Your Amazon Book Page: Social Proof and Authority

After the headline, social proof and authority are the second most important elements you can control on your book’s page.

Most people browsing through books on Amazon don’t read the book description, at least not right away. They land on your book’s page, read the headline, and maybe the first sentence of the description.

Then, they scroll down.

The first thing they see are the rows of other books – Others Who Bought, Sponsored Products, Selected Items or whatever Amazon displays and however calls them. Most readers ignore them.

Your Amazon Book Page - Also Boughts

Then they see Editorial Reviews section. That is, if you put anything in your Author Central dashboard for the book. Otherwise they scroll straight to the reviews at the bottom of the page.

If you took minimal effort and have anything in this section, the least it does for you is providing a stopping point for an eventual reader. It may help them to switch from the browser’s mindset into reader’s mindset; to stop rushing blindly and pay attention to what you have to say.

If you pick your Editorial Reviews carefully and format them nicely, it will make a whole lot more for your book.

How to

Editorial Reviews are added via the Author Central interface. To make things more ‘fun’ each version of your book can have a different set of editorial reviews. I usually copy them from one version to another.

Umph, there is no way to copy them directly in the interface, you need to copy them to clipboard and paste in a different version’s ERs.

Amazon guidelines say that your editorial reviews should came from ‘reputable sources’ but they don’t define what it means. Plenty of authors, myself included, use simply Amazon reviews as the source material. I trust the reputation of my readers 😉

BTW, plenty of authors don’t put their Amazon reviews fearing the fury of the mighty Zon. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no hero, I fear those lunatics as well.
However, I will act on that fear only when it will appear substantial. I’ve heard no single story about Amazon grilling authors over their editorial reviews. As long as Amazon will keep ignoring the issue, I will use my reader’s reviews in the Editorial Reviews section.

Joking aside, the rest of Amazon’s guidelines is right on spot:
-The name of the source should be credited after the quotation. For example, “A fantastic read.”The New York Times
-Quotes from outside reviews should follow “fair use” copyright guidelines
-they should be limited to 1-2 sentences

By keeping to those guidelines you not only make the mighty Zon happy, your editorial reviews also look better and are more readable. I also recommend using the sparse formatting Author Central provides – it comes down to italic and bold text. All those efforts make it easy for people scrolling through your book’s page to notice the reviews, follow them with their eyes and get a clue who said what.

If you don’t use the formatting, or use more than a couple of sentences, or – God forbid – don’t provide the source your editorial reviews mesh into the unreadable wall of text.

You want them to stop by and read those reviews, not run away screaming. Here is how Editorial Reviews look for my books:

Your Amazon Book Page - Editorial Reviews

As you can see I italicize the review itself and bold the name of a reviewer. I also like to mention additional tidbits about the source. For example, for “The Art of Persistence” I gathered reviews from three different Amazon stores, iTunes, GoodReads, a review site and Forbes.
Everything that adds a pinch of credibility is welcome.

I was able to put more than five reviews. I did that by gaming the AC interface. When you type into it, it ignores the new line character. But I copy and paste it from another program.

I click at the last character in the line above, press Shift+right arrow two times and select the blank character, then copy it and paste into AC’s interface. This is how I can also have the source of the review put in the new line and how I create empty lines between the reviews.

A couple stories about Editorial Reviews effectiveness

When I published “Making Business Connection that Count” and created ads for the book I was puzzled by its poor performance. I wondered what the reason behind it is and compared the book’s page to my other books.

I found “Making Business Connections…” lacked editorial reviews. I quickly hijacked a few reviews from my Amazon reviews and sure enough my ads started working.

I created ads for my customer. His book’s performance was meager. It about broke even. For days, I harassed him to create editorial reviews, put anything in that section. Finally, he did that and his ads ‘magically’ improved their performance by over 25%. His conversion ratio jumped from 1 sale in 29 clicks into 1 in 21.

Since then, I don’t even start the ads, if the book don’t have the Editorial Reviews section filled.

Authority and Credibility

You can brag a bit in ‘About the Author’ section, which is displayed below Editorial Reviews. There is also a place in your book description (which 80% of readers don’t read anyway) for a sentence or two about your credentials.

It doesn’t have to be something elaborate or impressive. If The New York Times didn’t write about your book, tough luck; you need to demonstrate your credibility in another way.

With my books I never had problem with that because I wrote them from my experience. When I wrote Master Your Time”, I mentioned how many words I wrote and how many books published within a year. For Stephen King those feats were laughable, but for an average man those were good credentials.

By the way, I didn’t mention that I had sold a whopping 500-600 copies of those books. None of them was a bestseller, but that wasn’t the point. Remember, if no one else toots your horn, you need to do this. Position yourself as an expert, someone knowledgeable or experienced. This is the advice for nonfiction authors, of course.

Fiction authors need to be more subtle. They can mention awards they received or provide social proof by sharing how many readers they reached and engaged.

Toot Your Own Horn

If you won’t do it then who will? If you want to put more copies of your book(s) into readers’ hands you need to convince them that reading your stuff is worth their time.
If you don’t put info about your rewards, satisfied readers or the years of experience you gathered while working in a specific area on your book page, how the heck readers will know that? It’s your job.

The best way to toot your own horn is to quote someone else praising you or your book. The role of including review snippets in your book description is exactly the same as the role of Editorial Reviews: to prove that someone else than you and your mom liked the book.

Of course, you need to be subtle with tooting your own horn. No one likes braggers.
A sentence or two about your authority and/ or credentials. One-two mentions about rewards or one-two review snippets.
Don’t overdo. It’s an icing on the cake, not the cake itself. Your book page and book description should be in 95% about the book, not you. But that 5% about you are necessary to increase your chances for success.

Main Takeaway

Put your Editorial Reviews on your book page. They significantly increase conversion rate turning casual browsers into buyers.

Minor Takeaways

-format your editorial reviews elegantly,
-make them easily readable,
-carefully curate only the most convincing fragments,
-mention your credentials, expertise or awards in the book description.

Amazon and readers hold 80% of power over your book page. You have little to no control over the published reviews. You can do nothing about how Amazon shuffles different sections on the page. One day there are ‘Also Boughts,’ another day there are ads.

But you have the control over your book description and Editorial Reviews section. Use it to convince more people to buy your books.

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