Book ambassadors are loyal readers who fangirl over your book and tell the world about it. Once you have book ambassadors, you’re set, baby.
But how in the blue blazes do you get ’em?
I’ve outlined thirteen tips for rounding up some seriously loyal fans and creating a bomb-tastic community. You can thank me by sharing this post like crazy, pretty please.
1. Produce a high-quality book.
There’s a reason this is #1 on the list. Don’t expect people to fangirl all over the place if your book stinks. Why do you think people went nuts over Andy Weir’s The Martian when it was free on his website, begging him to self-publish it on Amazon? Uh, because it was good stuff! So good that Crown Publishing acquired it and oh, look, now he has a movie. He had book ambassadors cheering for him—they believed in him and they believed in his book because it was well written. Do not expect people to fangirl over your book if it’s bad. Write your best work.
2. Craft a unique brand.
What are the colors of your book? The theme? Font? Tone? Personality? You’ll want to create a branding guide, if you will, so that when you post social media photos, your brand will be obvious. I should be able to look at a post and immediately know it’s yours. Tis called brand recognition. Maybe you write dark fiction like my new friend Devlin. Do you really think Devlin will post Facebook photos that are pink and sparkly? Erm. No. That would have nothing to do with Devlin’s brand as a horror writer.
3. Choose your goal.
What do you want book ambassadors for—really? To sell more books? Get more readers? More promotion? More social media followers? When you have a concrete goal, it’s easier to reach it. You’ll know what to ask of them when the time comes to do so.
4. Prepare your website and social media.
People can’t fangirl if they don’t know where you are or why your email subscription on your website isn’t working. Get all the technical stuff taken care of now before you go to the next step. And there better be a call to action on your website!
5. Create a Facebook group.
You cannot have a fandom—and that’s essentially what this is—without a place for them to geek out. Your book ambassadors need a home! This will be the community where they can keep up with you and your book. You’ll also use this Facebook group to invite them to your online book launch party, to read your latest blog post, and to tease them with snippets of your latest book. You have to decide what this group is going to be about, because it isn’t just about you. It’s about creating a community of like-minded readers who want to talk about a specific genre/topic. For example, Paul Sohn created a launch team group that quickly turned into a community of 800+ book ambassadors—they went nuts over his book, but they learned about leadership, intentional living, and pursuing their vocational calling.
6. Invite your friends.
All right, here’s where you gotta take a deep breath and tell people about your new community. Personally message your friends, asking if they’d like to join your group. You can post about it in other groups too, but it’s better to ask them individually. Don’t bother asking people who aren’t readers and don’t care about your book—you want engaged readers. People who get excited about the genre you write in. People who want to support you.
7. Ask them to invite their friends.
The more the merrier! You want to have book ambassadors you haven’t met yet too. So simply post in the group: “Invite a friend! We’d love to see this community grow.”
8. Join as many writer-friendly Facebook and LinkedIn groups as you can.
This will help you get your book ambassador following up. Don’t spam them. Be authentic: “I started a Facebook group for people who love [genre/book/reading] and would love to have more people in our little community. We basically just want a place to geek out about reading. Come geek out with us!”
9. Get people excited.
What’s a big goal for you? Selling 1,000 copies of your latest sci-fi novel? Getting Stephen King to endorse your book (glory of glories, wouldn’t that be amazing)? Pitching your book to a traditional publisher? It can even be something simple like introducing a new (mysterious) character or adding a workbook to your self-help book. Your book ambassadors need something to get excited about. In Amy Latta’s book launch group, we started a Thunderclap campaign so everyone is excited about reaching our goal of 100 supporters. (Yes, I added a link so you could be a book ambassador to her and support her journal.)
10. Help them. Teach them. Share with them.
It’s not all about you. People become book ambassadors because they love your book and because they love you. They want someone to help them, share cool articles about books and writing, teach them how to write great books, and encourage them, inspire them. You’ll be giving of yourself too, and that means the world to your community.
11. Gear up.
What? You didn’t think you were cool enough to offer promotional items? Would your book’s main character look super cool on a coffee mug? Would a certain phrase in your book make a great t-shirt? What about pins to stick to their backpacks? Fans are devoted, so feed their obsession. There’s even a company that makes candles that smell like your book.
12. Get them involved.
Ever heard of fan fiction? Have a contest within your community to see who can write the most stellar fan fiction piece. What about art? Would your book ambassadors like to draw their own idea of your main character?
13. Be a book ambassador to someone else.
Look, it’s no surprise I’m obsessed with books, so obviously I post about what I’m reading all the time. And yes, I geek out over them. I am a book ambassador for M. L. Gardner, S. D. Hendrickson, Paul Sohn, Spry Mind by Scott Cuzzo, Kinda Wilson, Angela J. Ford, and many more. Why? Because they wrote amazing books (and designed stellar coloring books) and I want to support them. When you’re a book ambassador too, you get more book ambassadors.
So get out there and get some book ambassadors. And if you have any questions about the plan I laid out, ask me! I’m here to help.
Want some offline book marketing ideas your book ambassadors would love? Watch this quick video:
An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. Her blog posts have been featured on popular websites like The Book Designer and Positive Writer. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.