Street Teams – The Smart Author’s Tactic for Book Launches

If I continue my night owl tactics and don’t… you know, die of exhaustion first, then next year I will be launching not one, but six books. That’s the aim anyway. Much as it’s traumatised me not to publish sooner, I’ve been sitting on these books for a reason.

It terrifies me to say it, but 2017 will see me publish actual, word filled, hold in your hands books, and hopefully, a few of them.

But any author worth their salt, knows they can’t and shouldn’t be launching alone. Visibility is the one thing that connects indies to new traditionally published authors. I say it all the time, but Amazon, is a rainforest of books. Getting seen in any part of it is difficult.

We might day dream about coffee shops and alone time to ink our hyperbolae in peace, but getting a book from chapter one to finished product isn’t a one man job. While the writing might be, there are beta readers, cover designers, formatters, editors and reviewers that help with the rest. If writing a book isn’t a one man job, why should launching one be?

Mastering a book launch isn’t really about the big day, it, like anything you anticipate for a while, is  a bit of an anticlimax. Besides, if you want sustained sales, then don’t focus on the launch. Focus on the lifetime of a book. It’s not about its first day, or week, or even its first year. It’s about optimising that book as an asset, it’s a product you can earn from again and again and again, so why worry about getting sales in it’s first week. You want to be worrying about getting them for the next ten thousand weeks.

Launches are about driving yourself crazy and into a six foot deep grave through stress sustained activities over long periods, garnering stacks of reviews, running competitions, paying it forward for other authors, teaming up or compelling your own boxsets and unfortunately, paying for advertising.

I’ve been doing a chuff load of research on marketing and book launches, so today, we’re talking street teams, and for anyone willing, there’s a personal request from me, to you, to join my street team.


STREET TEAMS -What in the shizzle are they?

Street teams are a group of generous writers, bloggers, readers, reviewers, friends, family, dogs, cats, cousins, chimps, chocolate… wait…

It’s a group of people willing and able to help you launch and promote your books.

I say books plural, because that’s the ideal. Otherwise it would be a right pain in the arse having to create a new team for every single book, especially if you publish more than one or two a year? Sure, not everyone in your street team will help with every book launch, but still – why have more than one group to manage? If people are happy to be kept in the loop and help when they can, keep it simple.

Pat Flynn, from the smart passive income podcast has a great podcast on street teams, you can check it out here. The most important lesson I took from his podcast, is the importance of building your team early, and not just a week early either. Months early. The earlier you gather your team, the longer time you give them to help you. Makes sense right?


WHAT DO STREET TEAMS DO?

The way I see it, street team work is split into two parts:


1. Street Team Reviewers

The reviewer side of any street team could also be called an ARC team which stands for (Advanced Reader Copy).

You give them an electronic copy of your book (or, if you can afford it, a paper copy) for FREE and in exchange they leave you an honest review, and if they are super lovely and have the time, in more than one place, i.e. Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.com and Goodreads, at least, that’s what I do.

While that all sounds lovely and candy floss covered, it isn’t quite so straight forward, the stats I’ve read vary massively, but with an engaged group of street teamers (as opposed to a KDP Select freebie day), you could expect an average of a 25% return rate, so for every 100 books you give away, on a good day you might get 25 reviews back. (I know this is a rough figure, not everyone will have the same experience)

Giving your book away for free won’t hurt your campaign/launch/career either. You need to think long term. Giving fifty books away for free now, might lead you to a hundred sales later, especially if that person leaves you a review or tells their friends about your book. Short term pain for long term gain. Besides, lots of people who receive books for free actually buy copies of books they love to support the author, I know I do.

2. Social Media Sharers

The list of things you could ask your social media sharers to do is endless, but here’s a few ideas:

  • Create sharables (i.e. pre-made tweets, statuses or other social media content with photos for them to share at their leisure)
  • Guest posts, or if you don’t have time to write stacks and stacks of new content then half a dozen posts that can be reused on different blogs
  • Blog tours
  • Publishing review posts
  • Sharing and promoting competitions you run
  • Telling their friends, family and networks about your book
  • Join in a Thunderclap

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Image credit pixabay

HOW DO YOU GET A STREET TEAM?

Well, it ain’t rocket science. You suck up your introvert tantrum, undo your zipper, slap out your steel balls and quite simply… ask.

Ask EVERYONE.

Friends, family, bloggers, writers… I’m not going to repeat the earlier list, but if they breathe, can hold a pen and write more than their name, bloody well ask.

You can encourage street team sign ups by treating them with the utmost respect and giving away freebies, creating Facebook groups and organising special prizes just for them.


