January 18, 2019

Julie Glover

Last month, I posted a break down the basics of WordPress's new update, fueled by software labeled Gutenberg. This month, I'm exploring formatting options, and next month I'll give you a few hacks and plugins you might want to use.

Again the new format is laid out in blocks, which are simply boxes that can hold text, images, links, or combinations. The default box is a paragraph, but you can choose other options by clicking on the plus-sign toward the top left corner of your screen or the change block type option on the block menu itself. We covered text and images last time, but you have a lot of formatting options available and ways to customize them.

Text Color

For every formatting option below, the right-hand sidebar gives you the opportunity to change the text color or the color behind text. So just assume going forward that you have that feature. However, you cannot select just a little bit of text and color that. Rather, selecting a color will change the color of all text within a block.

Here's an example of what happens if I select blue Inline Text Colour (yes, WP uses British spelling) for a paragraph block.

If I choose the Inline Background Colour, this is the result.

For Writers in the Storm, we disliked being unable to select text within a sentence and change its color. Particularly since this is a primary feature of Laura Drake's fabulous first page critiques! So we installed a plugin that allows us to choose different colors within a block. The one we used is called Advanced Rich Text Tools for Gutenberg.

Now on to specific formatting choices.


If you select Heading for your block, you'll get larger text for subtitles. But within Heading, your choices range from H1 through H6. Some of those choices show up in the block menu, but once you click the block you can see more heading sizes in the right sidebar.

Block Menu Options
Sidebar Menu Options

Additionally, you can align the text left, right, or center. Here are the heading options, all left-justified:

Heading 1

Heading 2

Heading 3

Heading 4

Heading 5
Heading 6

Of course, what they look like on your website depends on the template and fonts you're using, but you can at least get a notion of the differences among the heading sizes.


You can use Quote to emphasize text.

This is a regular-sized quote.

This line at the bottom is for a citation.

But you can alter the quote default as well on that right sidebar after you've chosen the Quote option.

This is a large-sized quote.

And the bottom line again for a citation.


Of course, we still have lists, which we bloggers often enjoy using.

  • Once you change the block to List, you don't have many options on the right sidebar.
    • But you can indent...
  • Or outdent a list item.
  1. And you can make it a numbered list as well
  2. All these options being available in the block menu itself
  3. Which you can get to simply by clicking anywhere within the block


A Pullquote provides even more emphasis. You see this a lot in nonfiction books, where some point the author wants to stress gets "pulled out" from the regular text and featured on its own. Again, you have two choices in the right-hand sidebar.

Click on Styles, and you'll see Regular like this one.

With this citation line.

Or you can go for a more colorful look with a Main Color background of your choice.

Citation line still included.


Verse is another option.
Now when I chose Verse, the text in the editor
May look the same as a paragraph.
But if you keep typing, you'll see that it's not.
The wrap-text function doesn't work
Because Verse is intended for exactly that—
Writing in verse, or poetry.
Because of that, Verse does not advance to a new block
When you press the Return key.
It merely goes to the next line.
If you want a new block, you have to move the cursor down
And add a new block below the current one.


Let's say you want to add a picture with a text overlay within a blog post. This could be for a title or another way to create a pullout quote. You can choose Cover formatting, upload a photo, and change the text on top. Not only that, but you can filter the photo, provide a color overlay, change the text color.

So this is an original photo I uploaded with a text overlay.

But then I chose a bluish overlay and changed the text color for a different effect.

Cover doesn't give a ton of photo options, but it's a much quicker way to grab a picture, add text, and make a few changes than heading over to PicMonkey, Canva, or your PhotoShop software and fiddling around.


This feature simply allows you to easily create a table within a post. Once you click on Table, you'll be asked how many columns and rows you want:

The default is 2 X 2, but I chose 3 X 3.
Blog MistressMonthYear

But there are four rows, you say! Yes, because I added one. Once in a Table block, the block menu provides an Edit Table icon. Clicking that gives you options to add to and delete from your table.

