Building your launch team is a very exciting moment as you're starting to actively think about how you can use others around you to get the word out about your book. Did you know that you're more likely to make a sale through word of mouth than you are through ads or any other type of marketing method? That's because we're prone to trusting other opinions, and we naturally flock to books that are gaining hype - if only to see what all the fuss is about! In this article, I'm going to run you through exactly how to build your launch team.
Things to note: Tying your launch team with gaining ARC reviews is a wise strategy that many authors tend to use, so I highly recommend this!
What is a launch team?
A launch team is a group of individuals who have the purpose of getting your book seen and heard. Essentially, they actively talk about and share your book as much as possible and encourage others to buy.
Why is a launch team needed?
A launch team is needed if you want to spread the word about your book and get it seen by as many people as possible. I consider marketing to be even more important than having a good book. Why? Because you could write the most amazing book in the entire world, but if nobody is reading it, no one will ever know!
Let's get into some steps of what to do!
1. Start planning early
You want to give yourself, and your team, enough time to build hype around your book and book launch otherwise you'll be hindering your chances of reaching a wider audience. Note that you don't want to give them too long as once that hype around your book is built, you want to be able to act on it, and if they have to wait for anything over two months for your book, they're going to very quickly forget about it.
An ideal timeframe is to start building your launch team anywhere between one to two months before your book launch, or before you set your book live for preorders.
2. How will you collect their details?
When I created my launch team, I used Google Forms to collect information such as their first name, last name, email address and social media handle. This meant that I had a point of contact where I could reach out to them and would be used for email communication which is one of the ways you should communicate with your launch team. If you didn't want to use a Google Form, you could simply ask that they send you their email and then make a spreadsheet of this on your laptop.
Remember that, if you're collecting personal data, you are not allowed to store this information past its use. So, after you've launched your book make sure you delete this information from your spreadsheet unless otherwise specified.
3. Focus on building a community
One way that you're going to encourage individuals to join your launch team is by encouraging the community aspect of it. A good idea is to create a group, whether on Facebook, Discord, WhatsApp or another platform where you can encourage them to talk about your book. You can encourage members to introduce themselves to others in the group, and actively talk about how you can spread the word. This makes it feel like a collaboration and makes them want to do more for you.
4. What will you offer?
As a general courtesy, you should offer something in return for members joining your launch team. This not only provides an incentive for others to sign up, but it also gives you a chance to thank everyone who wants to join your launch team. A good incentive is to provide an ARC of your book, giving them early access to read and review your story before its release. You could also offer other perks such as a discount on your shop, a social media shoutout, a gift, or something else!
5. How many people should you get?
As you'll likely be giving a free ARC to members of your launch team, you don't want to aim to get a huge amount of people involved as this could mean you won't have anyone to sell your book to! A general rule of thumb is to gain between 20 - 30 people, maybe up to 40 if you can manage it, to help spread the word about your book.
6. Ask everyone but focus on gaining influencers
Now that you know when you're going to build your launch team, how you're going to communicate with them, what you're going to offer and how many people you should aim to get involved, you need to ask individuals to join your launch team. This can be general followers, friends, family, other authors but make sure you're putting extra attention on getting influencers involved. Reach out to book influencers who have a decent following and engagement, and ask if they want to be a part of your team. This will increase your chances of being seen by a larger audience, which could increase your sales.
Not only should you reach out via direct message, but you could also email book bloggers, post to your social media accounts, run social ads and do whatever else you can think of.
6. Reward your team members
Now that you've built your launch team, you want to give back to these individuals. Although you've already provided an ARC, it would be nice to gift everyone something else if you can. This doesn't have to be a physical item if you don't want it to. You could create a phone wallpaper of your book for them to download, or send a thank you e-card, or offer to read a chapter of their work. If you wanted to offer something physical, you could offer bookmarks, book sleeves, an item off their Amazon wishlist, or something that relates to your book.
Now that we've discussed the general steps here's a timeline that might help you structure your planning!
Six to eight weeks out: You should start building your launch team. Reaching out to individuals and collecting email addresses and sign ups.
Four weeks out: Build your group to focus on the community aspect. (Facebook group, WhatsApp, Discord)
Four weeks out: Send them an ARC copy of your book. This can be in eBook form, or you could even send physical ARCs. Start urging them to post and spread the word about your book.
Two weeks out: Start ramping up the posts and communication to your team. Make sure they know that your book is close.
Launch week: Ask your team to write their reviews on Amazon and Goodreads and share, share, share about your release!
Post launch: Stay in touch with your team! They may feel like they don't want to post in the group chat but definitely keep in touch with them via social media. After all, they should have massively helped spread the word about your book.
If you're using email communication, which I suggest you do, here is an email structure that you might find useful!
Email #1: Welcome email. Introduce yourself, thank them for being part of your team, provide a blurb to your book, link to preorder and gifting campaign details (if running this) and add a link for them to join your community group.
Email #2: Send your ARC incentive and make it clear that you expect them to post a review to Goodreads (or other) before your book launch date.
Email #3: Follow up. Let them know that your release date is coming. Talk about the book, what marketing you've planned and link to a Google Form where they can input ideas on how you can ramp up hype for your book launch.
Email #4: This should be sent the day before your launch. Build excitement and kindly let them know what you expect from them. All reviews should now be posted (or posted on this day) to Goodreads or others.
Email #5: It's your release day! Send an email to your team and provide links to your release day social posts, and online retailers where your book is sold. You could also create graphics or videos for your team to share.
Email #6: Provide any latest news, and remind those who didn't leave a review to do so. Post screenshots of posts from your launch team that you liked.
Email #7: This should be a final reminder to post your reviews, and let them know that you want to reward them with something (whatever you choose). Ask them to fill in a Google Form to include their address (if you're sending a physical item), provide a download link (if you're gifting a digital incentive) or discount to your shop!