When it comes to launching a bestselling book on Amazon, the biggest leverage an author can invest in is building a stellar launch team. Your team will receive an early bird copy of the book, read through it, and write an honest review to be posted when the book is live. But a launch team can be much more effective in other ways too that we will look at in this post.
In this post I will walk you through the steps for building, guiding and managing your book street team. If you follow this system, you will be investing in the most critical part of your book launch, setting your book up for the long term success it deserves.
What is a Launch Team?
Your launch team is a group of people who are going to set you up for success when your book launches. They could be fans of your previous work, readers of your blog, friends who want to support you, or the members in your mastermind group. And, ideally, a combination of all of the above.
The launch team has a massive impact on, not only the success of your launch but, the long term success of the book. They are a group of people who are passionate about your book, your brand, and they want you to succeed as much as you do.
Your job, as the author of the book, is to guide your team to take action both before the book is launched and then during the launch window.
Why do you need a launch team?
Launch team members will help you to get reviews during the launch and, help you to share the book launch as well as get downloads for your book. If you have a weak launch, you have weak book sales and you’ll be forever struggling to drive traffic towards your book.
Your launch team will read the book before anyone else and prepare an honest review of the work to be posted during launch week. Amazon favors books with review activity. The more reviews you can get posted, your book moves up the rankings faster and gets promoted by Amazon under the “books you also might like” section.
Reviews also sell books. If you manage to get 20-30 reviews in the first week, this would create serious momentum for your book rankings. It is the best social proof that your book is getting read and people are taking an interest in the content. The bottom line: Reviews convince browsers to buy. Amazon will rank your book higher as well if there is activity taking place.
Building Your Team: Where do I recruit?
The question that I often get is, “Where do I find people to join my team?” This is a challenge if you don’t have much of a following and have never launched a book before. Let’s assume that this is your first launch and you are looking for people to join your launch team. Where do we begin to build? Who can we ask?
Here are a few suggestions:
Make a list of 20-30 people you can contact directly.
These can be business contacts, online relationships, or subscribers to your email list. This list functions as your core team, what I call your level 1 launch team. They are the most committed to your launch. Perhaps they joined a previous launch you had and now they want to sign up for this one as well.
Post to your Facebook/Social Media Platforms/Mastermind Groups
This is where you can gather a lot of your level 2 launch team members. If you are going for a large launch team, this would be the next phase. If you want to keep it more personal and limit the number of people, just follow through with the first step and leave it at that.
Keep in mind, with your level 2 launch team, you could get anywhere from 20-200 people sign up. The reason we call it a level 2 group is, many of the people joining may not know you personally, but they have an interest in your book. But the question is, how committed are they to following through? It is just a fact that not everyone on your team is going to follow through. Maybe they didn’t like the book, they had no time to read it, or, they were uncertain what to do during the launch. There is the possibility that they won’t leave a review for whatever reasons.
This is why we have to be clear with our team as to:
- What actions to take
- When to take it, and;
- How to implement the action plan
The best you can do is encourage people throughout the launch and keep the pressure momentum turned on. This is where team incentives and providing value will deliver in the end. When people feel as if they are a part of something important, they are more likely to follow through.
Team Incentives: What to offer?
This is the part of the process in launch building that you can really make a difference to the strength of your team. By adding incentives to what you can give your team, you will increase the commitment of your team.
Decide what you will give to your team to offer quality incentives that makes them feel a part of the team.
What can we offer?
Check out Kevin Kruse’s post “Sample invitation to build a launch team.” In this invitation to join his street team, Kevin offered up a bundle of incentives to the launch team when he published 15 Secrets Successful People Know About Time Management. Some of these perks included membership into a Mastermind Group on Facebook and an exclusive “ask me anything” webinar before the launch.
Likewise Michael Hyatt, when he launched Living Forward, offered launch members an exclusive look into how the book launch was structured as well as access to a special 30-minute group phone session with him prior to launching the book.
So, what you can offer your team is:
- The digital version of the book way before anyone else sees it. This can be in PDF or Mobi file. For creating a PDF or mobi file of the book, check out the free calibre software.
- A free hardcopy of the book delivered right to your door.
- A free webinar or a facebook Live Q&A session: you can get close and personal with your team by hosting a live webinar where you talk about the book, get into behind-the-scenes strategies of the launch, and share inside tactics that nobody else can get.
- Exclusive access to a private Facebook group. Here you can post videos, share posts, and converse with your team in real time as they get excited about the launch
- Free training videos based on the content of your book
- Additional freebies that you want to share with your team.
- An advance copy of a workbook that you will be offering to subscribers
- Early access to course material that won’t be available until the book is launched.
The goal is to provide your team with a lot of value so that they know they are part of something important. This will increase the level of commitment you will get from members reading and promoting the book during launch week.