In the right sidebar are the usual color options, but if you scroll down you'll see an option to have fixed width cells. If you don't choose that, the widths of columns will vary as you type in them, just as mine did above.


One last option I want to cover is embedding. If you click on the circled plus-sign at the top right corner, and scroll down to Embeds, you'll see a whole bunch of choices. You can now embed something directly from Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Spotify, Hulu, Scribd, Slideshare, and more.

Let's say I want to embed a tweet from WITS's Jenny Hansen. I select Embed, Twitter, and enter the tweet's URL and voila!

That was easy-peasy! But admittedly, I tried the same trick with Facebook several times over and couldn't get the embed to work. (I blame Facebook... for pretty much everything.)

Meanwhile, YouTube and TED Talks work just fine.

John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, and brother Hank
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic

I didn't try all of the embeds, but you can! There's even an option for Kickstarter, if you have a fundraiser you're wanting to promote through your website.

As you can see, some changes to WordPress require extra navigation, either to find things which are now in different places or because there are some glitches (text color, for instance). But there are also some really great additions here with all the formatting choices. We authors can choose and use what works for us!

What other questions do you have about the new WordPress format? Or how can we talk you off the ledge?

About Julie

Julie Glover would far prefer to write books and leave the technology questions to her computer-savvy sons. But necessity is the mother of frustration despair invention.

When not wrangling with software, Julie writes mysteries and young adult fiction. Her YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, finaled in the 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®. She is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.

You can visit her website here and also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

January 16, 2019
Social Media

The real title of this post is How To Put the Social in Social Media Without Losing Your Mind or All Your Free Time.

That's a heavy promise, right? Social media does like to suck up valuable family time, writing time, down time. If you think about it as a big vaccuum that gives nothing back, you WILL be resistant to this whole "online social thing."

This post is about how pick your online locations carefully and develop habits that help fit social media into the life you actually have. It's about how to make connections during the time you choose to spend online. And of course, I share what I do to keep my love alive. <lol>

We've had two posts in this throwdown already. One from Fae, who pretty much detests it. One from Julie, who has found the one place in social media that doesn't give her hives makes her happy.

Those two are introverts, whereas Laura and I are extroverts. All four of us have different stances on this topic. Even on the extrovert side, Laura is retired and I work more than full time.

Translation: I have two part-time day jobs that sometimes expand to three, plus writing, plus volunteering, plus an eight year-old. (Plus a very understanding husband.) Many things in life are more important than my writing and I've had to learn to be okay with that.

It was hard to let go of perfection and my yen to Fast Draft, but there are rewards from my overburdened schedule. A big one is my time-saving social media habits, which I will detail at the bottom of this post.

Important Note (like super-duper important): Taking the "social" out of social media defeats the entire purpose. You will resent all that wasted time. (At least I would.)

If you've hung out at WITS for a while, you've heard me wax rhapsodic about social media before. Below are several of my posts that will give you all the how-to and "what the heck is it" info you might want.

The above links are pretty big picture but there are also specifics to be had:

We've also had stellar tips for not getting overwhelmed on social media from veterans like Roni Loren who gave this sage advice: Only focus on the things that sizzle your bacon. Also, Colleen Story shared 7 Ways to Keep Social Media from Ruining your Mood.

And then there is little ol' former technology-trainer me. I have a confession that won't surprise you... I freaking love software and apps.

Love. Them.

I love the time-saving tools (although it's super hard to beat my own kitchen timer for time management). I love the way technology connects people. I love the way Excel's pivot tables summarize thousands of records into a table the size of your hand.

Technology is just cool.

However, time is in short supply and I've had to shoehorn social media into the schedule. Remember that promise from up top: How To Put the Social in Social Media Without Losing Your Mind or All Your Free Time ?

