The MetaReview of Amazon’s Reviewers

So, following the advice of one of my friends, I decided to pursue the possibility of promoting my book with a little help from some of the prominent reviewers on Amazon; specifically, I started with their list of the Top 100 Reviewers. After going through the top reviewers list, I did find a few people who might be interested in my writing, and I did introduce myself to them. As of yet, none have returned my solicitations, but given that they’re probably inundated with requests, I’m not surprised. More importantly, though, I have rediscovered that a beaten track is not where I should tread. It’s a lesson learned yet again.

Of course, first and foremost, I have to commend Amazon on a great strategy and execution when it comes to their reviews and the community built around it. In fact, you could say that the Amazon reviews community has become a separate organism from the main site itself. Brilliantly, Amazon understands how to advertise itself by embracing its colorful community of reviewers, and it even acknowledges their more amusing characters. Their Vine program is another component in that strategy, in which their more popular and prolific reviewers are given a special status. This role comes with a cornucopia of perks, of which a couple are being given free product samples from companies and being prominent mentioned among Amazon’s pages. In effect, Amazon has taken the online bromide of user reviews and (with a flick of wrist) turned it into a meritocracy which serves its self-promotion engine. It’s an excellent implementation of a smart design.

Unfortunately, though, this is not a place for self-published authors, especially ones which do not follow fads or mainstream perennials. As I went through the list of their reviewers’ profiles, I noticed a few patterns which do not bode well for the brave souls who seek assistance from these modern-day patricians:

1.) Some of them do not have a listed email address. I’m assuming that the Vine program and their own pursuits are enough for them.

2.) Some of them have their own particular focus of interest. For example, some of them only review music; many only care about gadgets and electronics. Only a scant few of them only focus on books.

3.) Many of the reviewers who have actually reviewed a book only care about specific content. The family-oriented only care about children’s literature. The older, retired demographic typically only cares about biographies, history, and mysteries. The middle-aged, single crowd prefers science fiction, fantasy, and paranormal romance.

In the end, there are only a few reviewers of whom I might possibly consider ‘literate’, in the sense that they have a actual palate which appreciates a wide variety of flavors when it comes to prose. So, if you’re looking to promote a book which doesn’t satisfy a craving for something akin to a midnight snack, the reviewers of the Vine program are probably not a good crowd to turn to.

My immediate thought was that perhaps Barnes & Noble might be a better place instead, since it actually specializes in books. Alas, after taking a quick walk over the grounds of its site, it seems that route isn’t particularly encouraging, either. Even though it does have reviews, it does not anything equivalent to the ambitious Vine program. Unlike Amazon and its Vine program, there is no page which effectively serves as a pantheon of champions to which an author can turn. Plus, there are no visible email addresses on the reviewers’ pages; you can only contact them through their B&N account. So, I was disappointed, to say the least. However, after following a few clicks, I have observed that some of these reviewers are serious about opining on slews of books, which makes me think that they might actually be more literate and have weight among other literate friends. Plus, this path has very few visible footprints. It’s enticing enough to keep following it…we’ll see where this one goes as I disappear into the brush…

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