Forming a street team is one of the hot topics that I came across at the Romance Writer’s National Conference two weeks ago in Atlanta. I didn’t know what a “street team” meant to me as an author, but there was such a buzz on this topic among attendees that I decided to listen to a panel of authors talk about it, so I could discover firsthand what was going on.
Three lovely authors in varying stages of their career ran the workshop, talking about how they had created their personal street teams and what these teams were doing for them in terms of sales and promotion. A street team is basically a cheerleading squad of fans who will promote your book in exchange for swag and perhaps direct access to you as an author. When forming their teams, all three of the authors put out a call on Twitter and Facebook for fans to “apply” for a position on their street team. Those fans who were selected could then earn exclusive prizes, free books, swag and personal chats with you in exchange for doing promotion for you to libraries, friends, family and even complete strangers. Team members get “points” for tweeting/re-tweeting info on you and/or your books, talking about you on Facebook, and promoting you via LinkedIn, blogs, websites, etc. The team members get prizes for handing out postcards, bookmarks and promo materials to people. At some point, all three authors gave away a yearly “grand prize,” which could be anything from naming a character or animal in their next book to a vacation getaway.
Two of the authors were well off enough to have personal assistants run their adult street teams. The third author had a “ teen volunteer” help run her team as she wrote YA and the majority of her fans were teens. All three of the authors believed the street teams were instrumental to their growth and expansion in terms of both sales and career, but acknowledged that street teams can be very time consuming, expensive, and tricky to do right.
So, who should have a street team? The authors were all in agreement that you should have have a solid fan base before you try to form one. Starting a street team before you even have a book available might not be a good idea. But if you have a book or two under your belt and several vocal fans, you might consider one. If you are an author looking to break out of mid-list or blah numbers in terms of sales, then a street team might be for you.
What about you? Do you have a street team? Are you part of a street team? Are you considering forming a street team? Inquiring minds want to know your thoughts on this topical issue. J