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Why I Don’t Like Street Teams

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Last week Pocket author Karen Tabke blogged about an old marketing concept that is just now taking root in the publishing industry. Street teams originated in the urban music market when rap labels such as Jive Records used a band of teenagers to drive interest when mainstream distribution markets froze urban labels out.

The record label would reach out to a teenager who had a voice of influence within his peer group and would use the kid to galvanize his friends into becoming a community driven marketing machine. The kids would paper their neighborhoods with posters and bumper stickers; encourage their friends to buy the music; deluge the local radio stations with requests for the artist’s song. The first such street teams appeared in the mid 70s and it is just now that it appears to be catching on in the publishing industry. I’ve heard from reliable sources that editors AND agents are urging authors to organize street teams and send these super readers forth to spread the gospel of Author X.

Ms. Tabke has started soliciting for street teams through her email list and her blog. The concept of the author-led street team is great:

Basically your Street Team is creating buzz about your work. They can go armed with paraphernalia i.e. bookmarks, fliers, promo items like pens, magnets and key chains or just a smile and a recommendation.

The following is the list of items that Tabke urges her readers do for her.

In-Person Team Spirit:

* Talk the books up and share promo materials with friends & family to spread the word.
* Buy my books the first week of release, which helps it get on the bestseller lists.
* Ask your local library to order my books. Give the librarians the title, name and publisher.
* If my books aren’t on the shelves, ask the bookseller to order it.
* Take promo materials (bookmarks, postcards, etc) to your local stores, place them with the booksellers. You can leave them with libraries and even at coffee shops.
* Take promo materials (bookmarks, postcards, excerpts, etc) to your local reader group, writer group or RWA Chapter to share with other members.
* With the stealth of a panther, take all of my books and front them on the new release table in the front of the store! (Note, if you insist on slipping one or two in a few best seller slots it won’t hurt my feelings.)

Online Team Spirit:

* Feature interviews, reviews, excerpts or my video trailer via your blog, site, MySpace page, etc.
* Visit during online appearances (workshops, blog tours, chats, etc)
* Share your (honest) review of the book via Amazon and Barnes&Noble.com

I want it to be clear that the concept is not one that I am against. I have author friends and I have done things for them such as take ARCs to my local booksellers along with bookmarks (which were never put out by the way). I know that there is nothing more powerful than the word of mouth recommendation and every month we’ve started giving our recommendations here at Dear Author in an effort to promote the books we’ve enjoyed. I also started a grassroots campaign early on in the inception of Dear Author when I encouraged 100 bloggers to blog about one book (Nalini Singh’s Slave to Sensation) and be entered into a contest for $200 gift certificate from Amazon and assorted other goodies. So I do understand both the concept and the goal of a street team. What concerns me is the execution.

1. Reshelving.

Many readers do not know this but the placement of books in a store is by design and not random. Larger booksellers work with publishers to highlight certain books that will benefit both corporate entities through increased sales. Books at front of store or in new mass market table or in the featured section in Barnes and Noble are all paid for with what is called “co-op” dollars. For each book that has a placement outside the shelving area of their respective genres, the publisher pays a fee to the bookseller.

It’s one thing for a reader to decide to reshelve and it is still another to have an author actively encourage the reshelving. This concept will eventually have negative consequences for the author. First, a publisher who audits a store and finds out that the paid placement is not being honored could ask for the co-op dollars back. Second, a bookseller’s time spent in reshelving books that are misshelved can actually detract from the time it could be spending handselling. Third, bookseller may become disgruntled with the fact that a certain author’s book might be repeatedly misshelved and can take it upon themselves to strip and return a title even if it is not on the returns list. Fourth, the reader who is caught doing this might be angered to know that it is not appropriate even though the word “stealth” is used in the instructions.

