In a mostly forgettable blog post from a few months ago, in which I childishly mocked some people from Twitter, I likened self-publishing to playing a game. It may strike you as a dangerous way for me to view something that my family's future is riding on, but let me assure you. Back before I started writing, I played a lot of Civilization V. And I'd spend a lot of time reading strategy guides on how to better utilize the unique strengths of different civilizations and leaders.
This was an enjoyable way for me to spend my time, and subsequently made for a more enjoyable gaming experience. Now that I've found a more lucrative hobby, researching ways to make it even more lucrative is both enjoyable in its own right, and makes the writing part all the more enjoyable as well.
Recently, I've seen and heard a lot of chatter on various blogs and podcasts about the benefits of an author having a street team.
What is a street team?
I'm so glad you asked. In spite of what it sounds like, a street team is not, in fact, a group of subordinate demi-pimps you send out to keep your bitches in line. Far from it.
While the particulars will vary from author to author, the street team is an elite group of superfans who promote the author and his or her work. It could be through consistently leaving reviews as soon as a new book comes out, or through sharing the content of an author's Facebook page, or through spray-painting your book titles on billboards.
Why would anyone want to be part of an author's street team? What's in it for them? This also varies from author to author. Some authors give away advanced review copies (ARCs) to members of their team in exchange for an honest review as soon as the book goes live. Not a bad way to hit the ground running.
Other authors might provide other incentives. Signed paperback copies? Free Audible codes? Hookers? The possibilities are endless.
Still, other authors might not do anything at all. They might have enough fans already so rabidly devoted to them that they don't even have to bother organizing such a team.
Sadly, I'm not yet one of those authors. I've got a few devoted fans, one of whom has even gone so far as to start his own Robert Bevan fan club. I've got to say, that touches me in ways that people get arrested for. But I'm looking to step up my game.
So while I get into the task of writing Critical Failures V, I'd like to begin active recruitment.
What amazing awards and benefits might a member of my street team expect? Sadly, I have no fucking idea. This is all brand spanking new to me, so I don't want to make any promises I can't keep, or that I'll later regret having made. But that's something we can discuss in group.
Second question: Who are the ideal members of such a team? Again, being new to this, I don't really know. But I have some ideas of things to take a closer look at with regard to those who are interested.
Have you reviewed all (or at least most) of my books? That certainly puts you on the short list. While I love all of my casual fans, I'm looking for something more from my street team. I don't want to just let everyone in who's only in it for the free ARCs and hookers.
After all, this is an elite unit we're talking about here.
2. Members of my Facebook page and mailing list
This should really go without saying. I understand that some of you may have weird hangups about Facebook, but seeing as how I've got this thing set up as a secret Facebook group, that's kind of a dealbreaker. While I'm touched that anyone would want to be a member, this is really something I must insist on.
3. Unique talents, resources, or connections
I'll be honest. I'm really only adding this because I don't know what else to write and I don't like a list of only two.
As I've done through most of my self-publishing journey, I'm making this shit up as I go along. The words I'm typing now are fresh from my ass to your screen. If you appreciate that kind of freshness, it might be another reason to consider submitting a request. One idea I've been toying with is posting my progress to get feedback.
That might also be a reason not to submit. Maybe you just want the final product, without seeing how the sausage is made. I guess that's a question you have to ask yourself.
This has been a weird blog post to write. I'm stumbling blindly into something I'm not even sure will be worth the bother. Other more successful authors than me have attributed part of their success to their street team, so I figure I've at least got to give it an honest try.
But if I'm being completely honest, it feels a little icky.
With all you've given me already, here I am asking for more. Part of me feels kind of douchebaggy for having written this at all.
But it's all on a volunteer basis, and I feel that at least I've given you enough dick jokes in this post to make it worth your while.
If you are interested, send me a message on my Facebook page, and we'll chat. When I make a more official submission form, I'll update this post.