Sunday, April 10, 2011

Amazon Vine Program

You want to get into the Amazon Vine Program

As you all should know by now writing reviews on Amazon is a great way to promote your book. Not only can you display your book’s title in your signature at the end of each review you write, but Amazon actually monitors these reviews looking for qualified writers to include in their Amazon Vine Program! As an author it should be your goal to get into this program as this is the “elite of the elite” in the Amazon world. A review by a person in this program far outweigh a review by a normal user on Amazon. Check out what these two authors have to say!

Mike Saxton, Author of “7 Scorpions: Rebellion”

“For the subject of this email, I am going to discuss the Amazon Vine program with you. This program is a great opportunity for you on multiple levels. But before I do that, I am going to discuss what it is.
The Vine program is Amazon’s way of garnering reviews for new and upcoming products, especially books and movies. Publishers/Manufacturers provide a certain number of each item. Amazon will send you an electronic catalog with these items for you to choose from. When you pick, they ship them to you for FREE. You get the item(s) and you get shipping at no charge. The kicker is, you have to write a review for them.
So the advantages? You garner more recognition as a reviewer and you gain the possible notice of various media, who will be interested in the pre-release reviews. You also get free stuff. There is a catch to this. Amazon Vine is by invite only. In other words, Amazon has to bring you into the fold. There is no way to simply go somewhere and sign up for it.
So how do you get in? Fortunately, I got in so I can tell you. You need to be a highly active reviewer on Amazon already. You need to review a variety of products, especially books and movies/shows. In addition, those reviews need to be of high enough quality to garner numerous “helpful” votes. As with many other aspects of Amazon, the exact numbers are unknown. I know that discussion forums have nothing to do with it because I do not participate in those. It appears to be strictly review based, which makes sense. One other thing, this may not mean anything, but I don’t write reviews for anything that I can’t rate at least 4 stars (the whole Karma thing).
So what does that mean for you? It is time to kick up those reviews. Review everything. If you watch a documentary on television, and it is available on DVD, write a review. If you read a book a year ago and still remember it, write a review. If there is a television show that you watch, and the previous seasons are available on DVD, write a review. Just make sure that you do not review anything you have not read/seen/used. You can even write reviews for household products and other things. The point is, this could be a great opportunity so shooting for it is a good idea.”

Robin Landry, Author of “When I Dream”
Being a part of Amazon's Vine Program is of course the free books and other merchandise.  It's like getting paid for doing what you love, and for me that's reading.  I had heard about the program so I became involved with the 'top reviewer' message boards, and in fact started a discussion called "All I want for Christmas is to be a Vine Voice."  The other reviewers came to my aid and what they said was basically, Amazon had to send you an invitation.  I waited and waited, while noticing that my ranking was higher than the Vine Voices around me.  Then one day, someone came on the discussion boards and told me where to look in Amazon for my invitation and there it was. 

So, what happens once you're a Vine Voice? Well, one Thursday a month, Amazon sends you a letter offering you a page worth of things to review based on what you've been reviewing so far.  Well, here's the catch, I had been doing some short young adult books to get my numbers up and guess what half the books that were offered to me to review?  Right, young adult books.  No worries, I have read some great new books from up-and-coming new authors, so it's been good.

While chatting to other reviewers, most of whom are not authors, has it's downfall.  For some reason quite a few of these reviewers have axes to grind and if they disagree with anything you've said, you will get an onslaught of negative reviews.  It's easy to tell why this happens because you'll just get negative reviews on the first things that come up on your profile.  People that do this are called Trolls by the reviewers and the Trolls will make up a new name so they no one knows what they're doing.  It's better to just stay away from the whole discussion group.

Now, to get lots of helpful votes, review things you like.  People who read reviews are already looking at the product or have already purchased it.  The last thing they want is to see what they've bought slammed.  It makes them feel stupid and you'll get lots of negative votes.  Also, try to be the first to read and review a big name author's book, like Danielle Steele.  Easy way to get lots of votes to move yourself up in the rankings.

The people at the top of the reviewing stack are very serious about their rankings and very competive.  They have lots of authors wanting reviews from them.  The top 500 reviewers are basically Amazon royalty.  I've heard through the boards, that some reviewers (top 10) have been asked for interviews, and have had authors wanting to come to them for an interview. 

The Vine Program is its own world and you need to know the rules once you get in.  Once you get your own letter, then a week later the whole comes out for everyone and it's long.  I've seen 26 pages of things wanting reviews, and some of the things are incredible.  Exercise machines, luggage, high chairs, printers, the list goes on.  Of course all these things are gone by the time I get there, in fact I've heard through the boards that people sit by their computers waiting for the letter to come out, then they tell each other what they got.

Anyway, it's worthwhile, it's fun, read the boards, just don't post, and wait for the Thursday letter!

Robin Landry


  1. Yes, this sounds good. Add my book Almi a Refugee by Tiiu Priilaid-Kleyn to the list. This book is a biography of a refugee and her family; their survival at end of WW2; from Estonia to Sweden and then once again to South Africa. Each time having to start from the bottom, learning a new language etc. The testimonials are excellent.

    A touching and admirable account of a woman with incredible endurance, personality and determination; giving the reader an insight into the sufferings of war and survival during World War II. A very humbling, and at the same time, inspiring read. Angelique Kirk.

    This is a strong manuscript that certainly shows the value of your mother's life for the reader. The stories and retellings are compelling, touching, and striking at times. This is a tremendous manuscript and something your mother would certainly be proud to read. Lynda.

    What a brilliant book. Everyone should read this. I started and couldn’t put it down. Sylvia Priilaid.

    This is one of the best books I have ever read. The story is so interesting. I found the book hard to put down. Vicki Reid.

    This book could be an encouragement to others who are struggling. Refugee camps are increasing world wide, people are being displaced and lose touch with families. God bless.

  2. This information was correct at the time this blog was originally posted (April 2011).

    However, Amazon have since clamped down on self-promotion outside the Meet Our Authors forum (since May 2011), and authors who sign their reviews and other posts "J Doe, Author of XXX" are likely to have those reviews reported and deleted.

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