#5OnFri: 5 things I’ve Learned By Being on the DIY MFA Street Team

by Melanie Marttila
published in Community

Gabriela’s was not the first street team I’ve been a part of, but it was the most unusual. I mean that in the best possible sense. In the past, I’d receive an advanced reader copy (ARC) and the request to post an honest review by the launch date. There might be a Facebook promotional event, a Rafflecopter, or, depending on our relative locations, even an in-person launch or reading.

Occasionally, if the timing was right, there might even be a reading or event at a conference or convention. I’ve always enjoyed the street team experience and I’ve always participated fully.

Being a part of the DIYMFA Street Team, however, has been a masterclass in marketing and promotion. Having worked with Dan Blank a little myself, I can see his influence in Gabriela’s strategy. I can also see where Gabriela has placed her indelible stamp on it as well. Sheer brilliance 🙂

Here’s what I learned:

1) Think of a Launch as a Campaign, Not a Single Event

Gabriela’s launch has spanned three months, beginning with the application process for the street team. You read that right: application process. This was clever. It provided Gabriela and the DIYMFA team with information about the members of her street team, strengths and weaknesses, background and interests. It also ensured that the street team was motivated.

This is a problem with street teams. People join with enthusiasm, but that enthusiasm wanes by the time the launch date arrives. If you have enough time and interest to submit yourself to an application process, you’re more likely to stick with the street team. See? Clever.

Of course, life intervenes, and this strategy can’t guarantee every street team member participates either fully, or for the length of the launch campaign, but it certainly improves your odds.

I had my ARC in more than enough time to read and review it. Gabriela created a Facebook group dedicated to the street team. There were weekly questions to blog, periodic Facebook chats, a mini course, and special opportunities for diligent bloggers.

2) Treat Your Street Team Like a Community

This is one of the three main tenets of DIYMFA: community building. Gabriela has served her community for years, first with her blog and newsletter, then with the DIYMFA 101 course, DIYMFA radio (her podcast), and the Word Nerd Facebook group.

The street team was a special subset of the overall DIYMFA community, though, and Gabriela understood that. She made us feel special and to thank her for all the work she’s done over the years, we stepped up.


3) Engage Your Street Team

This is where the weekly questions came in. Though I haven’t experienced the problem myself, I see no end of posts and articles on the topic of providing ideas for blogging. So every week, Gabriela gave us a topic—linked to the content of her book—and a specific question to answer.

I have to admit, I didn’t always do as instructed, but that was okay. The point was to get us engaging with the content of her book and putting it out on the internet. If each of us only had a couple hundred followers, then the word was spread to those couple hundred (times however many of us were on her street team) and the DIYMFA book was on the internet, in front of thousands of people, every week for 14 weeks.

As the old Breck commercial (egad, I’m dating myself) said, “I told two friends, and they’ll tell two friends, and so on, and so on . . .” It’s word of mouth on steroids. Serious marketing chops!


4) Give ‘em the Pickle!

Anyone who’s been in a customer service job should recognize this one. “Give ‘em the pickle!” means to go the extra mile, to thank your customer for offering you their patronage. In Gabriela’s case, she viewed her street team as her customers.

Gabriela did this by creating her free mini-course on Storytelling Superpowers. Yes, this was made available to everyone in the DIYMFA community, and beyond, but the storytelling superpower quiz was the focus of questions of the week four and five, and it’s not too far a stretch to think Gabriela made this course just for us.

Also, Andrée and I, as faithful bloggers and participants in the community were given the choice opportunity to write guest blogs for DIYMFA. How cool is that?

Putting these guest posts up on DIYMFA is a game changer for a blogger and struggling writer. It’s a quantum leap in platform development because Gabriela is sharing her community with us. If even a fraction of her dedicated followers decide to take a look at my website, Writerly Goodness, and if even a fraction of them decide to follow me, I could see a serious bump in engagement.

Brava, Gabriela! Brava! And THANK YOU so much.


5) Play to Your Strengths

Gabriela has the unique ability to take a complex idea and break it down, not just in writing, but into mnemonic acronyms and initialisms, and into diagrams and matrices.

She used her big squishy brain to wrestle this amorphous thing called a street team into manageable chunks, to plan ongoing events to maintain engagement and enthusiasm for the length of the campaign, and offer the members of her street team all carrots and no sticks in the process.

I’m a corporate trainer who’s taken project management and pedagogy courses. I can see and appreciate how Gabriela has designed the DIYMFA street team and campaign as a learning opportunity and a vibrant experience for all her street team members. She’s leveraged us like a true master.

I am not worthy.

Having said all that, I’ve learned so much from being on the DIYMFA street team that I could probably go on. In grand rhetorical style, however, I won’t.

Suffice it to say that I’ve discovered valuable lessons that I hope one day to leverage in the service of my own book launch. It’s going to be different with fiction, but there’s the challenge. And I love a good challenge, which is why the DIYMFA street team experience was perfect for me.

MelNov2015Melanie Marttila creates worlds from whole cloth. Ink alchemist, dream singer, and SFF novelist in progress, she lives with her spouse in Sudbury, Ontario, on the street that bears her family name, in the house in which three generations of her family have lived. Her short fiction has been published in Bastion Science Fiction Magazine and On Spec Magazine.

She blogs at https://www.melaniemarttila.ca

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