Building a Quality Team
When it comes to launch team members joining your team, it isn’t about the numbers. It is the quality of the team. It is much better to have 40 people who are committed than 200 that just sign up and don’t do anything. Like Amy Porterfield, you want your launch team to be involved and take action. So, how do you build a quality street team fully committed to launching your book to bestseller status?
Here are four strategies:
- Reach out to people personally. By contacting people you know on a personal basis you can get a solid commitment from that person with a personal email.
- Create an application form process. This creates a barrier to entry. The people who are serious players will fill out and commit. You can check out an application form template right here. In the application process you let the potential member know what is expected and what they will be responsible for. The application process creates accountability and exclusive access to the launch team material.
- Invite people who you have worked with and trust, such as podcasters, bloggers and influencers, to help you with the launch.
- Create a team of committed reviewers and promoters to set the launch on fire when it takes off.
Setting Expectations for Your Team: Your Big Ask
This is when you are up front with the launch team about what is to be expected during the launch. What actions are you asking them to do? On what days will they take these actions? What is at stake as far as the success of the book is concerned.
Remember: The success of your launch plan is critical, and the launch team is the all-important component to making it happen.
Expectations should be made clear from the beginning. When you put up a post for early bird readers, let them know that taking action is a must. This is the big ask and what you will expect from the team if they are selected to join your launch.
Here is what you could ask of your launch team:
The ‘Call to Action’ Plan
- Read the book before the launch day. Provide feedback if they pick up on such as formatting problems, misspellings, etc…
- Write up an honest review of the book and post it during launch week.
- Share word of the launch through your social platforms, mentioning the book in a weekly blog post, and starting a discussion about the book in chat forums. This could also include tweets, Facebook posts, or post the cover to Pinterest and Instagram.
- Share promotional ideas within the launch group. This is where a Facebook Group would come in. Members can easily post ideas and swap strategies for promoting the book.
- Take a photo of you holding up a copy of the paperback. This would require that the paperback be ready in advance to send to select team members so they have time to take the photo before launch.
Provide your team with a list of action strategies they can take during launch week. Let them choose what strategies they like and fits into their schedule. You can encourage the team by adding a points system.
The members who take action and complete each promotional strategy earn a number of points. This could lead to receiving even more freebies.
Organizing Your Team Communication Portal
Now that you have your team together with emails, you have set the expectations, and outlined the launch plan, you have to decide how you will communicate with your team. People need to feel connected to you during the launch or else they lose interest and you lose the trust of your team. Set up your method of communication and invite everyone into the launch.
Set up at least 6-10 emails to be delivered throughout the launch. You can add your team emails to a campaign in your email service provider such as Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convert Kit. You can set up email autoresponders to go out on certain dates, or customize your emails as you go.
Launch Team Emails: How often and how many?
One question that comes up often is, “how many emails do I send out, how often and what should the content look like? Once again, if you are running a Facebook Group and using that as your main source of communication, I still recommend you have a set of emails set up to be delivered throughout the launch.
I send out an email every second day. Here is a breakdown of what these emails would look like:
Email #1: Welcome Email: Includes Intro to the team and the PDF of the book.
Email #2: How is the book reading? General overview of the launch plan.
Email #3: 5 Days Before Launch. Include a video of how to leave a review on Amazon
Email #4: The day before launch—Are you ready?
Email #5: LAUNCH DAY! It is time to take action.
Email #6: Review reminder, update on book status and current ranking.
Email #7: Final reminder. Leave a review and FREE paperback giveaway reminder.
Email #8: Final email. Thank you for joining the launch team.
What you want to do is take time to customize your own emails. You can space the emails out accordingly. I like to keep them balanced so that the team is getting the support they need without feeling too overwhelmed.
A group you can add your members to for easy access and communication. You can post regularly and easily add video and communicate with regular updates. Members can, as we mentioned, share ideas for promoting the book during the launch day.
Even if you do a Facebook Group, I recommend sending out regular emails regardless. Not everyone is going to be into joining a Facebook Group, so communicating with regular emails set up to be delivered on select dates will cover all the bases.
Sending Out Your Book
There are three ways you can get the advance copy to your team.
PDF Form. Attach the PDF to the welcome email if you are delivering it this way. For larger files, you can drop the book in Dropbox and share the link with your team. Dropbox allows people to download the book without having to sign up for an account.
Bookfunnel.com This is a great way to deliver your book. BookFunnel has a yearly subscription fee but it’s worth it if you launch regularly. The basic price is $20 a month for 1 pen name and 500 downloads per month. You can check out the features of bookfunnel right here.
the pigeonhole. I’ve used the pigeonhole before and I really liked it. How it works is like this. You upload your book in PDF form to the team at Pigeonhole. You provide them with your launch team emails and then, Pigeonhole posts a chapter a day of your book on their site. Members read right on line and can comment on the book as they work through it.
This is a great platform for improving the quality of the book as well. Early readers catch the small mistakes that were missed and you can fix everything up before launching.