Here are my Top 5 "fit it in no matter what" social media tips:

1. The biggest trick I have is using the "in-between" time. In the long check-out line, or waiting in the doctor's office. Waiting in the car line to pick up my kid. While I eat lunch. Just before I go to bed. While my kid reads to me (with my phone hidden from her view so she isn't aware she only has half of my attention).

All those in-between moments add up. You'll at least get 30 minutes a day. You can do a lot with 30 minutes! Plus, you've turned those boring "waiting" moments into something that is a reward (at least for me). Boorah.

2. Planning is everything. Some of your time will just be spent scrolling, liking, commenting. But a smart author plans out the week or the month, so the important updates get out now mantter how busy you are.

You can do a ton of graphics in less than an hour each week if you use Canva. Laura Drake explains how to own Canva.

3. Decide who your audience is and focus your time in their neck of the online world.

I love what this article at Contently has to say - it's a few years old but it's still pretty accurate.

Let’s talk strategy. You have limited time, maybe limited content, and there is a very specific audience you want to reach. Here’s a quick, non-scientific breakdown of who uses which network:

  • Teenagers gravitate towards Snapchat, YouTube, Tumblr, and Instagram.
  • Soon-to-be-wives and soon-to-be-moms are all about Pinterest.
  • Young parents and grandparents alike can be found on Facebook.
  • Business types and leaders rule LinkedIn.
  • Influencers and bloggers love Twitter, WordPress and Tumblr.

Here's an infographic with my thoughts on the main social media apps out there. (Yes, I totally think Facebook is a huge time suck.)

Made in Canva...in about 8 minutes.

4. Set up Google alerts. You want the content you are passionate about to come to you so you don't have to spend time chasing it down. No one has time for that. Google Alerts email the info right to you.

To set up one (or ten) of these handy alerts:

  • Go to google.com/alerts in your browser.
  • Enter a search term for the topic you want to track. As you enter your terms, view a preview of the results below.
  • Choose "Show Options" to narrow the alert to a specific source, language, and/or region. Specify how often, how many, and how to receive alerts.
  • Select "Create Alert."

5. Don't be afraid to schedule. Especially during busy weeks, when I don't have time to both post AND monitor, scheduling tools let me "have it all." I go back and forth over whether I like HootSuite or Buffer better, but here is an article that compares them both. I also used Social Oomph for a while.

Overall, I'm super happy with social media. I don't use all the tools I'd like to use, and I always feel like I'm swimming up stream in terms of time, but notifications and alerts allow me to at least keep up with the people who are interacting directly with me. I count that as a win.

More than anything, your time online needs to be fun and productive. Find your tribe and enjoy them. If your time online is fun, you're less likely to resent it or view it as wasted.

Now it's your turn! Introvert or extrovert? Social media lover or hater? And what are the tricks that have allowed you to fit it into your busy schedule?

*  *  *  *  *  *

About Jenny Hansen

By day, Jenny provides training and social media marketing for an accounting firm. By night she writes humor, memoir, women’s fiction and short stories. After 18+ years as a corporate software trainer, she’s delighted to sit down while she works.

When she’s not at her personal blog, More Cowbell, Jenny can be found on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, or here at Writers In The Storm.

January 14, 2019

Penny Sansevieri

People ask me all the time when they should begin marketing book. So when is really the best time to start? Any book writing and marketing resource will say sooner rather than later. But how soon is too soon? Let’s examine this further.

First, not only is it important to understand where this advice comes from, it’s also important to understand the ways that publishing timelines have evolved throughout the years.

Most people who suggest marketing your book early are in traditional publishing because they have other factors that they need to deal with. For example, if you’re with, let’s say, Simon & Schuster, and you have a fall release for your book, they’ll probably need to pitch you to bookstores in March. You’ll have ARCs (advanced review copies) early in the year. Bookstores and other retailers like Walmart and Costco need to determine which books they will or won’t stock reasonably early since fall is one of the busiest seasons of the year.

