As writers, there’s a specific moment we all dream about. It’s the moment that motivates us and drives us to write our book in the first place. No, it’s not first holding a copy of our books in our own hands, though that’s a pretty great moment. It’s also not seeing our books on store shelves for the first time. That’s another fun milestone, but it’s not the one.
No, the moment I’m talking about is when a reader–a person not related to you by blood or marriage, someone who isn’t obligated to say nice things about your work–actually reads your book… and likes it. That’s the writer’s “holy grail.”
Over the past two and a half months, I’ve had the privilege of leading a fearless street team who read, reviewed, and are now helping spread the word about the DIY MFA book. The term “street team” comes from the music industry, where fans would take to the streets and try to drum up excitement for a band’s new record. I wanted to do something similar for my book but I didn’t just want to hand out virtual galleys and call it a day. I wanted to create an extraordinary experience for these first readers. I knew that if I brought my A-game, my word nerds would respond in kind. And boy, did they ever!
Over the next several months I’ll be sharing glimpses into my street team strategy: what I did, why I did it, and how I put the project into action without losing my mind. But today, I want the focus to be on them. I want to recognize this group of people who have truly gone above and beyond in helping me launch this book.
5 Reasons my Street Team is Amazing:
1) They get down to business.
I knew that this group of writers was extraordinary, but what I didn’t realize at first was just how motivated and dedicated they were. I’ve seen word nerds turn blog posts around in under an hour. Another asked for an “extension” on the book review only to post it–literally–the next day.
Seriously, if these writers can get down to business and blog/tweet/post this passionately about my book, I can only imagine how motivated and driven they will be when it’s time to build buzz around their own books. Each of them is a force to be reckoned with.
2) They support each other.
There is a strong sense of community among the street team crew. Members often visit and comment on each other’s blogs. They connect with each other on social media. Our private Facebook group has become one of my go-to places on social media to hang out, relax, and talk to other writers.
More importantly, though, this group rose far beyond just an online hangout for DIY MFA fans. Fellow street team members are quick to respond to each other’s questions and help each other troubleshoot different aspects of the book review process. For instance, when some folks were struggling with downloading the galley, other street team members were quick to suggest solutions and help each other through the download process. This meant that even though we had 90+ people on the team, I had to field only a handful of tech-related questions.
3) They are super-sharp, creative thinkers.
I’ll be honest: patience is not one of my finer qualities. So, when I find a group of people who “gets” what I’m doing right off the bat, it’s like discovering a rare gem. The Street Team understood what the point of this project was. But they didn’t just follow along; they brought their own ideas to the table.
I set a high bar and I expect excellence from myself and the people who work with me. At the same time, I don’t believe in spoon-feeding solutions or answers to my team. I want them to have an active role in figuring things out alongside me, not just me telling them what to do.
The street team jumped right in and embraced my leadership style. In fact, their energy and creativity challenged me to raise my own bar and do even better work. The result is a book launch that has far exceeded my publisher’s expectations, and my own.
4) They take action.
One thing I keep hearing from the street team again and again is how they’re actually implementing concepts from the book. They aren’t just taking in the information, they’re putting it into action.
At the heart of DIY MFA is the idea that there’s no such thing as a “best practice.” What works for one writer might not work for another, and when you copy-paste someone else’s writing behavior onto your own creative process, all you end up with is a big ol’ mess. I love that these street team-ers are trying the techniques from the book and adapting them to their own styles. This is what DIY MFA is all about. It’s not a prescribed formula or set of steps; it’s a mindset and the word nerds on my street team most definitely have it.
5) They have my back, and for that I am tremendously grateful.
While I am a disruptor at heart, there are times when my protector streak shines through. (Forgive me, but with the Storytelling Superpower video series rolling out this week, I have archetypes on the brain right now.) I’ve always been incredibly protective of my family, my friends, and anyone I’m leading. At one point in high school, I was even dubbed “The Godfather” because no one wanted to mess with me, my friends, or my family. (I don’t understand… I’m such a docile person.)
Seriously, though, I’ve always had a strong impulse to protect people I care about… especially my students. This protective streak extends beyond a traditional classroom to include my online word nerd communities.
For the first time, though, I feel like the tables have turned. As someone who is used to being protective of others, it’s a powerful experience to feel protected. I’m a writer, so I’m supposed to have the words to explain what I’m feeling right now, but honestly I don’t. It’s just that big.
Every writer needs a street team.
There you have it: my ode to the most amazing, talented, inspiring street team ever. Whether you are part of the street team or not, I want to thank you for being part of this community and this journey. Thank you for being brave and putting your words out into the world.