How to Build a Launch Team (Or, Cat-Herding 101) by Victoria Kimble

One of the biggest obstacles an author faces is anonymity. There are so many books out there and the thought of trying to get yours noticed is daunting. I suppose if you’re a big-name author with the power of a big publishing house marketing budget behind you, then you don’t have to worry. But most of us must make a ruckus all on our own. And the best way to do that is by recruiting fans and friends to help make noise for you. Enter the launch team.

I was introduced to launch teams before I became a writer. I applied to be a part of the launch team for Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love which was released in August 2015. I was rejected. Apparently 5,000 people applied for a 500-person team. But really, all I missed out on was a free book. Jen Hatmaker felt bad that so many missed out and sent us all four chapters anyway. There was a large group of us who banded together and decided to sing the praises of the book in any way that we could. It was great fun to bond with other Hatmaker fans, and we did our best to promote the heck out of that book. Since then I’ve been a part of a few other launch teams that weren’t so exclusive. I’ve gotten to read advanced copies of new books, and in exchange I wrote reviews on various websites and did my best to promote the book to my audience on social media.

I’m sure there are many ways to create a launch team, but this is how I created mine for The Choir Girls series, which released in 2017.

First, I created a group on Facebook. Facebook groups are the best way to get everyone the information in one place. I have one or two people who are not on Facebook that are a part of my group, and it’s a bit of a challenge to keep them updated. It’s best to have a place where everyone will get all the information at the same time.

Second, I put the word out. I simply asked friends from my Facebook page and in several groups that I am a part of if they’d like to be on my launch team for my upcoming middle-grade series. I explained that they would receive a free digital advanced reader copy (ARC) of my book, and in exchange they would rate and review the book on Goodreads and Amazon, as well as share posts about my book on Facebook. Out of my 500 friends and the 1500 people in those groups, 120 said they were in. They all joined my Facebook group.

Third, I began to gather their information. I had people give me their email addresses so that I could send them the digital copy once it became available. This was all done in the Facebook group.

I also created Launch Team Missions, where I asked my team to like my author page, share my author page, and share some posts from my author page. Each time I have done that has resulted in many more views on my posts than I can usually get on my own.

And now, a word on “cat herding.” Sometimes even the people who are excited about your book and being a part of the group need reminding to accomplish their tasks. You will probably find yourself posting often about giving you their email address, or sharing your posts, or even posting their reviews. It’s just part of the deal when asking a large group of people to do something for you.

 

I have also used my Facebook group to give my team advanced info, such as the first look at my book cover and book trailer. They also get the information first whenever I have an update about the progress of my book. I like to think the team feels invested in the book and the process, and that makes them excited about it too.

There are articles out there that explain the importance of getting as many reviews as you can, and that is one of the primary goals of the launch team. The other primary goal is simply to create excitement and buzz about your book, by getting your friends to tell all their friends.

I’m sure there are many more ways to run a launch group. Some involve giveaways and meetups and prizes. What are your ideas for a launch team?

 

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