2. Lack of Accountability.

By encouraging street teams, the author is endowing strangers with the right to act on the author’s behalf. They are marketing agents for the author, armed with pens, post it note pads and bookmarks, leaving them thither and yon. These individuals will become identified with the author and their interactions will reflect, both good and bad on authors. I know of at least one author who was treated poorly due to her connection to bloggers like myself and others.

There have been online disputes about authors that have been ratcheted up by the “rabid fan girl.” The street team readers are like rabid fan girls on notice. The online interaction of these Rabid Fan Girls can have a negative blowback onto the author.   There could be bands of street teams dispatched to Barnes and Noble or Amazon to rid the author’s book link of any negative reviews.   They could deluge a site with negative comments toward the reviewer.

The point is that authors are entrusting and directing people that the author does not know to act as the author’s emissaries. Not all interactions these street team members are likely to have will be positive unless the author is spending alot of time training and providing counsel to the members.

3. Entitlement.

As authors encourage readers to become more personally invested in her success, the greater the reader’s sense of entitlement and ownership of the author. They will begin to feel, and rightly so, that they are part of the author’s success and begin to give suggestions on future marketing techniques or even suggestions on how to write the author’s books better. The reader will feel the right or maybe even the duty to tear down the author as the reader had helped build her up.

Author betrayal is not an uncommon feeling. You can see it reviews of popular authors whose core fan base feel like the author left them behind.

What about when one reader feels like she has done more than another reader? What if she has done more and consistently gets left out of the random drawings? What if the chance of being a character in the book or free arcs isn’t enough? Once a reader has lost that loyalty to an author, what then? Can personal attacks be justified? I.e., I did x, y, and z for this author and got bupkis and then she treated me rudely?

4. Devaluing the efficacy of the word of mouth.

We rely on recommendations regarding a particular book but street teams aren’t basing their loyalty on the book but on the author herself. There in lies the real danger. The street team further blurs the line between author and product to the point that it can be argued what is being marketed is the author herself and not the books. I have authors who I consider to be on my “auto buy list” but even within those authors, there are books that I don’t like and that I won’t recommend. I believe that recommendations should be made for the book alone and by those who love it so that readers can continue to rely on other readers based on their love of the book and not the love of the author.

Finally, the less I know about street teams and the authors who are using them, the better. I think the first rule of the street team is to never speak of the street team. It’s a peek behind the Wizard’s curtain that I’d rather not see.

Jane Litte is the founder of Dear Author, a lawyer, and a lover of pencil skirts. She spends her downtime reading romances and writing about them. Her TBR pile is much larger than the one shown in the picture and not as pretty. You can reach Jane by email at jane @ dearauthor dot com

111 Comments

  1. Emmy
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 04:38:30

    Some of these things would work on a small scale.

    If everyone reshelves their fave author’s books to a more prominent space, nothing will be on the appropriate shelf. Bookstores would put a stop to that fast. Entitlement would eventually get to the point of “we helped you when you were unknown, and now that you’re rich and famous, you should give us some monetary renumeration.”

    I don’t really see anything wrong with taking promo items to bookstores or coffee shops. Apparently Borders doesn’t either, since there is a Starbuck’s in every Borders on my happy little island.

    I sincerely doubt that there would be a bunch of teens out there pushing books at their peers; however I’m all for it if it gets kids to read. I’d suggest authors don’t ask kids to peddle their porn romance books. Parent backlash can be a biatch to deal with. One would hope adults are past being peer pressured into reading a book because someone else said it was good. I need a whole team of someone elses before I put my cash into a book, particularly if I don’t know the author. If someone recommends a book, I ask why they liked it. If it’s some street person who obviously hasn’t read the book, are you still going to buy it?

