Street Teams: The Nuts and Bolts

I’m sure you’ve all heard it . . . street teams are “the thing” right now. Everyone is getting one! But how do you start one? And what do you do with it when you get one?

I’m far from an expert, but I’ve been watching and listening and playing around with one on my own. I also sat in a street team workshop at Nationals this year just to pick up some tips. Additionally, I’m sure there are many other rubies here with much more knowledge and know how, so please, feel free to share your thoughts on the matter in the comments (because I guarantee I’m only scratching the surface here). Non-rubies…please tell us what you know, as well! This post is here to help, so comment with anything you think others could use. 🙂

First, what is a street team?

  • Simply put, a street team is a group of loyal fans who like nothing better than to tell the world how great you are!

How do you manage one?

  • Most people that I’ve seen doing them are running their groups through a closed FB group.
  • I’ve also heard of people using a yahoo loop, or some other form of “group.”
  • Possibly also, the group could be managed via email or a newsletter, but this would take away ability for the team members to chat with each other or with the author.

How do you start one?

  • You could hire an assistant/someone who has set one up before to get it started for you.
  • You could send out a post on FB/twitter asking for team members.
  • You could send out a call for members in your newsletter.
  • Also, you must decide whether to let in everyone who wants to join (some who may follow you currently due to a previous contest, etc and may not have actually read your books before), or whether you want to vet the potential members.
  • If vetting, I would suggest creating a google doc  and link from your website and/or FB author page to ask specific questions, such as: how many of my books have you read, which of my books/heros/heroines is your favorite, how many FB followers do you have, how many twitter followers, what city/state to you live, etc. Some questions would depend upon how you intend to use your team, thus location might become important.

What does a street team do?

  • If you have books in physical stores, your team might get bookmarks, postcards, etc into stores.
    • To do this, authors will need to send swag to the team members. A recommendation I heard was to send less to new members to keep them from getting overwhelmed at first. Also, have a way to allow the members to request more if they run out. And note, this is where the location becomes important. You don’t want a lot of people in the same area trying to hit the same places.
    • You could also put a call out for specific locations: I’m looking for a few good people for the state of Arizona, for the city of San Diego, etc. You want people all over, so don’t be afraid to ask for specific areas.
  • If you are digital only (or both digital and in physical stores), you might go the social media route.
    • Post weekly “tasks” in you group for the team to do online, such as: FB/tweet about a contest, share book release info, like your book on Amazon, like your Amazon author page, add your book(s) to their goodreads/shelfari shelves, post cover (or other book related) pics on Pinterest, instagram, etc.
    • You can also request reviews, either to blogs, retails sites or reader sites.
    • I’ve asked members to talk to their local library about getting my books/audio books into their library.
    • I’ve asked (and had several do it) members to basically hand-sell books. They do this either by talking you up to friends/acquaintances or by posting glowing remarks on their social media about reading your books.
    • Ask members to post statuses about reading/buying your books.
    • Ask them to suggest your book on those “What are you reading” posts you see all over FB or goodreads.

 When does a street team do their thing?

  • What I’m seeing is that they are most effective right around a release, maybe a week before and two weeks after. You don’t want to ask them to be doing a lot year round or you might burn them out.
  • I just ran an eight week promotion, and I’ve come to the conclusion that was way too long. Some people who started all pumped up to help quickly fizzled out. Next time, I’ll do three weeks!

How do you “payback” all the help?

  • You might occasionally ask for specific help throughout the year such as “My book is a Kindle Daily Deal, please pass it on,” etc. For these, I do nothing in the form of “payback.”
  • HOWEVER, for the concentrated promotion around a book release, I’m allowing my team to win prizes in several ways:
    • Earn swag based upon the number of points they’ve earned. I have a rafflecopter widget set up where they can log the activities they’ve done, each being worth 1 – 10 points. I start with the smaller swag for less points earned and give away the larger stuff for more accumulated points.
    • I also give weekly prizes to those who’ve been out there “working it” each week. Prizes I’ve given have been things like Amazon gift cards, free books, bonus swag that isn’t able to be earned, and beach items (since they were promoting a beach book).
  • Provide exclusive swag available to team members. Something that not just anyone can get. These are the people out there loving you and telling the world about you. Make it special for them! Also consider sending a swag pack to the entire team, just for being on your team!
  • Provide exclusive excerpts for your team.
  • If you have advanced reader copies, consider making those available to your team before anyone else. I would do this in conjunction with requesting reviews. If they don’t leave a review, then maybe they don’t get an ARC the next time.
  • Basically, remember that these are some of your biggest fans. Treat them that way!

