Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Author Lifeboat Teams

Nancy J. Cohen

An author lifeboat team is a band of authors who join together to cross-promote their work. I became aware of the concept when I got invited to join one. This particular group was made up of paranormal romance authors, and their rules included sharing each other’s posts on Facebook and being responsible for one post a week.

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I thought that obligation and the specific genre focus might be too restrictive for me, especially since I write in two genres. So while flattered to be asked, I politely declined. The idea brewed in my head, though, so when Terry Odell invited me to join her fledging group, I seriously considered and eventually said yes.

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Why did I like this team? While we were encouraged to support each other with retweets and shares, we weren’t committed to any particular schedule. And the group consisted of multi-published authors in various genres. This interesting mix could attract new readers, and that would benefit our primary goal of increasing our visibility and readership.

It’s been one year since I joined. What have we accomplished in that time? We’ve established our website, Booklover’s Bench.

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Besides each of us having an author page, we have added Behind the Scenes and Excerpt features. We run a monthly contest via Rafflecopter with a $25 Amazon or BN gift card as the main prize and e-books from each of us for runners-up winners.

In another effort to cross-promote, we’ve also started offering each other’s books as prizes for personal newsletter contests and sharing the resultant mailing list.

On Twitter, we’ve each created a List for our team members. It’s easy to access the list and retweet everyone’s posts that way.

In terms of results, my newsletter in Sept. 2012 went out to 4542 recipients. In Oct. 2013, I sent it to 5339 folks. That’s an increase of nearly 800 names. Some of these might have come from my own contests, but I’d say the majority of new entries are thanks to BB.

As one of the extra options on our Rafflecopter contests, we’ve put “Like my Facebook Page” as an added choice. My FB Likes have increased quite a bit as a result. So this is another benefit.

We’re also a sounding board for marketing ideas. I learned about doing a Facebook launch party from one of my team mates. If we have an aspect of the biz we need input on or just want someone to listen, we have each other. In the future, maybe we’ll expand and hire a virtual assistant. Our only requirement is to do what we can to support each other, to tweet about the contests, take over the $25 gift card contest prize once every couple of months, and support our efforts any other way we can. We split the cost of the website hosting and manage it ourselves.

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Other ideas for future consideration are a subscribers-only tab on our website for free downloads of bonus materials or short e-reads, a blog hop, a street team, a Fan of the Month selection.

How do we communicate? We’ve held two Skype conference calls so far with a third one coming up to discuss our ideas and goals for next year. Otherwise, we have a private Facebook group page and a yahoo group listserve. Or we can send individual emails.

It’s hard to work alone, especially since most marketing efforts have moved online. Consider gathering together your own author lifeboat team. Again, it’s a group of authors who band together to support each other on social media with the goal of expanding their readership. How your team operates and what you do for each other is your choice. See what other groups do and borrow their ideas that appeal to you. We all learn from each other, and we must support each other, too. Just like we do on this group blog.

As Thanksgiving passes us by, thanks to each one of you for following us and for joining our discussions. We share a wealth of information about writing craft and marketing that contributes to our online community. We’re grateful for all our cyberspace friends.


20 comments:

  1. This sounds like an excellent idea, Nancy! Thanks for sharing your experiences and expertise here.

    We recently ran a guest post over at Crime Fiction Collective on e-book bundling with one or two other authors to gain recognition from each other's reader base. It's called "Boxed E-Book Sets - Easy to Set up, Big Potential! Here's the link: http://crimefictioncollective.blogspot.ca/2013/11/boxed-e-book-sets-easy-to-set-up-big.html

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    1. Thanks, Jodie. Boxed sets are popular these days so that link will be helpful.

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  2. I think Booklover's Bench is effective and shows that you don't have to have a huge cash investment the way I've seen with other teams. Also, for readers of this blog, our December contest opened today, and will run through the 18th--time for a little extra holiday cash or some new reads. You can enter at http://bookloversbench.com/contest

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    1. Thanks for mentioning our contest, Terry, We run them monthly so check back each month for a chance to win new reads!

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  3. It sounds good, Nancy, and you are connected with a fine group of writers. Wishing you continued success.

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    1. Thanks so much, Jacqueline. I am not a writer who can work in a vacuum. I need and seek the support of other authors along this bumpy path we call a career.

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  4. This is a very interesting concept, Nancy. I love the mixed group. Cross-pollination is important! :)

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    1. Yes, you never know who might end up trying your book and then liking a whole genre as a result.

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  5. I've definitely benefited from being a part of this author group because of the information we exchange with each other, and the support of being a team.

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    1. It's wonderful having a support group like this. We've benefited, as you say, from the support as well from tangible benefits like increases in our mailing list names.

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  6. I've benefited from joining this lifeboat team. Cross-pollination of readers has bulked up my visibility on FB, twitter, on guest blogs, on our site, and through cross-marketing.

    Excellent recap, Nancy!

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    1. I'm proud to be part of the team, Maggie!

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  7. I love the idea of authors banding together to support each other, Nancy. I'm glad to know it's working for you. Thank you for sharing this great idea!

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    1. We all share different responsibilities, too. Several of us manage the website, while others handle the contests. It helps to break things up among us depending on our skill levels.

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  8. If I were to join such a group, I think I'd lobby to rebrand our vessel as a "tugboat" rather than a lifeboat. A craft designed to do the hauling and lifting of marketing and outreach!

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    1. Yes, hauling and lifting but maybe also some lifesaving of our careers. When we're in a slump, it helps to have colleagues to buoy you afloat again.

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  9. I'm curious to know, do you feel like there is a chance to lose your own brand/voice before it even gets established when you join such groups?

    How far do you get into your writing endeavor before something like this is beneficial?

    I'm a newbie, so I'm just coming from the critique group perspective. I don't even have a finished work, so I'm not a candidate to get involved in such a group.

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    1. I'd wait until you have a few books on the shelf. Then you'll have more to bring to a group and will know what you want to get out of it. But even if you have one book out, it can't hurt to have a reciprocal relationship with a few other author friends to share posts and tweets. There's no concern about losing your voice or brand. Joining a team doesn't mean you are giving up on your own promotional campaign.

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  10. The lifeboat concept is a great way for writers to share marketing efforts, but also to learn what works and doesn't. As our Booklovers Bench group moves into its second year, we'll be looking for ways to leverage what we've done with what we need to do. It's a nice marketing double-check.

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    1. That's so true, Terry. It's good to reevaluate every so often to see what works, what doesn't, and what can be done differently.

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