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  2. Charlene Teglia
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 05:08:13

    *shaking head* The potential for problems here is huge. Would people on these street teams know that not everybody wants bookmarks or other promo materials and might be offended to have them left? That depending on how it’s done, this could be considered litter? And the reshelving thing, um. If there’s space on a shelf and you face out a book, that’s one thing. Moving it to the front table? Taking somebody else’s co-op spot? Very bad idea. Also, seriously, who has time for this? I’m happy if a reader has time to buy and read my book. I can’t imagine having so much free time that you could go out and promote a book like this. What works for the music industry doesn’t necessarily translate to publishing. And what works among teens doesn’t translate to adults.

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  3. DS
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 05:17:09

    There’s two authors I don’t touch because of their rabid fan girls actions in the past. Their actions– persistent babbling about how excited they were about a certain book coming out– regardless of whether or not it was appropriate in the thread or discussion have left me with a sense of irritation every time I see the authors’ names. I assume that was not the intent.

    I’m usually a very easy going person who doesn’t hold grudges, but it persists even though the actions of the rfgs are years old. Conditioned response?

    I think running into this sort of thing in real life would be even more annoying.

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  4. Ann Somerville
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 06:18:23

    With the stealth of a panther, take all of my books and front them on the new release table in the front of the store!

    That’s where she crosses the line from normal promotion by fans and friends to being creepy. Not to mention, dumber than dirt.

    Fans and readers *do* become invested in their favourite author’s success, and it’s an important part of the marketing (not to mention an important part of what makes writing fun.) Authors rely on the generosity of their fans, especially the little authors working for the small presses. What she’s asking them to do with that particular request is an immoral perversion of that generosity.

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  5. Bernita
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 06:28:13

    We’ve seen rabid fan attacks on the net. Leads one to speculate about opposing fangangs in real life, squaring off in a bookstore/ talk/ at a signing.

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  6. Gennita Low
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 07:23:08

    Heck, if she released Gerard Butler to me and my tender care, I promise to gang up on old ladies here in Florida and make them buy her books. Kidding, kidding.

    The idea of getting one’s readers and friends to promote one’s book isn’t anything new. It’s been going on for a long time before blogs. I used to be on newsgroup loops that had members encouraging each other not to buy the author’s newest book till streetdate or to write reviews or go to another board to defend our beloved author, etc. That was 15 years ago and they’re still doing it in Yahoogroups, I believe.

    I think it’s a YMMV matter. Some of us don’t like authors telling us to work for them; others just love the interactive relationship of being part of the author’s circle. Sometimes, in a perfect universal moment, the same kind of readers (the ones that go off into other forums and chat a lot) gather together in a forum and they find joy in promoting and reviewing. Most often than not, though, a readers group is usually a group of twelve voices and 150 lurkers. It takes a LOT of hard work on the author’s part to get the 150 lurkers to come out and play along, believe me.

    I do believe that an author today needs to promote more because of how many books are out there every month. I’m not sure whether Karen’s Street Team concept (without Gerard Butler) will be successful. It all depends on whether she’s lucky enough to draw a group of readers who will do this, not for a day, but for weeks and months, book after book.

    In the end, it all comes down to the writing and the book. If the author has created a world with characters about which her readers are enthusiastic, they will talk to other readers and recommend the author without prompting.

    But offering Gerard Butler is really the key here, Karen, if you’re reading this. :grin:

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  7. Leah
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 07:28:51

    I did turn a debut author’s book face out in Books A Millions once, because I thought his/her book deserved it, but I didn’t go back to do it over and over again, and I certainly wouldn’t stick it in a best-seller slot, or on the front table. People who make the bestseller list worked hard to get there (whether or not you agree with the designation or not), and it’s dishonest to scheme to put your own books there. Honestly, this whole concept of marketing bugs me. If I publish a book and my friends and family want to carry around bookmarks or something, great, but I’m not going to ask strangers to do this for me. I am not, after all, Jesus, and what I write is not holy writ, and that is what this kind of thing reminds me of–an author sending out door-knockers, etc., to spread his/her message. It’s weird.

