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Where Did the Amazon Reviewers Go?

6 December 2018

From The Book Designer:

Two years ago, it was so easy to find the top Amazon.com reviewers and approach them and ask for reviews. There was software that let authors and publishers find the name and email addresses of the thousands of Amazon reviewers who had already written reviews of books in a similar vein.

I had written a self-help book for women about lowering stress, so it was easy to find the bestselling books on stress reduction and find the contact information on Amazon of those who had reviewed those bestselling books.

Then, I put together a BULK email using MailChimp and emailed THOUSANDS of reviewers all in one afternoon.

It. Was. Awesome.

Then, for some reason, in March of 2018, Amazon made a decision to hide the email addresses of reviewers on their profiles. Speculation was they did this because of the new GDPR rules and regulations but no one really knows why. This completely stopped authors from being able to email potential reviewers–even if the reviewers didn’t mind being contacted with their information public on their profile.

Does this mean it’s the end of finding targeted reviewers for books? Absolutely NOT! But it is a lot harder than it used to be.

Amazon is REALLY working hard to hide the contact information of book reviewers, and GoodReads only lets you message a few readers every day before shutting you down for the day. HOW, then, can you reach the reviewers and readers who write reviews?

. . . .

Debbie [Drum] has a program called Book Review Targeter that pulls data on readers and reviewers of specific books. I LOVE the idea of using software to find readers and reviewers of books written by authors in my community. There are authors out there who have already written books that appeal to MY readers. Finding readers and getting them to consider my book is SO much easier when I start by knowing my fellow authors and reach out to THEIR readers.

With this idea firmly in place, and knowing that it is no longer “cool” to mass email folks. HOW CAN I REACH THEM?

. . . .

Amy: Debbie, is there any way in today’s world, to email readers in a way that does not “spam” them?

Debbie: The good news is YES.

When researching comparable authors to find books that have a lot of reviews online, look for bestselling books to start. When a bestselling author releases a book and they have done “everything right” – meaning

  • they have done the market research,
  • their cover is beyond professional,
  • their description is spot on and convincing,
  • and their content is killer,

then that author will probably have a lot more reviews and you will get better review response results from mass cold emails.

I would say first test out in a small segment to see if mass emailing will work for you. If it doesn’t, don’t give up. There are certainly other ways to get the reviews you need to sell more books.

Amy: So what other options do we have? That’s the next question.

Debbie: Social Media is also a great place to find reviewers. When looking for book reviewers, and influencers that can share and promote a book, I like to start with Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Pinterest.

All of these amazing platforms have direct messaging and commenting components to them.

What’s so great about this? A lot of these social media platforms are listed on an Amazon reviewer’s bio page.

. . . .

Amy: What is the best way to connect with readers in this new world?

Debbie: There are only four rules to follow when it comes to contacting reviewers.

Here they are:

#1 – Be Brief

This is the most important that’s why it’s FIRST. Don’t write paragraph after paragraph after paragraph. This is a HUGE mistake. In a couple of sentences you can explain what your book is about, why you are contacting them, what they will get out of it (more about this in #3) and what to do next.

People will tune you out if you go on and on.

Link to the rest at The Book Designer

Advertising-Promotion-Marketing, Amazon, Reviews

11 Comments to “Where Did the Amazon Reviewers Go?”

  1. Richard Hershberger

    “…is there any way in today’s world, to email readers in a way that does not “spam” them?”

    Given that you are asking about sending unsolicited commercial emails, the answer to your question is no, by definition.

    I also wonder what “their cover is beyond professional” is supposed to mean. Where do we hire beyond-professionals, and what are their rates?

  2. If you’re ‘asking’ someone to give you a review it’s already a con and you’re one of those scammer types that never understands why you end up getting auto moved into the junk folder.

    I did like the whine that Amazon made it harder for them to spam emails at people that had reviewed things before – if I don’t review you it might be because I didn’t have anything nice to say about it (in fact I might actually give you a one star just for bothering me about it …)

    “People will tune you out if you go on and on.”

    People will block you if you pester them. The last door-to-door sales drone only got to: “I’m with AT&T” before I said “No” and closed the door on them.

    MYMV and the spammers/scammers lose your data.

  3. Ironic, perhaps, but if they had contacted a couple of those reviewers and asked “what has changed”, the answer would be that the number of people asking for reviews and the quality of the “ask” has changed dramatically over the last two years. Amazon also changed their policies for non-book reviews to crack down more on paid reviews. They know they have to protect the integrity of their reviews, and limiting spamming is one way to do that.

    I am far from a “top reviewer” but I do have some 100+ reviews on Amazon. I have a set format I use, I spend time on them when I write them, and I get a fair number of “up votes” to say my review was helpful. It is a serious review, not “awesome everyone should read it” hyperbole.

    Two things changed, as I said. I used to get review requests in small spurts, and ALWAYS about books. Then about 18 months ago, the review requests shifted to being “Hey, do you want to review my back pillow / juicer / iPhone case?” Products that usually had NO Link to anything I had ever reviewed. In addition, despite Amazon banning compensation-based reviews of any sort for non-books (discounts, paid, free products, etc.), the spammers and scammers ratcheted it up with “buy our product, give us 5 star review, and we’ll reimburse you through pay-pal”. Some are simply spam, some are full-on scams. If it looks like a non-bot-generated spam, I will occasionally gently remind them it is against Amazon’s policies and they might want to rethink their marketing strategy. Others who are more aggressive in their spam get blocked or routed to spam immediately.

