What is a Book Launch Team?
Let me guess. You’re reading this article because you heard about book launch teams from other authors you know. Or, maybe your publisher or literary agent encouraged you to create a launch team for your next book release. Or, maybe you participated on another author’s launch team in the past, but…
You’re still not sure how a book launch team works.
You’ve come to the right place for answers. I’ve helped numerous authors create launch teams, including two New York Times bestselling writers. I’ve seen good launch teams from the inside out, and I’ve experienced bad launch teams that were a complete dud.
If you’re a first-time author or unfamiliar with modern marketing tactics, you may be confused by the idea of launch team. First, let’s make sure we’re on the same page.
Simply put, a Book Launch Team is a group of people whom you recruit that agree to join your book marketing campaign by completing requested promotional activities. In return, the team members receive benefits for participating.
Here’s why a book launch team can make a difference for your next campaign. Imagine if you had…
- 50 – 100 customer reviews appear for your book on Amazon in the first week
- Hundreds, even thousands, of pre-orders lined up with major retailers
- A group of people devoted to spread word of mouth about your book
- Readers who feel just as excited about your new book as you do
These benefits are possible when you create a book launch team that works. However, there is a major difference between a basic launch team and an advanced launch team. In this article, I’m going to walk you through the basics.
Let’s move forward by understanding the first question that many authors ask: Why would anyone join a book launch team in the first place?
Why on Earth Would People Join a Book Launch Team?
FREE BOOKS! Everybody loves getting a free book, especially when a book is so new that the general public can’t get it yet. People like to be the first ones in the know and tell their friends, “I’m reading a new book by Author X that isn’t yet available.” Never underestimate the human ego’s desire to know something before everyone else.
How Do You Recruit People to Join Your Team?
How do you find those incredible individuals who are willing to join a team and help market your book?
The easiest way to recruit people for your launch team is to ask your current followers, such as those who join your email list or follow you on social media. NEVER buy a list of people or make a solicitation to people who are unfamiliar with you. You will only come across as desperate and unethical.
Instead, send a polite email or post a message on social media to your fans that says you’re building a launch team. Tell those who are interested to reply to your email message or go to a landing page on your author website where they can fill out their contact information.
Invite people to join of their own free will. Do not coerce or guilt people into joining. Most importantly, NEVER bribe people to join your launch team. Don’t offer gift cards, other books, trinkets, or anything else.
If you bribe people with goodies, you will attract a bunch of freeloaders who just want the goodies without doing any of the work. Only offer people a free copy of your book so that they can help market it. Nothing more, nothing else.
Trust me, I’ve met a lot of disappointed authors who realized after the fact that bribing people to join their team backfired in their face. They started with 100 people, but less than 20 did anything to actually help the author’s campaign. The other 80 moochers skated off with the goodies. Bribery always works against you.
What are the Minimum Requirements to Build a Launch Team?
There are three essentials to consider when deciding to build a launch team:
First, you need at least 1,000 followers (email subscribers or social media fans) to have any realistic shot of building a team that works. At 1,000 followers, you might be able to recruit a small team, maybe 20 – 50 participants.
Obviously, the more followers you have, the easier it is to build a large launch team with greater results. My clients who have big teams with over 100 members usually have over 100,000 email subscribers and Facebook fans.
If you don’t yet have 1,000 followers, then hold off on building a launch team. It will be too much work for too little results. Instead, invest your time and money into building your email list and buying targeted advertising on Amazon and Facebook.
Second, you must be prepared to spend around 5 hours per week to help set up and manage your team. The larger your team, the more time it can require. If you don’t have at least 5 hours to spend each week, then your communication will be too sparse to keep the team engaged. If you check out on the team, they will check out on you.
Third, you must be willing to provide exclusive access to your launch team. Besides giving everyone a free copy of your new book, people want to get to know you as an author. Thus, it is essential that you make regular time to host private Q&A sessions with your team. The chance to talk with you keeps their enthusiasm up. You can do so by setting up an exclusive webinar, teleconference, or Facebook Live video to chat with your team on a regular basis.
How Do You Manage a Book Launch Team?
Once you’ve recruited enough people to build a basic launch team (at least 25 – 50 committed individuals), how do you communicate with everyone effectively? There are two standard options: email and Facebook. Both options can work, but I highly recommend creating a private Facebook group to manage a launch team.
Email tends to be a one-way communication channel. You talk to your team, but it’s difficult for them to talk back to you. Worse, email prevents your team members from talking to each other and spurring on additional excitement and marketing activity.
In contrast, a private Facebook group is a two-way communication channel. You can talk to your team all at once. They can respond to your messages or initiate new comments. Even better, the team can see what other members are saying and doing, which enables a deeper sense of mission and the feeling of “we’re all in this together.” Plus, there’s no cost to create a private Facebook group. Watch this video if you don’t know how to do it.
But, what if people who want to join your launch team don’t know how to use social media or don’t want to join your Facebook group? Then, you don’t want them on your team, because they aren’t the kind of helpers who will drive the proper word of mouth that your book needs on social media to drive sales.
See what I just did there? I helped you identify the best people to have on your team. You’re seeking people who are rabid fans of your book and comfortable using social media.
What Marketing Activities Should Your Team Conduct?
Let’s assume you’ve built a launch team and set up a private Facebook group to manage the communication. What activities do you ask your team to complete? What actions will help generate more sales? Below is my recommended list:
1. Read your book and tell you their favorite quotes or excerpts
2. Write a review for your book on Amazon and Goodreads
3. Share promotions about your book on social media
4. Post selfie pictures holding up your book on social media
5. Pre-order a book and buy a copy for a friend
All of these activities are designed to help you generate more book sales. First, you want to know the most persuasive or compelling parts of your book. That’s why you ask your team to tell you their favorite quotes. Then, you want your team to write Amazon reviews so that other readers see a lot of activity around your book at the world’s largest retailer. Then, you empower your team to promote your book like crazy on social media. And, if the people on your team are true fans, they should pre-order your book or buy a copy for a friend, rather than just be a moocher who gets a free book.
What is the Timeline to Launch Your Team?
Once you’ve got a team in place and you know the marketing activities to complete. The last question relates to timing. When do you get started and when do you make the requests? Here’s a basic timeline that can work for most book launch teams:
- 6 – 8 weeks out: Start recruiting people to your launch team
- 30 days out: Send a digital copy of your book to the team to read
- 2 weeks out: Ask the team to identify their top quotes and place pre-orders
- Launch week: Ask the team to write a book review on Amazon and Goodreads
- Thereafter: Ask team to share details about your book on social media
If you construct a launch team the right way and lead them correctly, your team can last for several weeks, several months, and even several years.
For example, I helped an author create a launch team back into 2011, which helped her hit the New York Times bestseller list. Today, that team is still active and has helped the author hit the New York Times bestseller list 5 times in a row!
You get out what you put into your book launch team. If you take your team for granted or act half-heartedly, you will get minimal results and the people will quickly leave the group. But, if you pour yourself into the team, support them, and make them feel like they’re a part of something special, then your team could take your book to the next level – even to the national bestseller lists.
Now you know the basics to build a book launch team. When done correctly, a launch team can be an amazing part of the author experience. There’s nothing like watching dozens, if not hundreds, of people happily spread word of mouth on your behalf.
Before you release your next book, use these tips to build an effective launch team. Then, watch as your fans help create a wave of marketing that can skyrocket your book sales.
Make Your Next Book Launch a Winner
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