New Release- How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon by Theo Rogers w/author interview


I normally do not promote non-fiction books on my site, but due to the number of authors who subscribe to my blog I felt this one was appropriate.  Theo is an Amazon reviewer I’ve known for a couple of years now (via the internet).  He’s watched the struggle many authors have in finding people to read and review their books and put together a guide that will hopefully help them toward that goal.

All the information about it is below, along with an interview I conducted with him (parts of my questions are standard like all the others I do and some tailored to him).  Check it out and see if this book might be one you’d like to pick up!

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SBB How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon Banner copy

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HOW TO GET GOOD REVIEWS ON AMAZON

by Theo Rogers

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INTERVIEW:

*Note- my responses to Theo’s answers are in italics.

Tell us something dark about yourself.

I’m the Antichrist. Deal with it.

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I could have sworn we took that title away from you.
You are on a deserted island and can only choose one beverage to have that isn’t water.  What would it be?
A snake bite. That’s Guinness floating on cider. Try it – it’s good!
Or is that two drinks..?

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I’ll consider allowing it.

What first inspired you to write this book?
Well, to be clear with your readers, I do think of it more as a booklet than a book… or perhaps as somewhere between the two. At only a little over 21,000 words, it’s around a third the size of a full length manuscript. I said what I had to say, and when I’d finished saying it I stopped writing. It’s as long as it needs to be. I didn’t want to pad it out.
But to get to the substance of your question, what crystallized for me the need for a “how-to” manual like this was an incident involving a very highly ranked and prominent reviewer on Amazon. She was reviewing a health drink, and posted a moderately critical 3 star review explaining why she thought some of the ingredients were less than healthy.
The seller’s response was  to start sending emails threatening to take action against her if she didn’t withdraw the review, including reporting her to Amazon for conflicts of interest that – so far as I can tell – were purely imaginary. Other people too, claiming to be fans of the product, started leaving hostile comments under her review and sending her similarly hostile emails.
As a result, this reviewer:

•    Bumped her review down to a 1 star review.
•    Publicly reported everything that had happened in the review itself.
•    Privately reported everything that had happened to Amazon.
•    Started investigating the other reviews, which were all 5 star raves by people who’d posted no other reviews on Amazon. As it turned out, one of these was from a person who was a senior office holder in the company making and selling the drink. Many others also turned out to have close connections to the seller.
•    Started investigating the people leaving nasty comments on her review and who were also sending hostile emails, some of whom again turned out to be connected to the company.
•    Reported all this back to a popular forum on Amazon, so getting other reviewers involved!

The result was that what could have been a single negative review blossomed into a real incident. The ethics of the seller’s behavior aside, on a purely pragmatic level the course of action he chose just wasn’t an effective way of dealing with the situation. Like I said before, it crystallized for me how many sellers out there don’t have a clue how to deal with the reviewing culture on Amazon.
My advice? You if you’re selling on Amazon, you will get bad reviews from time to time. Whatever you’re selling, not everyone’s going to like it. That’s just life. So long as the negative reviews don’t come to dominate your product page, it’s no big deal. In fact, most experienced Amazonians know that when a book or any other product only  has five star raves, it’s usually a sign that something’s not quite right – and that most if not all of those reviews were probably written by the seller’s friends, family, or even employees.
So here’s a free tip: when you do get a bad review, the most effective thing you can do about it is almost always to just do nothing.

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I remember that incident, though I didn’t get involved in it much myself.  It is a good example of how not to behave as a seller on Amazon.  I can see how it inspired you to write the book!

How long did it take to research/write it?
That’s an interesting question, because in a way I started researching it the moment I first started writing my own reviews, and far more importantly, posting and participating in the various forums on Amazon. My inner social scientist wants to claim that I was doing participant observation research. But really, I was just participating.
It was only some time later that I realized that I’d learned a lot. Stuff that would probably be very useful to a lot of people. So I started writing.

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Good answer!

Tell us why this particular book would be useful to authors trying to get reviews.
As I mentioned before, there’s a definite reviewing subculture that’s grown up on Amazon. As with any culture, it has its own ideas about how to do things. There are ways of approaching a reviewer that will make them much more inclined to like you. More inclined to actually want to help you.
There are also ways of handling yourself that are virtually certain to piss people off. Time and again on Amazon I’ve seen an indie author or other small seller go on a forum and quite casually leave a post that says all the wrong things. Occasionally these sorts of posts are left by trolls. But most of the time they seem to be left by people who appear completely oblivious to what kind of shitstorm they’re bringing down on themselves.
Earlier, I half jokingly, half seriously talked about what I was doing on Amazon as participant observation research. But honestly, the kind of knowledge I have of Amazon is just the knowledge almost anyone would pick up by hanging out for a few years in a particular neighborhood, or with a particular group of people. As with any subculture, are accepted ways of doing things. There are also things that it is absolutely NOT okay to say or do.
Of course, the trouble is – as with all subcultures – while the insiders tend to see their rules as obvious and self-evident truths, very often the outsiders have absolutely no idea what the rules are. That’s where people get into trouble.
So I guess you could say I’ve written a guide book to the Amazon Jungle. I think the most important thing a lot of people will get out of this book is an awareness of what the dangers are: of how to avoid doing and saying the kinds of things that are likely to bring down an absolute PR disaster upon themselves.

