Attaining Five-Star Quality

15.02.2017 |

Episode #6 of the course How to write best-selling, award-winning fiction by K.C. Finn


Today, I’ll attempt to recapture my experiences from the early days of getting those first crucial positive reviews in. These kinds of reviews really make or break a book in early sales stages, as the star rating plays a huge part in a customer’s quality judgment of your story.



The coveted five-star review. I still remember the very first one I got and the thrill it gave me to know that someone out there loved my book enough to rate it at its maximum. Now, my books have hundreds of five-star ratings between them, and I’m afraid I take for granted that very special thrill. I also take for granted the lower star reviews I get, but I remember how deeply a two-star review used to sting when I first started out. Here, I’ll help you get past the initial “bad review” fear and ensure that your book gets off to the best possible start when it hits the shelves.


In Practice

Networking is key in this early stage of book development. Ideally, you ought to have people reading your book before it’s released so that as soon as it goes live, you can add some early positive feedback to your book’s page on Amazon, iBooks, and any other sites you expect to sell copies on. Here are a few strategies I have used to ensure that I receive a small handful of reviews in the very first week to promote sales:

1. Family and friends. Time to call in those favors from your nearest and dearest! The most supportive among them will likely already be interested in and/or already reading your work, so sit them down and get them to write a short review expressing their honest views.

2. Reading groups. As an established author, I now have an advanced reading group online who usually finish reading my stuff several weeks before it’s released officially. This is a group who already loves my work and enjoys reading it for free in exchange for an honest review, so you can always guarantee something positive from them. If you don’t have a reading group already, try offering an early manuscript to your local book group or to a group of readers on Goodreads.

3. The ARC Giveaway. I briefly mentioned before about giving away early digital copies as “prizes” on social media to eager readers. If you choose your people wisely and look for dedicated readers who are likely to review, then handing out advance reader copies (or ARCs) is a great way to get a wealth of reviews.


Now It’s Your Turn

You might not have a full manuscript yet. You might only have a couple of chapters, or even just a couple of paragraphs of your new best-seller brewing on your computer. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t start getting feedback. Remember that author platform we started building back in lesson 2? It’s time to start using it! Send small extracts or teasers out onto the web, whether it’s in a Facebook post or in private messages to your family, friends, or fellow authors. Don’t be afraid of feedback, and listen hard to the response you get from your audience. If it’s not the news you expected, then analyze the feedback and see what that tells you about your target audience and marketing strategies for the future.

Next up, we return to making our writing three-dimensional, this time focusing deeply on realistic characters.

See you tomorrow!


Further reading

A super place to start with a free feature review is Readers’ Favorite. They gave me my first five-star back in 2013! Even if you don’t have a book to sell yet, you can check out what they do.


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