Turning a Street Team Into a Launch Team

Turning a Street Team Into a Launch Team

If you’re reading this blog post in April or May of 2019, you probably already know that my fourth novel, Whizzers, will come out later this year. I’m working on launch ideas of all sorts, and the launch itself is likely going to be late July. For the uninitiated, that means tomorrow in the mind of a busy author!

 

What Is a Launch Team?

A “launch team” consists of people who help an author get the word out about a book. Then again, a “street team” does the exact same thing. So, what’s the difference?

My admittedly provocative headline today refers to the idea of having one or the other type of team. Maybe I’m too sensitive, but I Googled “street team vs. launch team” because I truly wondered whether people might object to being part of something called a street team. I think the idea is that your street team is composed of people who love your work and are willing to help you promote it. On the other hand, a “launch team” might include people or companies who are part of your book launch, but not necessarily promoters of your work as such.

My Google search turned up an article from the very fine Book Marketing Tools website. I’ve read some of their articles, and have implemented some great ideas from them as well. However, as someone who’s actively engaged in helping others market their books, I also teach some of this stuff.

So I can’t really spend all my time reading more articles, but this one interested me, because of the sheer expansiveness of the list. I thought I’d share their content with you here (yes, I’ve linked the article above, and it’s copyrighted to Book Marketing Tools).

Anyway, here’s their list of 22 Ways to Leverage Your Street Team for a Book Launch.

  1. Ask members for feedback on your book’s content, cover design, pricing, typography, and other details so that you can revise your book or launch accordingly.
  2. Ask members for input on future book ideas or use them for brainstorming and research purposes.
  3. Ask members to talk about your books on social media and other relevant platforms.
  4. Encourage them to leave honest reviews on retailer sites where your book is available, as well as on social cataloging and book recommendation sites like Goodreads.
  5. Get them to post photos of the early review copy you sent to them, the cover image, and any places they’ve left promotional materials like bookmarks.
  6. Ask them to add your books to their Goodreads Want to Read list. And be sure to make it easy for them with a video, template, or image tutorial that walks them through the process.
  7. Ask them to spread the word about your book to family, friends, and other connections.
  8. Get them to invite other enthusiastic readers to join your street team.
  9. Encourage them to share your blog posts, as well as write review blog posts of their own.
  10. Retweet or share their social media posts any time they mention you and your book.
  11. Get them to promote giveaways or contests you are hosting.
  12. Encourage them to run their own contests. (e.g., if the street team member is a blogger, provide book copies or other promotional paraphernalia for the street team member to give away to readers.)
  13. Ask them to recommend your book to their local library.
  14. Encourage them to talk to local bookstores about stocking your title.
  15. Ask them to suggest your book to book clubs in their area or even their own book club.
  16. Ask them to take some of your promotional materials to local writing groups, conventions, book fairs, and other relevant events.
  17. Encourage them to share news about your books, appearances and signings, awards you might receive, and other share-worthy content.
  18. Encourage them to participate in your online book launch party if you decide to host one.
  19. Ask them to introduce you to groups of people (especially influencers) they know online or offline who would be able to spread the word about your book.
  20. Ask them to share a Facebook Live announcement with their followers.
  21. Encourage them to participate in a blog or vlog tour if they participate in these mediums.
  22. Encourage your team to join your affiliate program if you have one—the prospect of earning a side income for their promotional efforts can be extremely appealing.

 

And That’s All They Wrote

Seems like a lot, right? Of course, no one has to take all these suggestions. But it’s certainly a great starting point. I’m also hard pressed to think of a 23rd way, although the 11th bullet pointon giveaways or contestscould be expanded. Also, I think it’s good to specify what rewards a launch team member will get. The article specifically says, “Make it clear that while being part of your street team is a volunteer position, it’s also not about the freebies you offer in return.”

Well, I know some people like helping others, but I’d really want my team to get something worthwhile in return…much more than just a signed book.

So what do you think? I’d love to get your feedback in the comments. And of course, if you’d like to be part of my launch team, you can sign up right here.

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Turning a Street Team Into a Launch Team

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Kicking That Can Down the Road

Kicking That Can Down the Road

When I started writing my upcoming novel, I didn’t have an agenda or even a plan. The story of Whizzers came about very organically, though it has roots in my own life from many years ago.

To understand how I evolved as a writer, you almost have to understand how I evolved as a person. My early years were an almost golden era of acing virtually all my schoolwork and feeling surrounded by nice people.

It wasn’t until a 1972 sledding accident and a fractured skull that I felt different, uncomfortable, and vulnerable. Couple that with growing up in a volatile householdincluding an alcoholic parentand by the time I reached early adolescence, I had some issues.

Without knowing it, I was already set up to develop a substance abuse problem of my own. But fortunately, said problem was brought to my attention at the ripe old age of 24, and I never got into trouble with the law…or anyone else, for that matter.

 

The Actual Kicking the Can Moment

In the early days of my sobriety, everything was a stunning revelation to me. I must admit, I was a bit like a stoner dude saying, “Whoa, man,” every ten minutes, even though I was now under the influence of pure reality. As some have noted, S.O.B.E.R. stands for “Son Of a Bitch, Everything’s Real!”

This was brought forcibly home to me on multiple memorable occasions, some of which actually seem funny now. Once, at a meeting, a sober relative of mine approached me and said, “This guy told me that if you ever need someone to talk to, you should give him a call.” He handed me a piece of paper with the name and number of another sober relative, and that was the moment I learned of that other relative’s recovery. More moving than funny.

One “stunning revelation” moment came when I was enraged. I don’t recall anything about why I was having such a bad day. It might simply have been the fact that I had to walk twenty minutes to take a ninety-minute bus ride to a part-time job, knowing full well I could make the same trip in about twenty-five minutes…if I had my own car. I didn’t.

