Therese & Morgan say: While we were chatting with Sabrina York about using an illustration for her author portrait, it occurred to us that she also utilizes a street team. What is a street team? See the details below on how you can leverage word-of-mouth campaigns, via street teams, to help market your books. Structure is key!
Sabrina York says: Of all the things I have done to market myself, my books and my brand, engaging my street team has been, by far, the most effective use of my time and energy. And it has led to amazing promo opportunities I would not have otherwise had…and powerful friendships with readers.
What is a Street Team?
Simply put, your street team is a group of your biggest fans. Readers, friends, bloggers, reviewers, fellow authors and others who love your books so much, they want to share them. Often rabidly.
I started my street team about a year ago and it was one of the smartest moves I’ve ever made—simply because of the amazing connections that have come from it. I decided to keep it small at first and let it grow organically, to make sure I could manage it effectively. Poor management of street teams can lead to negative backlash. Remember—these are your biggest fans. You want them to have a positive experience with you.
Starting A Street Team
I began by sending out a call to my newsletter subscribers. These are folks who liked my books enough to sign up for updates. I have added members here and there, mostly readers who contacted me to tell me how much they loved my books. Some of them I have met through other marketing forays.
While my team includes readers, it also includes bloggers and reviewers and other authors. I had assumed they were far too busy to promote my books. On the contrary, they are delighted to do so. In fact, they have become some of my most influential supporters.
I highly recommend having a set of guidelines for your team to avoid problems other authors have had. (You can read more about the ins and outs of street teams here)
Some of the benefits of street teams:
The Best of the Best
Reviews. To my delight, not only do my members love reading my books, they love writing reviews for them. Several of my members review for high profile sites, which is wonderful exposure.
Exposure to New Markets. Some members host me on their blogs whenever I have news to share. I also receive invitations to podcasts, chats and other outlets. One of my members created a beautiful trailer for my Tryst Island series, simply because she loved it so much.
Beyond that, members of my team enjoy telling people—their friends, book clubs, hair stylists—about my books. I send them blingy pens to share with all and sundry! They love it.
Beta Readers. Others serve as beta readers for my WIPs (and there are several professional editors on my team). They get to read a free book before anyone else, and I get to benefit from their eagle eye for errors.
Insight. But probably one of the most powerful uses of my team has been the surveys. My street team has been invaluable providing me information about the State of Readership. What readers are thinking. Where they hang out. What kind of promo works and what kind is a turn off.
The Worst of the Worst
Give it the Time it Deserves. The biggest caveat about starting a team is that this is a relationship and relationships take time. Be prepared to give it, or don’t go there.
Be Clear about Expectations. Some of the horror stories I’ve heard about street teams all boil down to unclear expectations. Be honest and up front about what you want, need and expect.
Bad Behavior. Some of my team members have quit other teams because of Super Fan Bullies or overwhelming assignments. Some authors have someone run their team for them. In my opinion, this defeats the entire purpose of having a team—and can lead to big problems if that manager does not honor your brand.
On my team, Rule # 1 is: Be Nice To Each Other. Rule # 2 is: You Don’t Have To Do Anything You Don’t Want to Do. These lovely ladies are volunteers. I honor and respect that and refuse to issue orders.
You can expect that not all members of your team will be active. Some will join just to have a relationship with you (which, frankly, is awesome). Others join because some authors give their teams free books. It’s up to you to decide how you handle this, but remember, at its core, this team is a mechanism for you to reach out and create a relationship with readers.
What kind of relationship do you want to foster?
Read more about street teams in this three part series on Writing Novels that Sell: http://writingnovelsthatsell.com/book-marketing-for-savvy-networkers-create-street-teams/2013/12/
Join my street team!
About Sabrina YorkHer Royal Hotness, Sabrina York, is an award winning author of hot, humorous stories for smart and sexy readers. Her titles range from sweet & steamy erotic romance to spicy BDSM. Visit her webpage at www.sabrinayork.com to check out her books, excerpts and contests. Don’t forget to enter to win the royal tiara!
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Make your own sign. Some stores provide really nice signs, but that’s rare. If you can’t talk your publisher into making one, then do it yourself. If you don’t have strong graphic design skills, get a designer to help you. Most stores will have some kind of easel or stand, but you might want to carry your own fold-up easel if you can.