One of the newer marketing trends noticeable in the book-writing world is the creation of author street teams.
A street team is a group of fans who come together to support a specific author. The term is also used for fans who adore specific artists, bands, or causes. Kind of like groupies … but more respectable. And useful. They’re all about creating buzz for your books.
I say useful, because a street team for your book can be a powerful marketing tool. Consider that the most influential form of marketing is word-of-mouth recommendations, especially for the book industry. So if you have a group of say, 500 reader fans who go crazy for your books, then you’ve got 500 individual marketers out there helping you with promotion.
In fact, an author street team could be the most effective way for your book — and writing fame — to go viral.
But it all depends on what you put together, how, and with what goals.
Types of Author Street Teams
Street teams for authors come in a variety of forms. They’re customized based on the author’s needs and no two are managed in the same way.
Thanks to the ease and accessibility of Facebook, a lot of authors set up private or secret Facebook groups where their street teams can meet.
Others use a mailing list, while still others have private forums within their websites.
It starts by putting a call out to potential fans. You could post something on your website or within your social media channels.
Then, ideally … someone will answer. Maybe you’ll discover 100 readers who were thrilled by your book. Maybe it’ll just be your best friend. And your mother.
Whatever you get, it’s a start. And it will grow.
Once you have a few members in your team, you start communicating. Some authors honor their street team members by sending them swag. Others give them sneak peeks of their works in progress.
And then when you have a new book about to debut, or a contest, or even an interview, you ask your street team to spread the word.
Why Readers Join Author Street Teams
Think about how you’d feel if you were part of an elite group run by your favorite author. A group that gave you access to that author’s newest works, where you got to enjoy a glimpse of the inner-workings of that author’s mind.
That’s kind of what a street team is for fans, or at least what it has the potential to be. It creates a feeling of inclusion for readers, and it lets authors put names and faces on fans instead of just thinking of them as buyers.
Another benefit for authors is that it gives you someone to share your journey with. After all, writing is solitary by nature. It’s nice to connect with people who appreciate your work.
Is There a Downside to Author Street Teams?
Author street teams aren’t without criticism. While some see them as encouraging groups that want to support an author’s work, others see the whole process as a way to trade giveaways for favors (like book reviews or free word-of-mouth advertising).
Romance and new adult author Cora Carmack has a unique approach to this. In gratitude for all the effort her street team puts into promoting her work, she shares early drafts of new scenes with them. She’s even been known to let her street team name a few characters. She sees it as a way to say thank you and to include her fans in the writing process.
Authors can dodge the criticism of buying off fans by being genuine. Be accessible to your readers. Share openly. Comment willingly. Build trust. And importantly, be consistent over time. Don’t just dive in and post heartily for a few weeks before your new book comes out. Readers will see through your greed for buzz.
Treat your street team as a long-term marketing tactic, and give your readers the respect that deserve. Don’t expect anything from them and be grateful for anything you get.
To connecting with true fans of your writing,