Monday, October 2, 2017

Marketing Series: Build Your Team

Although writing is a solitary profession for the most part, when you get ready to market your book, you need a team. This team, sometimes referred to as a street team or a tribe,
serves as your immediate marketing team - they help get the word out about your book.

A team can be as simple as a small group of family or friends who tell others about your book, or as complex as an entire network of people (some may be acquaintances or even strangers) who promote your book for review copies or other incentives.

Folks within the industry have mixed feelings about street teams in general, and that's understandable.

Some of the ambivalence has to do with credibility. By assembling a random street team, you as the author are entrusting your marketing to strangers. You don't know the reputation of the members, or their credibility within their own circles - and honestly, they could do more harm than good for your book.

During the years I've been in the book industry, I've learned from the pros that it makes sense to compile a team that you know and trust. If your team is comprised of other authors, make sure you read their books for quality and content to ensure they match your own quality and values. If the quality is sub-par or the values are in direct opposition to yours, their marketing could alienate your audience or be directed at an audience that's not a good fit for your book.

Marketing teams are effective in different ways, and could work online and/or in person (boots on the ground).

Online teams will:
  • Buy your book on release day.
  • Write blog post(s) about your book and its themes.
  • Interview you for their blogs.
  • Review your books on multiple online sites (Amazon, BN, Books-a-Million, Goodreads, Book Depository, etc.).
  • Post on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, etc. about your book, consistently and repeatedly. (Not an overload and they definitely should NOT spam folks, but they should be willing to offer more than a single post or tweet.)
  • Attend any online parties/events that you may host or be invited to - offering support and encouragement and - well, attendance. 
In-person teams will:
  • Buy your book on release day.
  • Visit their local bookstores, taking bookmarks, postcards, chocolates, and perhaps even a copy of your book to the manager, asking if they might be interested in hosting a book signing or selling your books. 
  • Connect with their local libraries to discuss your books. 
  • Distribute promotional materials wherever appropriate (coffee shops, book clubs, writing groups, church, social groups, civic groups, etc.)
  • Attend your local book signings and speaking engagements, offering support and encouragement - and assistance as needed.

Reward your team with incentives like small gift cards, autographed copies of your book, t-shirts, chocolate (of course!), coffee mugs, special discounts, or even "insider" information about you or your books that only the team will know (or will know in advance of others). Come up with other ways to recognize their efforts. Some examples: let them name one of your characters or setting in a future book, thank them on the acknowledgements page of your book, host a party in their honor if your team is local.

Remember to set aside time for marketing and team building, but don't let the marketing overtake your writing. Having a team to help you market will free up some of those hours so you can do just that.

Other articles of interest:

Marketing Series: Build Your Team
Marketing Series: Define Your Audience
Marketing Series: Think Outside the Box
Marketing Series: Build Your Platform
Marketing Series: You've Got Questions

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