An author’s street team is not a new concept, but one in which you might not have heard of. A street team is like a group of modern day band groupies but for you and your books. They go to your live events, they buy your books as soon as you are out, enter every giveaway you have, they e-mail you fan mail and they promote you for free (and without your knowledge). This can be bad. Promotion about you without you knowledge of the message can lead to confusion. They may claim to have a release date which is wrong or not know about an upcoming event. This can be damaging to your reputation as well as confusing for the general reader.
What authors need to do is to filter information and manage what is going on with their street team. You may think this is a new concept, but it isn’t. Big organisations have been doing this for years. But they do it in subtlety.
So here are some ideas on how best to utilise an author’s Street Team and do it without being seen as a control freak.
1. Run a fan newsletter
Running a fan newsletter is by most the effective way to get a message across whether that is about an event or new release. Also fans will ready share this information either through twitter, facebook or amongst their friends on the school drop off. And they will get the message right. Additionally studies have shown newsletters can account for 11% of original sources for online sources – making them doubly attractive.
2. Engage with your fans
I am all about reader engagement. In fact reader engagement is an author’s hidden talent. Why? Because it makes the reader feel special. And if the reader feels special they will let everyone know about how you treated them – which will magnify your reputation. So how do you engage? You respond to e-mails, you ask after them, you get to know them. Make them feel like the process, like they matter and they will make you matter to the world.
3. Give them stuff early
Ever been given a product ahead of time? I know that when I get a product ahead of time that I can’t wait to tell people about it. When Serenity had come out on DVD I got it three days before the shops. By the time it came to release day I had already shown it to people, talked about it and happily wrote about it online. And guess what – a few of my friends went to buy their own copies.
4. Give them free stuff
I love this idea – and when my writing is more successful I plan to work this into my budget no matter what. What you need as an author is to provide free items that have your brand image on it. Postcards, key rings, posters are all easily made up by printers and can have your book cover added to them. People love free stuff and when they get it they talk about it – gaining you exposure. It doesn’t even have to be useful. My wife bought some trainers online a few months back and she got a mug free with them. It was a simple mug that was plain white with just the logo on the side. But boy do I love it. The thing is that the mug itself weighs more than bottle full of water – is three times the size of a normal mug (yes I’ve measured it) and was brilliant on playing practical jokes on family members.
5. Do member only competitions
One of the more useful and effective ways of encouraging team members is to conjure up a member’s area where only those special fans can see and enter competitions. This works in two ways. First it means that people who love your work will want to be part of the fan group in order to compete in these special competitions. Secondly people like to talk about the competitions that they’ve entered. If they tell people about your member’s only offer and others like the sound of it, they will sign up – giving you more exposure in the general crowd.
6. Praise and thank them
There is nothing better than receiving a pat on the head from someone you admire. Not only do you work harder in the future to receive more rewarding pats, you feel special. That is why you must publically acknowledge praise and thank your special fans. They’ll spread the word that you have thanked them and your reputation will be enhanced by that.
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