4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Setting Up Your Team
Sending out email with long gaps in between.
You want to be consistent in communicating with your launch team. Long gaps in between emails will result in people losing interest and not following through when they should. I average an email every 2-3 days. For a Facebook group, you could post something everyday, even if it is just a short blurb.
Failing to set expectations.
Remember the list of expectations we looked at in the beginning? By not setting your expectations you are leaving the launch wide open to chaos. Be sure people know what they need to do and when they need to do it. Don’t just assume people will take action. They need you, the author, to lead them. Be upfront and let them know they are with you until the end to take action.
Setting your initial price point too high.
Okay, you might think this is common sense but, you want to launch your book right away at the lowest price point possible. That would be 0.99, and then possibly free after you’ve set set your promo up in the KDP dashboard.
If your price is upwards of $5-10, people may not download it. You want your price to be low so the launch team especially can download it to leave a verified purchase.
When it comes to Amazon rankings, a book that has the verified purchase tag weighs more than a non verified review. Make it easy for people to download. Set your price low and get the rankings moving. You can increase your price point after the launch.
Directions that are unclear.
You want everything to be so easy for your team that it can literally run itself. What this means is, setting up all the steps so that people know exactly what to so. Some of the questions I have had from team members were:
Where do I leave review?
How do I leave a review?
Where is the link for the book?
What is this Goodreads website?
You can eliminate confusion and wasting time answering basic questions by setting up the steps so it is like paint-by-numbers. For example, shoot a short video of how to set up a review. Walk people through the process. Video is a fantastic way to visually teach the steps and can be done easily. You can then post it in the Facebook feed or embed the link in an email to be downloaded from Dropbox or Vimeo.
It all comes down to planning ahead. By foreseeing possible problems that can slow down your launch, prepare ahead of time and set your team up for success.
The Power of Sharing
Swipe Copy for Your Team is a set of pre-formatted/written emails and/or posts that the launch team can use to share either via email or online. You want this to be as simple as possible so people can just copy and paste to their social media platforms or deliver by email without it taking too much of their time. The easier it is for your team to deliver, the better.
Create swipe copy for your book launch and make this available to your team via dropbox or upload to your Facebook Group. The swipe copy should be easy to use and provide material for sharing online or via email.
You should include specific instructions as to how to use the swipe copy. Not everyone has used this before and you will get questions from people if they have difficulty. I would recommend shooting a short video explaining how to set this up on launch day. Show people how easy it is. Encourage them to share where they can and as often as possible.
If each of the people on you team threw up a post on their Facebook page, and they had an average of 500 friends each, that would exponentially share your book with a large community that you otherwise wouldn’t have had access to.
Street Team Team: Setting up a permanent funnel for future books
Once the launch is over, your facebook group will most likely be disbanded. You could try to keep it going but after the launch is over, but without a specific purpose for the group that extends beyond the launch, it is a lot of work to keep the interest going. This is where a long term strategy for your books could be put into play.
Are you planning to launch another book? Do you want to use some of your core launch members for another book launch? In that case, you could set up a street team of reviewers that are ready to support you on, not only this launch, but all future launches.
Remember: a launch team is more than just getting someone to review your book. You could take the relationship to the next level. Consider setting up a private facebook group for people who want to stay in touch and support your work in future launches. And, if they agree to this, it will be far easier to tap into a group that is already in place then recruiting new members.
Build Your Launch Team [Master Checklist]
Here is a review of the steps to build your launch team.
- Reach out to at least 20-30 people directly to begin the recruitment process. Ask for permission to put them on your launch team.
- Expand to social media circles like Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn.
- Put together an incentive package: free digital copy, paperback, question and answer group call, or a sneak peak at the launch behind-the-scenes.
- Choose your method of communication: email, a Facebook group, or both. [Both methods are recommended together]
- Be clear about your expectations for the launch [launch goals for reviews, ranking, and book sales]
- Create a series of emails to send to your group. You can set these up beforehand or create as you go for a more ‘on-the-spot customized feel.
- Decide the method to deliver emails: gmail template or email server campaign template [recommended]. You can use Mailchimp, free up to 2000 subscribers.
- Prepare a “Welcome to my launch team” Video or Post.
- Send out your Welcome Email. This includes the digital copy of the book. In your email outline the expectations for being on the launch team.
- Create a “Swipe File” for the team to share. Deliver this to your team the day before launch.
- Keep track of your team emails using an excel sheet.
- Send out a “review reminder” a week after the launch.
- Final email/posting: Thank your team for their support during the launch. Follow up on any final incentives promised.
- Stay in touch with members of your team. Continue to build relationships with people so that your book launch can get bigger with every new book release.
Now that you have a roadmap for setting up your launch team, it is time to get to work. Remember that the best time to start building your team is right now. Work on you relationships with people interested in your material. Connect with other authors and begin to get the word out about your upcoming book launch. It is never too early to start.