Blogger: Janet Kobobel Grant
Seth Godin talks about building a tribe; Michael Hyatt talks about creating a launch team. Both concepts contain the same nugget of truth: If you want to drive sales, you need a crowd of influencers to spread the word. But do these concepts really work for book launches?
I interviewed two of my clients who created launch teams for recent releases: DiAnn Mills, who recently released a romantic suspense, The Survivor; and Tricia Goyer, with two new releases, The Promise Box (an Amish novel) and Lead Your Family Like Jesus (a nonfiction book coauthored with Ken Blanchard and Phil Hodges).
Both Tricia and DiAnn started out with a big plus: They have developed tribes through their social media venues.
Here are their responses to the questions I thought you’d want to know the answers to:
How did you form your launch team?
Tricia: I first heard about launch teams on Michael Hyatt’s blog. (Which you can read here.) I used Survey Monkey to ask four questions. I contacted bloggers I know to take the survey, tweeted about the survey and mentioned it on Facebook. I formed two teams: one for fiction and one for nonfiction. I have several books releasing this year so I asked each person to participate for a year. Anyone who wanted to be on the team needed to fill out the survey saying what they could do to help launch a book. 170 people applied; I picked 100.
Hyatt suggested making the team exclusive. But, looking back, I found probably 1/2 participated; ¼ are really involved. Now I’d take everyone on because I realize not everyone will stay interested.
DiAnn: I began with a letter circulated through my e-newsletter, Twitter, and Facebook. Ninety-eight people are on my team. They’re fans, book reviewers, bloggers, bookstore owners, and book club leaders. I’d hoped for a dozen. Although I was concerned with such a large group, it’s worked well. I’ve closed the group at this number but recognize that, as time goes on, some will choose to drop their participation.
How do you communicate with your group and what do you ask them to do?
DiAnn: We’re a Yahoo group. My team has arranged book club events, speaking engagements, attended book signings, written reviews, and promoted my books and me via social media.
Tricia: We have a private FB group for coordination. I post a schedule for each release with a to-do-list for them each day. There are days they post questions on their blogs about the book with my answers. On other days they post reviews. At first I asked for promo ideas but found people want to help, but generally they just want to be directed.
What incentives do you give people who join your team?
DiAnn: Each week I provide the team with an Adventures in the Word devotion. I began with Genesis and am working my way through the Bible. These devotions show the suspense in the Bible so I’m staying true to my brand. Team members can submit their devotions to me, and I’ll edit them and share them with the group. We have a prayer and praise coordinator who posts once a week, and this allows us to pray for each other. I also have contests just for them and announce upcoming events to them before anyone else. They, of course, get advance copies of my books to review.
Tricia:Each person gets a free copy of the book ahead of time. They really like that.If someone goes above and beyond what I’ve asked, that person gets a surprise gift–a gift certificate to shop at an online site or a Starbucks gift certificate.
I’ve also found that people like to interact with the author. Just responding to their comments on our Facebook page keeps them engaged.
Would you use a launch team again?
Tricia: Yes! Lots of people are getting the word out about your book for you. They were creative, like coming up with quotes from Lead Your Family Like Jesus for Pinterest and for tweeting. I probably would have overlooked those quotes, but the team’s fresh eyes saw them. One woman on the Lead Like Jesus team asked her blog readers to take a 14-day challenge to pray in specific ways for their children and then report back. It’s exciting for me to be part of the team too.
DiAnn: Absolutely! It’s all about relationships, and we’ve bonded into a wonderful, supportive group in which we celebrate birthdays and pray for each other.
Do book launch teams work? Click to tweet.
How do book launch teams work? Click to tweet.
If you could be on anyone’s launch team (the author could be living or dead), whose would you choose?
What have you done to help someone else launch his or her book?