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  8. Anion
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 07:29:55

    We've seen rabid fan attacks on the net. Leads one to speculate about opposing fangangs in real life, squaring off in a bookstore/ talk/ at a signing.

    When you’re a Jet…

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  9. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 07:47:57

    One thing that does bother me is the idea of moving books around…. I’ve had readers tell me they face my books out when they are in bookstores and I’m okay with that, as long as they didn’t ‘de’-face other people’s books to do it. I love the idea of my books facing out on the shelves but not if it requires that another person’s books be shoved to the side and not faced out.

    A little bit of moving and shifting can often be done without ‘de’-facing the books next to me-and that, yep, I’ve done.

    If readers really love your books, a lot of them are going to spread the word anyway. Putting together a ‘pep’ team of sorts? Well, in my opinion, it sounds like work that may well be unnecessary.

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  10. Therese Walsh
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 07:50:04

    I appreciate that you’re all talking about this, and I’m sure it’ll be a valuable conversation, but please don’t take personal stabs at Karin. She did Kath and me a favor by guest blogging at WU on this subject, and I don’t want to see her slayed for her efforts. Thanks!

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  11. Jill_Myles
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 07:57:58

    I have to agree that the personal stabs come across as slightly…over the top. We can discuss without degenerating the conversation, IMO.

    For example, I would be concerned that they are moving all copies of her book to the New Release table. If you’ve ever asked for help locating a book at B&N (and I think they do this at Borders too), they have every book’s location catalogued in the computer. They will be able to tell you if it’s a new release or not, and what table it is on. So if you go and ask for help locating a book (I used to do this alot when paranormal was shelved anywhere from general fiction to fantasy), they will tell you the book’s location.

    If you go to that aforementioned location and it’s not there, what do you do? Most of the time I just walk out of the store and assume that they’re out. You can ask them to order you a copy, of course, but I can’t imagine that they’d order more if they see 4/8/however many still unsold in the computer.

    So the book-moving…I think you might end up doing a disservice to yourself in the long run. :)

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  12. Kimber An
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 07:58:02

    Oh, don’t forget about Cyber-Launch Book Parties! Letting headless zombies and jackel-headed warriors loose in Cyberspace with Solja Boy rocking out in the background is really scary. Talk about rabid fangirls.
    ;)

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  13. Gennita Low
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 08:18:51

    I hope Karin doesn’t think I was taking a personal stab at her. I was just jokingly referring to her newsletter where she mentioned giving away Gerard Butler. My other thoughts about the Street Team concept were just my own general take of how it’s been done before. I apologize if the post came off sounding like I was attacking her. Not my intention.

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  14. Ann Somerville
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 08:21:39

    For the record, I’m also not attacking this author personally – just saying that the advice, given by anyone, would be wrong and creepy. I don’t know this particular author from a bag of oranges. I’m sorry for making it sound personal.

    Still bad, bad advice though.

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  15. Jana J. Hanson
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 08:26:31

    I have turned books so the cover faced outward, but I’ve never taken them from their “assigned” place (be in shelves or the tables). That seems disrespectful to the store employees (who organized the entire display).

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  16. ilona andrews
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 09:03:15

    Having teams of fans involved in this sort of marketing effort is a terrible idea, because it takes the author-fan relationship to an entirely different level. It creates expectation of favorable treatment for members of the street teams. In essence, these guys are doing the author a favor. They will expect preferential treatment in return. Not all of them, sure, but some definitely will.

    What if the author doesn’t deliver? What happens when the author does something in the next book that displeases someone on the street team? The potential for lash back is tremendous. And what sort of form would that lash back take?

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  17. Edie Ramer
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 09:33:41

    I’m on Karin’s street team. She’s a friend and I think she’s a terrific writer. I’ve talked up and recommended other writers without being on a street team. The only difference here is that Karin sends me bookmarks to give out. :) As for the “stealth of a panther” comment, I thought that was funny. (Although I’ll probably get slammed for saying it here.) I don’t live near a bookstore, so it’s something I won’t be doing. At the end of the invitation, I believe she says to do whatever you feel comfortable doing, even just one or two things.