What about magazines? It used to be that magazines closed issues six to eight months out and could only close an issue once all the advertising was sold for that issue. As times have changed, advertising sales aren’t what they used to be, and sometimes these issues don’t close until three months before their actual “on sale” dates. Sometimes, they’ll even close two months out. I’d suggest a timetable of three to four months as a reliable marker for pitching magazines for a review.

Of course, there are exceptions, like significant calendar events such as Breast Cancer Awareness Month. The magazines that cover this topic will need their content six months out in most cases. Care to take a guess which time of the year is most competitive for a magazine to get published in or receive coverage? That’s right, a magazine’s Christmas or holiday issue, and I’d definitely advise pitching these early.

If targeting magazines for the holiday shopping season are something you’re planning for, you’ll need to start marketing your book well in advance, because everyone wants to be involved in them. I’d put this in the six-month lead time window, too. Keep in mind any major anniversaries coming up such as the 20th anniversary of XYX or whatever, will see a massive surge of attention and these magazines will need the information very early on, also. (Are you ready for big media coverage? Find out how you fare!)

Magazine Editorial Calendars

If targeting magazines are in your book marketing plans (and they should be), you can get a jump start on what they’re looking for by getting their editorial calendars. Editorial calendars are a highly accessible and valuable resource for you. They’ll tell you the magazine focus for the entire year, as well as when issues are closing, which you can use to your advantage to punch up your pitching. I’ll list a few below, but a quick search of the name of the magazine and “editorial calendar” on Google will pull up pretty much anything you’ll need.

Another useful aspect of editorial calendars is that they’ll show you the magazine’s demographics, which helps determine if you’re hitting the right audience for your book.

Redbook is by far one of my favorites because it shows not only the “theme” of the issue but what the various departments are covering. Check out: http://www.redbookmediakit.com/r5/showkiosk.asp?listing_id=4925437&category_id=18968

O Magazine shows its demographics, which is crucial since everyone wants to get coverage in Oprah’s magazine. Make sure it’s the right target though before you pitch them: http://www.omediakit.com/r5/home.asp#rates

First for Women, another personal pitching favorite of mine has a separate segment for demographics and ads, which tells you when a magazine is closing. http://www.bauerpromotions.com/bauerpublishing/mediakits/FFW-2018dates.pdf

Let’s look at a different market than women’s interest as another example. Popular Mechanics works hard planning their issues and themes throughout the year. Have a look: http://www.popularmechanicsmediakit.com/hotdata/publishers/popularme2610043/popularmecha7335/pdfs/media-kit-2018.pdf

Newspapers, Dailies, and Freelancers

Let’s not forget about newspapers and freelancers who write for a variety of publications nationwide. You should prepare to pitch these folks one to two months out, with two months being ideal. They don’t have as much flexibility as a magazine might since some have a shorter lead time than others, but they do like to get materials in advance of the publication date so they can fit it in accordingly. Just remember that the bigger the newspaper or daily, the farther out you’ll want to target.

Here is a list of the top ten national newspapers. Keep in mind that some of these, like The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times, are considered national and will have long lead times, much like magazines do:

  1. The Wall Street Journal
  2. The New York Times
  3. Chicago Tribune
  4. New York Post
  5. Los Angeles Times
  6. Washington Post
  7. Newsday (New York)
  8. The Mercury News (Bay Area, California)
  9. East Bay Times (Bay Area, California)
  10. Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

National vs. Local Media

It’s also important to know the difference between pitching local media vs. national media. Local media is in (or around) your hometown, as opposed to, let’s say, the Chicago Tribune (which as I said before, needs a longer lead time).

With most local media, a 30-day lead time is pretty standard. You should include them in your pre-publication pitching and post-publication pitching since local press covers regional stories and loves their local authors.

