Reaching Out to Bloggers for Book Reviews of Your Self Published Book

Updated on August 20, 2019
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Heidi Thorne is a self-publishing expert, author of 21+ books and eBooks, and a former trade newspaper editor.

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Got a great question through the Q&A on my blog about soliciting book reviews: Would asking bloggers to review a book on Amazon violate Amazon policies?

There are multiple issues to unpack from this question.

Why Bloggers?

The author obviously and correctly recognized that bloggers can have influence when it comes to books. I do think that bloggers can steer their audiences to products and services, including books.

But these days, I don’t think most bloggers are as influential as in the early days of blogging. There are just too many blogs now. SoftwareFindr estimated there are 505 million blogs worldwide on all platforms (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.) as of April 2019. That’s half a billion (with a “b”) blogs. But that includes Tumblr “blogs," which can be debated if they qualify as official blogs or as social media. Take out Tumblr (441 million blogs), and you’re left with an estimate just shy of 64 million countable blogs, on top of potentially millions more who “blog” on social media networks instead of their own sites. That's still a lot.

There are almost zero barriers to starting a blog. Due to an oversupply of blog content, audiences for individual blogs are bound to shrink, making many bloggers less influential.

But getting the attention of prominent established bloggers and influencers with large numbers of followers, could be challenging. They probably already have many people approaching them with all kinds of enticing opportunities.

Why Blogger Reviews on Amazon?

One of the curious aspects of the Q&A question was the interest in asking bloggers to review the book on Amazon. Why? I’m guessing the author knows that Amazon reviews can influence book buyers. I get that.

But the thing about Amazon reviews is that the buyers may choose not use their real names in reviews. So readers may not even know it’s a particular blogger’s review, unless the blogger uses a real name or a handle that people recognize. This would also require that bloggers share links to these reviews on their blogs or social profiles because people would not naturally go to find a certain blogger’s customer reviews on Amazon.

In years past, authors might have solicited bloggers to review their books on their blogs, not on Amazon. Apparently, the author is aware that reviews on Amazon can carry more weight than any mention on an obscure, even prominent, blog. Plus, reviews are always visible right where people buy.

Does Asking for Reviews on Amazon Violate Terms of Service?

Amazon is clear that close friends, relatives, clients, vendors (such as your editors)—basically anyone with whom you have a close relationship—are not eligible to post customer reviews for Amazon sellers/authors.

But there’s nothing wrong with asking anyone else outside your inner circle of family and friends, bloggers included, to post thoughtful reviews on Amazon or on Goodreads (which Amazon owns) after they’ve read your book. Current Amazon policy allows authors to give free or discounted book copies to readers and reviewers, as long as a review is not required to receive the free/discounted book, and the author doesn't attempt to influence the review in any way. See Amazon.com for any updates to this policy.

WIIFM (What's In It For Me)?

What would the blogger gain from reviewing your book on Amazon or elsewhere? Here’s where the real problem is.

Again, as mentioned earlier, a free copy of your book probably wouldn’t be an an attractive enough offer to entice bloggers to read and review. But you should NEVER offer any other incentive (cash, gifts, etc.) for customer reviews on Amazon since that violates Amazon Terms of Service.

And who are you that would make bloggers want to publicly declare on their blogs or Amazon reviews that they read your book? Because you need the help? It’s a beg for a favor with little to no benefit to the blogger, unless you’re a celebrity level author.

I once received a book out of the blue, with a request to review on Amazon and social media because I had reviewed other books within the topic. Those other books were ones I actually wanted to read and had voluntarily acquired. I wasn’t interested in this random book, and declaring my interest or connection to the book or author would do nothing for me. Plus, it would take me several hours to read and review the book. I didn’t review it at all anywhere since I don’t want to be cornered into reading a book and doing a book review from someone with “give to get” behavior.

What About Editorial Reviews?

Did you know that Amazon allows editorial reviews of your book, including those from family and close friends?

An editorial review is a critical review of the book written by someone who is an editor or expert for your type of book or topic. This is much more than a customer review where the reader expresses his satisfaction with the book. This is constructive feedback on the book and its subject.