    In regard to the “lash back,” Karin’s not worried about it, so I don’t see why anyone else is.

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  18. Sara Reinke
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 09:42:14

    I agree with Shiloh: “If readers really love your books, a lot of them are going to spread the word anyway. Putting together a ‘pep' team of sorts? Well, in my opinion, it sounds like work that may well be unnecessary.”

    Yes, I definitely think that reader word-of-mouth is the best promotional tool an author has, more valuable than gold. There’s a very fine line between soliciting and earning that word-of-mouth, and it’s a hard line to tread — particularly since most authors have to do their own marketing, which can be extremely time consuming. It’s a tempting idea to hand the baton off to your readers, so to speak, by rallying a “fan posse” for promotional assistance. And hey, I’d be lying if I said if a reader or readers contacted me and asked for a bunch of bookmarks, postcards, etc. to pass out at bookstores, or had specifically requested my book(s) at their local retailer or library, I would tell them “no, thanks.” And as Jane pointed out, the meme theory of marketing works.

    While I agree that the idea of prompting folks to rearrange bookstore shelves to an individual author’s benefit isn’t necessarily right, I’m not opposed to the street gang viral marketing techniques in general. However, I’m personally (probably naively) idealistic enough to think that readers do this anyway if they like the book, as Shiloh said. But if I could find a good way to combine the best of both worlds — earning reader word-of-mouth and then spreading it like wild fire to the rest of the free world — I’d definitely be all over that like a monkey on a cupcake.

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  19. LaDonna
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 10:13:00

    Hey all, I’m on Karin’s street team, and don’t feel pressured to do anything other than what I normally do. Recommend books I love. I will be getting bookmarks, but I don’t intend stuffing them anywhere without asking first. Most of us are writers, and focused on our careers. I believe it’s a great promo tool when used in the manner Karin has in mind. We’re not crazy fan girls, just friends who enjoy great books. Bottom line, it’s all aboveboard. Like anything else, there’s bad apples in the world. These gals are not in that category.

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  20. Natalie
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 10:28:01

    Bernita, I can see them now, Nora Roberts fans with blue bandana’s squaring off against Danielle Steel fans in red bandana’s, all armed with razor sharp bookmarks, pens and bobble chains. It’s an all in brawl at bookstores across the world. lol.
    Thanks for the visual, it’s made my day.

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  21. Allison Brennan
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 10:50:38

    Author Street Teams are nothing new. MJ Rose has talked about them. I once took a stack of her postcards to my local Borders when she asked a loop I’m on who would be willing to do it. I hadn’t read that particular book (since it wasn’t out yet) but I had read her previous book and enjoyed it.

    Douglas Clegg has a big street team system going. I remember reading about it on his blog, or MJs, around the time my first book came out. Many authors have such a thing going on, though perhaps they’re not as vocal about it. Is it better to be stealth about it?

    I’m a good friend of Karin’s and commend her for doing something a bit different and bold in trying to gather attention for her books. It’s not easy being a new or midlist author these days. Authors are constantly pressured (often by other authors) to promote, promote, promote. Book marks, book trailers, speaking, workshops, blogs, ads, chats etc. etc. — all of which takes time and money. I often get frustrated when I hear that an author has spent her entire advance on marketing because often those books aren’t widely distributed and therefore her money is often wasted. Something like the street teams concept is far less expensive and more effective. If it helps Karin gather recognition for her books, more power to her. And knowing Karin, she’ll take full responsibility for her actions–and those of her street team–so if there’s any problems, she’ll be the first to stand up and say hey, cut it out, that’s not what I want.

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  22. Keishon
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:01:09

    Word of mouth is still the best. I promote authors whose “work” that I like on my blog and in conversation with readers. It’s not a personal relationship that I have with an author to help promote him/her’s book.

