Writing is solitary. You crank along sorrowfully or joyfully through your pages, sometimes in the dead of night or way too early morning — it’s just you and your story. You might be working in an empty office, or maybe surrounded by other people, but no matter how many people are standing around you at the coffee shop, or how many people are encouraging you on Twitter or Facebook, ultimately the only person inside your head is you. No one can help you pull your novel out and put it on the page. At 1AM, when your plot takes a turn, and you and your characters are up against a hurricane or a murder or a least your heretofore repressed mother issues, it can feel like you’re all alone in the world.
And maybe you can be alone. Until you publish that novel. Then look out.
You need people, lots of people! People to edit you — a developmental editor, a line editor, a copy editor, a proof reader. People to help you sell your book — a publicist, a marketing person, someone to design ads, make your web site, coordinate your social media efforts. And of course, you need lots of people to buy your book! Now you may be thinking, hey, I’m a renaissance kind of writer. I can make my own web site, I can figure out my marketing strategy, hire a proofreader — I got this. And maybe you can do a lot for your book on your own. After all, these days even traditionally published authors are expected to take on some publicity jobs, coordinate some of the promotional effort. But there’s one group of people you will always need for things you can’t do on your own, whether you’re self-published or traditionally published, whether you’re big or small — and that is your street team.
A street team is a gang of people who know you, love you, know your book, love it, and want to do well. They’re people you can turn to and ask for favors, give assignments, launch missions, and call on for support. Your street team promotes your events, spreads word of mouth about your book, handles regional promotion in faraway places, and most importantly builds buzz. Buzz is elusive, undefinable, almost magical, and has amazing impact on potential readers. You cannot buzz your own book. You can pay people to do it, but at the end of the day, that’s just more advertising. What you want are readers and fans who will volunteer to be missionaries for your sales effort. That level of zeal cannot be bought. For this you need your street team.
Writers need a street team that’s local, one that’s roaming Twitter and Facebook, one that reaches out into all the spheres of influence that you might want to saturate with news and excitement about your book. Without a team, you’re just one guy, standing on the sidewalk, waving a book around and shouting. With a team, you’re marketing stunts, you’re email lists, you’re trending topics, you’re shares, retweets, you’re warm bodies in seats, you’re messaging, you’re effective. Building your team involves making genuine connections, creating a feeling of excitement and involvement, and getting people on board that are interested and resourceful.There are several ways to go about forming a street team and in our workshop we’ll talk about multiple strategies for drawing together a team that’s energetic and committed.
This is how your book hits the streets. This is how the buzz gets going.