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I saw this happen many times myself, but admit when I first started frequenting Amazon forums I didn’t know all these rules either.  It’s easy for a newbie author to make a grave mistake without realizing the consequences until too late.  Hopefully those who are new to the “Amazon Jungle” will find your book useful so they can make the right decisions on where to go (or not go) for promoting their book.

How long have you been writing reviews on Amazon?
Since 2009.

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Give one piece of advice you wish you could tell all authors, whether they buy your book or not.
The most fundamental piece of advice I would give anyone is just this: be aware that reviewers take reviewing seriously. It takes time and effort to write a good review. We wouldn’t put in that time and effort if we didn’t care about what we were doing.
That’s not to say we regard it as a matter of life and death, or that we’re so puffed up with our own sense of importance that we imagine our judgments to be on par with those of the supreme court! But we do care about what we’re doing. We care in the same way that even an amateur footballer cares about winning the game, and even an amateur artist wants to create a good painting – or sculpture, or mixed media installation, or whatever.
Reviewing on Amazon is a serious hobby for a lot of people. It does matters to us.

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Well said and very true!

Do you plan to publish any more books in the future?
Yes. I’ve already written another non-fiction book: How To Win At Capitalism. It’s an introduction to personal finance. But currently it’s languishing on my hard drive. I’m planning on waiting until I finish my master’s degree (which I expect to complete later this year) before publishing it.
I also feel I have a novel or three in me somewhere. One in particular that’s taking shape inside my head right now is going to be named after an item I found for sale on Amazon itself:
Titanium Spork.
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Titanium Spork, huh?  I shudder to think what your evil mind may have come up with for that title!

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Thanks to Theo for joining me here today for his interview .  He had some good answers to my questions!  For everyone else, please check out all the information on him and his book below.  Feel free to ask your own questions if you have any.

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Book coverBLURB:

How To Get Good Reviews On Amazon is a simple, no-nonsense guide that teaches exactly what it says it does. Based on both psychological science and thousands of hours of conversation with some of Amazon’s top reviewers, it takes you behind the scenes into the reviewing subculture that has grown up on Amazon’s website. It gives you a deep, insiders knowledge of how the top reviewers think and operate. It not only shows you what to do: it also takes you inside the reviewers’ heads so that you can see for yourself both how these techniques work and why they’re so effective.

Lessons include:

• A simple, four-part formula for writing emails that get your work reviewed.
• Three things never to say when communicating with reviewers!
• How to pick reviewers who are more likely to give you a good review.
• How to reduce the chance that a reviewer you contact will give your work a bad review.
• How people get caught out when receiving reviews from friends and family.

This book teaches an honest, straightforward approach that works. It works because it’s not based on gimmicks or tricks but on a real understanding of how Amazon reviewers operate: most of all on what they expect from authors and other sellers. If you want to know how to talk to an Amazon reviewer in a way that will make them respect you as a professional and see you as the kind of seller they actually want to help, this is the book for you.

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PURCHASE LINK

Amazon

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Author portrait - Theo. Copic markers from sketchAUTHOR BIO:

Theo Rogers combines years of coalface experience on Amazon’s website with formal training and qualifications in a range of business and social science disciplines. He’s spent literally thousands of hours talking with Amazon reviewers, getting inside their heads, and learning what makes them tick. He’s spent almost as many hours observing the carnage that so often takes place on Amazon’s forums. In the process he’s developed a deep insider’s knowledge of the reviewing subculture that’s grown up on Amazon’s website.

He’s also seen a lot of authors and other would-be sellers make the same mistakes in their dealings with that subculture – over and over again.

As a result of his experiences, Theo has come to believe that yes, there is a simple formula that works: a way of dealing with reviewers that’s honest, powerful, and extremely effective at winning reviewers over, getting them on your side, and making them actually want to help you.

You may also find him on Facebook!

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~ by Suzie on August 8, 2013.

