I was at a loss about what to write for today’s post, so I took the question to my “street team” on Facebook. “What should I blog about?” As always, they gave me some great ideas. Not only for blog posts but for future stories as well. However, the winning suggestion was simple.
“Blog about us!”
Zoe Chambers Mysteries & Friends has turned into one of the highlights of my day. To be honest, I had no idea what I was doing when I started it about a year and a half ago. I’d been told “street teams” were the way to go. But what was a street team? And how does someone start one?
In my case, I joined a few Facebook fan groups and mostly lurked, observing what worked and what didn’t. Noting what appealed to me and what felt wrong.
Armed with only a few vague ideas and two friends who agreed to help with administrative duties, I launched what has become known as Team Zoe in January of 2017. The membership is a mix of readers and other authors who post about their own books with my blessing (and sometimes prodding). I figure I can’t possibly put out books fast enough to satisfy my fans’ voracious mystery appetites, so I’m happy to share the stage.
“What does a street team do?” you ask.
For starters, we have giveaways. For a while, I was doing one a week but that strained my budget a bit. Now it’s more like twice a month.
I’ve given away mugs, totes, and mousepads boasting my book covers. I’ve given away signed copies of my own and of friends’ books. I’ve given away gift cards. And I’ve even given away a Kindle.
I implemented another mutually beneficial perk last week when I put out a call for volunteers. The fun part was I didn’t tell them what they were volunteering for! Still, I had a barrage of willing hands go up. The prize? An advance read of Cry Wolf with a request for an honest review! (Sorry. The offer closed at midnight. You’re too late to jump on board now!)
I’ve also hosted contests where the winner gets to have a character named after them. I make no promises about whether the character will be a major or minor one or if she’ll be a good guy or a bad one. That doesn’t stop those vying to win from suggesting who they want their namesake to be. Sometimes I think they should be writing my books instead of me!
To further demonstrate my fans’ creative side, they’ve started throwing virtual parties when I’m away. I’m a little miffed that the parties only take place in my absence because they sound like a blast. Virtual wine, beer, and mead flow freely along with tons of treats. Furry mascots and unwanted guests take over the “Clubhouse” as well, requiring some members of Team Zoe to scramble to clean the place up when they know I’m headed home.
Honestly, they come up with this stuff on their own.
I don’t know what I did to develop such a fun and welcoming group of readers. We have a birthday list, and when I post birthday greetings, everyone chimes in. New members are welcomed with joyful enthusiasm.
Oh! And yes, they help promote me. When I have a big announcement such as a new book on pre-order or a release day or a cover reveal, all I have to do is ask, and the team spreads the word. They’ve asked their local libraries and bookstores to invite me to their town (and I go whenever I possibly can swing it!)
If pressed to answer what makes a street team work, I’d have to say, giving the members a voice and a place where they feel at home. We all have fun. We share books. We share laughs. I still don’t really know what I’m doing, but it seems I’m doing it right!
So, my questions are: Readers, do you belong to any fan groups? What do you like or dislike about them? Writers, do you have your own fan group/street team? What have been your successes (or failures) with them?