’s viewpoint, not the author’s. No, it’s not perfect but it does reveal the genuine views of those readers who would never otherwise leave a review.
      The second point you’ve missed is that I specifically state do not give away books in exchange for reviews.
      Lastly, I’ll (yet again) quote two key paragraphs:

      1. ‘…Crucially, interviewed readers must be encouraged to view the text you send as merely a draft, and edit it to make it entirely their own – with their unique objectivity…’

      2. ‘…Truth is, this is not anywhere near a perfect solution, because it’s difficult to genuinely mirror a reader’s thoughts and objective views. But one thing of which I am absolutely certain is that this approach is far more likely to produce a review that’s close to the genuine views of a reader than the gazillions of fake reviews that litter and corrupt Amazon…’

      ~ Jonathan

  • Jen Paulson says:
    March 7, 2014 at 3:05am

    Hi Jonathan
    I just woke up to see this tip. I love the idea that the contacts who read my YA book and promised to write a review but didn’t now will! Keep the ideas coming please. You are a great help. I have a question about Twitter For Authors and I want to send an email to you. How do I do that?
    Jen

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 7, 2014 at 11:02am

      Jen
      Look for the contact page in the navigation bar at the top of the blog. That’s how to get in touch with me. All the very best with your trilogy. (Yes I have been tracking it!)
      ~ Jonathan

  • Lorraine Dodd says:
    March 7, 2014 at 10:45am

    This is a fantastic idea Jonathan. Read your post this morning, and took action today. Here’s my news.
    I’m interviewing readers (ex faculty friends) next week about my new Historical novel using Skype. Nervously asked two of them and they agreed, on condition they can edit the word document I send to make it ‘theirs’. Can’t believe I never thought of doing this before today. Thank you, thank you.

    • Jonathan Gunson says:
      March 7, 2014 at 11:01am

      Lorraine
      It’s remarkable how easy this can be if you just ask. Thrilling to hear. Please report back on how it all goes, and leave links to your books. PS. This can also apply to blog posts, and news media. Think about it… as long as the heart of the reader can be felt in the review then you’ve won.
      ~ Jonathan

  • March 7, 2014 at 10:59pm

    Hi Jonathan.
    Thanks so much for saying I could add a link to my book (if I understood you rightly).
    My books are on Amazon.com, Amazon.ca, Amazon.co.uk. They’re in paperback and kindle. Here are links to the kindle versions:

    The Magic Manuscript: Voyage to Eve Ilion ( a fantasy novel)
    In the USA
    http://www.amazon.com/The-Magic-Manuscript-Voyage-Ilion
    In Canada
    http://www.amazon.ca/The-Magic-Manuscript-Voyage-Ilion-ebook

    The Magic Manuscript: The Nine Companions (book two in The Magic Manuscript trilogy)
    In the USA (with 12 five-star ratings)
    http://www.amazon.com/Magic-Manuscript-Nine-Companions-ebook
    In Canada
    http://www.amazon.ca/Magic-Manuscript-Nine-Companions-ebook

    Barbara

  • Jonathan Gunson says:
    March 7, 2014 at 11:13pm

    You’re welcome Barbara
    I’ve just looked at your books at Amazon, and on the cover the blue figure holding the glowing light is beautiful.
    ~ Jonathan

    PS. Thanks to all for the contributions.
    COMMENTS are now closed on this post.