When it comes to self-publishing, everywhere you go and everything you read inevitably points to the same conclusion: support teams are massively important, so get one.
In the beginning, your support team may consist of just your mother and maybe a handful of sympathetic friends. Actual professionals may be a long time in coming. That’s okay. The point is to surround yourself with people who care about you, about your message, your project, and your story. This is the beginning of your “tribe,” as Jeff Goins would say. They are the faithful few who will help promote you, be the first to write reviews for you, share your work with others (online or otherwise), and stand as your support when it comes time to broadcast your story/work to the world.
Right now, my support team – that is, the one which has to do with actual promotion, meaningful contributions (help-wise), and back-up – is small.
Quick note: I have a theory that two support teams will naturally develop in the process of writing and publishing a book: a technical one and an emotional one. I’ll be mostly talking about the technical one, although right now, my support team is kind of a blend of both.
It consists of my mother, my elder sister, and two of my younger sisters. My older sister is a burgeoning graphic artist, website designer, blogger, and writer. She asked me recently if there was anything she could help me with and I told her I needed somebody to study the ins and outs of CreateSpace, a site providing free tools for self-publishing and distribution. She already has the whole formatting concept down pat – she tried to explain it to me and I must admit, I felt my eyes glaze over. I didn’t even try to understand it – it’s like algebra, a subject I wasn’t too fond of. But she is learning the ins and outs of it, just like I asked her to, and that fact brings me a lot of relief. Which got me thinking… she is one of the starring figures of my “support team,” as is my mother. What a relief it is knowing that I won’t be forging this self-publishing path on my own, that I’m going to have help and support along the way, and that I don’t have to do everything by myself. This is one of the many benefits of having a support team.
My mother is the one who I will be taking along with me when it comes time for book tours and interviews and all that terrifying stuff. Not just because I want her to be there, not just because I know she wants to be there, but because her steady stream of encouragement over the last twenty years of my life has practically guaranteed her an honored spot in the Hall of Fame. There were so many times I came to her and forced her to sit down and listen to me rant about my raging ineptness, my frustration over the lack of progress, my bewilderment where it came to executing what I often felt was an impossible task, and she patiently listened, helpfully consoled, and patted my back when there was nothing else she could do. Those were defining moments for me, whether anyone realizes it or not. Those were the moments I needed help, and I found it in her. She didn’t expect anything in return. She just did it because she loves me.
My point? Surround yourself with people who don’t expect a return on their loving support. However, if at all within your power, keep these people in mind when your turn in the spotlight comes. They earned it. As for those who didn’t, I guess they’ll wish they did.
The two big ways a support team can help you:
Marketing & Promotion
This could be as simple as having them share one of your posts on Facebook, reposting or posting about your blog or website on their Instagram or other social media site, or telling other people about you, your work, or your site.
The private group gave me the ability to interact directly with the people who would be the front line in our marketing and promotional activities — from writing reviews, to spreading the word.
Jeff recommends starting a private Facebook group which consists of those people who you’ve been able to recruit as your support team. The group page would basically serve as your “working table” for all your projects where you can share things you need help on, recruit specific members to promote something, or share an article that would benefit the other members, etc.
The Book Launch
This post isn’t a breakdown on what a book launch is, however, just to briefly touch on it – a book launch is in itself, somewhat self-explanatory. It is the process of launching your book into the market, and each launch is different (or so say my sources). A strategy is needed in order to maximize promotion and book sales. While I won’t be getting into the different strategies or methods that can be used, I will say that having a support team (or, in synonymous terms: a launch team) is essential, according to all that I’ve read. Here’s another excerpt from Goins’ great article on book launching:
Here are some ways to leverage a launch team:
- Ask them to leave a review on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Goodreads when the book launches (assuming you’ve given them free access to the book early — which you should).
- Encourage each member to write a review on their own blog. In exchange, highlight these people on your blog when the book launches! See below for how we did that.
- Coordinate a Thunderclap.it campaign (a great way to get a lot of eyeballs on your book during launch day as long as the campaign succeeds — so make sure you set a low enough goal that you can achieve it).
- Share important blog posts, guest posts, or listing site mentions and ask members to support by checking it out and sharing if it resonates. I told our team that I’d retweet as many of them as possible when they talked about the book.
By this point (getting ready to launch point), your support team will have (or should have) grown. You can include blog readers, social media followers, friends, family, you name it! How do you do this? Again, you can use the concept of a private Facebook group. You can invite as many “members” as you like (Jeff says he had a team of no less than 250 people!) and all these will pitch in when it comes time to promote like crazy, leave Amazon reviews, blog post, and campaign.
I’m still in the baby stages of the ballgame, but ever since I first read about having a support team, I’ve pondered the kind of people that it would take to make up one. I can think of several off the bat, and as time goes on, I know my support team is going to grow. It’s funny, because in most areas of my life, I’m thoroughly independent: when it comes to the things that matter, I yearn for collaboration.
I guess that’s what publishing a book really is all about: the collaboration between writer and reader, seller and buyer, author and team.
Stay tuned 😉