After seeing a writer’s group post about the street team that my friend Meagan Francis put together for her latest book launch, I asked her if she’d share her story in the Build Book Buzz newsletter. Several subscribers have asked me to post her article online so they could link to it, so here it is. Learn more about the most awesome Meagan Francis and her book Beyond Baby: Creating a life you love when your kids aren’t so little, on her website, where she offers courses and coaching programs for authors and online entrepreneurs.
How to create a street team for your book
By Meagan Francis
I first started tossing around the idea of self-publishing an e-book years ago, but was always worried about whether I could effectively market a book on my own. When I heard about the concept of a “launch team” via writer Jeff Goins, I knew it was the perfect way to mobilize my community to help me spread the word about the book, and I began plans to write and publish Beyond Baby: Creating a life you love when your kids aren’t so little.
Here’s how a launch team works: The author solicits a number of people from his/her online community to formally support a book launch. By getting a select group of readers excited and invested in the book project, the author has exponentially increased the reach he or she could accomplish solo.
Of course, the process can seem overwhelming to somebody who is just starting to think about self-publishing. Here are a few of the questions I had when I started this process, and what I learned along the way:
Who should be on my launch team?
This depends a lot on what kind of built-in audience or community you already have. If you have a blog or social network with a solid readership, you can solicit your audience and it will soon become apparent who your “superfans” are. In my case, since the book was a spinoff of a free 20-week e-course, I approached first the list of students who had gone through the course.
How should I approach potential launch team members?
Go where your network is strongest and most engaged. Since I had a solid mailing list of around 600 Beyond Baby students who were already familiar with the premise, I focused my efforts there. (Read the e-mail I sent to the list here.]
About 65 percent of the list opened the e-message, and I had 50 or so responses of “I’m in!” within 24 hours. I then posted the opportunity on my blog, and hit the launch team total limit of 100 people by that evening.
I made my application process inclusive and first-come, first-serve. Other authors are more exclusive with their launch teams, and may select members based on a variety of factors. It’s up to you and your goals. Oh, and that cap of 100? I just chose that because it felt like a solid number that wouldn’t be too hard to manage. Again, this part is highly individual.
What should I ask of my launch team members?
I decided that my number-one goal was to have a solid number of Amazon reviews, so my only “requirement” to be part of the group was an agreement that they would post an honest review when the book came out. Any additional support they could provide – social sharing, etc. – was welcomed, but optional.
Via a private Facebook group just for the team, I solicited feedback on topics like:
- Book cover design, color schemes, fonts
- Pricing and sales
- Affiliate program interest
- Whether or not they think readers are more likely to download a PDF from the site or buy via Kindle/Nook
The launch team loved giving feedback, and those threads were very active.
But I didn’t want the launch team experience to be all about my asking for help, so I made sure to provide value, too. In addition to a free copy of the book, I offered tips and regular peeks “behind the scenes” at the process of writing it via regular informal videos I created just for team members.
Results and the big picture
Beyond Baby launched a little over a month ago with 20 reviews on Amazon (mostly 5-star) by the end of launch day and reviews on other sites like GoodReads.com as well. There was a nice sales spike in the first couple of days, and since then sales have been slow but steady. The proceeds have earned back all of my out-of-pocket costs, and I am now working on new ways to mobilize the launch team to help me with a “reboot” mini-launch in the fall.
My investment in the team and process was mostly just my time and attention, and as a result I’ve built create a greater connection with my most loyal readers, rewarded my “super fans” – those readers who really value what I do and will continue to support it and spread the word – and have built more goodwill and loyalty in my community.
I have seen steady traffic growth since book launch day, and my e-mail list (which you have to sign up for to download the free Beyond Baby workbook) is steadily growing, too.
Should you do this, too?
Is a launch team for you? I don’t think it’s a magic prescription for an out-of-the-box bestseller, but if you are planning to publish an e-book, it can’t possibly hurt.
As with a traditionally-published book, for today’s author, a self-published book is about more than just the paycheck, but also the credibility and connection it allows you to create with readers. The Launch Team experience definitely enriched that connection and credibility…and has led to a lot more sales than I could have gotten on my own. With their help, I expect those sales to continue.
What do you think of this idea? Would you give it a try?
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