Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for August: (8/3) Dianne Freeman (8/10) Daryl Wood Gerber (8/17) E. B. Davis's Review of Granite Oath, James M. Jackson's new novel (8/24) Rose Kerr (8/31) V. M. Burns.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Tale of a Street Team

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
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. 
Mug Giveaway

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?


Liz Milliron said...

Yay Team Zoe!

The squirrel is never me. Just saying. =)

Margaret S. Hamilton said...

Interesting premise and happy for you that it's been not only a success, but fun.

Jim Jackson said...

I’m anxious to learn how this all works. Thanks for allowing me to sign up at Team Zoe!

Annette said...

Glad to have you aboard, Jim!

Thanks, Margaret!

Mary, yeah. Right. No one ever wants to take the blame for that squirrel wrecking the Clubhouse.

Anonymous said...

It's a lot of fun being part of a virtual clubhouse as a reader. I've been introduced to lot of good writers, whose works I probably wouldn't have found on my own. I look forward to comments made by truly clever club members. The only problem with being a part of a virtual clubhouse is that we don't get to meet in person. In the meantime, I get a kick out of exchanging quips with my clubhouse family through facebook. Thanks, Annette, for bringing such an intelligent and fun group of people together.

Kathy Wilson said...

(Somehow, it has listed me as "anonymous" when I did put in my name. Grrrrrrr.)

Shari Randall said...

What fun! I was asked to join a group of cozy writers called the Cozy Mystery Crew. It's so much fun to relax and hang out with readers - we do occasional giveaways and this summer we even have a Summer Reading group. There are lots of things to dislike about social media, but being able to meet and hang out with readers is lots of fun. Sounds like your group gets a little wild - squirrel??!! LOL!

Warren Bull said...

I heard of this but now I see how it can work. Thanks!

Grace Topping said...

Someone asked me if I had a street team, and I had no idea what they were talking about. So thanks for explaining that. So I'm assuming that this is a Facebook group? Do you have a link to it anywhere, such as from your Web page or Facebook page? As you can see, I'm really behind on this concept. I have participated in Facebook launch parties, which were a lot of fun.

Kait said...

Team Zoe rocks - I'm not the squirrel either. Right, Liz - Nor is Liz, not Liz, never Liz.

I don't have a street team yet, but I'm thinking about it because of how much fun Zoe's is, and because of all the great new friends I've made there. Jim, looking forward to seeing you at the clubhouse.

Annette said...

Grace, there's a link to it in my blog post above, near the beginning. Or search Zoe Chambers Mysteries & Friends on Facebook.

Kathy, meeting everyone in person WOULD be fun!

Shari, yes. A squirrel. I have no idea how that one got started. It wasn't me. The darned varmint only shows up when I'm out of town!

You're welcome, Warren!

Kait, NO ONE ever owns up to the squirrel.

KM Rockwood said...

Thanks for sharing this with us! It does sound like fun, and I'm glad it's working so well for you.

Marla Bradeen/Paige Sleuth, Mystery Author said...

I love Team Zoe! I'm trying to cut back on my Facebook time so I'm not there as much as I used to be, but it's a great group. Everyone should join!

Gloria Alden said...

Annette, I don't belong to any fan clubs, but I know I have those who can't wait for my next book to come out most of them who live close by and belong to one of my two book clubs or bought my books when I sold them at my Church's craft shows right before Christmas.

I now have every one of the Zoe Chambers books except your latest Wolf book so I guess even if I don't belong to your fan club, I am a fan of yours.

Annette said...

Thanks, KM.

Don't be a stranger, Marla. We miss you when you aren't around!

Thanks so much, Gloria!

servedogmom said...

One of the nice perks of authors street teams of blogging groups is an introduction to new to me authors books. I might not have purchased one of your books based on budget. However, I win one! The rest is history. I have now read all but none and really like your works. If I like an authors books I will do whatever my abilities and health permit me to do to help promote those authors. I can't imagine how expensive promotion would be if authors had to constantly pay for sponsored adds, swag, etc. So, yay for street teams.

Annette said...

Thanks, Joanne. Glad to have you as a reader and in Team Zoe!