Monday, July 13, 2015

Four Tips for Forming a "Street Team"

Posted by Michelle Griep for Erica Vetsch

Recently, I decided to take the plunge and form a tribe, a street team, a book launch team, or whatever kids are calling it these days. I knew that my efforts alone were not going to be enough to get the word out sufficiently about my new releases, nor could I devote enough time to marketing all by myself and still write books. I watched what some of my fellow authors were doing to organize and assemble teams, took notes, and gave it quite a bit of thought.

Then I took the plunge, knowing what I hoped for but not really knowing what was realistic.

The truth is, I could not be happier with my little group. They are enthusiastic, eager, and have surpassed my expectations.  So I thought I would share a few things I’ve learned so far that might be helpful for someone thinking about starting an author ‘street team.’

Put out the call with specifics: 
You need to get the word out, but it isn’t enough to just say, ‘hey, want to be part of my team?’ You need to be specific about what you’re looking for and what prospective members can expect. I chose to put the word out on Facebook mostly, because that’s my favorite social media site. I listed clearly what I was looking for; book reviews, social media, blogging, etc. I also listed clearly what team members could expect from me; review copies of books, promotional materials, inside/early info, brainstorming possibilities, etc. In order to select my team, I set up a questionnaire on I asked questions like:
  • ·       How many of Erica’s books have you read?
  • ·       Which social media sites do you use?
  • ·       Have you ever reviewed a book online before?
  • ·       Do you belong to any other authors’ street teams?

I tailored the questions to help me select the folks that would work best for my needs. One thing I also needed to consider is how big I wanted my team to be. I needed to weigh up my promotion budget, my publisher’s contributions to promotion, and how many folks I thought I could manage. I decided to start small with 25 people, figuring I could always add folks later as I got more experience.

Give the group an identity tailored to what you write: 
I write historical fiction, and a lot of it is set in the American West with cowboys and cavalry officers and pioneers. When it came time to form my book launch team, ‘street team’ didn’t seem like quite the right name. I went with The Vetsch Posse.  I created a ‘wanted poster’ and used ‘cowboy lingo’ to describe what I was looking for. Folks responded better than I even imagined. They’re proud of being part of a Posse riding the publishing range in search of new readers. J

Encourage inter-group networking: 
When I had my selections made, I created a private Facebook Group for the members. Then I asked everyone to post all their social media links there so everyone could link up, follow, and like each other, forming connections which would make sharing info easier. I asked everyone to introduce themselves in the group, which resulted in lots of chatter about their common likes, locations, and similarities. The group identity began to form with very little help from me. This, I believe, is crucial to the success of the venture, and will, I hope lead to a group that will function well with little input and oversight from me.

Be clear with your communication and expectations: 
I post each Monday morning in the private Facebook group. I figure once a week is a good amount, not wanting to overwhelm members but also not wanting them to think I’ve forgotten about them. I call the post the Monday Morning Abuckles (Arbuckles being synonymous with cowboy coffee.) In each MMA, I post the promotional items that I hope to accomplish that week. Things like having everyone post on FB and twitter about a contest or book giveaway, or encouraging those on Pinterest to pin to the Vetsch Posse board. Just this last week, I let everyone know that my publisher had printed up some postcards and bookmarks, and if Posse members wanted, I would mail them a handful to give out. Boy howdy, did the Posse come through on that one. I mailed more than twenty packages! Yay, Posse!! They will distribute these postcards to friends, family, local libraries, and bookstores. This is a great example of being clear on what you would like to accomplish, and your team will help you get it done!

One of the things that I’ve been most surprised about is how happy and thankful these folks are to be part of my team. They’ve thanked me many times, when it is I who should be thanking them! (And I do!) I’m still learning, but thus far, forming The Vetsch Posse has been fun and effective!

Anything he can do, I can do better. At least that was what Cassie Bucknell thought before she pinned on Ben Wilder’s badge and took to patrolling the streets of Cactus Creek, Texas. Cassie has been in love with Ben since primer school, but Ben treats her like a little sister. When they are picked to swap jobs for a month as part of the annual Cactus Creek Challenge in their Texas hometown, the schoolhouse is thrown into an uproar, the jail becomes a temporary bank vault, and Cassie and Ben square off in a battle of wills that becomes a battle for their hearts.

Erica Vetsch is a transplanted Kansan now residing in Minnesota. She loves history and romance, and is blessed to be able to combine the two by writing historical romances. Whenever she’s not immersed in fictional worlds, she’s the company bookkeeper for the family lumber business, mother of two, wife to a man who is her total opposite and soul-mate, and avid museum patron.


Ane Mulligan said...

In my debut book, the characters meet every morning in the town's bakery, Dee's 'n' Doughs, so I formed a private Facebook group for fans of the book and named it ... wait for it ... yep, Dee's 'n' Doughs. They're my street team, and we've done some fun things to get ready for my second book. They've put together (as the characters in the books) a cookbook! We'll laugh it as a promo for the next book. :)

Gina Holmes said...

Great article. Thanks for sharing what you've learned. I haven't taken the plunge yet.

Erica Vetsch said...

Ane, that's brilliant. Love the Dee's 'n' Doughs name, and the cookbook is a stroke of genius!

Erica Vetsch said...

Gina, I was slow to pull the trigger on a street team, but now that I have, I can't tell you what a blessing they've been to me already!

Brenda Anderson said...

Great tips, Erica! I have a Street Team already (without a real cool time like yours--have to remedy that!) and your ideas will definitely help me utilize them better. Thank you!

Erica Vetsch said...

My pleasure, Brenda! I'll be curious to see what you come up with for a group name! :)

Kate said...

I love Erika's books! I'm itching for the sequel to her latest release! Write faster!!!!!!!

sondrakraak said...

Very helpful. I'm preparing to put together a team and have already thought of how to theme it around my historical romance. Thanks, Erica.

Merrillee Whren said...

Erika, thanks for the great tips. Sounds like a wonderful book.

Erica Vetsch said...

Kate! Thanks for being such a faithful reader! I'm writing as fast as I can! :)

Erica Vetsch said...

Sondra, I'm glad you found the post helpful. I wish you all the best with your launch team and your novel!!

Erica Vetsch said...

Merrillee, thank you! I sure had fun writing it, and the Posse is getting the word out!

Pam Hillman said...

Great tips, Erica! Thank you! I have a small street team as well. Intentionally small for the same reasons you mentioned. But I love the Pinterest board idea. Yep, my Calico Crew is about to have their on Pinterest board! Perfectly fun!! :)