Even though this blog will continue posting as normal about the usual topics during this time, I just want you to know that no matter who you are, even if I don’t know you, you matter to me. Stay safe, keep going, and take care of yourself.
And please consider being part of the solution.
Picture this; your book cover gleaming under the bookstore’s lights, copies flying off the shelf, and you soaking in the success of being a published author. All of this is possible if you surround yourself with a stellar launch team.
As you’re going through the process of editing, designing, and formatting your novel, you’re going to want to turn your attention toward building a launch team for your book.
In today’s post, I am going to take you through the process of building your team and managing it successfully.
What Are Launch Teams?
A launch team is a group of people that help you market your book and make it a success.
These people believe in you and your book and are willing to give you their time, ideas, skills, and networks to make your book a success. Launch teams are there to reduce stress, multiply your reach, expand the skills at your disposal, and take some of that responsibility off of your shoulders.
Why Do You Need One?
Before we talk about who to include on your team and where to find them, let’s talk about why launch teams are good to have.
And I’m going to hand things over to Self-Publishing School for the explanation:
Launch team members will help you to get reviews during the launch and help you to share the book launch as well as get downloads for your book.
If you have a weak launch, you have weak book sales, and you’ll be forever struggling to drive traffic towards your book.Self-Publishing School
In essence, the more buzz that you generate around your book, the better it will do. There are numerous ways to do this, and Chandler Bolt and Self-Publishing School primarily focus on Amazon in their launch strategies.
I will give you some extra tips on how to do this outside of just generating buzz on Amazon. That’s going to be a different post for a different day, though. We’re just focusing on launch teams today.
With that said, let’s move on to the faces behind the launch team.
How to Build a Book Launch Team
When it comes to marketing, people typically fall into one of two camps:
1. People who love it, work at it and make it look easy.Chandler Bolt in Published
2. People who hate it, avoid it and feel like they’re selling their souls.
Marketing is a day-to-day reality for us writers. We have to “sell ourselves” and our books to potential readers far and wide.
It doesn’t have to be a slimy or expensive endeavor in our parts. It can be a lot of fun actually, especially if you believe in the product you’re selling.
Most of us aren’t writing a book because we think it won’t sell. We believe we do have a story or message that needs to reach as many people as possible. You want that brainchild of yours to succeed.
And this is where the power of a book launch team comes into play.
The Who and Where to Find Them
It is much easier to find people to join your launch team than you think. These people could be friends, family members, fans of your previous work, readers of your blog, someone you met at university, or a coworker.
And that names a few of the options available to you.
Here’s what you should consider when comprising your launch team:
- Make a list of 20 to 30 people you can contact directly. These can be business contacts, online relationships, or subscribers to your email list. These people are committed to making your launch a success.
- Ask your social media following. There is someone who wants to help you out that may not have a “personal” relationship with you.
Depending on what type of launch you want, you may limit yours to 20 to 30 people. It creates a more intimate launch team, which can be more comfortable for you if you’re just starting out.
And don’t forget to recruit your people about four to six weeks in advance! If you are any sooner than that, they might forget, and no one likes it when you leave things to the last minute.
Does Size Matter?
Some of you who read this may not have a large following that they can tap into, and that’s okay. You can still have a great launch without having a huge group of people.
It just means that you’re probably going to have to work harder or leverage other people’s networks. Another option you can look into is “buying” readers – also known as paid traffic.
I bring this up because most book launch teams should be made up of at least 100 members to be effective, according to Wildfire Marketing. I can see the point of wanting to have at least 100 people sign up for your campaign, but the odds of all 100 people being completely engaged is low.
So having a following of over 1,000 people can be beneficial because you have more people that may join your launch team and be actively involved.
As I said, though, I don’t think the number is going to make or break your launch as long as the people you do have are willing to make your book a success.
Incentives to Join
You can offer your potential book launch supporters an incentive to join your team. But you want to draw the line at bribing, guilt-tripping, and coercing them to join. As Wildfire Marketing puts it:
If you bribe people with goodies, you will attract a bunch of freeloaders who just want the goodies without doing any of the work.Wildfire Marketing
The best incentive to get people to join is a free copy of your book.
Because people love being in the know about something that other people aren’t privy too, plus it gives your team a chance to get familiar with your book, which leads to better reviews down the line.
The Screening Process
Once you’ve figured out how big of a team you want, you’ll need to screen them, especially if you’re using your social media pages to find new members.
You want to find people that are willing to commit for the duration of the book launch lead up. What better way to get them to commit than by having them fill out an application form?
Here are some sample questions that you can use:
- Why are you interested in supporting the launch of [book title]? What about [book title] most speaks to you?
- Do you have any specialized skills that you’d like to contribute?
- What is your time commitment to this?
- Please name some influential people you can reach out to that might be interested in [book title]. Could you please provide some background information on them and why you think they’d be interested in [book title]?
Don’t forget to let them know what they need to do to get that advanced copy of your book. That way, your applicants will know what’s expected of them if they’re accepted. Plus, it will dissuade anyone just looking for free stuff.
How to Manage Your Launch Team and Lead Them to Success
You’ve got your people, now what do you do with them?
First, you’re going to want to welcome them to the group. Send them an email or a Facebook post that congratulates them for being accepted, outlines team member behavior, and has expectations for the book launch.