HOW BIG SHOULD MY STREET TEAM BE?

How big can you manage? Some people like small an intimate, ten or twenty reliable people who you know will post a review. But I have also heard other authors speak about the benefits of having a less engaged but much larger team of five hundred or more. You have to decide what you want to achieve, what you can give your street team as thanks and how you’re going to stay on top of the organisation.

The other factor to consider is how many reviews you want. Bookbub doesn’t accept a book for an advert unless it has a shit ton of reviews. Lindsay Buroker author and podcaster extraordinaire says that while she has had books accepted with less than 100 reviews, its easier with more.

What are the best book launching tactics you have ever come across? Let me know in the comments below.


So, that’s a short run down of what a street team is, what they do, and how to get them.

Now for my personal ask…

It’s a bit early, as I’m not launching till next year, but I’m a planner and like to be organised. If you’re interested in joining my street team – where you’ll get free early access to my ebooks and other goodies, and would be willing to either post and honest review, or happy to share my launches on your social media, then let me know in the comments below.

Please note, by agreeing to help me, I will use the email address you use to comment to contact you. Your email will ONLY be used to send information in the run up to launches. There will be no spam, no newsletters or content of any other kind.


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August welcome

73 comments

  1. Best of luck, Sacha. I’ll try and help although I don’t know how yet (at the moment I’m taking up so many projects on that I’m not sure how much I will be able to fit in next year, but do contact me closer to the time and we’ll work something out). ♥

  2. This is so very true. Getting the book published is not a one man job for sure. But promoting it feels even more challenging. Without a network or a professional team with all its connections and knowledge you can only use a small percentage of what would be possible.

    1. Glad you agree Erika, and yes, that is very very true. Your network opens up a plethora of opportunities and ways to exchange and help each other. That is something I just love about this community.

    1. Hey Chris, thank you so much for the lovely share. Really appreciate it, and good luck with the move – are you staying up North? I hope the move goes well and isnt too stressful. I’ve lived in 20 houses, so I know what an absolute pain moving house can be.

          1. Not quite on the coast, but in the countryside about 15 to 20 miles inland Sacha – Manchester is a great city, but the air is too polluted for me to stay longer – I need fresh air to breathe.
            BTW I was born a Northern Ape as you can guess from my Mum’s Book 😀 XXX

  3. I’ve found building a street team to be really hard. The accepted wisdom is that only 10% (or less) of your mailing list will agree to sign up, and of those, only 10% will ever actually post a review. Earlier in the year I put out a call through my newsletter and I had a grand total of TWO people ask to be early reviewers for me, neither of whom have posted reviews of the books I sent them. It’s really disheartening, especially when people who know you and tell you they’ve read your book won’t even post reviews. I’ve started including reviewer requests as part of my autoresponder series but we’ll see if anyone’s interested.

    1. Oh Icy, I have heard similar tales that building street teams is hard work. In fact most people have said the same to me. There has to be some way of doing it tho. Ive also heard that people have given away hundreds of books with no reviews. Nothing is ever as simple as it seems. Not ever. But I think what’s important is trial and error testing. Iteration after iteration, tweaking, measuring, and not giving up. The only real failure in life is giving up.

      Just as an FYI, I haven’t read your books yet, but I will, I have a list of indie friends and you’re on my list of must reads. Obviously I will review whatever I read too xx

      1. I have plans in place for when I relaunch my Underground City series, and I’m going to try a couple of other experiments too! I’ll never give up. I might just be a bit crotchty 😉

        But yeah, put me down on your street team. I love writing book reviews 🙂

        1. Ahh thank you Icy, really appreciate it. I might even come to you for a beta at some point – I know you offered, and of course, it’s a reciprocal offer 😀 haha crotchety! love that word *chuckles*

    1. LOL. Well I hope you find it useful when you come back to it :D. Thank you so much for your kind offer, I’ve noted down your email address and will be in touch in a few weeks. Thank you again 😀

  4. Hi Sacha, I read YA books but most of my blog readers don’t, so I tend to review on GR mainly, and Am when I get round to it. I have read a cracking YA series recently though, that I will write about on my blog, whether people want to read it or not 😀

    So I’ll review if you want. I publicly star between three and five, if it’s bad, I email the author. Bad = crap writing, and/or shed loads of errors, poor plot, abysmal characters or an odd mix of all.

    Also, I give no timescale.

    You have been warned. If you are interested I can add links of pleased people. Honestly there are some.

    Tbh. If I am personally sent a review copy it gets reviewed somewhere. Eventually. Unless, caveat above.

    Up to you.

    Not keen on PDF, so epub or mobi is pref.

