Blurbs–those glowing little reviews that appear on the back jackets of books and are then used in promotional copy, ads, and so on–have always been strategic: Authors often tap fellow author friends to write them and, as book critic Janice Harayda has pointed out, occasionally write blurbs for each other. Amazon (NSDQ: AMZN) Publishing, however, is taking the backscratching a bit further.
Amazon Publishing is reaching out to authors to provide “guest reviews” for Amazon imprint titles, the Observer reports. In exchange, Amazon says it will promote the review author’s books and upcoming projects alongside the blurb that he or she wrote.
New York literary agent Elyse Cheney shared a chunk of the e-mail one of her authors received from Amazon:
The review would be prominently featured on Amazon.com in customer e-mails, rotating campaigns in the Amazon.com Books and Kindle stores, and on the Stalina detail page (to which our marketing and PR efforts will be driving significant traffic). This would be a great way to get added exposure on Amazon for [name redacted]’s backlist or upcoming releases.
An Amazon spokeswoman told The Observer, “There are a number of publishers, including Amazon Publishing, that try to secure guest reviews for their books. The guest reviewer often receives some on-site promotion as an added incentive to write the review.”
It’s impossible to quantify how much a good blurb actually drives the sales of the book being reviewed–though it can’t hurt and can certainly help, particularly in the case of a debut author being blurbed by someone more well-known. But in the past, the authors writing the blurbs didn’t get any benefit other than goodwill and a possible reciprocal blurb in future. In the instances mentioned above, Amazon guest review writers a much more tangible benefit, and one that stands a better chance of helping to drive book sales.