How Did I Get So Many Reviews Of ‘Broken Pieces?’

I’m asked this question quite a bit. I released my third book, Broken Pieces, last December, and as of today I have 140 reviews on Amazon. ID-10076317

Did I wave my magical redhead wand? No. Did I pay for reviews? NEVER. So how did I do it?

Betareaders. Okay, and maybe a little bit of magical luck.

Let’s deconstruct.

1) What’s a betareader? A basic definition of a betareader is ‘a person who reads a written work, with what has been described  “a critical eye, with the aim of improving grammar, spelling, characterization, and general style of a story prior to its release to the general public.’ (Wikipedia, 2013)

2) Where do I find betareaders? There are several ways to go on this one.

  • Social Media: I simply tweeted and posted that I needed betareaders (and betareviewers) for my new work and was anyone interested? I told people I needed their email and to DM or PM me. I heard from about thirty people over the course of the month prior to release.
  • Groups: If you’re in any Goodreads groups, LinkedIn, or Facebook groups, you can draw on these folks to see if anyone would be interested.
  • Reviewers: It’s always a good idea to establish relationships with book bloggers and book reviewers far in advance of you needing anything from them. This is why I always stress that social media is about relationship-building. Asking reviewers for reviews ‘right away’ is akin to strolling into someone’s house with your hand out and expecting a hand-out. Not gonna happen.

3) Will a blog tour help? Yes! I’ve done quite a few tours with several different companies and while I like them all, I’ve had great luck with Orangeberry Book Tours. Let’s be clear: you pay an admin fee for the tour, for prizes, for graphics. The money you pay does NOT pay readers, bloggers, or reviewers to write you a favorable review! In fact, I’ve received more than a few 2-3 stars during blog tours and I’m okay with that because it legitimizes the tour process.

4) Newsletters. It’s always a good idea to start marketing a book long before you release it (I suggest at least six months at least). Connect with readers via a newsletter! Give them excerpts or a sneak peak, and ask for volunteer readers. When you DO send out your beta copies, remind them that it’s a a rough copy — typically in the final stages of editing, and ask politely for their review on Amazon and Goodreads once the book goes live.

5) Legality: I’m NOT an attorney, but I do understand that letting go of our baby to betareaders can feel risky for some…what if someone uploads the work without my permission or claims it as their own? I can tell you that’s it’s extremely unlikely, given that the book isn’t formatted yet and your name is on it. One author friend requires betareaders sign a confidentiality agreement, and that may be an option if you’re uncomfortable. Do whatever feels best for you, or consult an attorney.

A final note: my book has been in the top 10 on several Amazon lists since release (Poetry, Women’s Studies, Gender Studies), has received multiple reviews from some top sources (all unpaid by me), and has been nominated or won some awards.

Reviews are but one part of an author’s platform. It’s not only reviews that got me more sales, and then more reviews. It’s a combination of social media relationships I built over time, blogging, advertising, blog tours, newsletters, and a million other little things that mean absolutely nothing if you haven’t written the best book you possibly can — and then pushed yourself to write an even better one.


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  1. Terry Tyler on August 19, 2013 at 6:27 am

    I often get asked where I’ve got all my reviews from, too, or where I get all my blog followers from, as if there’s something secret I can give out, or as if there’s some magic place you can put your books on to just get them…!!! Answers are just this – by working hard at writing books and blog posts that people want to read, and equally as hard at the promotion of them – and doing a lot of the things you’ve just suggested. Excellent post, as always 🙂

    • Rachel Thompson on August 19, 2013 at 8:45 am

      I was asked this today on Twitter — I give out lots of practical info that has worked for me (as do you, Terry) and still, people just don’t read! LOL. They want the magic bullet, which does not exist.

      thanks for your wonderful content. I’d love a guest blog from you some time on what has worked so well for you!


  2. Julie Valerie @JBValerie on August 19, 2013 at 8:39 am

    Loved this article. Shared it on Google+ and Facebook. Thanks for the great content. Cheers!

    • Rachel Thompson on August 19, 2013 at 8:46 am

      aw, thanks so much, Julie! I’m happy to share info that has worked for me.

  3. Ben Lane Hodson on August 22, 2013 at 12:50 pm

    You mentioned you try to get beta readers about a month before you release. Is that enough time to make changes if you receive feedback from them you’d like to incorporate into your about-to-be-published work?

    • Rachel Thompson on August 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm

      Oh yea, for sure. Typically, getting betas out and back are kinda wedged between final edits and formatting — it’s a crazy process but so worth it. If you’re self-published and don’t have to rush (which it always seems to be rushed — some kind of promo, or Christmas sales –for me, anyway), then take your time. For BROKEN PIECES, I sent it out, made the changes, sent back to my editor for final review and on to my formatter all within a week.

      Totally doable.

      • Ben Lane Hodson on August 24, 2013 at 10:40 pm

        Cool. I’m going to take my time. You only get one shot at doing it right because once it’s out there, it’s there to stay. No deadlines (except for self imposed) so I’ll take your advice and be deliberate. Thanks!

  4. Fida on August 26, 2013 at 4:21 am

    Thank you for the breakdown!

    • Rachel Thompson on August 26, 2013 at 11:26 am

      you are quite welcome! It’s what has worked well for me. I’m happy to share.

  5. Bobbie Ann Cole on September 21, 2013 at 1:35 am

    Your cover also is irresistible and most appropriate for a Kindle thumbnail.

    • Rachel Thompson on September 22, 2013 at 2:01 pm

      thanks very much! Natasha Brown is my cover artist. She’s very talented.

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