Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (2022)

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Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers?

The results of the Book Reviews Survey tell it all

by Mateja Klaric

· reviews

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (1)

The results of the book reviews survey are in! I created the survey due to the lack of book reviews many author struggle with. I tried to get to the bottom of this issue and find the answer to why it is so hard to get organic book reviews.

Mind you, this is not some insignificant problem, for it can have far reaching consequences, such as authors having to pay for review services while already short on funds, being exposed to trolling that can all but destroys their book's chances, poor sales, writers giving up on publishing their work due to such issues etc.

The most disturbing part of all this is that the situation just keeps getting worse. I, for instance, have been self-publishing for two years now. Two years ago, it was relatively easy to get reviews for a book without having to pay for any services. My second book that sold less than 300 copies and is now out of print, for example, received 14 organic reviews on Amazon without much effort.

A year later, I published another two books in the same series. The sales numbers were much higher - over 650 copies of the first and close to 600 copies of the second book were sold or given away for free. Yet these books have barely received 9 organic reviews in over six months. Compare that to the 14 resulting from the 300 copies just a year before!

This year, that is two years since I published my first book, things took another turn for the worse. I launched the next book in the series and although it's selling better and faster than any before, it was all but impossible to get any organic reviews on Amazon! Over 500 copies have been sold in a matter of weeks yet no reviews were coming in.

This is a big deal, for even though it's normal that the book doesn't have any reviews while still a new release, it's not normal that there are zero reviews even after it's been published for weeks let alone months! This has a negative impact on the sales and creates a false impression that nobody is interested in it. But this same book became the most requested book in its category on NetGallery so the interest was clearly there!

I was flabbergasted by all this and at that point decided to create a survey in hope of getting some answers.

The book review survey

Participants: 93

Recruitment: my newsletter and paid Facebook promotion targeted at book lovers

The survey was created in Google Documents and consisted of a few simple questions that included open-ended answer option. The participants were thus able to post individual responses in addition to selecting the provided multiple-choice options. Let's take a look at the responses to the questions.

(Video) Getting Book Reviews: Building an Advanced Reader Copy Team

Do you ever leave book reviews?​

Over 85% of the readers never, rarely, or only sometimes leave book reviews, with over 65% opting for 'never' or 'rarely.'A vast majority of the participants thus don't leave reviews, which is consistent with my personal experience. The question is why?

One of the respondents gave their answer to this in the response - Amazon won't let them publish and they are not sure why. It could be the new Amazon's policy that only allows those who have spent over $50 in the last year on the platform to post reviews. In the following questions, several other respondents also reported having issues with Amazon. This, however, was not the main problem.

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (2)

A vast majority of readers don't post book reviews.

If you answered with 'No' or 'Rarely,' please explain why?​

It seems that most of the readers either don't post reviews or do it only rarely simply because they don't know what to say in a review - close to 70% of respondents chose this option. One third of the respondents said that they don't have the time for writing reviews. As for the individual responses, several readers stated that they are afraid of "sounding dumb" or fear how their reviews would be judged by others.

It seems that the readers aren't aware that they don't have to write an essay about the book - a short statement and rating is enough. On Goodreads, readers can even post their ratings without writing a single word (which, on the other hand, can be a problem since it also makes trolling and review bombing easier).

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (3)

A majority of the readers don't know what to say in a review

If you answered with 'Rarely' or 'Sometimes,' when do you leave a review?

Among the readers who rarely or sometimes leave reviews, almost 80% stated that they do so when the book is exceptionally good. About 50% also do it if they know and want to support the author, and 40% post a review if the book is really bad.

(Video) days in my life as an author & some real talk (should authors take advice from negative reviews?)

So in order to get the reviews from these readers, your book would have to be either outstanding (for better or worse) or they would have to know you and wanted to show support for your writing. Other than that, your only hope are those few (13%) who have an increasingly rare habit of regularly leaving book reviews.

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (4)

Almost 80% of the readers only leave reviews when the book is exceptional

Would you leave a review more often if you knew how hard it is for authors to get reviews and how big of an impact that has on their survival?

I included this question since I wanted to educate the readers on how big of a problem the lack of book reviews is for authors. I also wanted to see whether the readers care enough to change their reviewing habits.

