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Perhaps you’re asking, “So, what is a book launch team?” It’s a merry band of readers who like your work well enough to create buzz about your new books in exchange for free autographed books, prizes, and insider information about your latest releases. Your team’s buzz can be in the form of reviews, social media, blogging, and anything else that will get the word out about your new book. Okay, now that you know what this wonderful new promotion avenue is, you can begin to travel down this road with these ten steps.
1. Setting up an Online Home
Before you can invite your guests to this ongoing book party, you’ll need to create a special hosting site to house your private group. Since I am clueless how to pull this off I hired my webmaster to create a beautiful page on Facebook that would coordinate perfectly with my website as well as my Reader Page. If you’re clever and techno savvy, which I am not, you can set it all up on your own.
2. You’ll Want a Jazzy Title
I decided to call my book launch team Backstage Pass, and I call these amazing women in my group, Backstage Beauties. And believe me, they are beautiful in every way, not just because they promote my books, but because they have become friends who are precious to me.
3. It Shouldn’t Always Be About You
I discovered that for my team to spend all their waking moments thinking about me and buzzing about me, well, it was going to get a little strange. I was at risk of becoming a narcissist. So, Backstage Pass is also about the members too. Once or twice a week I post a “getting to know you question.” And they really do participate. Also, we share prayer requests, and that has also helped to foster a caring environment. We have truly built a community of women who not only like to read my stories but who also care about each other. In fact, these women have become so important in my life that I’ve dedicated my next book to them.
4. How Many Team Members Should You Have?
Right now I have 55 members, but I intend to slowly grow the group to 100. There are some members who don’t participate, some who drop in once in a while to leave a comment or help out with some promotion, and then there are others who are committed to creating some serious buzz. I am grateful for them all. I feel honored that they would want to be a part of the group. But as far as numbers, I do think if you go over 150 members you would lose that intimate feel of community that makes this kind of group so special.
5. Make it Fun Run contest for prizes.
We celebrate every time we reach ten new members in our group. I ask a novel-related question and do a giveaway that is also connected to the book. The last prize I gave away was a silver charm bracelet festooned with a tiny musical charm, because this type of bracelet was important in my new book release, Winter in Full Bloom.
6. Ask for Input and Delegate Jobs
Team members are creative people—hey, they’re readers, aren’t they? And so ask them if they have ideas on fun ways to interact within the group. One of my team members suggested sharing recipes, which is great. Another woman acts as a head greeter when new members arrive, and she gives us a brief devotion on Sunday morning. Also, my members know of fresh ways to create book buzz—ideas that I hadn’t even thought of. So, ask your team for input. And don’t forget to delegate. God really does give everyone special gifts, and it is awesome to watch those talents bloom in a close community.
7. How Do You Choose Team Members?
I started with friends and relatives as well as people from my church who I knew liked my work. That got me started, but then I branched out to include women from all over the US, who emailed me, telling me how much my stories meant to them. I knew these gals might enjoy being on the team. Do remember, though, not to build your group too quickly. Make sure these are readers who like your stories and your world view and who would genuinely enjoy this kind of camaraderie and book buzz.
8. Share Your Heart, Not Just Your Books
Part of the reason readers want to be in your private group is because they will get an insider view of what it’s like to write books and carrying on with a career that is sometimes hidden to people. But when sharing, don’t just give your launch team the nuts and bolts of the writing process and your career—offer them pieces of yourself.
9. How Effective is a Book Launch Team?
Unfortunately, I don’t have any numbers to show you concerning how many books sales came directly from the buzz created by my launch team. But I do know that a grassroots, word-of-mouth effort has always had a history of selling books when mere advertising might fail.
10. What Do You Do Between Book Releases?
There will come a time when your new release is no longer new, all the buzz has been buzzed, and your next book doesn’t come out for months. What do you do with that gap in book releases? I haven’t faced that scenario yet, but when I do, I’m going to keep the community alive and close and happy by continuing to allow prayer requests and updates, running contests, and fostering even more of that wonderful heart-sharing sense of sisterhood. Then when I do have another book come out—after a season of fun and refreshment—hopefully, we’ll be ready to roll again!
A Marriage in Middlebury by Anita Higman
Charlotte Rose Hill has been serving up country delicacies, uniquely blended teas, and matchmaking advice for her quirky but beloved customers for more than 10 years. But for her, marriage seems like an elusive butterfly, always out of reach. At 18, Charlotte fell in love with a young man, Sam Wilder, but his family convinced her to walk away from their relationship. She did, and then became engaged to another man, who later died before they were married. Now, more than a decade later, Charlotte finds that she still has feelings for her first love. Initially thrilled to learn that Sam has come home to Middlebury, Texas, Charlotte is devastated to learn that he’s brought someone with him: his fiancée. But all is not lost when the townsfolk decide to get involved. Will Charlotte and Sam find their way back to each other?