You upload editorial reviews you receive on your book's Author Central information page. There are a lot of rules about editorial reviews. So definitely check the support documentation on Amazon and Author Central.

The good news is that this is something a blogger could also write for you. But, again, what’s in it for the blogger? Not much unless they want to be observed as providing opinions on your work.

Learn More About Editorial Reviews

Best Practice for Soliciting Blogger Book Reviews

In contrast to the “give to get” review request example, I recently received a review invitation that was done very well.

The author contacted me through my Facebook business page, noting that he had seen other Amazon reviews I had done for books similar to his new one. He alerted me when the book would be available under his Kindle Free eBook Giveaway, and invited me to read and review if I had time or interest.

The topic is interesting to me, but I responded that it is a little outside my area of expertise and why. The author replied that he would be most interested in my thoughts on a particular segment that is within my sphere if I do decide to read and review.

That’s how you do it.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

    © 2019 Heidi Thorne

    Comments

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    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      3 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Lawrence! Glad it was helpful for you. Thanks for stopping by and have a lovely day!

    • lawrence01 profile image

      Lawrence Hebb 

      3 months ago from Hamilton, New Zealand

      Heidi

      This was very helpful.

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 months ago from Chicago Area

      Thanks, Linda, for the kind comments! As I think of these things, I put them out there since I'm sure others may face them, too. Happy Easter to you, too!

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 months ago from Chicago Area

      Venkatachari, you make a great point about laziness and prejudice. It's an issue for sure. Thanks for adding that to the conversation and have a great day!

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 

      6 months ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Your article is informative and interesting, Heidi, as always. You often discuss points that I haven't thought about before. After reading what you've written, I realize that you've discussed things that I need to know! I hope you have a happy Easter.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      6 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Noting all comments, please.

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      6 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Noting all comments as very essential.

    • Venkatachari M profile image

      Venkatachari M 

      6 months ago from Hyderabad, India

      This is a very useful and informative article. You have tackled the question from all angles and discussed the pros and cons of it all. Very intelligent discussion.

      Generally, people don't like to spare their time to review the book they have read. They might be either lazy or prejudiced. So, it is very difficult to get reviews and that too positive and helpful ones.

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Doris! Thanks so much for your kind words and I'm glad you enjoy the articles. Appreciate your support. Have a beautiful Easter weekend!

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 months ago from Chicago Area

      Hi Liz! Thanks for the kind words and glad you appreciated the info. Have a great Easter weekend!

    • MizBejabbers profile image

      Doris James MizBejabbers 

      6 months ago from Beautiful South

      Thank you, Heidi. I always find your articles helpful, and as an editor, this one especially.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 

      6 months ago from UK

      I appreciate the way that you come at the questions posed here from all angles. This is a very reasoned and balanced response.

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 months ago from Chicago Area

      Peg, glad you found the info helpful! And, yes, editorial reviews are largely overlooked, but can be a very beneficial way to support your author friends. Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 

      6 months ago from Northeast of Dallas, Texas

      Thank you. I found this information particularly helpful in understanding why Amazon rejected some of the reviews I did in the past for others who are online acquaintances. It also opened up a possibility for a different type of review of my own books of which I was unaware - editorial review.

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 months ago from Chicago Area

      Miebakagh, glad you found it helpful. Thanks for stopping by and have a beautiful day!

    • Miebakagh57 profile image

      Miebakagh Fiberesima 

      6 months ago from Port Harcourt, Rivers State, NIGERIA.

      Hello, Heidi, this is a piece of valuable information. Thanks for sharing.

    • heidithorne profile imageAUTHOR

      Heidi Thorne 

      6 months ago from Chicago Area

      Flourish, glad you like the examples. And you're right, they don't know what's right and wrong. I think this is especially the case because many authors self publish as a hobby or side hustle, and not a professional career. They're unaware of publishing and online etiquette and easily fall into bad habits. And, yes, it's a true waste on multiple levels.

      Thanks for chiming in and have a great day!

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 

      6 months ago from USA

      I especially like the examples you used, both negative and positive. People often make mistakes because they just don’t know what the parameters are and they wind up alienating, offending or just wasting time and other resources.

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