Until recently, I'd heard of a street team in passing but had no real concept of what one entails or how to go about building one of my own. I know authors who have done them and succeeded and others not so much. I was curious though because the ones that work looked like excellent ways to promote. And any writer who has ever published a book knows promotion is a bottomless abyss you throw your time into and will never get back.
So, was a street team for me? I did what a writer does, and researched the ever loving shit out of the subject. Here's what I've uncovered.
1: A successful street team is an author's reader based support network. I have a fanfreakingtabulous author support network. (Shout out to the Wild Ones, the Divas and all the rest of the talented minxs I play word games with.) A street team is the reader end. These aren't just fans of books who run rampant with promo. A street team is boots on the grounded, dedicated to spreading the word about an author and her books.
2. Not all street teams are created equal. Some of them form and then do nothing, either because the author recruited the wrong sort of members, like those only interested in the swag the author hands out OR because the author really didn't know how to utilize the dedicated fans she had recruited.
3. Like any other promotional venture, it's enthusiasm that sells books. The best street teams out there are friends with the author they represent. They love the author, love the books and genuinely want to share them with others. And yes, this is another reason an author should vet the members of her street team carefully. Because these people are representing you and your brand.
4. It's better to have a small but dedicated force than a glut of random readers who are just after the free stuff. Yes, an author wants to reward her street team for a job well done, but promising hundreds of dollars in free merchandise will attract the wrong sort who won't really help and could end up costing the author more than she gets back in sales.
5. The most successful street teams have flexible goals. Reviews on release day, promo dropped off at the local library or coffee shop. Five new recommendations per book. Some authors take it to extremes, rewarding street team members for each retweet/ facebook share. Honestly, that sounds more involved than promoting, but to each her own.
(Click for more info about Hart's Hotshots)In the end, I decided that yes, I wanted to start a street team. The next step was a name, something catchy and memorable that would look fricking awesome on a jacket yet still represent my romance/ mystery brand. Hart's Hotshots. That badge still gives me shivers because it personifies my mystery, mayhem, laughter and love tagline so perfectly.
I'm not starting up a Facebook group or Yahoo loop at this time. I may or may not hashtag. This isn't about big public scenes, it's about connecting with readers. Members of Hart's Hotshots receive an individual welcome letter and are subscribed to the Hotshots newsletter, which will go out about a month prior to my next release. We'll see how it goes, but I'm happy with how it's turned out so far and glad to have something new to aim for. (Pun totally intended.)