By Angela Ackerman
The prospect of a book launch can be intimidating. In today’s post, guest post author, Angela Ackerman, shares many tips about how to work with a street team to make your book launch a success. You won’t want to miss this article.
There are many strategies and tools an author can use when launching a book, but one of the most powerful resources to leverage is a Street Team.
Directed by the author, the team works to use their contacts, personal resources, and social reach to ensure the book has the best chance of being noticed by potential readers. They may also support the author by providing:
- early reviews
- coordinating online and offline launch events
- offering blog support
- encouraging book discussion
- generally being a champion of the book and author
For a range of ideas, check out this list.
A Street Team sounds pretty amazing, right? It is! I’ve released six books to date and each time, my Street Team made the launch a fantastic success. Whether ten people join your team or two hundred, everything is much easier with help.
Many writers understand the power of a street team but may be hesitant to form one due to self-doubt. This is a road hazard of writing I think, as we take a lot of ego hits on the path to publication. It can be easy to believe the inner voice that says I don’t know enough people willing to help, I’m not popular enough, I don’t want to be a burden to the people I know, and so on.
These thoughts are ones we should push away. Each of us have people in our lives, online and off, who enjoy our writing, like us, and would jump at the chance to help if they knew how. Inviting these people to join our inner circle is a great way to give them the chance to support us and what we do! (For more hints on how to form a street team, visit this post.)
Once a team is in place, a new challenge emerges: how to best manage the group leading up to and during a launch campaign. I’m working with my team now for my seventh book launch and I’d like to share elements to help you make the most out of this incredible resource.
Know Your Audience
When we write a book and set out to market it, knowing our audience is key. This same mindset helps with a street team because if we investigate those signing up, we can better understand how they might be able to help us.
Do they have a podcast geared toward our readership? Do they blog reviews or post about a topic that ties into our novel? Maybe they have media connections, have pull with conference organizers that would be a fit for a teaching opportunity, or are well integrated with a school or library.
When I communicate with my team I ask if they have marketing ideas to share or know of a way they might be able to help. Great opportunities have come from this: invites to speak, offers to connect me with a high-profile blogger or podcaster, and even an offer to have Santa “unbox” the book live by video (one of my ST member’s partner was a professional Santa!).
When you build a street team, you are inviting readers and supporters behind the curtain to see and interact with the real you.
When communicating by group email, you’ll want to put extra effort into making people feel welcome, appreciated, and valued. These people joined because they care about you and what you write, so be yourself.
Show your personality, your sense of humor, or whatever else is uniquely you. Show emotion—your excitement, love of this book, and yes, even your nervousness. Everyone will understand and relate to these feelings. Your willingness to show them brings each person in close and shows them the real you.
Have A Plan
Your team will be looking for leadership, so have a plan for how the launch will go before you start communicating.
If you know you’ll be hosting a contest or running a giveaway at your blog, have a clear idea of what that will look like and how street team can help. If you plan on asking if you can take over their blog at launch to point to this giveaway event, have a way to organize those willing to help.
If you want everyone to rally around a series of Facebook live events, an in-person launch party or whatever else, be ready to explain how you envision it working and what you’ll need.
You can always leave room in your plan for innovation as your team may come up with ideas to make it better, but have the basics thought out in advance.
When it comes to giving the team what they need, make it simple and easy, meaning prep and organization on your part.
Provide ARCs early so they have plenty of time to read and review.
If you are staging a blog takeover, have a pre-written blog post ready to use. (I send it in plain text and HTML so people can cut and paste if they wish.)
If you are asking them to share images or links, make it easy. (Prewrite tweets with hashtags, for instance.) If there’s a timeline, provide that too.
Basically, people are giving you their time—time away from their own work, family, and writing—and so respecting that is key. Make it easy and fun to help and they will likely be first in line to sign up for the next launch!
Tying to the last point, we want to respect the inboxes of our street team by not flooding them with communication. This is where having a plan and being organized will really pay off.
One thing I do early in the process is send my team a form to fill out that will show me what they would like to help with. My campaigns have 3 or 4 prongs:
- Book Reviews
- Blog Support
- Social Media Support
- Newsletter Giveaways
Once people submit their preferences, I make sure they only see email paired with what they wish to help with. (To see how I do this, here’s the current form for my latest release.)
People who signed up are giving you two precious gifts: time and energy. Try to always show your appreciation, even when your own well of energy dips low. Saying thank you and offering a personalized response to a question shows you care.
You can also do something special for the team, like run a giveaway, gift an eBook, or do something else that fits their interests. For example, Becca and I give free education in the form of a street team only webinar. Showing appreciation in this way reinforces your belief that team members are special.
Need more help?
For more information on Street Teams, visit this special page at Writers Helping Writers.
In the Marketing Section, you’ll find a launch deconstruction webinar with Jennie Nash (a past member of my street team). There’s also a Street Team swipe file filled with email communications and marketing materials. I hope they help you!
Angela Ackerman is a writing coach, international speaker, and co-author of the bestselling book, The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide to Character Expression, as well as five others. Her books are available in six languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. Angela is also the co-founder of the popular site Writers Helping Writers, as well as One Stop for Writers, an innovative online library built to help writers elevate their storytelling.