After that post, we get into the nitty-gritty of managing that team, and there are many different ways to go about it. However, it all comes down to setting clear expectations and communicating clearly.
Let’s start with communication.
Communicating with Your Team
Our jobs and relationships all require effective communication to succeed. And the same goes for your launch team. You need to talk to them frequently to keep them engaged.
You’re going to want to set your communication standards early on. First, you should set up either a private Facebook group or an email group that specifically targets your launch team. You can also use both.
Pro-tip: Automated email services like Mailchimp, Mailerlite, or Convert Kit allow you to set up automated emails easily. You may as well save yourself some time by getting the emails done in advance and sending them out every few days.
Here’s what Self-Publishing School suggests that you send to your team:
- Email #1: Welcome Email: Includes Intro to the team and the PDF of the book.
- Email #2: How is the book reading? A general overview of the launch plan.
- Email #3: 5 Days Before Launch. Include a video or graphic of how to leave a review on Amazon
- Email #4: The day before launch—Are you ready?
- Email #5: LAUNCH DAY! It is time to take action.
- Email #6: Review reminder, an update on book status, and current ranking.
- Email #7: Final reminder. Leave a review and free paperback giveaway reminder.
- Email #8: Final email. Thank you for joining the launch team.
In essence, you want to post every two days. It doesn’t have to be a serious email, like the ones above are, but you should reach out frequently to keep people engaged.
And if you’ve got a private Facebook account, post as much and as often as you can.
What Should You Send to Your Launch Team?
You should send them tasks to complete, like read your story or leave a review of the book on Amazon. You’re also the coach, so you need to keep everyone in high spirits and engaged.
You can do this by sending your group the following:
- Inspirational quotes
- goofy photos
- short videos
- contests (e.g., rap contest with your book as the subject)
- progress reports
- shout outs to those who are going above and beyond
- success stories
Your imagination is the limit on this one. Just make sure that you treat everyone like the human beings that they are, not underlings that are only there to serve your promotional bidding.
And make sure you show gratitude for everything that they’re doing. Gratitude goes a long way!
Setting Clear Expectations and Tasks
Your welcome post goes a long way to setting the overall expectations of your launch, but you also need to give people stuff to do.
Part of the job of being a launch team captain is giving your team members things to do leading up to and during launch week. Here are some things you should ask your team to do:
- Read the advance copy of the book and provide feedback.
- Reach out to relevant bloggers and influencers.
- Promote the book on their social media.
- Download the book on launch day.
- Write book reviews on launch day.
And for those individuals that want to go above and beyond? You can give them specialized tasks, such as checking for formatting errors, making graphics or promotional videos, and spreading the message through their networks.
Above all, you want to tell your team members how to do these tasks clearly, so there are no mistakes or miscommunications on what needs to be done. You should spend at least five hours communicating with your team every week leading up to launch day.
The Book Launch Timeline
Here’s a basic timeline that can work for most book launch teams:
- Six to eight weeks out: Start recruiting people to your launch team
- 30 days out: Send a digital copy of your book to the team to read
- Two weeks out: Ask the team to identify their top quotes and place pre-orders
- Launch week: Ask the team to write a book review on Amazon and Goodreads
- Thereafter: Ask the team to share details about your book on social media
Your timeline can change depending on what type of promotional activities you’d like to incorporate into your launch. It can include guest appearances on blogs or podcasts, video promotions on social media, photos of people holding the paperback, and so on.
Saying Thank You!
You must say thank to every member of your launch team. They have just taken time out of their lives over the last four to six weeks to help make your dream a reality.
And all the work that they did for you should be rewarded in some way. It can be personalized thank you notes to each person, thanking them for their contributions. Or it can be group t-shirts that commemorate the occasion. It can also be a shout out in the acknowledgments section.
Your imagination or budget is the limit on this one!
Oh! Don’t forget to follow through on any promised incentives, either.
Keep the Momentum Going
Let’s go back to the beginning of the post.
You’re sitting in that bookstore, watching the lights play off the cover of your book. People are excitedly talking about your book, leading you to sell more throughout the day. You have the success you’ve always dreamed of, and another book burning to be written.
And you know that you can get through this process again because you’ve already done it.
So don’t let the excitement fizzle for this launch team after this book hits the stand. Ask your group if anyone is willing to be a part of your next launch team.
You could take the relationships you’ve made with your team to the next level. Consider setting up a private Facebook group for people who want to stay in touch and support your work in future launches.
You get out what you put into your book launch team. If you take your team for granted or act halfheartedly, you won’t get the results you want. Like all things, if you give yourself to the team, support them, and make them feel like they’re a part of something special, your team could take your book to the bestseller list.
While most people hate marketing in any form, this could quickly become your new favorite way of doing things. Think of the networking you can do, along with the friends you’ll accumulate.
And think of that satisfaction you’ll feel as you watch your book fly off the shelf and see dozens, if not hundreds, of people happily help you reach your goals.
Before you release your book, use these tips to build an effective launch team. Then, watch as your launch team creates a wave of marketing that can skyrocket your book sales.
What have you learned from your launch teams? Is there anything you’ve done or not done that you’ve regretted? For the newbies, are there any words of wisdom you’d like to impart? Please let me know in the comments below!
Stay safe, everyone!
Until next time!