Okay, my mind is empty. Like I said before, I’m sure there are many more ways to do this, and I’ve no doubt I’ve left out large chunks of good ideas. So please, share your experiences, either being on a team or how you’ve worked with yours. What kind of activities did you do? What kind of prizes have you given or gotten? Anything unique you’d like to share?

Also, I’m curious, does anyone worry that there’s going to be too many street teams? If we’re all doing them, will they flood the market and become less than valuable? I don’t know the answer, but I’d love to hear your opinion!

34 responses to “Street Teams: The Nuts and Bolts”

  1. Hope Ramsay says:

    I don’t have a “street team” per se. I created a closed Facebook group called the Last Chance Book Club, which was initially designed (and is still used) as a place to talk about the books and other stuff. I will ask these readers advice on the book I’m writing. I give them unique content. And I sometimes give stuff away to them that I don’t give away to anyone else. I’m trying to make this a virtual book club.

    However, I unexpectedly came into a cache of ARCs for my next release, and I offered one to every member of the club who posted a review of my current release. I had 11 people respond (out of about 100 on the group.) These 11 people are my biggest fans. I can’t tell you how much word of mouth these 11 people generated on Facebook about what a terrific person I am just because I gave them Arcs.

    And there are now other people on the group paying attention. (And I still have ARCs to give away…)

    It blew my mind. So I’m thinking about other unique things I can offer to this group. I still don’t really want to call them a street team (it sounds like street walkers to me.) I like the idea that they are my book club and any reader who wants to opt in is welcome.

    But based on this most recent experience, I intend to continue to deepen the relationship with these fans, without really making it all about me asking them to sell stuff. I’d like it to be a little lower key and more organic.

    BTW, it was a member of the club who suggested that I organize a charity knit-along, which starts August 1. And to me that’s so much more valuable than having fans hand selling my books. (If you’re a knitter and would like to help the Hat Box Foundation, visit my homepage blog for more details. The knitting starts on Thursday!)


    • Kim Law says:

      I love that knit-along idea, Hope, and how fun that it was one of your readers who suggested it! But I will tell you, it sounds like your group is kind of turning into a quasi street team 😉

      I can understand your point of keeping it organic, and I love that. If feels very real and not canned. But it sounds to me that you do have that small core that might just love the idea of doing more for you. I’d simply recommend keeping that in mind. No need to call them a street team. They are your book club. That’s fine. But that doesn’t mean you can provide goodies occasionally or that they don’t *want* to help you sell more books!

      Readers love to help their favorite authors. Think of how many times you’ve probably shared info on your favorite authors with others. I love doing that myself! Even if they are already big-time bestsellers. I want the world to know about those really awesome books they write!

      Maybe in time you can have a kind of hybrid group? Those rabid fans who want to tell the world about you, and those there just to talk about books. I see no reason that couldn’t work. You could do a separate newsletter for the “street team” portion of the group just to let them know about upcoming promo opportunities or such. This would keep the “help me sell my books” out of your group and only into the hands of those that really want to work that way.

      Or not 🙂 Each author has to figure out their own way to do things. I’m just tossing out thoughts 🙂


  2. Liz Talley says:

    I haven’t done one, and I doubt I ever will. This will sound horrible, but I don’t think I have the energy and I don’t think my genre inspires such devotion. I think it works well with writers who create paranormal worlds or writers who have fascinating alpha males in urban or erotic fantasies, but I just don’t see Bubba from Oak Stand inspiring anyone to wear a sleeveless plaid shirt with I heart Bubba on it.

    I could be wrong.

    Maybe I am wrong.

    But I don’t think Harlequin Superromance inspires that sort of fandom. Doesn’t mean I don’t have fans. I do. But I don’t see it working well from my vantage point. For one thing, I’d have to ask someone to be part of my street team which feels awkward. I can barely get my friends/fans to like my author facebook page. Basically, I feel as if I’m not primed for this sort of promotion.

    Best of luck with yours. I’m interested to see how it goes 🙂


    • Kim Law says:

      The thing I finally wrapped my head around, Liz, is that I’m not asking them to be a part of my team. I’m opening the opportunity up for them to be a part of the team. I try to make it worth their while, try to make it fun, and I do spend extra time chatting with them. But I do not look at it as asking (begging) them to be on the team. (Though I see it that way at first.) It’s purely their choice, I’m just providing a fun option that they can be a part of if they choose. And what I’m finding is that readers love being included like this. And I’m having a blast getting to know them!