Whatever the cause, I was stomping down the sidewalk, as if storming out of an argument, when my foot struck a can on the concrete. The can flew down the sidewalk ahead of me, bouncing a few times on the way. When I got to where it had landed, I realized it was a partially crushed, empty beer can.

Now, that might not sound like a profound message from God to you, but in my early days of sobrietywhen so many mind-blowing events happened on a seemingly daily basisI can tell you it felt like a warning: Slow down. Calm down. If you keep storming ahead angrily, you’re going to run right into something like…what you just kicked.

 

It’s Not Business—It’s Personal

Some of this feeling about going through stresses and strains informs my upcoming book. And in a way, it provides many kicking the can moments, though most of the truly autobiographical scenes are more challenging to the character than revelatory.

Was my moment of literally kicking a can revelatory? Probably not, and it strikes me today as funny. But in that moment, it felt like everything stopped. I calmed down. I regained my composure. And, in early sobriety, gaining or regaining composure was pretty damned important.

There are quite a few stories left to tell about times I lost it completely, but I’ll save those for another day. They’re hilarious now, but they were extremely embarrassing then.

What about you? Any tales of demented (or overawed) moments in your life, sober or not? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

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Announcing The Whizzers Launch Team!

Announcing The Whizzers Launch Team!

This weekend, I got my edited copy of Whizzers back from editing and sent out my monthly newsletter announcing the formation of the Whizzers Launch Team. Stuff is a-happening! As Mike Ehrmantraut once said to Jessie Pinkman, “Big doings today.”

Of course, that reference was the prelude to a massive Breaking Bad firefight, and Whizzers is nothing like that. As I say on the Launch Team signup page, not only is it my most personal work yet – I truly believe this novel is the best thing I’ve ever done. And don’t worry, it’s not a violent novel.

In fact, Whizzers is a bit of an anomaly for me, which is why I want to tell you more about it before it comes out. For a while, I was referring to it as a novella, because it’s not a lengthy work. But at just under 42K words, it’s really a very short novel (a novella, technically, is defined as a novel between 20K-40K).

The other aspect of the book that makes it something of a change of pace for me is that it is actually categorizable! Whereas most of my other fiction falls pretty firmly in the category of literary fiction – not really a category in the minds of most literary fiction readers – the Whizzers book falls more into something called speculative, or spec, fiction.

So, Mike, What the Heck Is It?

For the uninitiated, speculative fiction can be a confusing genre indeed. According to Wikipedia,

“Speculative fiction is an umbrella genre encompassing fiction with certain elements that do not exist in the real world, often in the context of supernatural, futuristic or other imaginative themes. This includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, superhero fiction, horror, utopian and dystopian fiction, fairytale fantasy, supernatural fiction as well as combinations thereof (e.g., science fantasy).”

So, Mike what the heck is it?

It’s unlike anything I’ve ever written, and it’s got elements of the supernatural. Oh, and of historical fiction, too, since my little cousin David and I visit various historical figures in various historical eras!

Did I mention it’s the best thing I’ve ever done? Seriously.

Of course, I’d love to have you on the launch team, and you can go here to join up. You’ll get a free book, all sorts of cool updates, and the only thing I ask is that you leave a review in time for the launch – which will be later on this year. (A review, by the way, does not have to be a big, long post. It can be as simple as five stars and the words, “I love this book!” That’s how Amazon works, people.)

I can’t wait to get this thing formatted and out in the world. The launch team already consisted of 25 people before I even announced any of this, but I’d like to see that number reach at least ten times that. To sign up, just send me your name and your best email address for launch updates. Let’s do this thing!

https://mailchi.mp/1c8dfacc5040/whizzers-launch

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Have You Ever Written In A New Genre?

Have You Ever Written In A New Genre?

When you don’t normally write genre fiction, it can be difficult to talk to non-writer people about your work.

I love the classics, and have always worked hard to create modern classics of my own. You could call them Literary Fiction, Contemporary Fiction, or just Fiction…but you wouldn’t call them genre fiction, as a general rule.

I guess my answers to questions about this stuff have ranged from inarticulate to downright surly.

Non-Writer Person: What’s your book about?

Me: It’s about 150 pages so far.

Non-Writer Person: What genre is it?

Me: I don’t know, the Awesome Genre, I guess.

I know, that doesn’t go over well, does it?

 

But What Genre Is It, Really?

My work in progress, Whizzers, is a case in point. When I started it, I’d never read, much less written, anything like it.

How do you define a novel about a guy who finds out that his six-year-old cousin converses with famous dead people, and hangs around with a golden-robed being known as The Coordinator? Throw in a wizard, and you’ve got a genre, right?

But what genre is it, really?

 

Defining The Indefinable

It’s probably less important to define something before you finish it. But once it’s done, the challenge becomes how to categorize it. In this day and age of sub-categories within sub-categories, it’s important to meet or even exceed readers’ expectations.

I always aim to exceed them, of course, which means I have to use extra caution when I finally put Whizzers out into the world. Readers of the Fantasy genre might be disappointed by a book that’s only 42K words, and has a heavy emphasis on the real world. Those who dabble in the Paranormal genre might be looking for something a little more on the scary side.

Like everything I do, however, there’s one thing that’s consistent even in my first toe into the genre waters. The themes of redemption, of comforting those who need to be comforted, and of spiritual awakening are always present in some fashion. That seems to be my wheelhouse, for better or worse.

Whizzers isn’t really a work in progress at this point, either. It’s in editing, and the story is finished. But when it launches into the world, I’m going to make sure my new baby gets into the hands of people who will like it. And that means I’m still learning, just like we all are.

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