Amanda Luedeke

August 8, 2013

Thursdays with Amanda: How to Build a Street Team as an Author


Amanda Luedeke is a literary agent with MacGregor Literary. Every Thursday, she posts about growing your author platform. You can follow her on Twitter @amandaluedeke or join her Facebook group to stay current with her wheelings and dealings as an agent. Her author marketing book, The Extroverted Writer, is available from Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

Last week, I made the argument for Street Teams. But this isn’t the sort of venture you just throw together. While there isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, I do have some guidelines for when you’re in the BUILDING PHASE. That is, when you’re taking applications and adding people to your team.

1. I’d argue quality over quantity. You want people you can trust. People who will follow through on their commitment. So while it may be a big ego stroke when you get 100 people ready to sign up, remember that you’re looking for people you can count on…not just people who are wanting free stuff.

2. You’ll need some sort of application process. Unless you have time and money to spare, you want to vet your team members, ensuring that you have only the most dedicated followers on your roster. Ask questions like:

  • Are you on any other Street Teams?
  • What are your favorite books?
  • Are you on social media? If so, what are your numbers on Facebook? Twitter? Instagram? Your blog? Etc.?
  • Do you have connections with local groups or organizations that you believe you could tap into to help promote me and my book? List them.
  • What ideas do YOU have to help promote me and my book that you’d be willing to spearhead?
  • Are you able to commit for a full year?
Weed out anyone who doesn’t measure up or who comes across as less enthusiastic than others. And definitely weed out those who are already on Street Teams with other authors.
And while it may be tempting to add a bunch of writer friends, be careful with that. Writers will never promote you as aggressively as readers, so limit their participation.

3. You’ll need clear expectations and clear rewards. Because you’re requiring much from them, they should require much from you. So be clear with what you expect of them and how you plan to reward them. Is it going to be a monthly or weekly commitment? Will you be arming them with what they need or requiring that they put material together on their own (for blog posts or Tweets, etc). Will you reward them with free stuff? Behind the scenes passes? Or other incentives? Think through this and be clear. You also want some sort of termination policy that gives clarity to the circumstances under which you reserve the right to remove members from the team.

Once you have this all figured out, you can begin to assemble your hand-picked group.

Next week, we’ll talk about how to set them up and organize them.

What questions do you have about this phase of the process? At the end of the series, I’m thinking of doing a massive Q&A to make sure all areas are addressed. But smaller questions can be answered right away. So don’t be shy!

*Love my marketing advice? Check out my $5 ebook, The Extroverted Writer

Here’s what readers are saying: “I have started to see results with my Twitter account in just a few weeks and with very little effort.” – Les ey, Amazon review

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  • Laura Vernet Price Hilton says:

    Great advice I just asked this question on ACFW and someone pointed me this way.

  • Peter DeHaan says:

    This certainly gives me something to think about. My inclination is to take anyone interested!

  • Carey Green says:

    I hadn’t thought of the street team being this organized. I have a lot to think about… thanks!

  • Rick Barry says:

    I’m still trying to picture the freebies & rewards an author can realistically offer to street team members. Sure, a band could offer bumper stickers & concert passes, but an author? Are we talking free bookmarks to distribute? Or request shirt sizes and print up 100 T-shirts with the cover of the next book on them?

    Maybe people who have already been on authors’ street teams would like to chime in and share what YOU received for your time and effort. 🙂

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I think it varies for each author. I challenge you to spend 30 minutes brainstorming incentives, Keep your brand and your book in mind and see what you come up with. No idea is a bad idea at this point. just get all your ideas out there and then you can begin to filter.

  • Ian says:

    Amanda, this is a great series. I’m a member of a couple of street teams, one that has been going for 2 years now. Do you plan to profile an author (s) and how they’ve used their team by chance? Also, how do author’s gauge the success of otherwise of their teams? In my experience as a member I sense the 80/20 rule applies, 20% of members provide 80% of the activity. It would be fascinating to see if there are quantifiable measures.

    Thanks Amanda.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      I don’t plan to feature an author, and to be honest, the 80/20 rule sounds sad to me. I would have high expectations for my team. I guess I’d also plan to totally make it worth their while. :/

  • Paula R. says:

    I am really enjoying this series on Street Teams. I dropped by to learn as much as I could about running a street team, and being a member of one. So far, I have learned a few things already, and I am looking forward to learning more. What are some no nos for street team members?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Thanks for reading!
      I think each author should come up with their “etiquette” guide. In other words, it’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. It all depends on the audience, the author’s goals, etc.

  • Great advice as always.
    How close to the release date should we start putting together a street team? (I apologize if you answered that last week…I need to start jotting notes from this series.)
    Also, I understand not accepting people who are on a ton of street teams, but wouldn’t that mean they were good at helping to promote? Perhaps if they just weren’t on a team for a book releasing around the time of mine?
    Thanks in advance for your help!

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Hi, Laura,
      The sooner you can get your team together, the better.
      And my experience with people who are on multiple street teams is that they lack the ability to follow through with requests because they’re doing so much for others. ALSO, their immediate networks are probably already tired of hearing them do commercials for other authors. I fear the commercials they do for you will fall on deaf ears.

    • I hadn’t thought about the commercials falling on deaf ears. Excellent point! Thanks!

  • Randy Ross says:

    Hi Amanda,
    This looks interesting. One question:

    What is the best way to recruit or solicit applications? Just post a note on Facebook or Twitter? Email followers? Have an example of a recruitment ad?

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      All of the above, Randy. Simply spread the word through your FB, Twitter, blog, and other such sites. Create awareness among your fans and those who love and support you. And I don’t have an example on hand, but you could link to a more lengthy blog post that details out the specifics.

  • Amanda, do you have thoughts on how to be selective with your street team members and yet not hurt the feelings of applicants who don’t make the cut?

    • Sally says:

      I agree with this. It seems like there’s great potential here to antagonize people who were already fans.

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Sure! I think it’s important to be up front about the fact that you only have so many slots, and not everyone will make the cut. For those that don’t make the cut, I’d try to pacify them by offering them something. Maybe a free book or offer to put them on the ARC list for your next upcoming book. Or, do a guest post on their blog or something. Maybe RT them a few times. Just brainstorming here 🙂

      I tend to think that your most fanatical fans WILL make the cut. So really, it’s the more mediocre fans with attitude problems who have the potential of being sore losers. Which honestly, you don’t want that personality on your Street Team anyway.

      And maybe I’m oversimplifying it! But I do believe there’s a tactful way to turn people down, and if some don’t like it they probably weren’t good Street Team material anyway.

    • Cecelia Dowdy says:

      Uhh…what’s RT?

    • It’s when you re-tweet on Twitter.

    • Thanks for the response, Amanda! Great ideas for me to think through 🙂

  • Lisa Van Engen says:

    I’ve been a part of many street teams. I love it because each time I learn something new about marketing books. Each time I meet really great people too, which to me is invaluable, that and helping another author in a small way.

  • :Donna Marie says:

    Amanda, I think this is a really good strategy if it fits your personality. I know that for me, I doubt I’ll go this route, but will keep the info. Of course, it may be in your book (which I own, but haven’t read just yet) 🙂

    • Amanda Luedeke says:

      Nope, it’s not in my book! I guess this won’t work if you’re not a manager-type personality. But you can be if you want to be! 😉

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