      I can’t speak for Supers, but I see no reason why your writing style and stories wouldn’t work for a street team. It could be only 5 or 10 devoted people, but they can make a big difference. However, it does take some time, so that could be an issue. Luckily, I don’t have busy kids at home!!


  3. Jenn! says:

    I think street teams are amazing and effectual. But for me, I just don’t believe I’d have enough people interested in joining. Like Amy, I could be wrong. And like Amy, I have a hard time getting people to like my author page on Facebook. Maybe the concept is still too new for readers of historical romance. Maybe not. At any rate, I really like the idea of having buccaneers join my pirate crew. It would be loads of fun. Street teams are something I’ve been keeping my eye on, and will continue to do so in hopes I can someday have one of my own.

    Great post, Kim!



    • Kim Law says:

      Thanks, Jenn 🙂 And you just reminded me of something I meant to point out. A lot of authors name their groups. I love that! I haven’t named mine yet, but am hoping once it gets a bit more established that I’ll run a contest or do a poll in my group to come up with a name.

      And I have no idea if other historical authors are doing street teams and doing them well. I do think like Liz pointed that that they can be far more effective for paranormal and such because those worlds tend to create the total fangirl type. However, I’m finding quite a bit of success with my contemporary group, and I’ve heard/seen it working for quite a few other contemporary authors. So maybe historical will catch up with it, too!


      • Jenn! says:

        Oh yeah, Kim. I’d have a crew instead of a street team. I have given it thought of how to put a fun spin on it. I’ve also thought up some great swag to give away that wouldn’t be readily available because of the cost involved. Maybe when my next book is released and I gain some traction, I’ll give it a shot. 😀


      • Hope Ramsay says:

        Not sure I buy into the notion that Street Teams are not effective for standard contemporary romance. Marie Force and Bella Andre have pretty big street teams and they write straight forward contemporary romance. Marie is the one who gave me the idea of a book club to talk about the books, and I really am enjoying that, whether it turns into a street team or not.


  4. Nicole Laverdure says:

    Hi Kim, I love your article! I just mentioned that question on my Facebook page and received some interesting comments. I would love to share your article on my FB page, can I?
    There are pros and cons of having a Street Team. I think the author has to be a leader…because I have seen some get out of control. I also prefer groups less than 100 fans. I was asked to be part of a very very large group, and decline. Yes, I do belong to some of them, but each author has a different genre of books. Only one thing puzzles me is when I see these words: go get my book, I feel bad because I don’t always have the money to go and get it. Some authors, send me their books, and they become my priority, what ever they have a ST or not. I still question myself about Street Team!


    • Kim Law says:

      Hi Nicole. Please feel free to link to this article on your FB page!!

      I’ve been wondering about whether there’s a negative to letting them get too big. I’ve not heard a lot about it myself, though I do know that some authors have very large teams.

      Thanks for your comment!! And I agree with you, I think the author has to be a leader. Either that, or find someone to run her team that can be a good, trustworthy leader for her!


  5. Tamara Hogan says:

    –> I’m curious, does anyone worry that there’s going to be too many street teams? If we’re all doing them, will they flood the market and become less than valuable?

    THIS. I understand that it’s necessary to get the word out about our work, but I think we risk wearing out our welcome with this approach, on social media in particular. Authenticity is key. I Unfollow people who only tweet promo, or who retweet too much of other people’s promo. IMO, a little promo goes a long, long way.


    • Kim Law says:

      I think it’s a very fine line to walk, Tamara. Authors can very easily turn off readers. That’s one of the reasons I think people are doing the teams during three-week chunks. It actually gives the readers something to look forward to, but then it doesn’t last very long so it’s not like pounding them over the head about it over and over again.

      But yeah…I’m interested to see how this plays out as more and more authors turn to street teams. Will people quit listening to readers when they see that all they are doing is promoting? (Because I know some people join a lot of teams.)

      It’s an interesting world we live in.


  6. Terri Osburn says:

    I haven’t started a street team because I’m way too new. Only one book out so far, so I can’t imagine I’d get many takers. And with no new releases until January, there isn’t much to ask them to do right now.

    That said, I have a few friends/readers who are wonderful about singing my praises and enthusiastically recommending my book on social media. Those folks will get ARCs as soon as I have them. Not so much to encourage them to give more support, but to pay them back for what they’ve given me so far.

