I, like my co-writers, subscribe to a number of writing blogs. We’ve already learned a boatload about what it takes to not only write a book, but to prepare to and then publish it. We’re not even going it alone; there are three of us. I am in awe of those who do and have completed this journey all by themselves.
Personally, the biggest thing I’ve learned, so far, is that I have a lot in common with Jon Snow: I know nothing.
This realization has left me feeling more overwhelmed than ever. The more I read, it seems that getting the thing published is actually the easy part. It’s the finding of readers (and keeping them) that’s really difficult. Not only that, but there is no one right way to do it.
Take Social Media, for instance. We already have a blog, Twitter, Facebook and Pinterest. The latest thing I’ve read tells me we also need not only a newsletter, but a “street team”! Excuse me?
A street team is a term used in marketing to describe a group of people who ‘hit the streets’ promoting an event or a product.
Once, in my “yout“, I volunteered to be a part of a “street team” for a radio station, duties to include handing out hats, t-shirts, bumper stickers, key chains, etc. – anything on which the station’s call letters could be printed.
We were paid in cassette tapes (yes, it was that long ago – don’t judge), usually by bands no one had yet heard of and probably never would, free admission to clubs and occasionally, concert tickets.
So what does that mean for a writer? Do we need t-shirts? Well, maybe. Just like with the radio stations, it’s about promotion, not just for a single book, but for the author (or in our case authors). It’s about connecting with readers on a personal level and forming attachments. A writer’s street team becomes something like a club built on a shared appreciation for the writing. The goal is that the members of the club or team will then go out into the world (or the internet) and talk about you and your work – because your team wants to help you succeed.
All of that sounds lovely, like we’ll all be sitting in a circle, virtual or otherwise, and singing Kumbayah together, but where did these club members come from?
That’s where the newsletter comes in. The newsletter operates kind of like a church bulletin, alerting subscribers to the things they may have missed on the blog or elsewhere, as well as serving as a place for writers to share aspects of their personal lives, talk about things they’re excited about and discover common interests, etc. Again it’s about connection and forming attachments. The newsletter also feeds more content to your Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc etc etc.
That sounds good. So am I advocating that we three start a newsletter right this very minute? No. For one thing, we’re finally getting the hang of this blogging thing. We’re starting to gain some traction, but we don’t need to immediately swamp each other or our readers with something new – just my opinion. We haven’t discussed it yet and my partners may disagree. We also may read something else tomorrow that says we don’t need any of this stuff and will tell us about what we really need.
I’ll be honest, I’d rather do almost anything than think about the hard stuff like choosing which path to publication to take, how to market a book and then keep readers coming back for more. “I just want to write”, she whined. But that’s not only naïve, since I’m pretty sure that no one will be knocking on any of our doors asking to see what we’ve written, it’s selfish. What about my co-writers? This is not their favorite part of the process either. So, at least we’ve got that going for us. All three of us get to learn how to do the hard stuff. We’re in this together and for the long haul. And we’ve already got t-shirts.