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!
HOW TO GET GOOD REVIEWS ON AMAZON
by Theo Rogers
*Note- my responses to Theo’s answers are in italics.
Tell us something dark about yourself.
I’m the Antichrist. Deal with it.
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..?
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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, huh? I shudder to think what your evil mind may have come up with for that title!
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.
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.
• 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.
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!
~ by Suzie on August 8, 2013.