THE STREET TEAM: YES, YOU NEED ONE
by Jillian Boehme
Planning the next story is a good idea (and so is the latte), but sitting back and expecting your book to sell is the worst possible choice. For as much as political campaigns and fundraisers need grassroots efforts, so, too, do authors with a release date looming.
It’s no secret that authors need to put significant time into their own marketing. Even if you’ve landed deal with a major house, you’re still going to have to put in a lot of effort if you want your book to have its best chance possible. There are myriad courses out there on “how to launch a bestseller” and “book marketing 101”. I don’t claim to be an expert on any of that. I only know that, in addition to everything else I’ve been working on, my street team is a vital part of my overall marketing approach.
SO, WHAT’S A STREET TEAM?
Simply put, it’s a group of people who are dedicated to cheerleading for your book. There are two approaches to building your teams, and several options for what you’d like these people to do for you.
APPROACH #1: Reach out to people you know personally (online or in real life). These are the people who are most likely to agree to help because they care about you personally.
APPROACH #2: Reach out to a broader audience. These are the folks who follow you on social media, read your blog, or are fans of books you’ve already published. Many of these folks will also care about you personally, but their main draw is that they’re fans of your work and/or your online presence.
(And, of course, you can combine these approaches for a mixture of folks on your team.)
HOW DO I REACH OUT?
The easiest way is to create an online form for people to fill out. I use Google Forms; it’s quick and easy to input your questions and send out your survey, and equally easy for people to respond.
WHAT DO I SAY?
First, write a brief description to let them know what they’re signing up for. For instance: “Thanks for your interest in joining my Street Team for BOOK TITLE! Please check all that apply.” Then decide what it is you want help with and add those items to your check-off list. Here are some examples:
- I’m interested in received an ARC and reviewing BOOK on Goodreads, Amazon, and other places online. If you have advanced review copies to hand out, this is a great way to distribute some of them in exchange for early reviews. If you don’t have any ARCs, you can utilize this option once your book is out.
- I’m interested in buzzing your book on social media. This option is for folks who want to help, but don’t want to commit to reading and reviewing. These are the folks who love to post pretty things on Instagram and gush about things they’re excited about on Facebook and Twitter.
- I’m a book blogger and I’d like to interview you. This one’s self-explanatory.
- I’m local and I’d like to help create local buzz. Here’s the ideal option for your local (probably extroverted) friend who wants to systematically chat up your book to booksellers, librarians, teachers, youth group leaders, neighbors—you name it.
Basically, it’s up to you how you’d like to utilize the people on your street team. Once you’ve got a group together, organize them according to what they signed up for. That way, you can create mailing lists for the separate groups and communicate with your team according to what they’ve offered to do.
And here’s an extra bit of advice—don’t be pesty! Just because people have signed up to help promote your book doesn’t mean they want to hear from you every other day. Communicate regularly enough to keep you on their radar, but don’t inundate them! If they start feeling annoyed or pressured, they’re not going to be motivated to do anything for you.
IMPORTANT: Not everyone who signs up to help is going to love your book. I made the mistake of not asking my ARC recipients to reach out to me privately if they felt they couldn’t give my book a 4- or 5-star review. Consequently, one of my team members gave me a 3-star, not-very-complimentary review.
It’s perfectly fine to give a book an honest 3-star review! But that’s not your role as a street team member. At that point, the team member should either a) leave the team and give the honest review independently; or b) admit that it would be difficult to give the book 4 or 5 stars and offer to do something else to help promote it instead of a review.
In the end, a dedicated street team is going to have your back. You can’t rely on them to do the bulk of your marketing—that still rests squarely on your shoulders. But their behind-the-scenes support will make a difference.
Now go forth and gather your street team!
About the Author:
JILLIAN BOEHME is known to the online writing community as Authoress, hostess of Miss Snark’s First Victim, a blog for aspiring authors. In real life, she holds a degree in Music Education, sings with the Nashville Symphony Chorus, and homeschools her remaining youngster-at-home. She’s still crazy in love with her husband of more than thirty years and is happy to be surrounded by family and friends amid the rolling knolls of Middle Tennessee.