Working with Early Readers, Part 3: ARC Reviewers


This is Part 3 of a series for indie authors.
To read the series intro, click here.
To read Part 1: ALPHA READERS, click here.
To read Part 2: BETA READERS, click here.

You’ve got a manuscript that’s been through alpha reading, beta reading, and all sorts of revision rounds…and you’re ready to publish!

But wouldn’t it be great to get some early Goodreads and Amazon reviews? All those beautiful gold stars prove that someone likes my writing!

Photo by from Pexels

Note: I’m exclusive to Amazon with most of my e-books, so this article will be primarily from that perspective.

Here’s what I’ve learned about getting early reviews:

Pre-Orders or Soft Launch?

I suggest either setting up your book for pre-order or doing a “soft launch” followed by a public launch.

  • If you put your book up for pre-order, you can generate some buzz and early sales. Then you can ask your reviewers to review the minute the book comes out. (Some people even launch the paperback a few days early, get it linked to the e-book by contacting KDP, and then ask people to review the paperback version before the e-book is out.)
  • Another option is to put your book live on Amazon, but don’t tell anyone except your early reviewers. This is called a “soft launch.” Give them a few days to review, and then do a big “public launch,” telling the world your book is for sale.

Where I’ve found ARC reviewers:

  • I have a Street Team on Facebook. (See below.) I invite my whole newsletter to join it, and I also invite Facebook friends and people who’ve Liked my page.
  • I reach out to my friends on Twitter and invite them to review. I then send them the link to the ARC by DM and keep in touch with them via email and DM.
  • I’m also a member of a group called YA Book Stop – YABS that connects YA authors and readers. I’ve gotten some great reviewers through there and through other Facebook groups, and some have even turned into alpha and/or beta readers! (There are similar groups for other genres.)
  • I ask my newsletter subscribers to join my ARC team too.

How my street team works:

  • My street team is a private group on Facebook.
    • I give them free digital copies of all my books before the public release.
    • I also offer them special deals on signed paperbacks.
    • I ask them to read and review and promote my work on social media.
  • When I have a book that’s ready, I distribute it through StoryOrigin.
    • I capture someone’s email address when they download, and I add them to a special group through my mailing list provider (MailerLite.)
    • Please note that YA Book Stop, the Facebook group I mentioned, doesn’t allow you to capture the reader’s email address to send them the book. I set up a separate ARC link for them that doesn’t require an email to download.
  • Throughout the ARC period, I post reminders to my ARC team on Facebook, asking them to promote the book and support me in various ways, such as:
    • Review wherever available (Goodreads and/or Amazon, etc),
    • Follow me on Goodreads and Amazon
    • Post about the book on social media.
  • I also send emails to my ARC list reminding them to review. My ARC list is made up of those people who actually downloaded the book, so I want to send them special emails. They might miss what I post in the Facebook group!
  • When the book launches, I do a big push in the Street Team group and via email, asking them to review and promote.
  • I’ve learned that I need to keep in touch with my street team, even when I’m not releasing a book! So I start fun, book-related conversations to keep them engaged, and I share successes with them (such as good ranks on Amazon.)

Update/Edit, September 2020: For my last two books, I’ve used Booksprout to run my ARC phase. I send reviewers there instead of to Bookfunnel. Booksprout communicates with reviewers. I continue to communicate with them through email too; that way, they’re getting review reminders from Booksprout and from me. I get better follow-through that way.

As with beta reading, having a successful street team/ARC team all comes down to communication! You’ve given someone a book for free. Don’t be afraid to remind them over and over to review it and promote it!

Want more step-by-step instructions and resources that will help you create a successful ARC reader team? My new book, Early Readers Catch the Worms, includes…

  • Access to a Resource Pack full of editable resources and templates to help you build early reader teams (including ARC invitations and ARC reader follow-up emails).
  • Suggestions for how to improve ARC reader follow-through.
  • A simple way to encourage your ARC readers to send you last-second typos.

Buy your copy of Early Readers Catch the Worms: How Alpha, Beta, & ARC Readers Can Help You Publish a Better Novel by clicking here!

That’s the end of this series on working with alpha readers, beta readers, and ARC reviewers. I hope it helps you create great books with plenty of fantastic reviews!

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