By Sherry Roberts, The Roberts Group

Getting reviews for your books is tough. 

“Up to 600,000 self-published books could hit the market in 2015. That works out to one book for every 523 Americans, resulting in more competition in an already competitive field,” according to the Where Writers Win blog.

Review space in traditional media is shrinking. Once reputable review publications such as Kirkus are offering pay-for-review services. Obtaining a review in the The New York Times Book Review or Publishers Weekly is a long shot for most publishers. 

So what can you do?


There is a trend among authors and publishers to use their “street teams” to get reviews for books on sites such as Amazon or Goodreads. Here’s how it works. Prior to the book launch, you give away advanced copies to a group of your fans called your street team. These are relatives, friends, associates, and loyal followers of your work. They are folks who are likely to hit the “streets” of Amazon and Goodreads and talk up your book. You ask this hearty band of volunteers to read your book and post a short review on Amazon or Goodreads. And here’s a key component of the strategy: ask them to post their reviews on the day (or week) of publication. That builds buzz right away.

Popular self-help guru Tim Ferriss gave away a thousand advance copies of his book The 4-Hour Body leading up to its publication. He received about 200 positive reviews on Amazon within the first week of its release.  

One author I know sent out a call on her Facebook author page: the first 100 people who signed up for her street team received free eBooks of her new book. Another author lined up—via her street team—ten reviews a day for the first five days of her book launch, which was a huge success.

If you have been building a following with your blog or newsletter, begin thinking of those readers as the base for your street team. Network with them, stay in touch, and recruit them if they seem like good candidates for your team. offers a great guide for forming street teams and ways to use them to promote books. 

Although you can ask for reviews, there is no way to guarantee everyone who receives an advanced copy will review it or that the reviews will be positive. Still, in the competitive world of publishing, many publishers and authors are taking the old marketing position: any ink is good ink.  

What do you think? How do you get reviews for your books? Do you have a street team?


April 19 Meeting: PW's Claire Kirch



Claire has been senior correspondent for Publishers Weekly, covering the Midwest for several years. Her articles span a wide range of publishing topics as you can see at

Claire will talk about her experiences, the changes she’s seen in publishing, and the lessons authors and publishers have learned, which undoubtedly will include the timing of book reviews. Join us on Wednesday, April 19, a week later than our usual meeting night, at Midland Hills.

We'll also ask our attendees to talk about the mistakes they've made and what they wish they had known when they started in publishing so we can all learn from each other. This is the final meeting of the year since May is our Book Awards Gala (finalists will be announced in mid-April).
Who: Claire Kirch of Publisher's Weekly
What: Learning from Claire and from each other (What we wish we had known)
Where: Midland Hills Country Club, 2001 Fulham Ave, Roseville. [map]
When: April 19, 2017, 7 pm (but come early to network)
Why: We don't know what we don't know, but we can learn