By Janet Kobobel Grant
Authors, especially new authors, often struggle to figure out the difference between an influencer and a street team member. Let alone puzzle through the best way to ask either person to help promote your upcoming book.
As the title suggests, this is a person with the ability to inform a significant number of people about your new title. Or, sometimes, an influencer is highly respected by your target audience.
Say, for example, your book explores the best way to have a healthy heart. Then having Dr. Denton Cooley offer to write a foreword for your book AND give a copy to every one of his patients would be a big “get.” Don’t know who he is? One of the most innovative cardiovascular surgeons in the country. His endorsement of your work would alert potential readers to just how helpful your ideas are.
Should Reese Witherspoon pick your book for her Hello Sunshine Book Club, well, you know what kind of influence she wields…
What If You Don’t Know Anyone Famous?
Influencers come in all sorts of shapes. Social media is a great place to make connections with influencers. Facebook allows you to do searches to find people based on their interests. It doesn’t take a deep dive to locate people with a significant number of friends who post about the topic your book is centered around. Yes, even your novel, which explores all sorts of issues people care about. Not to mention that some readers make clear in their posts the genres they like.
Same goes for Instagram. Or Twitter. Or YouTube.
You’re looking for individuals who don’t necessarily have the most massive platform, because those folks are paid to showcase product. But you’re searching for people with the ability to influence, say, 10,000 others.
Follow them, comment on their posts, engage with them. Always in authentic ways. After all, this is someone with the same interests as you. Eventually you’ll be able to reach out to that person to tell them about your book and why you were passionate enough about the subject to write a manuscript and professional enough to find a publisher.
Be Brave and Ask
Go ahead. Ask if you could send that person a free copy of your book. (Show the cover, if possible, in your ask. That will add legitimacy to your request.) If the individual reads your book and wants to tell others about it, he or she can pass along the recommendation via social media.
Voila! Now, that wasn’t too painful was it?
A Street Team Member
Your street team consists of fans who want to help create word-of-mouth for your new release. They pledge to fulfill certain activities to do so. The tasks could consist of:
- posting reviews on Amazon
- adding your book to their Goodreads shelf
- taking a photo of your book in an eye-catching setting and then posting the photo on Instagram and Facebook
- sharing your memes to amplify your messages about the book
- commenting on your posts to help keep them visible rather than quickly disappearing in viewers’ feeds
- whatever else your imagination and theirs can come up (ask them for ideas, if you’d like).
Forming a Street Team
Some authors assemble 25 acquaintances to form a street team. Other authors have teams that number in the hundreds. Keep in mind that, unless you can hire someone to manage your street team, the job falls on your shoulders. What’s a reasonable number for you?
You can make an open invitation on social media. Although it’s usually a good idea to have readers apply. One reader might be an avid fan, but if her social media reach numbers in double digits, she isn’t going to be able to do much amplifying for you. However, someone with 7,000 FB friends and 8,000 Twitter followers, has a much bigger megaphone. Try to find a cross-section of social media strengths for your team–some who have a bigger presence on FB, others on Instagram, etc. (Although it’s okay to focus your promo campaign on social media where most of your readers can be found.)
Ultimately, You’ll Want Both
To successfully let potential readers know about your book, your best strategy is to line up influencers and an active street team. If you feel tired just thinking about this process, remember this: Lots of people are hungry for a new read, and we know that word of mouth is the best way to drive book sales. Influencers and street team members happily bring those two elements together.
How have you used word of mouth to promote your book? If you’re not published yet, what ideas occurred to you as you read this post about ways you could ask others to help you get the word out?
Writers: What’s the difference between an influencer and a street team member? Click to tweet.
How to ask others to help you get the word out about your new book. Click to tweet.