Can we all agree that launching a book can be…a bit terrifying?
I’ve released six with co-author Becca Puglisi and we’re about to launch book seven. Those figurative butterflies? Yeah, they never go away. But guess what--this is actually a good thing! A touch of nerves keeps us alert, more apt to be prepared, and will cause us to think deeper about marketing methods that make a book launch easier.
On that note, one of the smartest marketing moves is to build a Street Team. This group of excited and highly motivated individuals have one important mission: to help you, the author, succeed.
Here’s a few things they might do:
- Help brainstorm a marketing launch plan for a book
- Mention any influential connections they have and offer to be the go-between
- Share links, graphics, and content tied to the book to interest potential readers
- Reach out to a library they use to bring in the book (and then reserve and read it)
- Offer up their own blog for a “takeover,” pointing their visitors to the author’s launch event
- Be an early ARC reader (to find any last-minute typos that may need fixing)
- Be an ARC reviewer, ensuring online reviews are building up quickly at release
- Blog a book review (that can then be shared by the author now and in the future)
- Offer to help organize and host marketing initiatives (like host a Twitter chat)
- Interview the author on a blog or have them as a guest on their podcast
- Vlog a book review (so the video can be shared)
- Purchase the book at a strategic time/date so it will most benefit the author
- Review the book at key online sites (Goodreads, Amazon, etc.)
- Offer a guest post spot to the author to blog on a topic that ties into the book
- Share the author’s site, interviews, blog content, etc. to help raise their profile
- Mention the book’s release to newsletter subscribers or even offer a giveaway
- Promote launch event festivities and encourage others to participate (entering giveaways, joining discussions that are topic-focused, etc.)
- Use a specific hashtag for the launch that will draw attention to the event
- Be a champion for the book, recommending it and adding it to relevant lists for discoverability
- Help with coordinating real-world launch activities (a launch party, book signings, etc.)
- And much more. What a Street Team can do is only limited by an author’s imagination!
Building a team is a great idea for so many reasons. The most obvious is that an author can only do so much and create only so large of an impression on their own. But, with an enthusiastic group, they can do much more and reach a greater circle of potential readers.
Each team member is also unique and collectively will have a range of connections, experiences, knowledge, and abilities. They may offer new marketing ideas to try and point the author toward influencers, tools, resources, and sites that may also help.
Finally, the Street Team is the author’s secret weapon when it comes to visibility and discoverability. In our promotion-saturated world, potential readers are bombarded with buy my book! messaging and will have little patience for more of it. Having others promote the book respectfully means doing less self-promotion.
Let’s Talk About Impostor’s Syndrome, Shall We?
The idea of gathering a street team can seem intimidating. In our brains we think, Gosh, who would want to help me? It’s a lot of work, people are already short on time, I’m not a big name author or anything...and on and on it goes. Freaking Impostor’s Syndrome!
FACT: there are people who care, who want to help us, and who are willing to be our book champions. Ask yourself these questions:
Are there writers you’ve become friendly with that you want to succeed?
Do you have family, friends, and online connections that you’d help if it meant they could follow their passions?
Have you loved a book so much that if an opportunity arose to help the author launch the next one, you’d jump at it?
I’m betting you answered yes to at least two of these which means you’re building authentic relationships with others. Relationships go both ways, so I bet if you ask, people will join your Street Team.
If you’re like me, asking is always the hard part. I love to help others but asking for it in turn? So hard. I have some wounds in this department but I refuse to let that stop me so I ask. You should too.
Build It and They Will Come (2 Steps)
Step 1: Well in advance of a book launch (2-3 months), put out a call for help. Becca and I do this on our blog. We explain we’re launching a book and could really use help. I give some information and provide a sign-up form. Here’s a link to my latest Will You Help? post so you can see how I set this up.
TIP: Click on the form to see what I ask people and how I request
permission to use their emails to communicate to comply with GDPR. (And
hey, if you like, feel free to sign up. I’d love that!)
ANGELA’S BIG TIP: In the form you’ll notice I ask an optional question about marketing ideas. Do this. It is a great way to find out who has unique talents or connections and to discover new marketing ideas.
WARNING: You’ll notice in the post link above that I don’t give information about the book we’re releasing. Don’t do this UNLESS you have a good reason for doing so AND you have a strong established base of readers. (In our case, the mystery element of the book release is important, but for most launches it won’t be. You will absolutely want people to know about the book you are releasing!) For reference, here’s another Will You Help Us? post for a different launch and we do share information.
Step 2: After you announce you’re creating a street team, share the link on your social channels, wherever you interact with people who love and support what you do. Becca and I share links on Twitter, Facebook, in our newsletter, etc. If you like, ask friends and family to help because the people closest to us are often the most excited to help. Share off and on leading up to your launch because even if people join later, they can still help.
TIP: Offer your street team members something for helping like a free book copy, a fun street team prize draw, or something else that they can use or will appreciate. Becca and I give away free education via a “Street Team only” writing webinar.
ANGELA’S BIG TIP: Join someone else’s street team before starting your own. Managing a team effectively is a post in its own and you can learn much by doing. Pay attention to how another author utilizes their team’s superpowers. It will give you ideas on how to work with your own team.
Interested in learning more about street teams and how to run a successful event?
Visit this resource page at Writers Helping Writers. Under the marketing section you’ll find an Insider webinar interview where Jennie Nash of Author Accelerator and I deconstruct a book launch for the Rural and Urban Setting Thesaurus she took part in. We also have a powerful SWIPE FILE that shares our Street Team email communication, marketing strategy for the launch, and examples of graphics and content I asked my team to share. It’s basically a window into street teams and successful book launches. I hope it helps!
Have you ever created a street team to launch a book, or participated in another’s team for their launch?
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. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.