Over the past several years, I have found myself advising my customers to set up a book promo team. Invariably they ask me … “what does a book promo team mean?” and “how do I do it?”
After repeating myself a hundred times, I finally (DUH) decided to write a post and simply give everyone the link.
What is a Book Promo Team?
A Promo Team is a small number of friends or fans who are willing to help you promote your book. This could be on your book’s launch day (week or month) or it could be when you are running a FREE or 99cent promotion.
What does your Book Promo Team DO?
Basically your team expands your reach by telling their friends and followers about your book on their social media networks.
For example, YOU might have a small following on your Twitter and Facebook accounts. Your TEAM may have small, large or even massive numbers of followers on their networks. They could have networks that you don’t have such as Pinterest, Instagram or YouTube in addition to their own blog and newsletter.
The bottom line is … your Promo Team exponentially expands the number of potential buyers you have access to.
How Big Should Your Team Be?
As BIG as you can handle.
My advice is to start small until you have figured it all out, and until you find out how much time and effort it takes to communicate with everyone. You need to set up communication channels, provide them with information, copy/paste blurbs and images to use, AND answer all their questions.
The first time you do this (depending on YOUR internet capabilities and knowledge), you might find yourself flailing around a bit. Best to flail with a small number of friends instead of dozens of fans who end up getting frustrated and quickly drop out.
So … my suggestion is to start with three to five friends. Let them know this is the first time you have done this. Ask them for feedback, for advice and help. For example if you’re not familiar with Facebook groups … ask someone who knows how to set one up for advice.
When Is The BEST Time To Set Your Book Promo Team Up?
You can actually set a team up at anytime. Yes, even if your book was released a year ago.
The BEST time is several weeks to a month before your official launch or publish date. Other good times are several weeks before you have schedules a FREE or 99cent promo.
How To Recruit Members
The first place to go is your friends and relatives … yes, MOM or your favorite uncle.
I know that some of you are reluctant for your Mom to see your hot and steamy romance. So cross her off your ask list, at least until you become a best seller.
Do you belong to an in person Author’s or a reading group? Do you belong to a larger on line author’s group? Do you know a fellow worker who brings steamy romances to read at lunch hour? What about the person you sit next to everyday on the bus?
The bottom line is …
You HAVE to get brave and just ASK … the worst anyone can do is say “NO” or “maybe.” If they say “maybe” cross them off your list. Unless you have some really IFFY friends, it is highly unlikely that they will spit in your face, especially if you ask them over the phone or by email.
I know it’s hard to think of ONE person as a team, BUT that one person could surprise you and have a huge network! Your first goal is ONE helper … then TWO … then THREE.
Set a Start and End Date
You are not asking your team to help you for a life time … though some of your good friends may do just that.
Give them a specific time frame. One or two days, or even a week. Eg. “I’m hitting my publish button on August 1st … so could you help me out from August 1st until August 7th?”
Anything longer than a week start breaking down fairly quickly. This not only includes your helpers, but YOU have to have the time and energy to communicate with your team on a daily basis and keep them interested and enthusiastic. You have to provide them with everything they need in order to help you.
How Do They Help?
- First of all, you are going to send them a copy of your book. You can send a PDF, Word or Google document or e-book format. Ask them to read it and ask if they have any hesitation in recommending your book.NOTE: Before you even got to the stage of setting up your Promo Team, and are actually close to publishing, or have already published, you “should” have had a few beta readers go through your book and given you feedback. You should be confident that your book is good and is ready (or almost ready) to go.IF your friend (fan) does hesitate or has a problem … let them off the hook and take them off your list. They should be fully engaged in the process and be happy to help.
- Tell them ahead of time that you would REALLY appreciate a review of any length. If your book is already published ask for a review immediately. If your book is being published or launched on a certain date, ask them to post their review (on Amazon) within the first two or three days.
