Reviews are one of the thorniest subjects in publishing. First, there’s the classic chicken and egg problem: you can’t get reviews until people have bought and read the book. And it’s hard to convince people to do that in the first place if the book has no reviews…
Worse, the number of reviews you get is a book marketing factor that’s mostly out of your control. You can pester readers — who you know have read and enjoyed the book — to go leave an honest review on Amazon as much as you want, but the hard truth is that few are actually going to do it.
And then you might very well wake up one day to a one-star review that will make you want to crawl back into bed.
All of this to say: that’s why I like editorial reviews so much. These, you have complete control over. And guess what? They show up before customer reviews on the Amazon product page. But first…
Wait, what are editorial reviews exactly?
Good question. Here’s how Amazon defines them: “Editorial reviews are different from customer reviews, in that they are transcribed directly from reputable sources.”
This jargon basically tells us two things:
- “They are transcribed directly” = you can add those yourself to your product page; and
- They should come from “reputable sources” = you can’t just quote your mom or a random person in there.
So effectively, an editorial review is a review or a commentary of your book that’s provided by someone who carries more authority than your average reader.
What does this “someone” look like? If you write non-fiction, it might be an expert in your field or a trade magazine. In fiction, it can be another author — with some level of fame, like a blogger or a review site (like Reedsy Discovery).
These are all people to whom you can send your book in advance of publication (for free), in the hopes that they’ll read it and leave you with a quote (or a full review) for your editorial reviews section. In my case, to give you an idea, I reached out to 30+ friends and influencers in publishing, and received 5 editorial reviews. It might not seem like much, but considering these people tend to 1. be pretty busy and 2. know most of what’s in the book already, I’m more than happy with that!
More importantly, you don’t need a ton of editorial reviews. Just 2-3 nicely written, full-of-praise ones will more than do the trick.
You’ll also remember that Amazon’s rules claim that the editorial reviews section is supposed to be for “reputable” sources only. But if you get a really positive customer review that says something meaningful about your book, nothing prevents you from copy-pasting it (or an excerpt) into your editorial reviews section. Which brings me to…
How do I add editorial reviews?
It’s pretty simple! First, set up your Amazon Author Central account. If you haven’t done so, just go to author.amazon.com, sign in with your KDP account, create your author profile and “claim” your books.
Once you’ve done all that, go to the “Books” tab, click on the Kindle version of your book, and then edit the book details.
There, you’ll see a “Reviews” section, where you can add in all your editorial reviews. The section allows HTML formatting, so use it wisely (and sparingly!). For example, you can:
- Add the name of the reviewer in bold;
- Italicize the quotes; or
- Add some spacing between the reviews.
Note: right now, this is only available for the .com store, meaning you can’t manually add in or edit editorial reviews for other country stores — you’ll need to contact KDP support for that.
If you want this section to be even more eye-catching, I’ve seen authors include little star emojis next to each editorial review. I won’t do it for my book, but here’s what it would look like if I did:
And here’s the star symbol so you can easily copy and paste it: ★!
Note that other (i.e. non-Amazon) retailers don’t always have a specific section for editorial reviews. In those cases, you can include the most meaningful ones at the bottom (or at the top) of your blurb.
Making the most of editorial reviews
Editorial reviews don’t only make your book look more appealing on retailers — they’re also a great way to supercharge your advertising.
Advertising copy that references a well-known player in your industry, or a famous author in your genre, will almost always work better than a tagline
out of your blurb.
For example, in the case of the Facebook ads I started last week for my book, I’ve been making good use of my editorial reviews, as you can see here.
I haven’t set up my Amazon ads yet, but when I do, I’ll use them for the copy as well — and I’ll come back to this newsletter to tell you the results!
And that’s it for this week’s tips from the launch! I’ll leave you with one more reminder that you can always grab my book for free on all retailers here, or buy the paperback here. This also wouldn’t be a proper newsletter about reviews if I don’t ask you to leave a review while you’re at it Any feedback on the book is truly welcome — whether in the form of a review, or directly by email.
Happy writing, and happy marketing!
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