Another aspect of local media that I love is the regional factor, as mentioned earlier, even if the outlet isn’t specifically in your town but still close by; there’s still a good chance you’ll get coverage. So, for example, if I have a great retirement topic, I might pitch local publications in high retirement areas.

National Broadcast Media and Radio

My advice would be to pitch these folks two to three months before your publication date, but you should be fine with just two. Once again, the exception is anniversaries or significant calendar dates or events.

Bloggers and Online Media

I’d put them on the one-month notification list, but start marketing your book to them two months before if you’re going for a very prominent blogger.

ARCs vs. Final Books: What’s Better for Marketing Your Book?

ARCs (also referred to as book galleys) are early copies of a book that usually aren’t fully edited and may or may not contain the finalized book covers. Most of the time, if I’m pitching a book for pre-publication and I don’t have a cover, it’s fine. I’ll go back and fill in the pitch with the finalized cover with a link to it from the author’s media room on their website. I don’t suggest sending the final cover as an attachment.

If you’re pitching very early for, let’s say a December/holiday issue, and your book is not finished, working on your cover is very important. Why? Although a cover should always be interesting and exciting, holiday issues are especially “pretty” and your book cover should connect with the holiday to which it’s geared.

You can—and should—also use electronic copies, which can be a convenient way to deliver a book quickly and easily. We use BookFunnel for this, but BookSprout is also a great place to consider, too.

Should You Pitch Magazines for Review if You’re an Indie Author?

Absolutely! The only catch is that your book must be marvelous and captivating. We’ve had indie authors in most major magazines, TV shows, and newspapers, but their books were a perfect fit for that market. Making your book the best it can be isn’t just for the benefit of your readers, but for the media also.

Libraries, Bookstores, and Distribution

Once again, pitch them early. Just remember that bookstore stocking in national stores is challenging and very competitive. Consider pitching indie stores in your area and check their websites to see how early you can pitch them. Most will go two months out and it’s the same for libraries and distributors.

Your Website

Make sure your website is online and accessible two months before publication (but ideally three). It doesn’t matter if you’re not marketing or pitching your book early—your website should still be active with enough time in advance for when your book is released.

Your Email List

Have an email list all ready to go? Tell people about your book two months out, including when they can purchase it and where. If you have any special offers, start to whet their appetite for those as well. Now is the time to research how to start building an email list if you don’t already have one.

Timing Is Everything

The timeline for book promotion marketing has changed somewhat over time. Some resources will swear you should plan a year out, but the reality is quite different. Planning is a crucial aspect your book marketing. If you can’t hit all of these targets, then go after the ones you can and vow to start earlier the next time.

The phrase, “Timing is everything” especially holds true for your book launch. Planning, preparation, and research are vital aspects to the success of your campaign. By starting early and knowing the right timelines, you’ll achieve much better results. L

Lots of great info here - are you going to try any this year?

About Penny

Author Marketing

Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and her company, visit www.amarketingexpert.com

January 11, 2019

Julie Glover

This month, we're doing a social media throwdown, where each of us give our take on how we address social media. You can read Fae's post here.

My Love/Hate Relationship

I have a love/hate relationship with all social media. As someone whose half-century mark flew by more than a year ago, I'm still astounded by a free system of information sharing in which I can post something about my life and seconds later a friend in Australia can like or share it. Through social media, I've built and/or maintained friendships across many miles.

However, social media also allows people to obsess about small stuff, rant their opinions, criticize people without having to face them—not to mention that the providers of such technological magic are hardly wizards the likes of Dumbledore. They are far more cold and conniving with the information we share, using it to control what we see and market to us accordingly. But I digress...

And then there's my personal quirk of being far more of a word person than a visual one. Any social media that relies heavily on images is not my cup of tea. So Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat? Sorry, but we will always be acquaintances more than close friends.

How Do I Use Social Media?

So where I have landed in the scheme of social media? Once I passed about a thousand followers on Twitter and followed as many, that platform became overwhelming. I really only use it to share articles, check in on current events, and track certain hashtags.