The good news and a glimmer of hope for writers is that over 80% of the readers would be willing to post their reviews more often to help authors. Only about 10% of the respondents don't care that much.

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (5)

Over 80% of the readers would leave reviews more often to help authors

How about helping other readers find good books?

While the readers are highly motivated to post their reviews more often to help authors, they are far less inclined to do so to help other readers find good books. Less than 65% would do so, while over 20% don't care than much.

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (6)

(Video) HOW TO GET ARC READERS | Booksprout vs Book Sirens vs NetGalley + more!

Less than 65% of the readers would post a review to help other readers

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

At the end of the survey, I gave the readers a chance to post any additional insights they might have. 22 of the participants responded and several of them complained about the issues with Amazon.

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (7)

Why Is It so Hard to Get Book Reviews from Real Readers? (8)

It seems that various issues with Amazon contribute to the problem


Only 13% of the readers habitually leave book reviews, while the rest never do so or only if the book is either exceptional or they want to show support for the author. Since the majority of responses came from the Facebook ad and not my followers, these results confirmed by suspicion that I'm not the only one dealing with this problem.

It's incredibly hard to get organic reviews form the real readers - by that I mean those who are sincerely interested and care enough to actually buy our books. Not receiving feedback and support from these readers then forces writers into using various book review services, which is costly and risky.

To begin with, most writers already publish on a budget and adding to this any additional costs represents a burden that can be too much for many to carry. While there are free services as an alternative, these are even riskier than the paid ones and can literally destroy a book if not the writer's career.

Dubious characters (e.g. pirates, plagiarists, trolls, and freeloaders) pollute these services and can inflict serious damage. Many if not most of the readers on these platforms don't even bother to leave reviews, they just use a review service to get books for free.

What's worse, it's increasingly common for the trolls who pose as "reviewers" to trash and destroy the ratings of the books they get for free. In the worst cases, they will gang up and execute an online lynch of a book and its author, which is what happened to me after I stood up against one such troll on Goodreads and warned other author about Booksprout where this person operates.

(Video) Booktube TBR Thursday Week 7 | All CRIME and THRILLERS #booktube #crimebooks #thrillerbooks #tbr

But I'm just one of many who have been hit and had their ratings and reputation damaged by such attacks. What hurts the most is that these are not even the real readers of our books. These are not the people who'd ever care to buy our books and took the time to read them!

Getting a review from a real reader is nowadays, as clear from the results of this survey, close to impossible. How many writers can be expected to write nothing but exceptional books? If the readers only rate what they deem exceptional, this leaves almost all books without reviews and thus forces the authors into using services where they are at high risk for abuse.

And it's not like writing books is a lucrative business - at least it is not for most writers and the situation just keeps getting worse. The last thing writers need in this already bad situation is making it even worse by leaving us vulnerable to trolling and malicious book rating tanking!

What to do?

The good news is that the readers are willing to help and would leave more reviews if they were aware of how bad the situation is and how hard this is for writers. We need to spread the word and let our readers know how badly we need their help and support.

We are asking for nothing more than honest reviews by the real readers of our books instead of trolls. These reviews don't have to be long or complicated - they can consist of just one simple sentence and the rating. That alone can make the world of difference. So share these results, let the readers know how much of a difference their reviews make.

If you are going to use book review service, be extra careful. There are only two I can recommend - NetGalley and BookSirens.

NetGallery is one of the most renown book review services. It's used by traditional publishers, the standards are high (make sure you book meets them), and it's expensive, but there is a cheaper way of getting your book on the platform. While listing a book on NetGallery costs from $450 to $849, you can also list your book for a fraction of the price if you use BooksGoSocial.

I was able to negotiate additional 40% discount for my readers and followers, so click the link to BooksGoSocial/NetGallery offer and use the coupon code netgalleymk at the checkout. This will get you the listing on NetGallery for less than $50.




How Much I Earned With Self-Publishing In 2 Years


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      Business competitors write negative fake reviews to persuade people not to purchase their rival's products or services, which can cause catastrophic damage to a company's reputation. Fake negative reviews leave consumers wondering if they can trust what they're reading online at all.