    I’ve always thought that the Internet has changed the dynamics in how we view authors and treat authors. A lot of what’s behind the scenes is now out in the open for public consumption. I’m all for keeping some things in publishing “behind closed doors.” There should always be a respectful distance between readers and writers, IMO. Readers going out of their way to promote an author’s work with bookmarks and such in the reading community sounds a bit much to me.

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  23. Angela
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:09:14

    I don’t know…you guys at Dear Author–if not the SBs and the folks at TGTU–can be pretty close to a street team when you’re giving away copies of books you’ve loved and/or allowing them to guest blog (sometimes authors you guys know). It’s a pretty fine line to walk, and it seems that the reason why Karin’s attempt to create a street team is being pointed out is because she’s an author and DA, SBTB, TGTU,etc are helmed by readers.

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  24. Jane
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:21:18

    Angela – My issue isn’t with the concept, as I stated in the article, but the execution. I don’t feel that Karin is doing anything “wrong” except for maybe the request for reshelving. I’m suggesting that the consequences of a street team, particularly one solicited on the internet of people you don’t know can be very dangerous. The blowback has nothing to do with the author and everything to do with what feelings the reader may develop in terms of entitlement and response from author. I also think that a street team pushes that line between readers relationship with the book v author and I think, as we’ve blogged about before, that increases overpersonalization of the romance genre. I think, Angela, that you read the Holly Lisle thread at Karen Scott’s blog? One commenter wondered (and I am paraphrasing from memory here) that she couldn’t understand why an author’s personal life had anything to do with enjoying the books. This type of overpersonalization is exactly the reason why an author’s personal life can affect a reader’s purchase of an author’s books.

    I don’t feel entitled to anything from authors who provide books to giveaway and frankly I prefer to get them from the publisher to even place a further wedge between the blog and the authors so we don’t feel in ANY way indebted to the author. I don’t want to feel indebted to an author and I don’t want an author to feel indebted to me. The big danger with the street team is that authors will become indebted to readers and from reading blogs and message board for years now, I know that readers who feel slighted can act in ways very detrimental to authors.

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  25. flower
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:32:52

    As an Admin on a Board that discusses various Author’s work, and as a former Marketing Exec and Merchandiser for various book distributors, I would like to throw in my $.02…
    It is one thing to face a book, switch it in the supermarket from the #11 position to the #1 position…etc. These are small things that oftentimes an Author has no control over. I can tell you that book markers, pens, etc are already handed out to Retailers by publishing merchandisers. I also say more power to an Author who wants to promote her books, via a web site or Message Board run by a reputable promotional company, book signings and tours, events, etc.
    BUT…this is where I digress:
    These street teams should not be about any one particular Author…they should be about a Publisher and promotion of that Publishers books. Promotion, when taken out of the hands of a Publisher, and put into the hands of dedicated fans…can and DOES promote an intensely loyal and sometimes retaliatory fan base.
    On our Board, we have had to deal with issues of repeated interference by one particular Authors fans (not referred to in this Blog). The resulting stress and angst has done nothing to promote this Author; for many of us who participate, it has damaged her reputation and credibility irreparably.
    As an Author, one must step very lightly and there has to be a line drawn ‘professionally’, imo, between one’s fans and one’s promotion. The concerns that others have expressed previously in this Thread are valid and worth consideration.

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  26. Corrine
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:34:35

    If you've ever asked for help locating a book at B&N (and I think they do this at Borders too), they have every book's location catalogued in the computer.

    Ah, this does my heart good! I work in library services for a book wholesaler and one of the duties of my department is copy cataloguing, so thank you for adding this. It would make me sick to think that I’m devoting all my time to providing my customers the best possible product – which includes labeling it for shelving – only to know that someone is going in and moving these items around.

