Amazon reviews: how they affect sales


I came across an article on Hello…Chick Lit which got me thinking about  Amazon reviews. I vaguely knew reviewing an author’s works on Amazon had more value than reviewing them on my blog or on Goodreads, but hey, how many hours are in the day? Many authors won’t ask directly for an Amazon review because of the Amazon Review Police who stalk the highways and byways of the digital world, but here are some reasons to help each other out!

I’ve recently self-published on Amazon Kindle Select for the first time with my novella, Under the Tuscan Moon, and am not setting myself up as an expert on Amazon reviews or anything at all regarding publishing or promoting. I’m just sharing a small part of what I’ve learnt in hopes that it will help both authors and readers.

Have you ever sent bloggers and/or other friends a free copy of your book and asked them to read it then leave a review on Amazon? I have. I was secretly hoping they’d love it and would post a review. They told me they loved it, but the loving didn’t extend to an Amazon review (yet) for most. I understand this. Authors often send me PDFs of their books and because my TBR list is ginormous, I’ve not even gotten around to reading them all, let alone reviewing. That’s a pity. Since learning how important Amazon reviews can be, I’ve been upping my Kindle reading of bloggers’ books and posting more Amazon reviews. (If you’ve sent me a copy of your book, send me an email and remind me that you’re still waiting for that review and I’ll send you to the top of the list!) 

Blog Tours

Most of us gladly participate when someone has a new book coming out and asks us to help spread the word. It introduces people to the book and the author. The ‘To buy’ link might even lead to a sale or two if the planets align. Really, anything that gets eyes on a book is good.

I review my reads on Goodreads because every year I participate in their reading challenge. (I read/reviewed 120+ books in 2015). You need over 10 reviews on Goodreads to be able to add your book/s to certain groups which gives you more exposure. I went off reviewing on Amazon when they took down some of my reviews of blogger friends’ books. But we can’t let that stop us. Amazon reviews can impact sales rankings, so is the most useful thing we can do for our blogger/author friends if their book is available to buy on Amazon. (And fingers crossed they won’t take it down).

Unless you’re in the upper echelons, chances are you spent more on getting your book out there than you will ever recoup, especially if you self-publish. That’s a crying shame. There are LOADS of amazing books out there with way too few sales because people don’t know how good they are. Who is going to scroll to Page 500 to find a book? Some amazing books could be discovered if readers could take 10 minutes to write something—it doesn’t have to be long—that would be so helpful to the author’s rankings and ‘discoverability’. 

So if you follow a blog tour, do that author a favour–buy their book (usually cheaper than a cup of joe), find some time to read it (sure, this is the hardest part), then, for that author’s sake, REVIEW IT!! Even if you don’t like it THAT much, you can still review it. You don’t have to give it 5 stars!!! I’m loath to say this, but apparently even a bad review is better than no review! It still ticks the algorithm boxes!


Why are Amazon reviews important?

Well, duh! More sales = higher rankings.  If your book is selling, it goes higher on the list. And reviews help sell books.

Verified Purchase reviews will count MORE towards the rankings of Amazon sales. 

But that doesn’t mean you can’t leave a review for a book you didn’t buy through Amazon.

Reviews with ‘likes’ count more towards rankings and *algorithms.(If you like the techie details, read the section at the end).

So if you read a review that you like – hit the ‘like’ button!  Not only does it help the reviewer’s Amazon review stats but it helps the author with a ‘higher ranking review’.

Amazon supposedly recommends books different ways based on the number of reviews.

20-25 reviews: Amazon will include your book in the ‘Others also bought’ section and the ‘You might like’ section.

50-70 reviews: Amazon may highlight the book in spotlight ads and possibly include your book in newsletters.

100+ reviews: Amazing promo results for authors (it is said).

Is it just reviews that help? Who really knows? But anything that helps an author up their rankings is a good thing. And we can all help this happen.

  • Getting your book out there into the eyes of readers will help sell books.
  • Building your author platform and engaging with readers and bloggers will sell books.
  • Great writing with great content will sell books.

