How to Create Your Own Marketing Team

Whether or not you have a book to sell right now, you probably have reason to build a platform and gather a “tribe.” Last week we discussed blogging as one possible avenue for this, and I also gave you a list of several other ways to use the Internet to connect with people. But this is not an easy task, especially when you’re sitting at your desk by yourself trying to come up with creative ideas. Wouldn’t it be great to have a whole team of people with whom to brainstorm, exchange ideas, discuss successes and failures, and share encouragement?

You CAN have your own marketing team — and it’s simpler than you might think.

Most of you are familiar with the concept of a writers’ group or critique group, even if you’re not part of one. Your marketing team works the same way. You gather a small group of individuals who meet regularly to discuss each others’ projects, but from a marketing standpoint rather than focusing on the writing.



Here are some ideas for creating this kind of group:

1. Keep the group small and manageable — I suggest 3 to 8 people.

2. Create a Zoom or Skype account to hold your meetings online using your webcams.

3. Start by inviting one or two people to join you. Get it set up and have a few meetings before deciding whether to invite more members.

4. Be extremely selective in choosing your group members. Once you invite someone to join, it would be extremely awkward to disinvite them.

5. Gather people who are creative, proactive, good at sharing ideas, and are a fit personality-wise.

6. Discuss what your group’s goals will be, and what you’d like to accomplish in your meetings.

7. Find ways to help each other in concrete ways, beyond simply sharing ideas. Allow members to operate in their areas of strength.

8. Create an agenda for each meeting. Google docs is helpful for this, since each member can access it and add to it.

9. It’s best if your group has a leader; if you don’t have one, designate a member to lead each meeting.

10. Let everyone suggest topics for future discussion.

11. Here are some meeting ideas to get you started:

  • Have each person bring one creative marketing idea they’ve heard about or used recently.
  • Designate a topic to explore in-depth (for example, “How to get the most out of Goodreads”) and have each person be prepared to discuss one aspect.
  • Have a meeting dedicated to goal setting for each member, or have everyone bring a list of short and long term goals for discussion.
  • Brainstorm marketing ideas for one person’s specific project or current need.

12. Use an online scheduling tool, since setting up meetings with four or more people can be challenging. works great.

Happy team building!

Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


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  4. Grace Linde on May 21, 2013 at 2:27 PM

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  6. Catherine Hudson on November 5, 2012 at 8:38 PM

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  11. Tim Klock on October 25, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Great idea! I’ve been searching for a writer’s critique group in my area (preferably Christian writers), but a marketing group is something I hadn’t even considered. I can’t think of a way offhand that such a group might be a hindrance, but the advantages are great! A handful of people brainstorming to market each other’s work would be amazing!

  12. Claire Caterer on October 25, 2012 at 10:13 AM

    I belong to The Lucky 13s, a group of YA/children’s authors whose debuts are coming in 2013. While this is an extremely supportive group, those of us who are writers for the middle-grade market formed a subgroup to discuss marketing, especially because marketing for MG is quite different from YA. One advantage is not just bouncing ideas off each other, but supporting each other — reading advance copies, posting reviews, promoting each other on Twitter. It makes a huge difference, not least of all to our morale!

  13. Amber Argyle, author on October 24, 2012 at 11:38 PM

    *sigh* I barely have time to write books, let alone have meetings to discuss marketing them. I have my blog. I do a blog tour. Twitter/facebook/goodreads. That’s all I can handle.

  14. Jo Murphey on October 24, 2012 at 8:09 PM

    Great idea! Especially abut being selective. I hold a MBA in international marketing and usually get picked as leader when attempted in the past. What I’ve found is me doing 99% of the work and ideas for brainstorming topics and the rest following the leader which is a real bummer because it’s all for them and nothing for me.

    The point I’m trying to make it has got to be active participation for all members. Just because I have a degree, doesn’t mean I know it all.

  15. […] step, courtesy Rachelle Gardner (@RachelleGardner), which is building a marketing team. While her How to Create Your Own Marketing Team focuses more on Google+ due to its video-conferencing feature, these 12 steps might do for your […]

  16. Melanie Schulz on October 24, 2012 at 3:13 PM

    Thanks for the idea. Hey- want to join a marketing team? I’ll make cookies

    • Brian Henwood on October 24, 2012 at 7:19 PM

      Oh man I love e-cookies!

  17. Beth Overmyer on October 24, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Wonderful idea, Rachelle! Love it <3

  18. Julie Luek on October 24, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    I am really intrigued by this idea and have already sent a writing colleague the website to consider. I appreciated reading all the comments too — many contained well-heeded cautions.

  19. Ruth Hartman Berge on October 24, 2012 at 1:42 PM

    I love this idea! I’ve been running ideas by a marketing whiz friend and a friend who has published 25 books for thumbs up or down on some ideas. Guess it’s time to make it a formal thing.

  20. Krista Phillips on October 24, 2012 at 1:38 PM

    I love this idea!!! I still feel like I’m grasping at straws on the whole marketing thing, and a “group” to get feedback from and bounce ideas off of sounds amazing!

  21. Lindsay Harrel on October 24, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I love this idea, especially the idea that you work on brainstorming one person’s project at a time. It would help me feel like I’m not totally alone in my marketing attempts, and I would love to bounce ideas off of others.

  22. Meghan Carver on October 24, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Another benefit might be that the members of the group could promote for each other, assuming each member had their own tribe and overlap was minimal. Thanks, Rachelle.