    I’m on the fence about this topic. On one hand, it’s a great marketing idea and a good way to get your name out there. On the other hand, I’ve been persuaded to waste money on books that were recommended by street teams, which I didn’t know at the time. I thought they were honest reviews, but, nope, they were strategically placed marketing material.

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  27. Keishon
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:42:19

    Promotion, when taken out of the hands of a Publisher, and put into the hands of dedicated fans…can and DOES promote an intensely loyal and sometimes retaliatory fan base.

    Exactly. I’ve been online a long time and you do have rabid readers, die hard loyalists who don’t always put the author they love in a flattering light. We’ve made fun of them. I’m all for authors going out of their way to promote their work but this not the way to do it.

    I missed the re-shelving part of the article with my speed reading. I may face every once in a great while or re-alphabetize when a book has been pulled out of place but the shelving of books is out of the author’s hands.

    And another thing, I’m all for promoting talented authors and again, there’s nothing personal about it.

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  28. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:47:55

    This might come off as sort off on a tangent, but came back to read further comments on this topic and saw the new poll- one of the options read:

    You see an author's book at the store but refuse to buy it because it could hurt the author's bestseller numbers or you buy it and go back and buy a second copy on the release date. (7%, 5 Votes)

    One of the things mentioned for Karin’s team was buying it the week of release.

    I’m not sure if these things are connected… the hurt feelings/buying week of release/bestseller numbers, etc,

    I know some people aren’t aware of the deal behind holding off buying until release week.

    For an author, those first week sales are vital. Those are the numbers that count when it comes to hitting the lists.

    It’s not really a prestige thing, or not for all authors, at least. Yeah, I’m hoping and praying I eventually hit a major list, just to see if I can.

    It’s not just a prestige thing, though- or in my case, doing it just to show myself I can. Hitting those lists mean an awful lot to the publishers and to booksellers. It’s a marketing tag that author owns for life, nothing can change it.

    None of that really affects readers…however, there is something about hitting the lists that can affect readers.

    An author that hits the lists is much more likely to be offered another contract. Right now, with the economy the way it is, I’ve got a feeling some midlist authors are going to be feeling more of a squeeze. One way to avoid that squeeze is to be more established, and nothing says established like hitting the major lists.

    So if it’s an author you really do enjoy, one way of doing what you can to ensure you keep getting books from her is to wait until the official release date.

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  29. HollyD
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 11:59:15

    Free bookmarks available at locations that have approved the material should not be traumatic. Karin is a very talented writer and has strong values of right and wrong. I think that it’s a wonderful idea to encourage readers. I always talk up the authors I read, and this to me, is an extension of that.

    I think the porn comment was inappropriate. Romance may not be the genre you choose to read, however being insulting is not very mature. There are several genres and authors that I am not fond of. However, I will not make offensive comments about either, but then I’m an adult. Just like the invitation was designed for. Any comments I have made are my responsibility not anyone else's.

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  30. Robin
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 12:31:26

    These street teams should not be about any one particular Author…they should be about a Publisher and promotion of that Publishers books. Promotion, when taken out of the hands of a Publisher, and put into the hands of dedicated fans…can and DOES promote an intensely loyal and sometimes retaliatory fan base.

    I haven’t given any thought to the idea of publisher street teams, but I wholeheartedly agree with you about the perilous dynamics of this strategy. I blogged yesterday at RTB about the dark side of reader loyalty — what happens when a fan’s loyalty turns away from a certain author — and I have long, long expressed my concern about the overpersonalization of Romance marketing. So I have really, really strong feelings about this issue.

    As Angela pointed out above, some of us bloggers do promote particular books that we’ve liked. But we are not author-centric in these promotions. Not only are we pushing a book and not an author (and, as you can see, no one here, at least, is afraid of giving a lower grade to a well-loved author), and we do so of our own accord, outside of any kind of author request or sense of obligation.

