Wahoo! You’ve finished your book, you’ve got the cover all sorted and you’ve hit ‘publish’ in your KDP and Createspace dashboards. You’re all set… until you realize that in order to submit your book to some of the major promotional sites, you need to have reviews on your book sales page. **Face palm**… how the heck are you gonna do that?
One of the biggest issues Steve and I faced when we first started writing our books was getting reviews. Because, like most of us indie authors, neither of us had a ready-made list of hungry fans just waiting around for our next book. So we did the only thing logical (to us anyway) — we sent pleading emails to friends and family asking them to write reviews for us.
Then… crickets. 2-3 follow-up emails later, we’d get maybe 1-3 reviews, and this was after we had reached out to over 50+ people. How sad… and a little insulting!
Nobody wants to feel crap about their book; asking friends and family for reviews is one of the quickest ways to do so, aside from nasty Amazon trolls leaving 1-star reviews… but that’s another story, right Steve?!
Once we’d finished banging our heads against several brick walls, we came up for air and figured out a better way to get reviews without sounding spammy (or desperate).
5 Steps to Getting Those First 10 Reviews
#1: Start building your ‘street team’ now
What is your street team? These are the people you’ll be able to call on every time you launch a new book. These are the people who will leave a review on your book before you’re ready to launch, which is exactly what you want.
So, how do you build your street team? You start with your friends and family! But your approach is gonna be different this time round.
Here’s a sample email that you would send out to your friends and family:
I’m tearing myself away from Pretty Little Liars (don’t judge me!) to let you know about the official launch of the Lise Cartwright Launch Team (aka Street Team)—if you’ve enjoyed reading any of my books and want to get a free copy of EVERYTHING I release in the future, you’ll wanna check this out.
Here’s the link to find out more:
In the meantime, enjoy the rest of your week—and happy reading!
This is the actual email I send out to people who join my author list, but I’ve also sent it to friends and family. Feel free to modify it to suit your needs.
Remember, in order for someone to be on your street team, they need to have an active Amazon account, which means they need to have purchased something through Amazon. They also need to have access to a Kindle device or app.
And you don’t have to have a fancy opt-in page like I do either. You could replace that with a simple Mailchimp email form sign up, or simply ask them to reply to your email and you’ll manually add them to your list. Whatever works best for you.
#2: Reach out to your Facebook peeps
Private message your friends on Facebook too, just in case they miss your email! And don’t forget to post this on your Author Facebook page as well. The idea is to get at least 10-20 people to join your street team so that you can reach out to them when you need reviews.
#3: Give your book to your street team for free
This is key to your street team working well. About two weeks prior to your launch date, send an email to your street team with a link to the PDF version of your book for them to pre-review.
Within that same email, let them know that you’ll be emailing them one week prior to launch with the link to your book where they can leave their review.
Now, here’s where things get a little tricky. Amazon is now placing a lot more weight on VERIFIED reviews. What’s a verified review I hear you asking?
It’s when someone who has purchased your book then goes ahead and leaves you a review. Amazon tracks this and marks the view as being ‘verified’ because you’ve purchase the book so you must know what you’re talking about 🙂
Amazon allows anyone to leave a review on any product on Amazon, not just their books, and these show up as ‘unverified’ reviews because Amazon can’t track whether the person leaving the review has bought the product or not, perhaps because they aren’t logged in, or they purchased the product from elsewhere.
The best way around this is two-fold:
- You can ask your street team to buy your book when it’s $0.99 (you might set it to that price the week prior to your launch)
- You can give your street team a Kindle online gift voucher for $1 so that they can purchase the book
The second option works really well, but can get costly the more people you have on your team. However, you will more than likely make this back in sales.
Include the direct link to your Kindle book in the message you can send with the online gift card. Make sure you follow up with everyone to make sure they leave their reviews when you need them too.
Now, you can’t make anyone leave a review. But, if you notice that someone hasn’t left you a review in the past 6 months, you can remove them from your list, it’s that simple 🙂
#4: Ask your author buddies for help
If you belong to a mastermind group or Facebook group, reach out to those that you’ve spoken with a few times and ask them to leave a review during your actual launch week. Let them know when they book is available for free or at $0.99 so that they can grab the book for you.
Offer to reciprocate on a book you find interesting or to share their book during it’s launch phase.
#5: Reach out to your own networks
During the few days before your launch, become really active on your social media accounts and share teasers from the book. Ask people to share your book and leave reviews if they find it helpful. Remind people how important reviews are to the success of a book and be as helpful as you can.
Bonus Tip: Once your book has launched, anyone that signs up to your email list from your book should get an email asking them to leave a review if they found your book helpful. Here’s an example from a book I co-authored earlier this year:
Hey it’s Lise and Mike again…
And we’re going to ask for a favor (again) today…
We’re so thankful for all the amazing, positive feedback that the FREE YOUR FEAR book has gotten. It’s very humbling.
So here’s the favor we’d like to ask of you…
This week we’re working really hard to get to 50+ reviews on Amazon, you know, to keep pushing the boundaries!
Can you help us do that?
If you like the book… and if you’d be willing to spare just two or three minutes…would you be willing to share your review of the book on Amazon (if you haven’t done so already)?
If you would, it would mean the absolute world to us!
Here’s the link on Amazon to do that:
Thank you SO much. This helps us get the book into as many hands as possible, helping others to Free Their Fears!
We really appreciate all your support, you guys rock.
Lise & Mike
P.S. And by the way, if you’ve already left a review of the book, thank you sooo much. You’re awesome and we can’t thank you enough!
Here’s the link one last time:
Now, it’s your turn. No more desperately asking friends and family for reviews. Build your street team and get things humming now!