I’ve heard a lot about author street teams lately. The concept (for those who haven’t heard of it) involves a group of fans of an author’s work who are excited about promoting it. Those special readers hand out bookmarks, leave honest reviews, maybe request or donate library copies in their town, recommend the books to friends, or mention the titles in relevant Facebook posts. In exchange, they might get advance copies of books, paperbacks, or other swag. Maybe they become the author’s inner circle, the devoted fans who the author asks to beta read new work, or who have the author’s ear when they have questions about the stories.
And, of course, they get the author’s eternal gratitude. It’s about connection, not bribery.
Ideally, it’s a win-win situation. As an author, I wouldn’t be comfortable asking people to help out with promotions if they weren’t getting anything but warm, fuzzy feelings in return…
…but then, people do that anyway, don’t they? I know I do, when I read a book that I love. All of Bound‘s early sales came from word-of-mouth promotion. People read advance copies and reviewed on their blogs, or bought copies and recommended the book to their friends. A few people suggested it to their
wine-drinking clubs book clubs, and they all bought it and read it together. And that led to enough sales that Amazon started recommending it.
It continues now. People will write and say they loved the book and are recommending it to everyone, and I just want to hug them. But I don’t. Because that would be uncomfortable for everyone.
Also, internet hugs get weird.
But I’m starting to think that a street team could be fun. I know there are people out there who are reviewing and recommending, and darn it, I want to give them stuff to make that easier. I want to send them postcards with book covers on them. I want them to be the first to know when a limited number of advance review copies are available. I want to wish them happy birthday (from their favourite character, if that’s what they want).
I want to thank them.
So, how to do it?
A Facebook group seems like the obvious answer. This would be better than a page, as it would ensure that people actually see my posts (unlike my page, where posts reach very few of the people who have signed up and said they want to see them). It would allow people to interact with each other and share ideas, and I’d get to know them a little better, too, as I’ve done with a few readers through my Facebook page.
Or would it just be a time-suck? I’d love to do fun things like awarding points for achievements (sharing promo posts on Facebook and elsewhere, recommending the book or nominating it for things like readers’ choice awards, leaving reviews, etc.), and then send out prizes like book charms, exclusive bookmarks, paperbacks, etc.
But that could get complicated. I mean, I can’t even use Excel to track this stuff, because I’m no good with computer… thing. And I kind of need to use my “spare” time for writing. This isn’t something I’d take time away from writing to do, but I could definitely set it up and maintain it on days like today, when the kids are home and I can’t do my “real” work.
And there’s the expense. Mailing anything bigger than a few postcards gets really expensive when it’s coming from Canada.
So my questions for all y’all:
AUTHORS: Do you use a street team? How do you keep in touch with them? What do they do? Is it what you hoped it would be? How do you make it worthwhile for your readers, those wonderful people who make your professional world go ’round?
READERS: Would you be interested in something like this? Say, a closed Facebook group where you’d be the first to learn about my new books and promotions, see things like teasers and new covers, and have first dibs on advance review copies? Would you be willing to help out with occasional promos in exchange for these things, or do you prefer to recommend books for no reason other than the fact that the moment seems right? If you were on a street team, what would make it fun for you? Points? Raffles? Just-for-fun, random party games a few times a month? Group chats? Constant AMA author access?
And also: What would my team be called? “You Guys” is probably taken. O.o
And P.S: I am so grateful to those of you who are already doing this stuff. Those who are sharing Bound with people, writing reviews, tweeting about books, recommending to your book clubs, clicking “helpful” on positive Amazon reviews, commenting on Facebook… the one teacher I know of who stuck a copy in her classroom… I appreciate it, and you, so much.