3 Steps to Building Your Book Launch Team

I had the most pleasant surprise this morning when I opened my email to find a copy of my upcoming novel’s book cover by Jessica Bell, publisher of Vine Leaves Press and a top-notch book designer, as well as author and singer/song-writer.

Due out Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press

Now I have the task of building a Book Launch Team. If you’re interested, email me at martha@engber.com.

Though I’ve had two previous books published, I’ve never done this particular task.

Free Book + Review = Happy Reader and Writer

A Book Launch Team consists of people who volunteer to read a free copy of your book ahead of the book’s publication and then help generate excitement by posting reviews and otherwise promoting the book on social media.

Communicate

Send out the word via all of your social media avenues and your newsletter subscribers that you’re looking for people interested in reading a free Advanced Reader Copy (ARC).

If you’re self-publishing, wait until you have the copyedited and formatted digital version. If you’re with a traditional publisher, talk to the staff about when the ARC will be created and disseminated.

Once you have the contact information for your volunteers, be sure to send them directions. Specifically:

  • Let them know the approximate date they’ll receive the ARC: Suggestions of when to distribute the copies range from from 2 – 6 weeks ahead of publication. I’ll send out copies as soon as the publisher makes them available, which will be at least 6 weeks in advance. That will give readers time to read the book and post a review on GoodReads, which can be done in advance of the pub date as soon as the cover and book information are loaded by the publisher.
  • When the correct ordering links are in place, ask your team members to pre-order the book, which stimulates future sales and a higher Amazon ranking. Since ARC readers are already getting a free copy, they may not feel incentivized to purchase the book. Consider suggesting they buy the book as a gift for a friend. Or let them know the Amazon Kindle prices are often so inexpensive as to be very inviting. I’ve purchased my fellow authors’ books for $2.99!
  • Suggest the review be 1 – 3 paragraphs: longer than a sentence and less than a treatise.
  • Provide a short, clear and detailed list of places to post the reviews (more on that below).
  • Give a few clear deadlines for placing the reviews.
  • Send them a personal thank you, and maybe a simple gift, in appreciation for their support. A truly personal touch would be to host a short Zoom meeting to thank everyone, or offer to talk with their book clubs if/when they read the book.

Some team members will request a print copy, at which point you’ll have to decide if you can accommodate them.

Where to Place Reviews

Be precise in telling your team members where you’d like them to post and the details, such as website URLs and instructions, about how to do so.

Make sure to put the most important venues at the top of the list. For example, I’m going to ask my team members to post on GoodReads, because that reaches a huge number of readers and the site allows people to post reviews well in advance of publication, typically as soon as the book cover and publishing information are uploaded (1-2 months before publication). Such an early review will encourage readers to click the to-read option that places the book on their “shelf” to buy and read once the story is published.

Be sure to tell your team members they need to have a GoodReads account. The process is simple, but be ready to help your team with the process.

The next place to post will be Amazon:

  • People can’t post unless they have an Amazon account AND they’ve spent at least $25 on Amazon in the last year. Sorry, but that’s the state of things! If people don’t want to open an account, provide them with other review options.
  • Let your member know they can’t post until the day of publication. The week before, send them a reminder of the pub date and ask them to have the review ready. Send another reminder on the pub date, because people are busy and will be likely to forget.
  • Warn your readers that when they post, the review won’t show up until 24-48 hours later. So don’t panic if you don’t see any reviews on the first day.

Once those main venues are covered, you can suggest a variety of other places team members can post if they have a little extra time. For example:

  • They can post a review on their blog.
  • They can send a simple message of “I loved this book!” on whatever social media platforms they use.
  • They can show a photo of themselves reading on their tablet.
  • They can suggest the book to their book clubs or others they know of.

Update

At every step, make people feel they’re truly part of your team by reiterating their importance and your thanks. If you don’t know some of the readers, take the time to find out where they live and why they love to read. If they’re fellow writers, be willing to return the favor when their books are publications. We humans work together so much better when we feel connected!

Keep everyone updated about the next step and send friendly (non-pushy!) reminders about upcoming deadlines.

And if a member of your team doesn’t care for the book and asks to be excused from writing a review, that’s fair! If I don’t like a book, I don’t assume the book is bad, but instead that I’m not the right reader and that others may enjoy the story more. Besides, it’s better to have a team member withdraw than to have them write a bad or mediocre review.

Lastly, there will be people who, despite your best attempts, simply take the free copy without offering a review. That happens. At least more person in the world has read, and hopefully enjoyed, your story.

Appreciate

In terms of thanks, send one the day of publication. Afterward you can send a simple gift, such as a hand-made card, or even a gift card for coffee/tea.

Again, if you’re interested in being part of the Winter Light Book Launch Team, email me: martha@engber.com.

Happy book launching!

6 Marketing Terms All Authors Should Know

To develop a plan for launching my upcoming literary book, Winter Light, which will be published Oct. 6 by Vine Leaves Press, I’m taking Tim Grahl’s online marketing class, Launching a Bestseller.

Tim Grahl of BookLaunch.com, author of Your First 1000 Copies

As part of the process, I’m identifying influencers — book reviewers, bloggers, podcasters, celebrity book clubs like the Ophrah Book Club, etc. — who can help sell my book to readers.

To evaluate how many people these influencers can reach, I found Feedspot, a media site where you can find the blogs, podcasts, new websites, YouTube channels and RSS feeds you need to target. Or if you’re a blogger, you can add your blog to the database.

The site lists a media source along with how many people the person or organization can reach. To fully appreciate the information, and be more effective in marketing efforts, here are 10 terms all authors should know:

  1. Social reach: The total number of people you can reach across all of your various social media networks.
  2. Social media engagements: The number measures the public shares, likes and comments for an online business’s social media effort.
  3. Domain authority: A score that predicts how well a website will rank on search engine result pages (SERP). The scores range from 1 to 100. The higher the number, the greater the ability to rank.
  4. Search engine optimization (SEO): The practice of increasing the quantity and quality of traffic to your website through organic search engine results.
  5. Organic search engine results: Any traffic you don’t have to pay for.
  6. Click-through rate (CTR): How often the people click on the call-to-action link in your post.

Let’s practice that last one: Please subscribe to my newsletter!

For those who want to read more, Hootsuite has a great article titled The most important social media metrics for marketers.

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I’ll provide you with updates about my newest book, Winter Light, forthcoming Oct. 6, 2020, by Vine Leaves Press. As a thank you, I’ll give you a FREE excerpt of my first novel, The Wind Thief!

I look forward to hearing from you!