Getting those early reviews


A common frustration I hear from many of you is that it's tough to get the first ten reviews in order for your books to be eligible for consideration on The Fussy Librarian.

Well, when I saw that LL Collins' Reaching Rachel had thirty-four reviews only one week after publication, I asked her to write a guest column about how she did it:

The biggest thing that any author needs — independently published or otherwise — are reviews. We live and breathe for them. So why are they so hard to get? How can you motivate your readers to review for you?

By no means do I think I’m an expert, but I’ve learned a thing or two over the last several months that I would love to share with you.

First, my name is LL Collins and I’m a self-published author. I currently have two books out, and I appreciate all of my reviews (well, okay, not all of them, but most of them you can learn from!).

One thing I have found that has helped get more reviews is to have a strong team behind you.

I use a 'Beta Team’, a group of people that read my book before it is even edited. They are an honest, real group of people that will tell me straight up what works and what doesn’t.

I also have a ‘Street Team’, a group of people that by choice help get my name out to others. In return for them helping be my ‘marketing team,' they get exclusives that others don’t get.

One major thing is, they get an ARC (advanced reader copy) of my new books.

With my newly released book, Reaching Rachel, I had a team and gave it all to them to read prior to release. My team consists of readers, bloggers, and fellow authors. To receive this perk, they had to agree to post reviews immediately upon the book being published.

I do make sure to tell all of them that I want honest reviews. While it is hard to read negative reviews sometimes, you don’t want people that just tell you what you want to hear. You want real people.

Also, I give ARCs to bloggers that ask to review.

The first time, being a new author, I gave one to anyone that would give me a chance. This time, I sent ARCs to about thirty bloggers for honest reviews.

I then will have a blog tour, where on each given day, a blog or blogs will post their review on social media and the major retailers (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, etc).

Without the bloggers, many authors (myself included) would never make it in this very competitive market. They not only help with reviews, but with getting the word to their fans about your books.

To get readers to leave reviews, I simply ask. If they send me a message saying they loved the book, I encourage them to please leave a review. I tell them honestly how much it means to myself and fellow authors for them to leave reviews.

Often I will post on social media, asking for readers to post reviews if they have read the book/books, telling them that their review only needs to be twenty words. Really, it’s all about being interactive and being real.

There are many people that just don’t leave reviews, for whatever reason. They may feel intimidated by it, not see it as important, or forget.

While I’ve had pretty good success catching some of them, the percentage of reviews based on sales is still pretty low. While I’ve had thousands of people read my books, only hundreds have reviewed.

So to try to get more reviews, to put it simply, be interactive. Get a good core group behind you that can help get the word out about your books, and build some relationships with bloggers.

Beyond that, being a hands-on, interactive author will help your readers identify with you as a person, and therefore understand how meaningful it is for you to get the reviews.

This solidifies not only current but future sales, and helps lead you to a successful writing career.