48 Responses to “New Release- How to Get Good Reviews on Amazon by Theo Rogers w/author interview”

  1. Sounds like a winner of a book. So many people are taking advantage of self-publishing, we’re seeing tsunami of new writers, most of whom have no idea how to promote what they’ve written or how to set their work apart from all the rest. Writers who are smart enough to know it takes more than just tossing the book out there and hoping for the best would be wise to listen to the advice of someone who not only reviews, but who is also in touch with a big chunk of the reviewing community.

    (For your next effort, how about a how-to on getting in on the Anti-Christ business. Do you get overtime? Health insurance or pension plan? Can you tele-commute? Plus is there a clothing allowance for robes? Do you need a degree or any formal training. And oh yeah, are there an written tests and do they check references?)

    • I think the Anti-Christ bit is a down under thing. The antipodes, and all …

      • I don’t understand the whole antipode thing. I mean, Australians don’t even know what a pode is. Ask one, “Hey, cobber, what’s a pode?” You’ll see. They do that eyes-rolled-up-in the back of their heads/collapse in a heap/play dead thing that they do. If they’d be anti-anything, you’d think it would be the sharks. Or the crocs. No sense of proportion, that’s their problem. Hate the podes but keep your mouth shut about the thing that just ate your leg. Now wonder Latvians make jokes about them.

  2. I’m sorry, NyiNya, but so far as my activities as the Anti-Christ go, there’s a confidentiality clause involved.

    I’m sure you understand.

    I can however tell you that the health benefits and pension plan are excellent. There is also a generous clothing stipend. No robes required: I prefer Armani.

  3. I am so upset that you are considering trivializing titanium sporks by using their name for the title of a piece of light entertainment fiction. Sporks are essential, potentially life saving devices, and the titanium ones are the very pinnacle of an entire culture of sporkdom. People will make figurines of you and stick things in. Maybe even sporks.
    I suppose I better buy your book and check what other things I can flame you for.
    Armani, pah. You know what the devil wears, dontcha?

  4. One cannot make light of the titanium spork. It is already light. What is wrong with you people? Either you know your titanium or stay out of it. I’m sick and tired of the poseurs. When Martin Heinrich Klaproth invented Titanium in 1787, he didn’t sign on for this kind of crap. Titanium is one of the lightest of all metals (not to mention widely recognized as the sexiest of all metallic elements). White it is not as light as aluminum, it is, however, much more rare. Aluminum, in contrast, is earth’s most abundant metallic element, according to the Mineral Information Institute. If you have an issue with this, go take it up with them because me, I’m not listening. While titanium’s name was inspired by deities — the “Titans” of Greek mythology, aluminum’s origin is mundane, not to say boring. It comes from the Latin word alum, a kind of nondescript mineral, in combination with the “-ium” suffix commonly given to elements named in that same time period (the 1820s). It’s “aluminum” in the United States, but “aluminium” in Britain and other parts of the world simply because they don’t know any better and are jealous of us. Or just stubborn. So if you are going to mock an element, go with the aluminum. No one cares about aluminum. But stay the heck away from the Titanium if you know what’s good for you. Kapish?

    • I hate to break it to you, NN, but I think platinum is the most sexy metal. It’s so pretty and shiny! Titanium has it’s uses, though. I’ll give you that.

      • Suzie, Suzie, Suzie. You may be M of the DP, but when it comes to your metallic elements, you are just a wannabe. First of all (or as we say in scientific terms, primaverio, platinum (or Good Old Number 78 as we call it) has the chemical symbol Pt, which is like the sound an angry cat makes. No respected metal is called that. Sequincio, Its name is derived from the Spanish term platina, which is literally translated into “little silver”. Hence, not as good as ‘big Silver,” who was, as you know, the Lone Ranger’s horse. Try chasing down the Butch Cavendish gang on a little silver horse and see how far you get. Not to mention Tonto mocking you. Turpentivio, the only thing Platinum has going for it is that it is rare. Most of it is found in South Africa, which is where nobody wants to go much, so we hardly don’t find any. See.

        • Like he said – Pt.

        • You just have to ask yourself one thing, NyiNya. What is all your jewelery made out of (assuming the cat didn’t run off with it)? I’m pretty sure you’re not running around wearing titanium rings!

          • What’s my jewelry made of? Looks like some kind of meat. Could be the hampster.

          • You can, by the way, buy titanium jewelry, including rings.

          • I just had this vision of a bear trying to pass himself off as a regular shopper at the Pick ‘n’ Save. “Dooodooodoodooodoo, pushin’ my cart. Dooooodooodooodooodooo.” Trying really, really hard not to fill the cart with jars of honey. “Okay, be cool. Be cool. Ten jars. Ten. Nobody’s gonna look at ten. Okay 20. 20 tops…”

          • In SoCal, bears fit in …

          • No one brags about wearing titanium rings. On the other hand, one of my favorite songs right now is titled “Titanium”.