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      While fake reviews are illegal, law enforcement has done little to crack down on companies that buy and sell fraudulent reviews. Prosecution is nearly non-existent, which means companies can enjoy the benefit of fake reviews to help drive their business without worrying about risk.

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      Read the Comments

      Very short or very long. Completely positive. Not specific and don't give useful information about the product. Repetitive, using the same phrases as other reviews either of the product or that the reviewer has written before.

      Where can I find reliable reviews? ›

      Here, below mentioned are the secured, unbiased websites that give 100% reliable reviews and show you the true face of the product:
      • Amazon. One of the biggest e-commerce platforms Amazon is the best reviewing site. ...
      • Google. Google's business profile is another one of the top review sites. ...
      • Angie's List. ...
      • Trustpilot. ...
      • TestFreaks.
      1 May 2022

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      2. IBR: International Bibliography of Book Reviews. » more. ...
      3. Web of Science. Conduct your search for book or author, and then limit to "Book Reviews". ...
      4. Periodicals Index Online. » more. ...
      5. Humanities & Social Sciences Index Retrospective. » more.

      What is the best book rating app? ›

      Goodreads is the world's largest community of readers. Find new and interesting books by browsing personalized recommendations based on books you've read and your favorite genres. See what your friends are reading, write book reviews, and keep track of what you want to read.

      How do I get real Google reviews? ›

      Use best practices to get reviews

      Verify your Business Profile: This makes your business information show up on Maps, Search, and other Google services. To respond to a review, you must have a verified business. Remind customers to leave reviews: Let them know it's quick and easy to leave reviews.

      Can online reviews be trusted? ›

      Online reviews might help you decide what to buy or what company to hire. You should be able to trust that these reviews reflect the honest opinions of people who actually used a product or service. Unfortunately, some reviews are fake, deceptive, or manipulated — and that hurts both people and honest companies.

      Can positive Google reviews be fake? ›

      For instance, overly positive Google reviews are an indication that a company has been buying Google reviews. If fake five-star Google reviews go undetected and get published on your business listing, potential customers aren't likely to be fooled. Anyone can flag inappropriate Google reviews that seem suspicious.

      Can you ask for 5 star reviews? ›

      Can you ask for 5-star Google reviews? While you can't pay people to leave reviews for your business or provide an incentive for them to leave reviews, asking loyal customers to leave Google reviews is both recommended and encouraged to help grow your business's online presence!

      How do you ask for honest reviews? ›

      Examples of asking customers for reviews through email

      Thank the customer for doing business with you. Explain the impact that honest reviews can have on your business and how much you'd appreciate them taking time to leave an honest review.

      Where is the easiest place to find peer-reviewed sources? ›

      Library databases such as CINAHL, Academic Search Complete, or Social Sciences Full Text are the best places to locate peer-reviewed articles. Most databases provide a limiter or check-off box that allows you to limit your results to peer-reviewed journals.

      How can I get a book reviewed by Oprah Winfrey? ›

      A: Oprah's Book Club is unlike any other in the way that Oprah Winfrey picks the books on her own. That being the case, we don't accept submissions from authors—but we deeply appreciate all the authors who are interested in being a part of our book club and all the hard work they dedicate to their art.

      What is the secondary source of book reviews? ›

      Research summaries reported in textbooks, magazines, and newspapers are considered secondary sources.

      What books have a 5'5 rating? ›

      5 5 Books Shelf
      • The Queen of Nothing (The Folk of the Air, #3) Holly Black (Goodreads Author) ...
      • Red Queen (Red Queen, #1) ...
      • passerine (ebook) ...
      • Terms and Conditions (Dreamland Billionaires, #2) ...
      • The Maidens (Hardcover) ...
      • Confess (Paperback) ...
      • Ein Kuss aus Eis und Schnee (Frozen Crowns, #1) ...
      • Crave (Crave, #1)

      What is the number one book app? ›

      Goodreads. Probably the best known app for book lovers, Goodreads has been around for more than a decade. It is mostly based on the social aspect of reading, being the home of the most book reviews and enticing users to interact and share their thoughts about everything they read.

      What is the most popular reading website? ›

      Top Websites Ranking for Books and Literature in the world
      RankWebsitePages / Visit Average website pages viewed per visit
      46 more rows


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