    Although at this point you are thinking ‘Do I really want a street team?’

    1. Hey,

      Thank you for the umm…. frank comment! It’s all about honest reviews though isn’t it? Otherwise what’s the point. I’m not interested in a pile of 5* reviews because if I find another author with only 5* I don’t believe they are true reviews. So yes, I would gladly have you review my book, thank you.

      I’ve got your email addy, so will be in touch (although it will be the non-fic I pub first…) 😀

      1. Whatever suits. With the exception of the whingearse who couldn’t write for toffees, asked for a review, and didn’t like the two stars, most people seem happy enough. I hate the stars, have to say. I think the value is in the feedback. Depends whether you want to get bookbub or honesty …

        1. Agreed, the value is definitely in the feedback. I do want a bookbub. But I also want to keep developing my writing, so feedback is critical to me. I am under no illusions, this is my first book, I don’t really know my own process yet, so I know it will be years before I hit my prime. I’ve had the first beta come back and I am very excited to make improvements and the feedback really has helped too, so yeah, definitely open to feedback. 😀

          1. Good that you have a beta response. Many people have poor/no results. I tend to give (unsolicited) reviews for something really good or really bad 😀 It’s hard to get animated by mediocrity.

          2. Ah really? I should get 4/5 back, but then I do beta for other people, so perhaps I’ve built up enough track record to get back what I give out so to speak. But you’re right about mediocrity. It’s what we all fear.

  5. I agree you need to have a team backing your launch. But the idea that giving people a free book leads to reviews is faulty. It doesnt. It just leads to you giving away free books to people who love to get stuff for free… and who will probably never read it. Sad fact. Having said that, having a small but very engaged team of people you know well and trust can work wonders. Although bear in mind that the average reader surfing Amazon for their next fix is quite wary and suspicious of a book that recieves a ton of reviews on the day it is launched. Especially when all those reviews come from other writers. Its a really tough call. A ton of reviews might get you onto Bookbub, but if they dont, they wont sell books for you… who really takes reviews seriously? They’re so subjective, and people like to make up their own minds. Hopefully by buying your book, not just reading The Look Inside! ? Sorry if that sounds a bit negative… its late and I’m tired! If you still want me after that, I’d love to be on your street team. Xxx

    1. I think I mentioned that the stats vary and that some get very low return on reviews for giving out a book. I actually do look at reviews… and it has swung me one way or another on buying a book. Mrs. Black is the same, although on product reviews rather than books. I know a lot of people do. But yes, you know I would be honoured to have you. 😀 <3

  6. Hey girl, you know I love to share! I can’t wait to have you over for my new series coming – authors with new book launches. I’m quite impressed how far you’ve already planned ahead for your launch. I know you’ll be a smash success. Who wouldn’t want to be in your tribe? <3

    1. ooh *squeal* thank you, thank you. That’s such a lovely thing to say. Don’t know if you know about myers briggs, but basically I am a J, and a BIG J, which means I plan ahead, constantly. Which is why I find it ironic I’m such a pantser!

  7. Yep, I’m in.

    Also, I have to tell you this. While out shopping today, we saw my Sister-in-law in a clothes shop. (That’s not unusual because she loves to shop). We popped in to say hello (they were dog-friendly, so Toby also came in). While there, I noticed some books on the counter next to the till. “Local Authors’ it said. Can you guess what happened next and why I have a huge smile on my face? ?

    I’ve done a lot of blog tours for other authors and am always delighted to help out, so you know where I am when it comes to that big day ? I’ll put the champagne on ice.

    1. Ahhhh thank you my lovely <3 <3

      no way? You getting your book put in that store???????? THAT'S AMAZING HUGH so proud of you <3 <3 <3

      Thank you – i'll certainly take you up on the offer

  8. Happy to help, Sacha.
    I’m learning from you, clearly. The introvert part of me hasn’t had the cajones to do this and I know I should. *biting my nails*
    I’m looking forward to your exciting year!

  9. Firstly, have I told you I think you’re INSANE to do six books in one year?! 😀 At the same time, if anyone can do it, you can.

    And I’m already on your team, whether you like it or not 🙂

    1. hahaha I spat coffee everywhere reading this! You know, I am fairly sure I am on the nuts spectrum. To be fair, I am cheating a bit… I’ll have done 3 this year :p I’m just sitting on them for tactical reasons *muhahah* and thank you :p means the world <3

  10. Estoy aqui para ti–I’m here for you. In bad English AND bad Spanish. Full-service operation, there. Thanks, as always, for the wisdom. As grandpa inches closer and closer to the edge of self-publishing, your dispatches from the front are reassuring.

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