Behind every author is a team of unsung allies and well-wishers, who actively take part in different stages of publishing. But the thing is we never considered their company and their efforts as a team work. We tend to forget our collaboration with them and overlook the importance of an author team. So far, we’ve been mentioning why an author needs to collaborate with cover designers, editors, and other professionals in the publishing industry. But today, we’re going to tell you why an author needs to have a street team.
In simple words, a street team is something that was first associated with the music industry. Back in those days, street teams consisted of volunteers and participants who went around promoting independent artists and bands through word-of-mouth and sample tracks. Being writers and authors, we’re no less than independent artists and we indeed need a team of creative people working with us on our venture. Most successful authors, both self and traditionally published, have a team of people working with them at various levels. Since it’s a creative realm, we need to have people around us who would offer fresh perspective on our manuscript and publishing because no matter how differently we try to think, our focus and preferences are always channelized towards our story and its success. Creative interference from a third-party is indeed required.
Why Authors need a Street Team
Authors need a street team primarily for one reason – to bring out the best possible version of the book. Having a street team means reception of healthy feedback and suggestions at every possible stage to enhance the quality of your book. There is a general misconception that a street team is only to promote a book in the market. It’s not so. A street team is more than a team for marketing. It’s necessary for a writer to kickstart his writing process. There are a lot of instances a writer would want to give up. It’s the members of the street team that will keep him or her motivated. Such a team will also give inputs during the ideation stage and suggest changes that will work, help with editing and proofreading, provide criticisms, and also help promote the book through word-of-mouth.
When is the Best Time to Start a Street Team?
Ask us and we’ll highly recommend you gather members and form a team before you start writing a manuscript. A street team after the publication of a book is just fine but you can’t make the most out of your team. It’s only when you start writing your manuscript that you can get a lot of creative inputs, suggestions, and assistance from your members and shape your book accordingly.
The Ideal People You’ll need for your Street Team
A good book requires the perfect street team and appropriate people as members. Considering that they’re the people who’d influence the fate of your book in the market, you need to pick the right people for it. Some of the ideal people who can be part of your street team are:
Creative artists – creative artists should always be part of your team. They’re really helpful when it comes to giving inputs for your cover and providing thoughts on what will work and what won’t.
Editors – No matter how many times you read your manuscript, a fresh pair of eyes will always have an error to catch. So, you indeed need to have an editor/proofreader in your team who is good at the language you’re writing on. Editors also help in providing constructive feedback that will actually help your book get a better shape.
Critics – the market influencers! Critics are vital for your team because you need to know how your book is before the world comes to know about it. Good or bad, critics always provide an honest feedback that will allow you to take the right next step.
Story engineers – Even if you have a good storyline and a plot, story engineers will help you with intricate detailing and also tell you if your plot would work and if it contains any loopholes. In case of non-fiction, they can help you with structuring your novel and drafting the table of contents and help you out with fact-checking.
Marketers and influencers – Well, you know why!
Who can be in Your Street Team?
Street Teams are meant to be fun despite being productive. So, it’s best for your book and career if you select your team members who you know personally or, at the least, socially. You should have a good rapport with them and they should have an equal amount of commitment or interest towards getting your book published. Considering all these, the best set of people who can be in your street team is your first circle of friends and family. Your close friends, spouse, mentor, a fellow author, and parents are some of the people who can act as your editors, proofreaders, critics or story engineers. Since you know them personally and you trust them, you can discuss openly about your story without having to fear of plagiarism. Also, you’ll be more open to criticisms and feedbacks as you won’t take your first circle personally and you know they want your book to come up well. When it comes to the other aspects like designers and marketers, it’s best you opt for volunteers or freelancers interested in promoting your book.
How to Select Members for your Team
Recruiting team members is easy but recruiting the right members is difficult. Right people are more productive and bring out more positive changes than inappropriate ones. Selecting the right members for your team can be classified into two types – selecting members from your close circle of friends and family and selecting third-party members. We’ll now look at both in detail.
First Circle of Friends
To be frank, you don’t have to have a standard operating procedure to select team members from your first circle of friends. You know them and they know you. So, you’re sure if the collaboration will work. Note than here, they are the ones who need to decide if they’re ready to collaborate with you. You can just identify the right people for your team here but the final call will is up to them to take. So, all you can do is entice them to team up with you. To get them interested, you can draft a personal mail to them and tell them the requirement for their collaboration and how it would be great if they could lend their support in getting your book published. You’re a writer and we’re sure you can come up with a personal and a captivating mail to get your folks working with you. As you receive response from them, make a list and distinguish them according to their role. Create a separate Google document and share the file with the members and their jobs so everyone can know what the others are working on.
To select third-party members, post your requirements on social media and your blog. Include details like what you’re doing, what you want to get done, and what’s in store for members. Create a Google document again and put that as a landing page for interested members to reach and fill in necessary details. Their response will allow you to analyze who will be perfect for your requirements and also assess their experiences and skills. Some of the information you require for this includes their information on experience working with books, a sample idea on how they can help with your book (depending on their role), some of the books they’ve read (preferably of the same genre), if they’re on the popular social media platforms, if they are committed to any other street teams, and their contact details. Here again, make a separate list of the right people and get back to them with your decision. If you’re rejecting someone, politely tell them the places have been filled and that you’ll get notify them when a need arises. You can also add a column for them to refer their friends if they’re willing to.
Working with them
Once you’ve zeroed in on your members, create a common spreadsheet for your team and name it. This will be the central point of access for you and your team to allocate, share, and track your work. You should also create a closed group on Facebook and add members to it as it will act as a platform for everyone to share ideas, collaborate, discuss, and work on things related to your book. To make things faster, you can also create a WhatsApp group and establish a region of contact on that. Once they join, send them the necessary starter kit to each member. The starter kit is nothing but the basic information about you and your book or manuscript that you’re working on, the purpose of this team, the synopsis of your plot, and your goal with this team. This is to orient them to your plans and to gather everyone on the same page so there’s no place for confusion in future. After this, you’ll be allocating work on the Google document or working with them personally. Adding anything unique and creative to this is totally up to you.
The joker said,” If you’re good at something, don’t do it for free.” Everyone expects something in return for their efforts and it will be unfair if we expect team members to invest their time and efforts into something that won’t fetch any results. So, it is inevitable that you provide incentives to members working with you. The incentives can be anything that is practically feasible for you and what works for them. It can be a gift voucher of a fixed amount, merchandise you can give your members, mentioning in the acknowledgements section of your book, monetary compensations, a dinner treat, or a gift.
Maintaining Your Relationship with Them
As you provide incentives to them and get things done, you can build trust, credibility and loyalty. They would want to work with you in your future ventures and will also have a good rapport with you. Once all the purposes of each member are fulfilled, they will be of immense help to you in promoting your book. After your book gets published, you will have with you your first circle of fans, who loved your work, are willing to collaborate again, and always ready to help you out with your next book. They’ll be the first to know about your future ventures and you’ll be constantly working them about anything concerning your book. The bonding will keep getting stronger as days pass and the team will just keep becoming closer. In the longer run, you’ll have a proper book-team with you by your side, who have played a crucial role in getting your book published and sell well in the market. Having a team beside is always better than doing things alone. And as your projects and aspirations keep getting bigger, you can always add more members to your team. Throughout your venture, keep reminded the quote by Helen Keller, “Alone we can do is so little, and together we can do so much.” Good luck!