    I don’t see too many street teams becoming a problem, but I also don’t think they should be mandatory. The buzz lately has been almost as if not having one means you’re not promoting hard enough. I don’t think that’s the case.

    If I ever do start one, I’d definitely hire someone to do the heavy lifting involved. I can’t afford to put one more thing on my plate or the writing will suffer. If that happens, the street team would be pointless anyway.


    • Kim Law says:

      Oh no, Terri, definitely not mandatory!!! I hope it doesn’t get to where publisher think that’s the case. I think they are great, but only if you have the time. But I do worry a bit about the market being flooded. But then again, there’s a really big world out there, so hopefully that won’t be the case.

      And yes, writing comes first!!! If I was still working at another job, it wouldn’t even be a consideration!


  7. June Love says:

    Kim, great post! Word of mouth is a wonderful form of advertising. I know I’ve recommended books I’ve read to friends and family, just as I’ve received recommendations. In that sense alone, I can see the value of a street team. It’s a wonderful way to involve fans. I know writers read and are fans of other writers, but I would think street team members are mostly comprised of non-writers. Would you say that is an accurate statement?


    • Kim Law says:

      Yes June, I would. I do have a few other writers on my team, but I suspect they are there mostly to see what I’m doing 🙂 But that’s ok because I could see myself doing the same thing.

      And yeah, when I think about the books I’ve bought in the last few years that are out of my “norm” list of authors, it’s because of a personal recommendation. So I’m a big believer in word of mouth!


  8. Jeannie says:

    Great post and I love hearing everyone’s experiences. I think our own Darynda must have an awesome street team and I can see Liz’s point — certain books seem to inspire more of a fandom.

    I haven’t started one because I just don’t have the energy to start something that intensive. With all things, I do believe you get from it what you put into it.

    On the other hand, over time, there are people who’ve become fans and respond to ARC giveaways and have spread the word whenever I have a book out. I <3 them and know their names and reach out to them via my newsletter to give out SWAG whenever I come up with something new, but have never rallied them in an organized fashion.


    • Kim Law says:

      I was hoping Darynda might have time to show up here and give her two cents on the subject 🙂 I know she’s got a great street team out there and I would love to hear all about it!

      Alas…I suspect she is off writing another bestseller 😉

      And yes, they can be time-intensive. I don’t think people should do them halfway. I also feel that the personal connection you form between readers, whether through an organized “team” or just as you have is highly important. Connections make us real. That’s a big thing, instead of just some faceless person.


  9. Rita Henuber says:

    My take is teams are successful for those have best selling books and many published books. Darynda has her Grimlets team and several ‘midlist’ authors have faithful followers. I will say all the authors I’ve observed have paid assistants and/or faithful, dedicated, reliable reader team leaders. At RT I did hear of a team leader running amuck and causing problems. No deets. I think it’s like anything else in social media you have to figure out what works for you. I think you need to know what your fan base is into and go from there.


    • Kim Law says:

      All terrific suggestions, Rita! And how scary to think of a team leader running amuck (under your name!!!) That’s why I’m trodding along doing my own thing right now. Plus, it isn’t that large. I enjoy making the connections, so until I can’t handle it, I’ll keep doing it.

      I’ve actually been surprised at the handful of people I’ve gotten that have found the team and were so excited to be on it (and upset to have just now found it)!


  10. Great post, Kim. I’m not really far enough along this path to even consider having a team of any type, but I can see how they could be of great value.

    In addition to the street team concept, I love Hope’s idea of having a closed FB book club type of thing, where there’s minimal pressure on the author or the reader, just an exchange of chatter and a getting-to-know you type of atmosphere that can grow into something more over time.

    Thanks for this, Kim. Lots of really great ideas that I think would work no matter how big (or small)a group you have!


  11. Great post, Kim. I don’t have a street team, but I can see how it would be really helpful. I just can’t imagine how I would fit that into my already jammed daily schedule that gets more crowded every day. I

    know, I know, hire an assistant. The problem with that is finding someone in my area who has a clue how to do what I need done. Teaching someone would take longer than doing it myself.


  12. Great information, Kim – thanks! I don’t see doing a street team very soon, but maybe one day… I’ll definitely be keeping this info!!


  13. Addison Fox says:


    This is a fantastic post! Awesome information!!!



  14. Maggie Kelley says:


    A little late to the party, but I am so grateful for your post! In fact, I’m kind of a little bit in love with you right now. Thanks so much, lady! You rock.


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