But while being an indie author is largely a solo pursuit, you don't have to tackle everything entirely on your own! Enter: the indie author street team.
If you've never heard of a street team, read on – we're about to delve into exactly what it is, why you should have one, and how to put one together.
What is an indie author street team?
Street teams originated in the music industry. Back in the day, these teams of volunteers would literally take to the streets, promoting musicians by handing out flyers and CDs, putting up posters, and so on.
Nowadays, street teams don't have such a literal definition. Instead, they're deployed largely online to spread the word about a product or brand. And they're not just confined to the music industry – street teams are a big part of the publishing world now, too!
For an indie author, a street team consists mainly of readers who are fans of their books, and who are willing to help promote them through various means online. We'll talk more below about what your street team can do in terms of promotion.
The members of a street team willingly volunteer their time and efforts to help authors, but they also receive certain bonuses and benefits from the author in return. Again, we'll talk in more depth about this below.
Why do I need a street team?
As we mentioned above, being an indie author can be a hard and sometimes lonely slog. Putting together a street team can help take some of the pressure off you when it comes to getting the word out there about your books.
However, an indie author street team is also a great way to forge meaningful connections with your readers and establish relationships with people in the online book community. It provides a mutually beneficial opportunity where you can give something back to readers as a thank-you for their support.
How do I put together my street team?
So now you know what an indie author street team is, and why it's a good idea to have one, it's time to put your team together!
We've broken the process down into four simple steps.
Step 1: Seek out interested readers
The first step, of course, is to find people who might be interested in joining your street team.
To get started, you can contact some friends and family who have read your books and, ideally, are fans of your genre and/or active in the online community. However, your team can't be made up entirely of your personal acquaintances – to really make your street team work, you'll have to reach out a little wider.
If you have previously developed relationships with book bloggers, this can be a great starting point. Get in touch with them to offer the opportunity to join your team, explaining briefly what it will involve and what's in it for them (more on this below).
You can also reach out to readers who have left positive reviews of your books (and who ideally have an online presence of their own) to see whether they'd be interested.
In addition to this, you can try putting a callout on your social media channels, your blog and/or your author newsletter to let your readers and followers know you're seeking members for a street team.
However, keep in mind that you don't want just anyone on your team. You want people who are genuine readers and fans of your books, and who are genuinely interested in helping you spread the word about them. So try to be selective in who you choose, especially if you get a lot of responses from your general callout.
Step 2: Create an online space for your street team
Once your team is assembled, you'll need a private online space where you can communicate with them – a street team HQ, so to speak!
In this space, you'll be checking in with your team, letting them know how they can help with promotion, and providing them with exclusive content and rewards.
You can also use the space to chat more personally with your team, if you wish – sharing milestones and achievements, providing updates on how your writing is going, and so on.
We feel the best option for your virtual street team HQ is a secret or closed Facebook group. This is super easy to create and, since most people these days have Facebook, is generally the easiest way to keep in touch with your team.
Alternatively, you could create a private, password-protected section on your website where your team can log in, access content and communicate with you. (Here's how to do this on WordPress, Wix and Squarespace.)
Step 3: Let your team know what they can do to help promote your books
Once you've set up your online street team HQ, it's time to give your team their first mission!
After posting an introduction to the group and thanking everyone for taking part, you can start letting your team know exactly what they can do to help spread the word about your books.
Here's a list of suggestions to get them started...
- Leaving reviews of your book/s on Amazon, Goodreads and their own personal blogs
- Hosting you for an interview or guest post on their blog
- Sharing others' reviews and social media posts about you/your books
- Sharing some of your author account social media posts
- Posting shoutouts on their own social media channels
- Posting Instagram photos of your books
- Word-of-mouth promotion – talking about/recommending your books to their family members, friends etc.
- Suggesting your books to book clubs and requesting them at libraries
You might not want to post all these suggestions at once, instead focusing on one aspect (such as book reviews) at a time. But however you approach it, be sure to make it clear that you don't expect your team to do everything you suggest.
You don't want to overwhelm them or have them think you're expecting too much of them. Remember that your team are doing all this on a volunteer basis, and emphasise that you're grateful for any and all support they give.
Step 4: Offer your team exclusive content and rewards
It feels great to be able to reward your team for all their support and hard work. Rewards for your team members can take the form of tangible book-related content or an exclusive opportunity that benefits them.
Here are some ideas for rewards your street team might enjoy:
- First access to ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) of your books
- Early access to reader magnets, such as short stories, prequels etc.
- The opportunity to be beta readers for your forthcoming novels
- Sneak peeks at cover and title reveals, excerpts from future books etc.
- Bonus book-related content such as printable artworks, maps, bookmarks etc.
- Other content such as writing/blogging tip sheets etc.
- Early or exclusive access to content on your author website/blog
- Promotion of team members' blogs and social media accounts on your channels
- Shoutouts/thank yous in Acknowledgements sections of your books
It's up to you how you choose to hand out rewards – dispersing them periodically, for example, or one reward after each 'mission' you assign the team, if you take that approach.
However you choose to go about it, be sure your street team always knows how much you appreciate their efforts.
So there you have it! The complete guide to putting together a successful indie author street team.
Have you ever used a street team to promote your books? Or perhaps you've been a member of another author's street team? Share your experiences with us in the comments!