Whew. Yesterday, I launched my novel, Surviving Death. The launch went well, the book became a #1 New Release on Amazon, and it wouldn't have been so successful without my book launch team. They were awesome helping me spread the word about my book!
How do you build a book launch team? Today I'm going to share some strategies that I used with the launch of my novel and offer some ideas for what you can do with your book launch.
What is a book launch team?
Let's start with the basics: what the heck is a book launch team?
The answer is pretty simple. A book launch team is a group of people who agree to spread the word about your book on the day of your release, and ideally for a week after.
In other words, your book launch team helps you sell books.
5 Steps to Build a Book Launch Team
So how do you get the most of a book launch team? Here are five tips:
1. Ask Everyone
Some writers prefer smaller book launch teams of people they know. But I don't really recommend going that route. Ask everyone you know. Ask on social media, ask your author email list, and ask your friends and family. Get in touch with people personally.
I sent an email to my author list asking for people to join. I also posted on social a few times asking for help. (The asking for help bit is important. Don't make your post super long or give a summary of your book. Just say something like, “Can you help me out? I'm releasing a new book and would love your help spreading the word!”)
Why ask everyone? You're looking for the most word-of-mouth possible. I ended up with over two hundred people on my book launch team for Surviving Death. The more the merrier!
Do not ask people the night before your launch date. You need to start gathering your book launch team at least a month before your book release.
2. Be Clear About What You Want from Your Book
I set up a Facebook group as well as an email list for my book launch team. From there I could communicate exactly what I needed from them, give them freebies, and get them engaged with my book.
When I say be clear about what you want, I mean be very clear. Write step-by-step instructions and give them an outline of how the process will work. Remember most of these people have probably never participated in something like this before, so they're not going to know what to do!
I told my team for Surviving Death when to post, what to post, and when to review. Make it easy for them! I wrote all the post copy, but encouraged them to tweak it if they wanted. I also made different mockups and teasers videos of my book so they could post on Instagram and other outlets.
3. Give Your Book Launch Team an ARC
An ARC is an advanced reader copy. You'll want to give every single person in your launch group a free copy of your book. Yes, free.
Here's why: book reviews.
Reviews are crazy important and you want that social proof while you're launching so people are intrigued enough to buy. People don't buy things on the cover blurb alone! They want to know it's worth their time, and that's where reviews come in. If you're lucky, you also might have a couple people who write book reviews on their blogs as well, so you'll definitely want them to have time to get that up.
For your book launch team, you want to give them time read the book before launch day so they can write a review during your launch week.
I used BookFunnel, a book marketing tool that makes it easy to distribute books for free, to give my launch team their ARC. Here's what it looks like:
Not everyone does this, but I also asked my team to buy a discounted copy of my ebook. I set the preorder price lower just for them. I did not tell them to share anything about the book at that time. Then I increased the price right before launch day. This way, when your team goes to leave a review, it's considered a “verified” review by Amazon.
4. Keep Your Team Engaged
Since you recruited your team quite a bit in advance, keeping their enthusiasm up for your book can get hard. You have to entertain them in order to keep them thinking about your book and interested in helping you get the word out.
I mentioned earlier that I started a Facebook group for my Surviving Death team. Facebook groups are great ways to keep up engagement with your book. Emails work well for instructions but aren't so great when it comes to enthusiasm.
I focused on giveaways and a guessing game with my team. I ordered book swag (keychains, bookmarks, etc. with my book cover on them) and proof copies and ran giveaways for those items. The game I came up with was to have them guess who was the celebrity inspiration for my characters. I posted hints and they guessed in the comments. This way I got to talk about my characters (book hype), give them some insight into how the writing process works (people are always curious), and got interaction in the group.
5. Reward Your Launch Team
Being part of a book launch team is obviously a volunteer situation. Every person on your team is doing you a favor. Never forget that!
With this launch, my rewards to my team were focused on the swag and signed proof copies. Depending on what type of book you've written, you could do other things like an “ask me anything” session, an opportunity to take a class taught by you, exclusive bonus content, or giving them discounts on other items.
Get creative, but make sure your rewards match your book. I teach writing around here, but it wouldn't have made sense for me to offer an exclusive writing session with my launch team, since Surviving Death is a work of fiction, not a writing how-to.
One more thought on rewarding your launch team: it’s not about bribing them. It’s about having fun with your launch!
Remember to have fun
Launching a book is stressful. Way more stressful than what it seems it would be. While you're in the process, remember that this is your dream and have fun with it! Each launch is a learning experience and there is no “perfect” way to build and manage your book launch team.
Surviving Death is available now on Audible, Kindle, and in paperback! Get your copy of Surviving Death here.
Have you ever built a book launch team? Any other ideas not mentioned here? Let me know in the comments!
Pretend you’re on a quest to get a bestselling book. Set a timer for fifteen minutes and write about how that feels and what you would do.
Don't forget to share your writing in the comments. Let's share some book launch team ideas!
Sarah Gribble is the author of dozens of short stories that explore uncomfortable situations, basic fears, and the general awe and fascination of the unknown. She just released Surviving Death, her first novel, and is currently working on her next book.
Follow her on Instagram or join her email list for free scares.