- On your promotion days provide them with good “collateral.” In the marketing industry, collateral is basically all the components (physical or digital) that are used in a campaign. Supply them with written material (blurbs) they can use on Facebook, Instagram or other social media channels.Supply them with a choice of banners. The banners should be “sized” for specific social media channels. For example twitter banners need to be horizontal, Pinterest banners do better if they are vertical.You can upload a pile of banners and blurs they can use through out the promo days or send new ones every day. Sending something every day will help keep the interest up and will keep reminding them to “do something.”
4. IF they have their own blog or newsletter. Ask them to send a post or a newsletter update. You can write boiler plate copy/paste blurbs for them, or you can make a bullet list including things you’d like them to mention. For example: “Cynthia is a registered nutritionist who has run a private consulting practice for the past 10 years.” OR “This collection includes 48 short stories that will make your heart melt. Each of them makes a great lunch time read.”
What Do THEY Get Out Of It?
- They are your FRIEND and are happy to give you a hand up.
- Mom helps no matter what.
- They are your FAN and are thrilled to be in touch with, and help a favorite author.
- You are going to send them beta copies and final copies of your book for free.
- If you have a blog or newsletter, you can thank them personally (ask for permission to use their first and last name OR if they prefer, just their first name.
- You can thank them “inside” your book (Thank you to my Promotion Team, they are forever in my heart … and then name them.
- If they are local, buy them coffee or lunch OR have a small celebration party.
- If they are not local, send them a small token gift (via Amazon) a journal, a trinket or even a paperback copy of the book … even nicer if you sign it with a thank you note. You;re not going to be wanting to do this when your team hits 100 people or more!
For the MOST part, people who are willing to do this for you, aren’t looking for a payback … they do it just because they LOVE helping, because they love “paying it forward” and building good karma. There are people who volunteer in soup kitchens for years, simply because it FEELS good.
Keeping Members Accountable
This is all about three things.
- Getting commitment from the very start. If your Mom says, “Well dear, I just don’t know. This is really not my thing,” Cross her off your list. She may be more enthusiastic the next time round when she is able to say “my daughter is a best selling author.”
- Good communication. Tell your team what is happening. At the end tell them the results (even if NOT stellar). During the promo period, be in touch every day.
- Provide excellent “collateral.“The KEY to making this work is to make it EASY. Give them everything they need. Give them easy to read instructions on HOW to use it. For example: Just copy/paste the following tweet and then attach the following banner.When you make it EASY and fast, your team will do it. If they have to write their own tweets and figure out what images to use, they will quietly disappear because they are shy about writing stuff or it is just too much like work.
How Should You Communicate?
There are dozens of ways to organize teams and what you end up choosing will depend on how big your team is.
One of the simplest ways is to start your own Facebook “GROUP.” To protect your book, my opinion is that your group should be by invitation only, but that is up to you.
You can upload your collateral on Facebook OR on Google Docs. Google Docs is free and also can be by invitation only.
One of the benefits of Facebook is that your members will get notifications when you send messages and information.
Send your books beta version or final version by email attachment ONLY.
BIG word of caution.
You never want to totally open up access to your book’s
beta and final copies. You may end up with loads of freebie seekers or worse …
thieves who are looking to steal, not yet published books.
When your team members include more than just your personal friends and acquaintances, your team membership protocol should be to get this information from each member:
- email address
- phone numbers
- address (also used to send thank you cards or gifts) ** They will be surprised, gobsmacked and rave about you.
Once You Finish a Promotion
Send your thank yous. An email, a physical card, a token gift.
Keep your team members on your email list. Every now and again (two weeks to a month) let them know what you are up to. Tell them your good news. Remind them that they have been an important part of your publishing process. Tell them about your next book (priming the promo pump).
Consider doing a promo once every three months and … engage your team again. It will be easier the next round because much of your collateral can be reused for each subsequent promotion.
And please please please…
You don’t become a best selling author without exposure.
You don’t become a best selling writer without WRITING.
PS Here’s more information about two other “help” teams you can consider: