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  1. Theo Rogers, How to get Good Reviews on Amazon For independent publishers or sellers of any kind this book is invaluable. Rogers goes behind the Amazon reviewing scheme and tells what most reviewers had never known, and many had never even thought about. He reveals that there is a sub-culture in which top reviewers meet and dictate a policy that aims to provide an efficient reviewing service for the public and, naturally, to promote Amazon sales. Whenever you put a review on Amazon your performance is recorded and monitored. Since book reviews are the most numerous, and what concerns his audience of readers, Rogers’s emphasis is on book rather than other product reviewing. He begins by asking the most pertinent question: what motivates readers (or should we say ‘customers’?) to put a review on Amazon? He gives four possible answers, most important being the desire to inform a potential buyer of the content and quality of the book under consideration. Secondly, the reviewer may feel impelled to recommend a book that he or she has enjoyed. Third, the reviewer simply enjoys writing. Finally, the reviewer is seeking to promote a friend’s book, or even, by stealth, his or her own book. Actually there’s also another reason – bloody-mindedness: a need to be sarcastic, vindictive, controversial and attention-seeking. As all Amazon reviewers are aware the company employs a ranking system. A reviewer will be told if he or she is in the top half-million or has now climbed, as I have, to the dizzy height of 25,000. What the reviewer will not know of course is how this figure is calculated. I had assumed naively that ranking depended on the number, and just possibly, the quality of the book reviews. But no, not at all! (In any case, how could a team of Little Caesars in the control centre possibly evaluate the quality of the barks in the rivers of reviews that daily pour into the unfathomed ocean?) Obviously number and quality of review must count for something, but there’s also a cunning device of counting the number of favourable and unfavourable reviews. Something known as ‘negs’ will weigh heavily against a reviewer who frequently offers negative reviews. Moreover, there is also a calculation of the number of ‘helpful’ comments made by potential customers who peruse the reviews before deciding to make a purchase. Every ‘helpful’ comment made is a leg-up in the race to the top. Nothing wrong with any of this of course, but reviewers seeking to climb the ladder towards that Vine Reviewing accolade need to be aware of it. Rogers goes on to recommend other ways of getting serious reviews, ways other than doing a good reviewing job yourself. This is something I’d never even thought of: namely, having the courage to approach top reviewers yourself. After all, you’re a legitimate seller in the market-place; it’s no place for the timid and self-effacing. The chosen reviewer can only (which is not unlikely) ignore your request. Advice on selecting the best reviewer for your kind of book follows, including how to reach and approach the chosen one. All very interesting and informative for the indie writer – and seller!
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