The rest of the time, I default to Facebook. Even then, Facebook has this annoying habit of not showing you what you elected to see, tailoring ads to you based on any internet activity you've done, and changing perfectly good features for no good reason while not correcting issues they should have fixed back in 2013.

Thankfully, Facebook added a feature I genuinely, truly love: Groups. While I certainly look through my feed, post to my regular profile, and comment on other's posts, the biggest benefit I've gotten lately is from being in groups that congregate around some shared goal, interest, or experience.

Unlike your regular feed, Facebook doesn't keep you from seeing group activity. If you opted into the group, you will get notified of new posts.

Groups also appeals to my introverted side, since groups can be anywhere from two to thousands, but you tend to see certain names again and again. So you can develop real relationships.

Let's just look at few of the groups I'm in to see how this feature can be used.

Local Writing Chapter

Many writing chapters maintain a group where they make announcements, provide inspiration and encouragement, and get to know one another better. Yes, email loops are also active places for writing groups, but Facebook has the added advantage of being able to easily post images, videos, and links with a preview. Also, if settings allow, members can share announcements to their wider audiences, like when you're having a special speaker come in or hosting a conference.

Book Cover Designer

When choosing a book cover designer, I joined a few designer's groups, which allowed me first peeks at their portfolio and any premade covers they were releasing. More importantly, I had the opportunity to watch how they interacted with their clients and potential buyers and learn about their process. When it came time to order my next cover, my Facebook group experience helped me know just who I wanted.

Software Support

I'm in two groups that provide software support, for Scrivener and for Dragon Naturally Speaking. Oh, the free information that comes from these groups! Just watching the questions and answers that come up provide many helpful tips from experts and users who know how to do things I don't yet. But if/when you're stumped, you can also ask a question and will usually get a much faster answer than if you went through official support channels.

Event-Based Group

Within a group, an administrator can set up a separate page for an event. So a writing chapter could have a page for a conference, an author could have one for a signing, and a business could have one for an event. Cruising Writers maintains event pages for each of its cruises; once you place a deposit, you're invited to the page for that particular trip, and it's been an invaluable benefit! Event pages provide a place to make announcements, field questions from members, and encourage bonding among attendees.

Close Circle

Remember how I said you could have a Facebook group with only two people? My critique partner and I set up a group where we share about a specific topic. You could easily set up a group for you and one other or a small critique or even a friend circle. It's helpful to have a place where you can share ideas, images, and links and revisit them. You can also pin posts to the top to easily find what's most important for the time being.

Et Cetera

I'm also in groups that address the topic of book marketing, that keep my Golden Heart finalist class in touch, and that provide writer camaraderie and inspiration. You can use groups for anything you want.

So a quick last list of benefits with Facebook Groups:

  • It's a contained space with parameters based on the group's goals.
  • A group can be anywhere from two to thousands.
  • You can easily share information, images, and links with previews.
  • If you opt to receive group notifications, Facebook will show you all of them.
  • The administrator(s) can moderate who gets in the group and what gets posted (as well as kick someone out if they misbehave).
  • A group can establish an event page for specific events and moderate that membership as well.
  • Group have a search option so you can go back and look for particular posts.

You'll still find me on regular Facebook and on Twitter at times. I try to say hello on Instagram now and then as well. But my favorite social media spot lately has simply been Facebook Groups.

Have you used Facebook groups? What other benefits or drawbacks have you experienced?

About Julie

Julie Glover often gets mistaken for an extrovert, but she is an introvert through and through—known for reading novels in her closet as a child. Julie writes mysteries and young adult fiction. Her YA contemporary novel, SHARING HUNTER, finaled in the 2015 RWA® Golden Heart®. She is represented by Louise Fury of The Bent Agency.

You can visit her website here and also follow her on Twitter and Facebook.

January 9, 2019

Angela Ackerman

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.