          • NN, since you and Urs are from the same area you’re probably passing each other in the store and not even realizing it. Be very careful about how much honey you put in your cart because he might catch you and take it away. There, now I’ve given my helpful piece of advice for the day and can go on about my business. I believe my cat is in need of being bothered (we take turns annoying each other).

          • Suzie, I am going to keep an eye open for a large furry critter lumbering down Ventura Boulevard and fishing for salmon in the L.A. River. He will be easy to spot. Mostly only shopping carts and dead bodies are found on the banks of our mighty river.

          • “No one brags about wearing titanium rings.”

            You don’t work with geeks, do you?

      • Platinum has its uses, too!

        But so too do silicon, copper, and even often-overlooked lanthanum …

        Every metal has something to contribute to society. I believe in using the right metal for each occasion …

    • At one time aluminum was considered a precious metal because it was so difficult and expensive to extract. Napoleon used aluminum flatware at state dinners. The Washington Monument has an aluminium capstone. Then someone figured out how to cheaply extract it and it because the stuff of use and toss.

      Titanium isn’t all that rare, but it’s hard to extract and work. It beats the heck out of aluminium for hypersonic applications, however …

  5. Well, I read it now.

    Rogers! You b*****d, you’ve let the cat out of the bag. Not the review stuff, the security breach. Oh, I have been rubbing my hands with glee at the number of reviewers out there that don’t know the little glitch that reveals their names to me. Oh yes. I know your names, which means I know where you live 99% of the time. I won’t forget.

    So, everyone, don’t buy it. Even if the reviewer stuff is sound and neatly laid out.

    And while you’re at it, everyone out there, keep taking smartphone pictures of your kids and pets with the GPS tagging enabled. Then post those pics to social websites. There’s no surer was of letting me know where you and your kids live, work, eat, study and play. Oh, and the name of your cat.
    Works for some GPS enabled cameras as well.

    • Actually FB seems to be stripping the geotagging data off now.

      • Smart guy, Mark. But not quite smart enough. I have been randomly changing the cat’s name to avoid just such a situation. Sometimes three, four times a day. And not just because I can’t remember it.

        • Kind of like how your hamPster is always changing colors and sizes?

          • It’s true. The Hampster does change appearance and species every so often. First he goes to sleep and then his co-parent comes and gets him and they go on vacation. When Hammy gets back, he is sometimes much smaller. Once he was a completely different color. The last time, he came back a guinea pig, which he still is. I am officially changing his name to Withapee.

            Withapee is eating grapes right now and making a big mess with the skins. He can fit 37 grapes inside his head. I can fit many more, but sometimes I choke.

    • We figured that name thing out a while back on the Top Reviewers Forum. That’s why I hide the thing that will give away my true name (although pretty much everyone commenting right now knows what it is anyway).

  6. Plus, I just checked and the cat is still in the bag. Theo just loosened the knot a little is all.

    • OMG! You have collapsed Shroedinger’s feline superposition! I can’t believe it. You have casually destroyed one of the major teaching aids of quantum mechanics. Until you checked, we were in a position of uncertainty. Now, we know. If the cat’s in the bag, then the cat’s out of the bag. So to speak. That’s quantum physics for you!

      • The quantum thing was broken when I got here. I’m not paying for it if that’s what you’re looking for. Plus Schroedinger’s cat turned out to be a hampster. Yes, I added a P because ‘hamster’ is not sufficiently festive.

        You can see the difference.

        Hampster. Fun little pet. Hamster. Small embittered rodent. Which would you rather be?

        • There appears to be some mixing between mammalian waveforms. But a cat collapsing to a hamster is very rare. Or maybe it was a tunneling effect?

          • My cat collapses frequently. So do I. But my collapses are frequently gin related. The cat? Who knows.

          • Cat got your Tanqueray?

          • Siddown, Urs. Look, let’s get this straight. You…bear. Bear thrashes around in the underbrush, maims the occasional tourist, catches salmon and hibernates. Me…NyiNya. Makes jokes. No overlap. I’m not picking nature lover outta my teeth, am I?

            Plus especially not funnier.

          • Soberer, maybe?

            Seriously, I’m a city bear. I hunt at the market.

  7. Interesting that the majority of us in this discussion are fellow apostates … I guess we all choose our own dark path …

  8. Jeez, I just came back here and saw how HUGE the comment thread had grown in my absence! Somehow I must’ve screwed up the “Notify me of follow-up comments via email” bit…

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