Street Teams for Authors: 11 Tips for Building a Rockstar Street Team
What is a Street Team?
A Street Team is an organized group of your SUPER FANS! These are readers that put your books on their auto-buy list. These are readers that love your books so much that they want to tell everyone they’ve ever met that your books are so amazing they’re like chocolate dipped in chocolate with a side a chocolate. Sounds great, right?
How Do I Get a Street Team?
First and foremost, you need to wait until the right time. You need to be able to answer “yes” to these questions:
· Am I seeing positive comments, tweets, or emails from the same readers multiple times?
· Do I have the time to build a team, interact with them on a semi-regular basis and still keep up with my writing?
· Do I have at least a small budget for swag and prizes?
If you’ve answered “yes” to all of the above, then it’s time to rock and roll. If you’re not quite there yet, don’t worry! Keep writing and soon you’ll have some super fans ready to help you start your team!
Starting Your Team
There is a ton of information popping up about the logistics of starting a Street Team, so I’ll keep this part brief. Here are the basic steps:
1. Reach out to your fans through your newsletter, Facebook, twitter, etc. Tell them you’re starting a Street Team. Be clear about your expectations for members as well as what awesome benefits they’ll get by being a member of your Street Team.
2. Set up a way for fans to apply to be a team member. I recommend using a Google Form, which will automatically generate a spreadsheet for you.
3. People apply, you approve them, and now you have a Street Team!
Having Fun With Your Street Team
1. Come up with a unique name. Have you heard of Jenny Cruise’s “Cherries?” What about Liliana Hart’s “Team Mackenzie?” You’re a writer! Let your creativity and personality shine!
2. Create some team spirit. Set up a private Facebook group to give your team a place to chat and share ideas. Most importantly, this is a place for you to get to know your team members privately and this is where they get a chance to know you better as well.
3. Code names are entertaining. Let’s say you write a series about assassins (I’m looking at you, Leslie Langtry), why not let everyone come up with their assassin code name? This is a great icebreaker for when you’re starting the group and when new members come aboard.
4. Everyone wants to feel like they’re in on a secret. Make sure your Street Team members know that they are in your inner circle. Give them an early look at chapter excerpts and cover photos. Or, ask them questions that you don’t ask publicly like, “What do you think Bill and Jane should name their pet tarantula?”
5. Remember, it’s not about you. Wait. What???? No, I mean it. Your Street Teamers ARE there to support you, but they’re already paying attention to what you’re writing, when it’s releasing, how many books you have, etc. You don’t have to shout it from the rooftops. Instead, make your group about building camaraderie and making personal connections.
6. Accept help. Street Teams can take up a lot of your time! Consider hiring someone to help you run it. Or see if one of your super fans wants to volunteer to be Team President or Chancellor or Prime Minister or whatever title you come up with!
7. Assignments should be fun. First tip: don’t call it an assignment. Second tip: don’t make it mandatory or a chore. Common assignments are asking for books to be added to shelves on Goodreads, reviews to be written, cover images to be shared on social media, bookmarks and other swag to be given to libraries and bookstores. Those are all great, but don’t forget to think outside of the box. Do contests and competitions and don’t forget a healthy dose of silliness.
8. Make your group exclusive. Everyone wants to feel like they’re part of something that not just anyone can join, so make it that way. Open your Street Team to new applicants several times a year instead of accepting applicants all year round. This will also save you the headache of continually processing new applications.
9. Quality is more important than quantity. Don’t forget that members of your Street Team should be people who have actually read and ENJOYED your books! It’s not a bad idea to make them prove it as part of the application process. They can point to a review they’ve written, a Facebook post, a rating on Goodreads, or at least answer some questions about your books. It’s better to have 10 dedicated Street Team members that want to help you than 100 that just want free stuff.
10. Follow the rules. It can be really tempting to ask your Street Team to do things that aren’t strictly appropriate like re-shelving your books to better locations in bookstores. My recommendation would be to FOLLOW THE RULES. Amazon and other booksellers have guidelines on who can post reviews. Facebook has (and is constantly changing) their rules on contests and promotions. Images have copyright restrictions. Don’t risk your long-term career for a short-term boost in sales. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
11. Pay it forward. Swag is a part of almost any Street Team. Think about sending out a welcome packet that has exclusive STREET TEAM ONLY swag. Do contests. Give away gift cards and books and other awesome stuff, but don’t break the bank! Your Street Team members should be there for more than just the swag and giveaways. Don’t forget about the prizes that you can use that are free to you. Offer to put a winner’s name in your next book or thank someone personally in the acknowledgements or let your next contest winner choose the location of your character’s destination wedding. Be creative. It could save you a lot of money.
When it all comes down to it, your Street Team should be FUN! It should not be more expensive than you can afford. When you make it big and start earning a ton of money, then you can give away more stuff. For most people starting out, you’re working with a small budget, so get creative, have some fun and always remember to thank the people who helped you get where you are today!
Melissa Jolly, Author's Assistant to multiple NYT and USA Today Bestselling authors and founder of Author Rx, has been "Keeping Authors Out of the Loony Bin Since 2009." Melissa started out as a Library Assistant in Young Adult Services where she specialized in outreach to "at risk" teens at juvenile detention centers and inner-city schools. Melissa has always had a true passion for connecting readers (and non-readers) to books and now enjoys channeling that energy into connecting her authors with their fan bases through social media, newsletters, giveaways, street teams and more. Melissa also holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Theatre Performance which means she’s not afraid of a challenge, a crowd, or a little drama! You can find out more about her and Author Rx at www.AuthorRx.com and on Facebook and twitter. © 2013 Melissa JollyRECOMMENDED RESOURCES:
The Naked Truth about Self-Publishing by The Indie Voice: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00DHPQGN0http://writersinthestorm.wordpress.com/2013/05/31/street-teams-why-you-need-one-and-how-to-create-one/
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