Writing is only one part of the story when it comes to having your book out in the world and available for people to enjoy.

There’s one thing I have learned over the past year thanks to people like Shawn Hansen and Diana Heuser: that an author is also a marketer and sometimes a publisher (always if they self-publish).

The joys of writing fade into the distance once you realise how much goes into getting a book into print – physical or digital.

One of the smartest moves an author can do is make sure that they have a number of reviews of their book pre-launch.

Now this can go horribly wrong. A noted author and columnist recently came under fire for lambasting pre-launch reviews which were arranged by Amazon as part of their Vine program. It seems a number of those reviewers rated her book poorly.

That’s the risk of the game. You can ask for reviews but you cannot control what the reviewer writes!

Still, it is widely considered that marketing for a book starts way before its launch. In traditional publishing this was taken care of and the author was mainly focused on post-launch promotion. In digital publishing the pre-launch work involves garnering a number of reviews so that when the public go to look at the book, there are already some feedback to help them make a buying decision. It seems people prefer to know that a book has been vetted by others – even if that’s a bad review – rather than being the first to buy.

According to Tim Grahl over at Outhink, 25  reviews is a good number to target. Based on that target he argues that you need to line up three times the number of reviews you need to allow for declines and delays. Most people could probably list 75 or more people they know – friends, family, colleagues, doctors, grocer – and I suspect a number of those would be chuffed to be asked to review your book.

Tim suggests you get a list together, get your book ready to send for those who offer to help and then mail them to ask for a review. The ones who agree to help you then shoot a copy of the book out without delay to give them time to read. A gentle reminder or two may be needed and you finish that up with a thank you note after your book has launched.

It’s not a difficult process and the model Tim outlines is easy enough to follow.

I’ve taken the liberty of turning into an infographic which you are welcome to download.


My next book will be produced before year-end so I will be getting this process underway soon.

How about you?