Marketing Tip: How to Get Reviews Before Publication

The following guest blog post comes from Ricardo Fayet of Reedsy, a creative hub connecting writers with a team of editors, designers, and other key support resources available to help turn a manuscript into a published book. The information arrived in my personal email inbox, the first of Ricardo’s weekly marketing newsletters. If you’d like to receive these newsletters, you can sign up here.

For authors, reviews are often seen as a chicken-and-egg problem: you need sales to get reviews, but you also need reviews to convince people to buy your book. So how do you get reviews before publication? The answer is pretty simple: you need a street team.

A street team is a group of dedicated readers — ultra fans of your writing — with whom you have a special agreement: you send them a free advanced copy of your book and, in exchange, they will commit to writing you a review at launch.

Often, street team members might also be your beta readers, meaning they offer feedback on your writing and help you catch the typos and errors your editors didn’t catch.

5 Simple Rules of Managing Your Street Team

Here are a few things to keep in mind when you build your street team:

  1. Your street team is separate from your main mailing list. So if you use MailChimp, for example, you’ll want to have at least two different lists.
  2. You should interact with your street team in-between launches (especially if you’re not a fast writer). Offer them sneak peeks at what you’re working on, tell them about your life, do cover reveals, run exclusive giveaways, etc.
  3. Don’t hesitate to send them a few emails around your launch. Always remind them to leave a review. Drop another email a week after launch to tell them how your book’s doing (and remind them to post a review if they haven’t already).
  4. Make sure your street team mention in their reviews that they received an ARC from the author. Otherwise, Amazon might delete the review.
  5. Use either BookFunnel or InstaFreebie to deliver the Advance Review Copies in the right formats. These tools will make your life a lot easier.

Now that you’re fluent in street team etiquette, let’s get to the question on everyone’s lips…

Where do I find people for my street team?

  • Have any of your friends read and enjoyed your books? Start there, then make other friends in your genre!
  • Reach out to other authors you like and ask if they’re looking for more beta readers. If you join their street team and regularly interact with them, chances are they’ll return the favor.
  • Writer conferences are also a great place to meet and make friends with fellow writers. Face-to-face interaction is all the more valuable in a digital world.
  • Use social media to find beta readers and street teamers. We have a Reedsy Facebook group dedicated to just that: just post a few lines about your book and ask if anyone would like to become a beta reader.

Growing your street team

Once you have a solid street team of, say, 40 or 50 dedicated readers, you can easily keep growing it by regularly inviting your main list subscribers to join it.

For example, if you have an automation workflow for new mailing list subscribers, you could set up an email after a week or two that only goes to the most engaged subscribers (readers who previously opened/clicked your emails) and tells them about your street team.

Make your expectations clear: if they join, they commit to reading your ARCs before launch and leave a review at launch. You basically want to build a bridge between your two mailing lists, but make sure only true fans cross over.

That’s it for this first installment of my weekly marketing newsletter! I hope you enjoyed it. You can also read this excellent post on our blog which goes even more in depth.

Ricardo gave his permission to share this guest blog post. Thanks, Ricardo.

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