Sunday, August 18, 2013
Street Teams for (Indie) Authors - When, Why, Pros, Cons
(Superfluous) BACKGROUND: An idea was floated by a blog commenter last week that I should look into creating a "street team" of fans. I've heard (read) this term before and I know at least 2 authors who have street teams (Kimberly Knight and Michelle Graves, both of whom I consider to be all around fantastic people and friends).
I don't know much about how this would work other than the "street team" would word-of-mouth promote my books on blogs (as an example, if a blogger asked: "Read any good books lately?" members of the street team would leave comments on FB pages and blog posts in response) and also mention my books in message board forums, tweet about my books and events, vote for my books on goodreads lists, etc.
Street Team DEFINITION: Wikipedia defines street team- A street team is a term used in marketing to describe a group of people who 'hit the streets' promoting an event or a product. 'Street Teams' are promotional tools that have been adopted industry wide as a standard line item in marketing budgets by entertainment companies, record labels, the tech industry, corporate brand marketers, new media companies and direct marketers worldwide
QUESTION(S): Do I want to try to do this? Do I want to try to organize a sustained group of volunteers to help me get the word out about my books?
1. Forming close relationships with BIG fans of the book: This really, really, really appeals to me. Even if I didn't call it a street team but, instead, created a virtual Knitting in the City club (knitters, non-knitters, crocheters, non-crocheters, pet owners, non-pet owners alike all invited) I think this would be so much fun. I could hold special events at author signings, send out swag bags, signed copies of books to club members. I think this would be hellafun.
2. Increase visibility for The Knitting in the City series/ Penny Reid books: This is self explanatory
3. Outlet for big fans of the books: There are a few authors who I wish had a street team (or a fan club or something like it) but do not. I would LOVE to have a (private) place to discuss my favorite author and meet others who also love the author's books. Also, as a big/loyal fan it would be great to have more access to the author and/or special giveaways, book editions, special items offered only for club members.
1. What if no one is interested? :-| (aka, I'm a defeatist and am pretty sure no one is interested so if I try to pull this together and when it inevitably fails due to lack of interest then I'll be pretty sad. So, therefore, likely it's better to not try.)
2. I have no control over what people say or how they behave. Right now, if a fan of the book behaves poorly then no one holds me accountable. He/she is a random fan. However, if he/she is a part of my street team then don't his/her actions reflect back on me? I find this prospect frightening.
3. Additional time commitment: Time I could be writing will be spent "organizing the street team".
EVIDENCE/DATA/FACTS: as of this writing
Neanderthal Seeks Human - release date March 13, 2013
Friends Without Benefits - release date October 8, 2013
Reviews on Amazon: 277
Number of people signed up for my newsletter: 124
"Likes" on Facebook: 706 (but, only about 20 people actively engage, i.e. like posts and/or comment)
"Followers" on Twitter: 345 (but not many readers actively engage with me, mostly other authors are the ones who tweet back/interact)
Goodreads: 76 friends; 192 fans
"Followers" on Blog: 24 (but I think more than that read my blog because I have about 10 who comment with some frequency... <3)
CONCLUSION: I will not be organizing a street team at this time. However, I am considering the possibility of creating a private FB group for big fans of the books.
Con#1 is really the reason why I've decided against organizing a street team. At this point I think it's premature. My books/I do not have enough of a substantive fanbase (or enough of a body of work to generate a substantive fanbase). Maybe I'll revisit this in a few years, maybe never! I really think in order to have an effective street team you need to have a group of people who are passionate about your work. I just haven't proven myself yet.
I hope my thought process helps other (Indie) Authors make a decision about whether or not to start a street team.