It Takes A Village

They're the real-life heroes and heroines behind every book success, the people who help make a story better and rave about it on Social Media. PHS Columnist, Jenna Kernan, talks to us about Street Teams and our guest, Paul Freeman, talks about Critique and Writing Groups.

Jenna Kernan on Street Teams

I came back from the NINC conference in 2015 with my head buzzing with ideas. One of them was the desire to begin a street team. Since then, I’ve spoken to many authors about their teams and how they utilize them.

I think it is important to remember to be very clear what your expectations are for team members and let them know what you want from them (social media shares, reviews, both?) and let them know what they will receive from you. You don’t want to change the rules without notice.

Some authors are very loose and let anyone join who wishes. They have large sprawling tribes of fans that move in and out of their circle. One I know has 700 members. Other authors prefer a small core crew.

Accountability is another area that varies widely. Some authors just send the book out there to their street team and just let them post reviews how and where they like. Other writers know exactly who posts where and when, keeping close records and removing inactive members.

Most authors that I know want reviews particularly and many also want to extend their social media reach by recruiting their street team to help get the word out on new releases.

Where to Find your Street Team?

  • Amazon & GoodReads - One of my author friends suggested looking on Amazon and GoodReads to see which individuals have given two or more positive reviews of her books. That’s a good way to find people who love your writing.

  • Website – I put up a application on my website and before you knew it, I had five volunteers. (I use Google Forms to create the application) My application asks for things like their contact information but also has questions like who are their favorite authors. What books of mine have they read? Do they have a blog? Are they on Facebook? This helps me get a read on what my team members will be capable of and if they are true fans.

  • Newsletter – those people who follow your newsletter are suitable candidates for review team members. Sending out an invitation is a good way to begin.

What does a Street Team do?

  • Social Media shares on Facebook, Twitter and their blogs

  • Distribute Swag at conferences and in their local area

  • Reviews posted to Amazon and GoodReads

  • Word of Mouth Marketing

  • Beta Reading Team member can check a scene or a manuscript. They can give you their opinion as avid readers or find those pesky typos that elude us.

  • Brainstorming – my crew helped me come up with an awesome series title: Apache Protectors: Tribal Thunder.

What do you do for your Street Team?

  • Facebook Group: Start a special Facebook Group just for members and let them have insider information on your writing life and personal life (if you feel comfortable with that) and sneak peeks on what is coming next.

  • Comment: I follow my review team members personal Facebook and Twitter feeds and comment when appropriate on life events. It helps us develop a closer tie and makes them and me develop a more personal relationship.

  • Newsletters: My group gets a special newsletter with important announcements because not all my members are on Facebook. Shocking. I know!

  • Advance Reading Copies : my team loves to get a signed advance author copy of my upcoming releases. The read the book and have reviews ready to post when they are released.

  • Swag: Some authors, myself included, have special swag that is for their review team only. I’ve made up lunch coolers, coasters and other swag with my logo for them

  • Birthday and holiday cards: It’s easy and personal to send a handwritten card on Christmas, their birthday and/or Valentine’s day.

I have been pleasantly surprised by my review crew. It has grown and not only does my team routinely share my release information and graphics on their social media platforms, they have also written me notes and even made some pretty spectacular graphics with quotes from my books.

Do you have or are you part of a Street Team? Is it something you have thought about doing or found beneficial? Share your experiences in the comments or use #BackupCrew on Social Media to join the discussion!

Jenna Kernan is the Publishers Weekly Bestselling author of riveting romantic suspense and natural redhead - keep out of direct sun. For more information about her and her writing, check out her website and follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

Paul Freeman on Critique and Writing Groups

I’ve heard it said many times that writing is a lonely pastime. We all need our own space when we’re creating scenes and characters, but there are also times when you need the chance to bounce ideas off someone else.

Writers Groups provide a great opportunity to do this. Published or not, occasional dabbler or dedicated full-timer, it doesn’t really matter. We all need to kick back and share our thoughts from time to time.

It's also a great place to network. For example, I first discovered The Pink Heart Society thanks to a shout-out in The Writers Chatroom, an online critique and support group based in the U.S.A. with contributors from all around the world.

The Internet has made it so much easier to get together with other authors to share and discuss your WIP and I rarely come away from a live chat without something useful I’ve learned from others. I also belong to a couple of more ‘traditional’ groups, which meet in person every week. Such groups have valuable benefits which can’t be found via ’T'Internet. Comments and suggestions which flow back and forth in a face-to-face group are a different creature to a post made online, and there’s an opportunity to explain and debate a word, a phrase, a sentence or even a whole paragraph in more detail. By sheer coincidence, one point which came up in last night’s discussion bears this out…

We were discussing the “Do’s and Don’ts” of how to use dialogue in storytelling. Among other things, we agreed the tone of voice we use face-to-face can be difficult to express in a sentence written on a piece of paper. For example: “That’s great,” Mick moaned. At first, the juxtaposition of “great” and “moaned” seems odd. Unless, of course, Mick is being sarcastic. Then, suddenly, it makes sense!

From small acorns...

We’ve all experienced (and hopefully derived great satisfaction from) the wee small hours of the morning when the words flow and fill the page almost as if they have a life of their own. One of my own published books began life as a very short, but vivid, recurring dream which lasted no more than thirty seconds in ‘real time’ but grew into the basis for a trilogy of novels. But without the support and encouragement of the Writer's Group I attend, it’s quite possible I would never have had the determination to keep going. The finished story was first spotted as a three hundred word excerpt in an online Critique Group chat by a visiting publisher, who liked what she saw and offered to print it.

The lesson this taught me is simple. You never know when or how an opportunity may present itself!

Are you part of a Writers Group or Critique Group? Do you have a critique partner or a mentor? How has it helped with your writing? Share your experiences with us in the comments or use #BackupCrew on Social Media to join the discussion!

To find our more about Paul Freeman and his books, you can visit his publisher's website, follow him on Facebook or join him on The Writer's Chatroom.

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