For any self-published author, book reviews matter. Positive reviews encourage other shoppers to buy your book. Think about it… what’s one of the first things you look at when you’re shopping online? For most of us, it’s the customer reviews.
It’s not enough to write a book your readers love. If you want to reach your first 1000 readers, you also need to launch it effectively. And one of the most important parts of your book launch is getting reviews for your book.
But how do you encourage people to review your newly published book without being pushy? And without compromising your ethics (or your publishing platform’s terms and conditions)?
Unfortunately, doing nothing isn’t an option. Few people leave a review without being prompted. Especially if your book doesn’t have any other reviews yet.
Begging your family and friends to review your book isn’t a good idea either. Not only does this feel icky, it’s against the terms and conditions for most publishing platforms. So is paying for reviews. For example, Amazon does not allow the following types of reviews:
- A product manufacturer posts a review of their own product, posing as an unbiased shopper
- A shopper, unhappy with her purchase, posts multiple negative reviews for the same product
- A customer posts a review in exchange for $5
- A customer posts a review of a game, in exchange for bonus in-game credits
- A family member of the product creator posts a five-star customer review to help boost sales
- A shopper posts a review of the product, after being promised a refund in exchange
- A seller posts negative reviews on his competitor’s product
- An artist posts a positive review on a peer’s album in exchange for receiving a positive review from them
So, what should an author do? Well, the most effective way to get the ball rolling is to form a launch team.
Now don’t be put off by the term “launch team”. This is straight forward and needn’t take a lot of your time.
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What Is A Launch Team
A launch team is simply a group of people who agree to support your book at launch. You send them an advance copy of your book – this can be as simple as a downloadable PDF file – and then when your book launches you ask them to leave an honest review of your book.
(Side note – if you’ve already published your book then you can still use this process to “re-launch” your book. Form a launch team and re-launch your book by running a price promotion. Use the price promotion to encourage people to visit your Amazon page and buy your book at the discounted price. At the same time, follow the steps in this post to gather more book reviews from your launch team.)
IMPORTANT NOTE: Please don’t offer anything in return for the review (other than an advance copy of your book). Also don’t try and influence the review content in any way. You can read Amazon Community Guidelines here and pay attention to the guidelines around reviews.
Amazon’s terms exist for a reason. They protect readers and authors.
Readers want to know that they can purchase quality products on Amazon’s platform. And for authors, we want to publish our content in a respected and valued marketplace.
It serves nobody if you attempt to manipulate the system by planting fake reviews on Amazon or publishing low quality books.
Manage Your Launch Team
Your first step is to create an email list or closed Facebook Group for your team.
If you’re collecting email addresses, I recommend using an email service, such as MailChimp, AWeber or ConvertKit.
Technically, you can send emails from your personal email address (e.g. gmail or yahoo). But an email service provider gives you a layer of security. This is important, especially if you plan on having a larger team and/ or recruiting in online communities.
Email service providers make sure you are following the CAN-SPAM standards. These standards include providing a place where readers can opt-out of receiving future emails and requiring the sender’s physical address in the email (usually at the bottom and can be a PO Box).
Some authors create a closed Facebook Group. Effectively managing a group takes time but it creates much greater engagement with your launch team.
For my 8th book, The Essential Habits Of 6-Figure Bloggers, I created a group and had over 700 members join. This was by far my biggest book launch and it would have been difficult to connect with that many people via email.
Having the group created greater excitement for the upcoming book launch and allowed me to stay in more regular contact with my launch team members.
Having said that, for most of my launches I’ve used email and this is sufficient. It’s also the best option if you have limited time and are struggling to keep on top of other launch and promotional activities for your book.
Pick the method(s) that works best for you and your launch team.
Recruit Your Launch Team
I start recruiting my launch team between two and six weeks before book launch.
Two weeks is tight and doesn’t give you much time to get everything organized. Six weeks means you need to keep the energy high for longer. You don’t want people downloading your advance copy and then losing interest by the time the official launch date rolls around.
I find the optimal time is three to four weeks before launch.
Start a document and brainstorm people you can ask to join your launch team. Also include any online or local groups you participate in. These groups are a great place to post about your book launch and recruit team members.
Don’t forget to check out any groups or communities you connected with when researching your book.
Also, if you already have an email list or social media following then these people are ideal launch team members. They already love your work and will be excited about your new book and want to be part of your insider, support team.
Aim to recruit at least 20 launch team members. Not everyone follows through and leaves a review of your book.
This is normal; people get busy or they forget. You can expect approximately 50% of people to leave a review (if they already have a connection with you). This percentage drops to between 10 and 25% of people who don’t have an existing connection with you.
Then start recruiting launch team members. Post on social media, ask in Facebook groups, or contact your email list. Don’t be shy about telling people you’re about to publish a book and would love their support.
Keep In Touch With Your Launch Team
Aim to send approximately five emails to your launch team spread over a two- or three-week period. This is sufficient to keep people engaged without bombarding them.
You may elect to share more frequently and over a longer period of time. Especially if you have a closed Facebook group for your launch team.
Your approach depends on your team and the relationship you have with them.
You also want to decide what you plan to ask your launch team to do. For example: beta read your book, share it on social media, provide a testimonial, download your book, and write a review.
Be careful when deciding what you ask of people. The more you request, the less likely they are to take the most important action of all (leaving a review).
I like to keep things simple. In exchange for a free advance copy of my book, I ask my team to download and review it at launch.
Once you’ve decided on your message frequency and content go ahead and plan your messages. Launch time can get busy, so I recommend writing your emails in advance. Then, all you have to do is copy and paste when it’s time to send them out.
4 Steps to Get More Book Reviews On Amazon
That’s it. I’ve used this simple process for all my book launches (eight books to date). At the time of writing, I have over 520 Amazon reviews for my books.
Here’s a summary of the steps to easily and ethically get book reviews for your self-published book:
- Decide how to manage your launch team then set up a method to collect emails and/ or create a closed Facebook Group.
- Brainstorm people you can ask to join your launch team. Then start recruiting. You can post on social media, ask in Facebook groups, or contact your email list.
- Create a document and write out your launch team messages that you plan to send between now and launch. You can use my example above as a starting point.
- When your book launches on Amazon, send the messages requesting your launch team to review your book. And don’t forget to thank people afterwards!
A successful book launch is an important part of earning passive income from your books. So, please don’t overlook this vital step when publishing your next book.
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