How Not To Ask For A Free Review – From A Top 1000 Amazon Reviewer

Amazon ReviewerAs well as being a professional reviewer at SPR, I am also one of Amazon’s Top 1000 reviewers (no, you can’t have my moniker, sorry!) and I sometimes review books for free, depending on how I am approached. I am not one of the Vine or Top 100, so bear this in mind while I give you my perspective on how it feels to receive a request from an author to review – and imagine how in demand they must be if I am getting so many requests in the Top 1000.

Why so many review request suddenly? It’s because there are many indie author forums and new tricks being shared that insist that a great way of getting Amazon Customer Reviews is scouring the Top Reviewers List and emailing us. Well, meh. Not really.

Out of every 500 requests I get, which sometimes swamp my inbox, I would say I review one or two books. Imagine how many requests more dedicated reviewers must be getting – not that easy to break through. So in case it helps,

Here are 5 reasons why I don’t review a book when I get a request:

1.Rudeness: If someone writes, “Review my book” or “Here’s my book – review pls” (two titles in my box this morning) I don’t even open the email. Rude… I don’t take kindly to being ordered to review for free! This has to be a two-way street. I’m getting a free book and a good read out of this, right? So sell your book. “Exciting Russian Thriller – Free Book – Amazon” is more likely to make me take a look, and convince me you care about your work. Honestly, I think some authors think I get paid by Amazon or something, and I’m one of many free services. Nope.

2. You bcc me/add me to your mailing list: If I see I am in a mailout to the Top 1000 reviewers in a list, or worse, my email has been sneakily added to an author’s mailing list, I won’t review the book, and I will instantly unsubscribe. I want to know my time is worthwhile here. Use the reviewer’s name, and say why you want the reviewer to take a look. ” Dear booklove123, I saw your review of “Russian Thriller” and I thought you might enjoy “My Russian Thriller.” If I get the impression you don’t care that much who reviews your book, and you are just throwing it at the wall to see what sticks, I won’t care either.

3. If you send me a book without asking: Ask me first if I would like to review your book. Then wait for my reply. More time-consuming, but it will make me more favorable to you as you have approached me with some etiquette. I may even review a few of your books without being asked to. It’s been known to happen.

4. I don’t review your genre. Sending me an erotica is going to go nowhere. I review literary, non-fiction, and sci-fi. Others only review erotica and romance. It’s very important to a reviewer now on Amazon not to have too many weird genre mixes on their review slate for algorithm reasons. I would have no idea if an erotica is good or bad. So find your tribe!

5. Authors don’t make it easy for me: Send me the link to review your book on Amazon! So many authors forget to include this in their request! To add a link:

  • Log out of Amazon
  • Go to your book page
  • Click “Write a customer review”
    Write a customer review
  • You will be taken to Amazon’s login screen. Copy this link.
  • Share this link as the link to leave a review. When I log in I get taken straight to the review box of your book!
  • Cindy Irish

    Two items I never would have thought of. 1. You don’t like having the book right there in the initial review request? I’ve always included mine, offering what I thought was a courtesy to saving the overloaded reviewer time, once they make up their mind. I didn’t know that was a deal-breaker! 2. I’m always logged in to my Amazon page when I include the book link. How is that annoying to a reviewer? Where are you taken when YOU log in to look with such a link? Thanks for posting this. It’s one of the most helpful, generous things any reviewer has ever written. Authors aren’t mind-readers, either. I’d want you to review my book just because YOU’VE shown you’re serious, efficient, and dedicated.

    • Thanks, Cindy! Of course, these are just my points. There are probably exceptions – some reviewers might not mind. But it’s better to have a solicited submission for anything, and it’s pretty easy to get solicited once you know how – this stands for submitting to agencies too.

  • Julia Hughes

    Thanks for this interesting insight, I especially like your “find your tribe” advice.

  • Tony Brasunas

    Very interesting and helpful post. Thank you! I’ll only send you a request to review my book if (judging by your other reviews) it looks like you might be interested in an inspiring China travel memoir.

  • I try to be as courteous as possible and I do try to give appropriate information on my books such as genre, storyline, etc., so I know most of this but it’s still nice to get a reviewer’s point of view so thanks very much for that. I also know how you get inundated with requests (millions of self-published authors now) so I understand about time requests too. I rarely ask for any timeline because I know how it can be for reviewers. People don’t seem to understand the time it takes to read a book then review it especially with a backlog of books waiting.
    In any case thanks for the POV of a reviewer, it’s always nice to hear your side of things!

  • Thank you for your advice. I’ve been a reviewer myself for some time and I too get odd, out of line requests so I feel your pain. The info about using the direct link is gold. I’ll be using that both ways; in my requests and with those who request reviews from me.

  • As a newbie publisher myself, I found getting reviews the most demanding and time-consuming part of the whole publishing process. Thanks for the tip with the book link, never thought of it either and uhm it’s an eye opener.