  23. Connie Almony on October 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM

    It’s always good to have people you can bounce ideas off of. I just spent the weekend at a family reunion and asked some members of my extended family to help me market, using their musical talents. One cousin made a joke that may just be the cruxt of an extraordinary marketing idea. We talked it out and refined it into something more realistic than the original joke, and it may just work. We’ll see.

  24. Gabrielle Meyer on October 24, 2012 at 10:45 AM

    I love this idea. My mind is already spinning with ideas. I’ve thought about marketing a lot, and I’ve been keeping a running list of things I see other authors doing that I like, but it would be great to have a group where new ideas and fresh perspectives could ramp up the marketing potential. Thanks, Rachelle!

  25. Kathryn Elliott on October 24, 2012 at 10:20 AM

    “Be extremely selective” – could not agree more, and so important to avoid the Debbie Downers of the world. Honest critique is a HUGE help, but not everyone will connect with your voice. Finding professionals who see beyond style differences and offer solid marketing advice is so tricky.

  26. Jeanne on October 24, 2012 at 10:09 AM

    I love this idea. As one who is still learning about marketing, I love what you shared. It seems if group expectations are set up in the beginning that might help in running the group. Having like minded people working with you seems essential if the group is to succeed in its goals. The whole thought of being selective is key.

    Drawbacks may include having busy schedules, or sometimes offering/accepting ideas and then having difficulty implementing them, for one reason or another.

    I’ve been part of small groups and am in a critique group now. Setting out to offer honest comments that will help the other writers, and receiving comments knowing they were meant to help not to maim helps.

  27. Addie Zierman on October 24, 2012 at 10:04 AM

    Love this idea. I’ve been in many writing groups, but this is exactly what I’m needing right now. Thanks for the great suggestion.

  28. Stephen H. King on October 24, 2012 at 9:43 AM

    Good idea. Groups like this already exist on Facebook; you just have to be patient and a bit thick-skinned as you search for the right one. And a group like this meeting in person would have some advantages over an online group, to be certain.

    That said, I’ve come down with a severe case of antisocialitis that probably won’t clear up till after November 6th.

    – TOSK

  29. Wendy Paine Miller on October 24, 2012 at 9:41 AM

    Giving our group some great ideas, thanks Rachelle!
    ~ Wendy

  30. CG Blake on October 24, 2012 at 9:17 AM

    This idea could work if one could assemble a team of individuals with great ideas, enthusiasm and a sharing mindset. I do agree that eight is too many and three to five is a more manageable size for these groups. Thanks for sharing this idea.

  31. sally apokedak on October 24, 2012 at 8:37 AM

    Great ideas!

    For several years the debut YA authors would band together– Class of 2007, Class of 2008, etc. Each year the groups lost a little fizz. It was very cool in the beginning. I don’t think there was a Class of 2012. I think that some of the participants didn’t necessarily like each other’s books. And I think people stopped visiting their activities, too, after the freshness wore off.

    So I guess I’d say the trick would be to find people you WANT to promote, and keep looking for fresh ways to reach people, because once people start copying what your’re doing, you have to find something new to grab people’s attention.

    • Jeanne on October 24, 2012 at 10:05 AM

      Good thoughts, Sally!

  32. Julie Garmon on October 24, 2012 at 8:23 AM

    Incredible idea. I’ve never considered doing anything like this, but I’d love to give it a try.

    Thank you! Brilliant~

  33. Roxanne Sherwood Gray on October 24, 2012 at 8:15 AM

    This is fantastic advice for someone like me who’s just starting out. Other writers farther along the journey will probably say, “I wish I knew this when …” Thanks so much!

  34. Laura Howard on October 24, 2012 at 8:04 AM

    This is a great post, I’ve been doing some of these things, but as always, you provide serious food for thought!

  35. Jackie Ley on October 24, 2012 at 7:18 AM

    Great idea. Brainstorming (or whatver the current term for it) all alone in your writer’s garret is certainly of limited value. Possible pitfall is the strident group member who wants to focus everyone’s attention on their own project. I think a group like this would need ground rules from the outset to combat this, and strong leadership to make sure everyone gets their fair crack of the whip.

  36. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on October 24, 2012 at 1:42 AM

    There are some terrific advantages – maybe the most important one is the constructive criticism one would get when one’s about to joyfully follow an idiotic marketing plan over a cliff.

    Some ideas have seemed SO GOOD to me…quoth the lemming.

    Another advantage is accountability, in that one really has the obligation to participate, and remain involved in one’s own marketing efforts. It’s so easy to give up!

    The only real disadvantages I see are those comman to all small-group situations – empire-building, non-fare-paying passengers, absenteeism, and the inevitable folks who like to point out flaws just for the sake of pointing out flaws.

    I don’t think the ‘king for a day’ leadership model would work well, since marketing ventures typically take time to develop and implement. Perhaps trading off every quarter would be better?

    I do think eight members might be pushing it. It’s big enough to have an inner circle and an ‘outer darkness’, which engenders bad feelings. Four is probably the ideal number, from a team functionality standpoint.

  37. Pat Walsh on October 24, 2012 at 12:31 AM

    Hi Rachelle,

    I’m wondering about your take on which is more important in a prospective team member – marketing savvy, or expertise in the subject / genre ?

    • carol brill on October 24, 2012 at 7:28 AM

      Rachelle, I love this idea. It may be the first marketing technique I’ve heard that doesn’t sounds like a complete chore.
      Pat, I say both are important. It would be great to have creative members with marketing expertise and a few who represent your perfect reader to tap their marketing ideas, learn what techniques appeal to them, and where they find like minded readers.