Building a Review Team for Your Book

How to build a team of reviewers for the release of your novel by bestselling novelist Christine Nolfi.I was a year into indie publishing and preparing for my third release before I got serious about developing a First Review Team.

You needn’t wait so long. Finding first readers for an upcoming novel is as easy as sending a private Facebook or Goodreads message, or email to a passionate reader of your particular brand of fiction.

Sure, you should also contact book review blogs when preparing for your release day. However many bloggers are too busy to guarantee a review will post on a specific date unless you’re already a wildly successful novelist. Readers, on the other hand, will quickly publish a review if you’ve given them at least one week to read an advanced reader copy (ARC). If at all possible, give these kind readers two weeks.

The Mechanics How you deliver an ARC is totally up to you. In traditional publishing, ARCs (advance reviewer copies) were books sent to a select group of reviewers with the expectation a published review would be forthcoming.

Indie publishing has expanded the notion of what constitutes an ARC. Some authors go to the trouble and expense of mailing a paperback in advance of the release date. Others will quietly publish an eBook and “gift” copies to interested readers, wait a week for reviews to populate then announce that a book is live. Yet others send PDF files of a Word document before beginning work on the eBook or paperback versions.

Increasingly I choose the last option. Some of my advance readers have read all my books and gladly offer comments on plot or character that are added to the final manuscript. This never takes much time—a sentence here, a sentence there—and I’m always appreciative.

Facebook Fanatics The number of active and growing book clubs on the site seem to increase weekly. Find them through a Facebook or Google search, or ask other authors and readers which groups they enjoy. Many Facebook clubs encourage authors to join, and will allow you to post a description of your next release and a request for review from among the members. In fact, many clubs will also allow you to request reviewers for an older release. You’ll find one of my favorite groups here.

Goodreads Friends Because the site is built around readers, I’ve found it simpler to send a direct message to a potential reviewer. Many readers are thrilled by the opportunity to become a first reviewer of a book in a genre they love.

Specifics, Please Tell each reviewer your release date. Ask specifically if the reviewer will post on Amazon and Goodreads, Barnes & Noble, Kobo—the list is up to you. Bear in mind that most readers are quite busy and will post on two sites, tops. So choose wisely.

Be Courteous After the review is published send private mail thanking the reader. Do this even if the reader gave your book a less-than-stellar rating.

If you strike up a relationship with a reader, ask if she would consider reviewing a future work. If she’s interested, keep her name in a file for future contact. As your career builds, you’ll have on hand a growing list of readers happy to review.

Photo © Dreamstime

About Christine Nolfi

I owned a small public relations firm in Cleveland, Ohio, but closed it fifteen years ago after I traveled to the Philippines and adopted a sibling group of four children. I've been writing novels fulltime since 2004. If you enjoyed this post today, please follow me and subscribe to my blog.


  1. Wonderful advice, that is why ARCS are always at the top of many reviewers lists.

    • Christine Nolfi says:

      Sue, I was a full year into publishing before I began to understand the importance of ARCs. At the time, it seemed best to concentrate on building the backlist quickly. Now I try to balance work on both efforts.

      Many thanks for reading along!

  2. Great post. I’ve heeded your advice although I would recommend channeling all reviews to Amazon, since that’s where the bulk of book business takes place. Thanks for sharing.

    • Christine Nolfi says:

      Adam, no question that reviews posted on Amazon are important. However, reviews are also important on other publishing platforms as well.

      Many thanks for reading.

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