We’ve talked a lot (I mean a lot) about book reviews for Kindle authors: what they are, why they’re important, and how to get as many as possible in as quick a time as you can. But did you know there’s a second category of reviews that potentially have even more power?
Editorial reviews are one of the lesser-known, and even less-leveraged, tools in the Kindle author’s kit. Few authors know they exist, and even fewer know how to make them happen. That means that the authors who do know — including you, about five minutes from now — have a huge competitive advantage over the rest of the pack.
In today’s article, we’ll talk about what these editorial reviews are, what purpose they serve (for you and for people shopping for books), how to get them, and how you can add them to your book page to increase your sales virtually overnight.
What Are Editorial Reviews?
You know how, when you buy a physical book, you will find blurbs about it on the cover, in the flaps, or on the first few pages? Those are editorial reviews, and they usually come either from professional reviewers, major media outlets, or celebrity writers working in the same genre.
On Amazon, they’re the same thing, only they appear on your book’s page just above the “About the Author” section. They are hugely important for some buyers, just like the blurbs are for buyers browsing in physical bookstores. Beyond that, they carry two strong advantages over regular Amazon reviews:
- They do not follow the same regulations as regular Amazon reviews. You can bribe people for them in any way you like.
- They provide powerful social proof that people are reading and enjoying your books, in a way that review stars and your description simply cannot match.
Add that to how you’ll be in the minority operating with this important tool, and there is very little reason to not set yours up.
What Is Their Purpose?
The purpose of editorial reviews on Amazon varies according to who you are.
- From a reader’s or buyer’s perspective, they help assure them a book is worth reading. Although the restrictions are lesser for getting editorial reviews, the perception is of greater authority. They believe those reviews more, and buy a book more confident that they will like it.
- From Amazon’s perspective, it helps them keep customers happy. The reviews identify the best books for the best people, which means the readers are more likely to appreciate the entire experience.
- For you, they exist solely to sell books. The more editorial reviews, from the highest authorities, in the most effusively positive words, get you where you want to go faster.
Never forget all three goals as you assemble your editorial reviews. Never fail to prioritize their purpose for you whenever it feels like some goals are in conflict.
How Do You Get Them?
You can get editorial reviews from anyone, even the family members, business partners, and paid professional reviewers who are disqualified from regular Amazon reviews. That said, you’ll get the best results from recognizable names, or names that carry some level of authority.
Being honest with each other, if you had Stephen King’s, or Malcolm Gladwell’s email in hand and could reliably get a blurb from them, you wouldn’t be reading this article. I’d be reading yours. But that doesn’t mean you can't get compelling, authoritative editorial reviews. Some of my favorite, approachable sources include:
- Other authors in your genre operating at about your level. Organize a review exchange of one another’s work. This is expressly forbidden for regular reviews, but totally all right for your editorial reviews.
- Fandom websites. Search for the genre you work in and find the forums, review sites, and discussion groups (see also Facebook Groups and Pages) about the sphere in which you write. Contact people there and ask for reviews in exchange for a free book.
- Online magazines that carry work like yours. Even if they won’t do a review on-site, some members of their staff will be willing or eager to do so, especially in exchange for a book or a gift card.
- Fiverr.com professional reviewers. Make sure they’re proficient with English, then hire the one making the best offer.
Once you get the review, pull the best 1-2 sentence excerpt from their review. You may have to approach 20 people or more to get three to five excellent blurbs to put up, but it’s worth the investment of your effort.
How Do You Set Them Up?
The process for entering editorial reviews is easy, though not exactly easy to find where to start. Most people have trouble because you don’t access it from the KDP book information area, but rather from Author Central. So start by going there and logging in to your account. From that point…
- Click on the “Books” tab at the top of the page
- Choose the book that you want to add a review for and then the format you want to update
- Click on “Edit Book Details”, a button that appears below the book image
- Find “Review” and click on the Add button to its immediate right
At this point you’ll see a text box where you can enter the details of your editorial reviews much like if you were composing an email or blog post.
Transcribe or copy and paste the 1-2 sentence editorial review excerpt you want to include. You can do some basic formatting, or more advanced formatting using HTML. Include all of your reviews at once, but save your work if it takes more than ten minutes. Better yet, compose in a text editor, then copy and paste it directly.
Once you’re done, click “Preview”. Check it out, make any necessary changes, and click “Save changes” when it’s all finished.
How Should You Set Them Up?
Amazon has spent millions mapping how people view book descriptions, and each component within those descriptions, so they can optimize them for the human eye. Editorial reviews are no exceptions. Based on their research, we know the following things:
- Bold type gets read far more often than plain text….
- …but only if it’s used sparingly
- People read the qualifications more often than they do the review text
- The higher on the page a given review, the more often it gets read
- White space is powerful and important
Putting that together, we recommend you format it as follows:
“The actual review in plain text, no more than two lines long, containing just the most colorful and complimentary line from the given review.”
—Author Name, title, and qualifications
For the name, put the name and most important facts or titles in bold, but leave the rest in regular type:
—Stephen King, author of The Stand and Salem’s Lot
—Wall Street Journal reviews
—Sally Ascott, three time winner of the Ptolus Award
Beyond the details for the individual entries, put the most effusively praising review first. Put the review with the best qualifications second. From there, go in order of strongest to weakest with whatever you have left.
Editorial reviews don’t replace the other reviews in your book page. Those other reviews sway some buyers, but their primary purpose from your perspective is to boost your book’s performance in Amazon searches. The editorial reviews, because they offer compelling social proof, help push a reader into buying your book once they find it.
Together, they create a one-two punch that supercharges your book sales.
Want more information on editorial reviews? Check out Training #251 – The Professional Review Process where we have a full training on how and why to get these reviews on your book.