When you check your books on Amazon, hopefully, you will see new book reviews for your titles. If you do, you may see a mix of verified purchase reviews and non-verified reviews.
For an author of a new book, any reviews you receive, good or even not-so-good, can all help to sell your book.
However, reviews are not easy to get, and there are restrictions for some readers.
But first, what are the basic differences between verified and non-verified Amazon reviews?
The two types of Amazon book reviews
Amazon’s guidelines for book reviews have changed many times over the years.
But for a brief outline of the current terms, here’s a quick look at both types of review.
Only customers who purchased a book on Amazon can write verified purchase reviews. These reviews are clearly labeled as verified purchases.
It helps other Amazon customers identify reviews by people who have purchased and (probably) read the book.
Non-verified reviews can be written by anyone, regardless of whether they have purchased the book on Amazon.com.
These reviews may be written by people who have purchased the book on another website or in a physical store.
They may also be written by people who have received an advanced reader’s copy of the book.
Restrictions on Amazon book reviews
It can be a struggle for new authors to get book reviews on Amazon.
Yes, you can ask family and friends to help you. However, as you will see below, this is not always a good idea.
Amazon’s review policies are now quite strict, with several constraints on who can add a review to a book.
The most rigid restriction by Amazon is that only customers who have spent $50.00 on Amazon.com, using a credit or debit card, in the past 12 months can post reviews.
It’s a similar amount in local currencies on all other Amazon stores.
This limitation means only active Amazon customers can post a review.
Another problem area is real or perceived relationships.
Amazon does not allow reviews by friends, relatives, employers, business associates, or competitors.
For books, competitors, in this sense, refers to other self-publishing authors.
I have been caught by this many times, as Amazon seems to be able to track blog comments and social contacts to establish these connections.
If you think that paying for reviews will help, forget the idea.
Amazon states that it doesn’t allow or will remove reviews gained in exchange for monetary rewards.
Another clause says it doesn’t allow compensated reviews, including cash, discounts, free products, gift cards, or refunds.
Clearly, the best and only reliable way to gain reviews is to sell books.
Free and discounted books
You might think offering free Kindle ebooks using Amazon KDP Select will help get reviews.
It might help, but there’s a catch.
Even if a free book reader has crossed the $50.00 threshold, any review they post will not be verified.
If they have not spent $50.00, which is often the case with free ebook hunters, they cannot post a review.
While it applies more to products other than books, products bought at a discounted price are also not eligible for verified reviews.
Amazon doesn’t explain if this applies to $0.99 ebooks. But if your regular price is $2.99, and you drop it for a while, it could cause an issue.
Are verified reviews better than non-verified?
Sure, a review that bears the verified label probably carries a little more weight with book buyers.
But all reviews help, so I wouldn’t worry too much if you get non-verified ones as well.
The same applies to star ratings.
A lot of Amazon readers now only need to click a star scale to rate a book, with no need to post a review.
In the end, any recognition you can get for your books on Amazon helps.
How can you get more book reviews?
I was lucky because getting book reviews was easy when I started self-publishing.
All I had to do was go to my social media contacts and ask. Most authors did the same to get reviews back then.
But social media isn’t what it was, and Amazon has changed many of its review rules since that time.
The only way now is to sell more books and hope.
You can add a few lines at the end of your books asking for a review, which helps a little.
Book promotion can also improve your chances of receiving reviews, as can having a mailing list from your blog.
Free ebook giveaways might get you a handful of non-verified reviews, which is still fine if you can gain a few.
Yes, you see some new books, especially by big publishing houses, getting hundreds of reviews.
But self-publishing authors don’t have the teams of willing reviewers that major publishers have.
It’s not a level playing field, but that’s the way it is.
The advantages of stricter review policies
As I said, getting reviews in the early days of Kindle Direct Publishing was much easier.
There were very few restrictions on who could add a review on Amazon.
However, the downside was that because almost anyone could post a review, it was quite common to attract nasty and often personal attack reviews from some people.
It was in the bad old days of the infamous Goodreads trolls.
But their notoriety hasn’t stopped completely, as review bombing is a new problem.
On the whole, though, because of the actions taken by Amazon, very few self-publishing authors are now subjected to this kind of bad behavior and personally attacking reviews.
Sure, selling books and getting verified purchase reviews is the best result.
But non-verified reviews and star ratings also help your book’s ranking, so don’t be afraid to use any means at your disposal to promote your books.
Book marketing and promotion are always the most challenging parts of self-publishing.
It’s a catch-22. You need to sell books to get reviews, and you need reviews to sell books.
All you can do is promote your book as best you can and hope that some of those who buy it add a book review.
Related Reading: Why Did My Amazon Reviews Get Deleted From My Book?