    But despite those requests, even the requests for book reviews have, well, deteriorated. Amazon still allows ARCs but have some fuzzy wording and an uneasiness about paid reviews or “Free copy in exchange for positive review”. I am still haunted by agreeing to do a review one time before I established my upfront policy of not guaranteeing anything but honesty, and when the person found out I wasn’t going to do a five-star automatically, she asked me not to review it. But I had already read it and was willing to do 4 stars, but not five (there was a moderate plot point at the end that had the resolution being more coincidental/accidental than caused by the protagonist)

    The regular requests come in looking something like:

    ***
    Dear Amazon reviewer,

    I saw on Amazon.COM that you reviewed Janet Evanovich’s One for the Money and enjoyed the book. Since you liked her book, I was wondering if you would be willing to try mine?
    ***

    That’s better than most, and it might grab my interest. However, it then continues with something like “My book is about aliens having sex in space leading to the creation of a singularity that creates all-out war between Earth and the rest of the universe”.

    And if you know the first book, by Janet Evanovich, you know that:

    a. It is a semi-detective story (she’s a bounty hunter not a detective);
    b. Strong mystery element;
    c. Dysfunctional romance elements; and,
    d. Has a strong comedic/farcical/slapstick element.

    In other words, NOTHING whatsoever to do with an alien sex and war plot.

    And it took me some time to figure out that SOMEONE out there (I’ll avoid their name) is running a course on how to do what’s outlined in the OP. And they have an example like me reviewing JE’s book, and if I recall, it might even have been one of my first reviews, and so whatever software they are using is pulling my review and my name, putting x and y together, and spamming me with a tailored-to-me pitch. Except no one bothered to explain to these noobs that it was an example, not what they should do with THEIR book.

    Rarely is the plot anything I would even consider, and my TBR pile is too big already. But one caught me on a down day, I didn’t have anything loaded on my Kindle or tablet, and the book popped up as an attachment. (Yes, most of them send it before querying as an ARC in DOC format, not even EPUB or MOBI or PDF). I scanned it with my security files, it was al okay, plot sounded interesting, gave it a go…and stopped after 10 pages. It was way too drafty. I think there was something there, but the writing was too unpolished. Normally I wouldn’t go back and give much feedback, but this one seemed like someone nice and just inexperienced. So I went back gently, and I suspect I completely devastated him. I suspect he had heard from every family member that it was awesome but never a critique group. I hope he stuck with it, but the draft I saw was far from ready for prime-time. And he was already up and selling it. Not my problem, I know, but I felt bad for the guy. He just didn’t know what he was doing and had obviously paid for a course to help him get going. And the course is just plain BADLY done.

    I have emailed a bunch of people using the same template and said, basically, “Go ask for your money back, this is a stupid approach”.

    And a lot of reviewers have complained to Amazon about getting spammed. And have switched the visibility of their review IDs.

    Me? I’m not big enough to worry about it. A few extra spam now and then doesn’t bother me. And, I hate to admit it, but once in 100 spams, something decent comes through.

    Paul
    aka PolyWogg

    • Thanks for the detailed background information, Paul.

    • People are often very rude when requesting reviews, but it must work for them somehow. Low rate of return, but high volume – because the requests can be automated. And most who get these don’t bother to find and read the book and give it a bad review, because it’s not worth the work.

      I have a reasonable rate of reviews from requests, but my requests go through a personal creation that I reserve for a few who seem to have read a reasonable subset of classics and standards, and write reviews which indicate a high degree of literacy and thought.

      When I tried the scattershot approach, the results were crummy.

      Goodreads is helpful for seeing what books readers have reviewed.

  4. “Ahhh!!!!! The world is falling apart!!! Amazon is stifling Indie authors! How on Earth will I ever find reviewers again????”

    Start a review team, genius. And you’ll never have to spam another person again.

  5. “And if you know the first book, by Janet Evanovich, you know that:
    a. It is a semi-detective story (she’s a bounty hunter not a detective);
    b. Strong mystery element;
    c. Dysfunctional romance elements; and,
    d. Has a strong comedic/farcical/slapstick element.”

    Thank you Paul. This will help me try to figure out genres and explains why I can not pick correct genres for US readers of my stories. I have One for the Money, and the rest of the series and I know:
    a. It is an adventure (no detective, professional or amateur)
    b. Mystery element (as are all genres I have read).
    c. Dysfunctional romance and dysfunctional family elements.
    d. Strong comedic/farcical/slapstick element.

    I had to put my latest adventure story into mystery=amateur sleuth on Amazon because there was no mystery=adventure selection available. 🙂

    My story included:
    a. outback Queensland location
    b. mystery element with off stage murders
    c. typical independent attitude of people living in the outback solving mystery (which made MC a amateur sleuth)
    d. fun, fast pace read and a twist ending.

    I am willing to send an eBook to anyone who wants to read it and tell me which genre it should be in with or without a review. 🙂

    • Just curious:
      How many genres have you read enough of to be able to describe in a handful of sentences?

      If you can do that for a few genres/subgenres you won’t need an outsider to tag your output.

  6. Once again, Amazon fails to live up to the nurturing standards demanded by an independent author.

    • Once again, Amazon fails to live up to the nurturing standards demanded by an independent scammer.

      FIFY as the kids say. 😉

  7. I read the OP. She lost me with this line:

    “Then, I put together a BULK email using MailChimp and emailed THOUSANDS of reviewers all in one afternoon.”

    Spammers like this are why Amazon continue to have more and more rules around reviewing. The biggest surprise to me was that Joel Friedlander allowed her to admit this on his website.

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