As an author, have you ever thought about just how great it would be if you had a network of friends you knew would be dedicated to helping you promote your book? Sound like a fantasy?
Enter the street team.
A street team is a group of readers that help you promote your book, usually the most loyal fans of your previous books, or books in similar genres.
The relationship built between author and team members is beneficial for both parties. Team members will have access to their favorite author (you!) as well as other exclusive content. And as an author, you’ll have a team dedicated to promoting your upcoming book by posting and talking about it to their network of followers and friends — building up buzz ahead of your book’s launch!
How to recruit team members
The first step after deciding to compose a street team is, of course, recruiting members. If this is your first time getting a team together, try and shoot for between 20-50 members initially. More is great! But keep in mind you’ll have to keep track of if everyone is doing their part and promoting on their end. Exclusivity also helps make everyone on the team feel more special as well. A fun way to cement that exclusivity: Consider coming up with a creative team name!
And remember, team members need to be active online. There will be opportunities to promote your book in person — like talking with a bookseller or book club — but word-of-mouth will be most effective online and on social media.
Where to find members
- Reach out to friends and family who would be a good fit
- Check in with any beta readers you may already have
- Go through previous relationships with book bloggers and people who have previously reviewed your book
- If you’re promoting the next book in a series or a book similar to a previous work, reach out to people who have positively reviewed your book on Goodreads, NetGalley, Edelweiss, etc.
- Announce in your mailing list, newsletter or on social media that you’re looking for team members
Have people fill out a Google Form so you can go through and pick who would be best for the team, or create a form/page on your website where they can enter info. Ask them things like what social media accounts they have, other books they’ve read in your book’s genre, any specific ideas for how they’d like to see your book promoted, etc. Consider keeping a tab on your website where people can request to join and you can consider building up your team for future books.
How to communicate with your team
So how do you keep track of communication with members once you’ve assembled your team? You’ll need to have an online space where all members can have access. Consider creating a private page on your website that only team members can access with a password. Or an easy option: Create a private Facebook page with just you and members — just make sure everyone in your team has a Facebook account!
Wherever you decide to keep team communication, you should make it a goal to post here regularly as well (we know, basically another social media platform!!). But interaction is important: It helps team members get to know you and vice versa. And it builds a great relationship with your team for future releases.
Notes on communication
- Try and keep content focused around you and your book. After all, the goal of your street team is to promote your work!
- Organize things like author interviews/takeovers with other authors to cross-promote and provide new content for your team members.
- Make sure your team has access to any kind of promotional materials, both digital and physical. This could be bookmarks they can pass out to friends or flyers, stickers, buttons, etc. that they can drop off at local bookstores and libraries.
- And again, exclusivity is important! When making announcements, make sure team members are one of the first — if not the first — group you reach out to and alert of something new. For instance, if you’re planning a cover reveal, your team should be able to see the cover before the general public.
- You can also consider hosting a special launch event/party with just team members to celebrate all their hard work leading up to your book’s launch!
How to incentivize team members
It’s important to keep your team active and engaged during the book promotion process. The easiest way to do that is to create a challenge system where members must complete a task to receive a special reward, i.e.: After they post about the book on all their social media accounts, they’ll get a sneak peek of a future book excerpt. For bigger challenges/rewards, you can have drawings for prizes, i.e.: If someone gets a book club to read your book, they can be entered for a video chat session with you.
Potential rewards for your system
- First access to any advance reader copies
- Early access to extra written content like short stories, prequels,
- Signed copies of books
- If they aren’t already, consider allowing them to be beta readers for future novels
- Sneak peeks at cover and title reveals, excerpts from future books etc.
- Early and/or exclusive access to content on your author website or blog
- Bonus book-related content like printable artworks, maps, bookmarks etc.
- A video chat session with you (or potentially with an author friend as well if you’re working on cross-promoting!)
- Promotion of your team members’ blogs and social media accounts on your own channels
- A shoutout in the acknowledgements section of subsequent books
Potential challenges for members
- Have them leave reviews of your book(s) on Amazon, Goodreads, Bookbub, other bookseller sites, their own personal blogs, etc.
- Posting Instagram photos (if you don’t already have a hashtag around your book/series, now would be a good time to think of one!)
- If they have a blog, hosting you for an interview or guest post.
- Sharing others’ reviews and social media posts about you and your books
- Sharing your blog posts and reposting posts from your social media accounts
- Posting shoutouts of you and your book on their own social media channels
- Talking about and recommending your book(s) to their family members, friends, etc.
- Requesting your book(s) at their local libraries and suggesting them to any book clubs
There’s no set limit on how often you dish out challenges and rewards, but weekly challenges are a good goal to shoot for. You want challenges to be often enough to keep members active and engaged, but you don’t want to give them too many challenges that they are overwhelmed. Being a team member should be fun — not a chore!
Organize your system in the beginning of your book promotion period so that as the weeks go on, all you have to do is keep track of if team members are completing the challenges. And don’t forget to let everyone know that the rewards are not the main purpose of the team: They’re a way of thanking team members. The goal is to get the word out about you and your book to new readers!
Jennifer Vance is a publicist at Books Forward, an author publicity and book marketing firm committed to promoting voices from a diverse variety of communities. From book reviews and author events, to social media and digital marketing, we help authors find success and connect with readers.