grassroots, indie authors, indie publishing, marketing, promotions, Romance Writers of America, RWA, Stephanie Lawton, street team, street teams
Ever since RWA a couple weeks ago, the Internet’s been buzzing about street teams, especially for authors who are with indie publishers or who self-publish. They don’t have big NYC publishers with marketing departments to back them up.
On Twitter, Roni Loren talked about starting one or hiring an assistant. Author and Evernight marketing leader Sandra Pesso has mentioned them. Monday, fellow NASW13 author Dawn Pendleton started recruiting for one.
I’d heard of them before, but didn’t understand what exactly they did. I mean, isn’t your core readership/fandom an organic street team?
Yes and no.
What are they?
Street teams are a grassroots effort to generate buzz and sales — they started in the music industry but have been popular in publishing for a number of years now.
An official street team expects certain things. For a look at specifics and the negatives, here’s a fantastic article by “Jane” on Dear Author. I’ve been hard-pressed to find stories of successful street teams, except when their promotion gets out of hand and they bring unintended publicity (for other mediums, not authors/books).
I’ll admit, I love the concept in its altruistic form. Who better to hand-sell books and effectively use word-of-mouth than readers/fans who truly love your work? It sounds like a win-win! The author gets genuine endorsements and marketing, while members of the street team get exclusive access to the author, as well as incentives like special content, ARCs, swag, etc. –maybe even access to a closed street team group on Facebook.
This is where I think things have the potential to go off the track. When does a street team become a clique? What is “enough” when it comes to incentives? Postcards, bookmarks, swag, mailings, those are all really expensive for the author.
What if the author unintentionally favors some members over others? It happens. Will disgruntled members turn on the author and begin leaving bad reviews? I’d like to be optimistic, but it’s foolish to forget that humans are complicated creatures with feelings and expectations, different points of view and ideas of what’s acceptable and what isn’t.
I’d love to hear from you. If you’re an author, have you used this concept? How did it work out? If you’re a reader, have you joined a street team? If not, would you?
Great article! I’m a book blogger and a member of several street teams. I do get “swag” usually in the form of bookmarks/cards things like that. These items I like to send out to contest winners in hopes of promoting the authors that I love to read. I don’t expect swag and I only “street team” with authors I really enjoy reading. My purpose to join street teams is to hopefully get ARC so I can post my book review ahead of release or on release day and to advertise for free on my website. I can only imagine how expensive it is for authors to promote their books, and anything that I can do as a reader/blogger to help them even in the smallest of ways, is my way of saying thank you for writing such wonderful stories.
Thanks, Trina, for the insight. I was a blogger before a published author, but our site didn’t join street teams, so I have very little knowledge of them. Sounds like you’ve had pretty good experiences with them!
I really have so far, and I just want to add that even if I get an ARC I buy the book too and more often than not the reviews I publish are from books that I buy myself without the ARC.