Sam Holstein

How to Get Reviews for Your Amazon Kindle Book Using a Small Mailing List

How to Get Reviews for Your Amazon Kindle Book Using a Small Mailing List

When selling a Kindle book, having many good reviews to support your book is crucial. But getting reviews is a chicken-and-egg problem: You need reviews to sell your book, but you need people who bought your book to read and review it to have reviews.

If you have no mailing list to speak of, getting reviews is its own challenge. You’ll have to search somewhere else for information about how to do that. But if you have a small mailing list (less than 1000 subscribers), you have enough people to get reviews for your Kindle book, even if it doesn’t seem like it.

For people who have never done it, getting reviews from a mailing list seems straightforward. You ask people if they’d be willing to read and review, and some do. Problem solved! Except that’s not how it works in reality. If you only send out free copies to anyone who asks and waits for the reviews to start rolling in, no reviews will roll in.

That’s what I learned when I launched my book Work Less, Finish More: Productivity Lessons on How to Spend Less Time Working and Get More Done in November 2020. I sent an announcement to a select few of my newsletter subscribers that offered a free copy in exchange for a review. I sent each responder their free copy and waited eagerly for them to leave a review. After two months, only 8 people did. Not nearly enough — Kindle books often need at least 30 reviews before most customers will take them seriously.

From November 2020 to August 2021, I did basically nothing with Work Less, Finish More. I ruled the book a dud and hoped for better things in the future. But last month, I decided to have another go at promoting it — and I’m glad I did because I was easily able to get the reviews I needed.

Notify Your Entire List, Not Only a Select Group

The first time around, I didn’t offer a free copy to my entire mailing list. I only offered a free copy to people who signed up to be beta readers on a special signup page. I wanted access to a free copy to be exclusive to people who pre-committed to be beta readers so I could maximize my profits.

That was silly. Maybe I made $15 in sales that otherwise would have gone to free copies, but I missed out on dozens of reviews — reviews that, if posted, would have enabled me to get far more sales later.

The second time around, I offered a chance to get a free copy in exchange for a review to my entire 3,000 person mailing list. My goal was to get more than 25 reviews, which is Bookbub’s minimum. 62 people signed up to review and roughly 40 of them ended up doing so, blowing my goal of 25 out of the water.

But I didn’t ask them to review the book only once. I asked again and again.

You Will Only Get Reviews If You Follow Up

The first time I solicited Amazon reviews, I didn’t follow up. I sent people their free copies and waited. I didn’t want to nag people or be a bother while they were reading my book.

The second time around, I did things differently. I sent a follow-up after 7 days. I sent another follow-up after 30 days. Those follow-ups are what made the difference.

  1. After the first email (the email where I sent them their free copy), a handful people left a review
  2. After the second email (the first follow-up), a dozen people left a review.
  3. After the third email (the second follow-up), another dozen people left a review.

If I’d never sent any follow-up emails, I would have missed out on the majority of the reviews I got.

Let Readers Know They Can Review Your Book Even If They Don’t Finish It

Plenty of people don’t have time to read entire books. But people can leave a review even if they only read most of the book, half, or even only the beginning! I myself have left reviews on books I’ve only read twenty pages of before. As long as the reviewer specifies they only read part of the book, it’s not a problem.

Let reviewers know they can leave a review even if they didn’t finish the book. This will take the pressure off of reviewers and lead to more reviews for you.

Send These Emails Manually. Do Not Use an Automated Sequence.

People can tell when they’re receiving an email from an automated sequence. Automated email sequences may land you a few more reviews, but they won’t make the process any easier.

Instead, send these emails manually and by hand. You can use Google Sheets to keep track of their names and when you sent them their free copy.

I’m all for automating as much as possible. Passive income is great. But getting your initial reviews is a one-time activity, so automating it doesn’t save you much time. The downside of automation is reviewers feel like they’re talking to a machine, not a person, so they won’t take their promise to review as seriously. Reviews are too important to treat this way, so take the time to send them manually.

Maybe this wouldn’t be true with a larger list. Managing this for a mailing list of 100,000 people sounds like a daunting task. But you don’t have a mailing list of 100,000 people, or you wouldn’t be reading this article.

In Conclusion

In my experience, you need at least 25 reviews to get a good ranking on Amazon. To get those 25 reviews as fast as possible, do the following:

  1. Offer a free copy of your book in exchange for an honest review to people who pre-commit.
  2. Follow up with them after 7 days and 30 days.
  3. Make it clear they can leave a review even if they didn’t finish the book and don’t pressure them too much.
  4. Don’t automate this process, but keep track of everything manually instead.

If you repeat this process two or three times, you will surely be able to build up all the reviews you need for your book to get a good start on Amazon Kindle.