And Amazon reviews matter.  They take 5 – 10 minutes to write. An author would prefer a quick review to no review. Do something amazing for your blogger/author friends.

  • How many reviews does your book have on Amazon?
  • How did you get those reviews?
  • What is the most successful part of your Author Platform?
  • Share with us!

And if you’re up for another Valentine’s writing challenge, WEP’s Valentine’s challenge goes live from Feb 17-19…flash fiction, non-fiction, poetry, photos, art…we’re open to all! Please join us!


 * If you’re really into this, read on…with thanks to Aimee at Hello…Chick Lit.

Amazon uses algorithms to place products rankings – their system is called A9.

What is algorithm?  

Algorithm is a process or set of rules to be followed in calculations or other problem-solving operations, especially by a computer.

What helps the Amazon algorithm? (this is according to research through Amazon… like I said, they change the rules daily so… take this as you will)

There are more factors in the Amazon algorithm than I could even explain or know but these are the ones they make public.

More sales = higher rankings.  If your book is selling, it’s higher on the list.

Verified Purchase reviewers reviews will count MORE towards the rankings of Amazon sales. 

You can review anything on amazon even if you didn’t purchase it (unless you have NEVER purchased anything on Amazon I’ve learned).

Reviews with ‘likes’ count more towards rankings and algorithms.  

So if you read a review that you like – hit the ‘like’ button!  Not only does it help the reviewers Amazon review stats but it helps the author with a ‘higher ranking review’.

Certain numbers of reviews can do different things within the Amazon algorithm. (Supposedly – Amazon changes the rules daily so everything is iffy)

Amazon (supposedly) recommends books different ways based on number of reviews.

20-25 reviews Amazon will include your book in the ‘Others also bought’ section and the ‘You might like’ section.

50-70 reviews Amazon may highlight the book in spotlight ads and possibly include your book in newsletters.

My conclusion:

Amazon reviews can matter.

Authors working on their platform can matter just as much – this takes time and consistency.

I’ve heard authors who say their promo of their book with 25 reviews did just OK… but their promo of their book with 100+ reviews did amazing.

Was it the reviews that helped?

Who knows.  It could be anything.  But reviews, good and bad can help with your sales.

Is my 100 reviews guaranteed to help my book sell mass amounts, you may ask?

No.  Maybe more people will buy your book because 100 people said how great it was but reviews alone can not sell books.

Amazon reviews will help Amazon slot you in different places with their algorithm.

It will help place you in different rankings.

Amazon reviews can help make your book more visible to potential buyers, which is why they are so important.  

But it won’t happen over night.

It’s a journey, not a race; you have to fit all the pieces of the puzzle to succeed.

Don’t forget to check your Amazon keywords and categories… those can make a load of difference in who can find your book.

If it’s miscategorized, the wrong readers will be finding it resulting in less sales.

If you read a book, do the author a favor and also go put up a review on Amazon (US, UK, CA…). Good or bad, they all help.



7 thoughts on “Amazon reviews: how they affect sales

  1. Everything you say is true, Denise, so this is going to sound like a very unwise stance, but here goes. I lived in Seattle long before anyone outside the Puget Sound knew the name Amazon, and I have a soft spot in my heart for the company. But a few years back, I pulled nearly two decades of reviews from their site—books and otherwise. The corruption of their feedback system happened slowly, but they did nothing to rein it in. I can’t with a clear conscience post reviews or request Amazon reviews for my own work. I still rank and/or review everything I read on Goodreads (an Amazon company), but I neither post reviews to Amazon, nor do I read them. I’m only one voice, but as a reader, I care too much about books to let Amazon reviews steer publishing and at present that’s the dangerous path we’re on. If my mother were here, she would tell me I’m cutting off my nose to spite my face.

    VR Barkowski

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Good question, Denise. I started posting on Goodreads long before Amazon took over. In fact, I was pretty upset when Amazon acquired Goodreads, but that’s another story. So far I haven’t noticed the sort of fraud on Goodreads that is so evident on Amazon—at least in the written reviews.

        If Amazon would simply pull every review were the the commenter states upfront they never read the book, I’d gain a whole new respect for the company.

        Liked by 1 person

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