    And it’s that sense of obligation I’m feeling in this street team concept. Not that an author would ever feel they were fostering this in their team, and not that the team member minds at the time. Which is what, IMO, makes the whole thing so problematic. The line, IMO, between personal and professional in this paradigm is very unstable, and even though no one is paying attention to where it is at the beginning, when everyone is all pristine motivation and glowing camaraderie, the line will become an issue precisely at the point where the power shifts too far onto one side or the other. Which inevitably, IMO, it will.

    If I have a friend who is also an author, I’m sure I’d feel motivated to help that friend *out of friendship* — out of a sense of personal loyalty as much as professional respect. And I see all this marketing that’s based on building personal loyalty in readers directed at specific authors as replicating these personal connections, even though they are not authentically personal. Because in a friendship situation, the back and forth of helping friends is something you do simply because that’s what friends do for one another.

    But in an author-reader situation, is that what authors and readers are supposed to do? And if this is a professional relationship, what’s the pay off for the reader? Because as lovely as it is to see authors you admire sell lots of books and reach the appreciation of other readers, who does that benefit more? And at what point does the reader realize that, and what happens when she does?

    I just don’t think readers should ever feel obligated to do anything for an author (even if they believe they are obligating themselves freely). Because obligation can so easily turn to entitlement, and when a reader realizes that they are not really benefiting from this sort of one-way obligation arrangement (what’s the author’s set of obligations here — are there any??), they may readily and understandably feel let down. And even if they don’t, I’ll ask again, what is the reader getting out of this arrangement, and what obligations does the author have to her team members?

    It’s so ironic, because a couple of years ago there was a lot of online flap over a letter Pamela Clare circulated to her own newsletter readers, a letter from Dorchester indicating that she needed to do something more by way of promotion. And so Clare was passing that on to her readers. Boy did people get upset about that, feeling that Clare was totally over the line. Comparatively, though, what she was doing was mild, IMO, if street teams are the new trend. Obviously authors want to promote and they are always trying to come up with creative ways of doing so. And of course they are going to tap into their core readership to do so. But IMO the Romance community, especially, is based on a paradigm of personal loyalty that creates all the appearances of personal relationships without the real life benefits and obligations intrinsic to personal relationships. And while that may benefit authors and readers in the short term, it also creates a lot of potential for discord and for the kinds of blow ups we’re seeing more frequently in our online communities.

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  31. Kmont
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 12:33:45

    re the first post by Emmy and the crossed out porn word…

    Is it possible she’s simply saying that she feels it inappropriate to ask teams of kids to promo romance books for authors? That’s the impression I got.

    And I’d have to say as a mother, I agree.

    I have been a long-time lover and squee-er of romance books. I’ll whore those puppies out to anyone that looks interested and love to discuss them. I heart them and authors in general. But as a parent, I would not want a teenage child of mine approached by an author and asked to peddle the stuff I read. I feel what I read is appropriate largely for the adult masses. If I saw a child of mine promoing a romance I would immediately question the wisdom behind that. I think a lot of parents would. Perhaps some wouldn’t, anything is possible. But yes, this parent would. So I took the crossed out porn and following statement of possible parental backlash as a smart look at potential consequences. It was not offensive to me. Regardless of the original poster’s intent, it made me stop and think.

    As far as this blog post and reshelving, it sounds unethical, but I would also wonder if the author knew about the possibility of their usurping paid spots in the store? I could see the annoyance though if it was a consistent act from one author.

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  32. azteclady
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 12:56:05

    I think that authors are not out of line when they educated their readers on what the sales numbers on that critical first week mean–for the author and for the readers.

    I’ve said it before, and I’ll proclaim it again: I’m selfish. I want my favorite authors to be able to keep writing and publishing, because I want to keep on reading their stuff.

    Yeah, I don’t know if I’ll adore their next book as much as I’ve adored other books by them (unless I’ve read an ARC, obviously) but if I have enjoyed most of their books up to now, it’s only to my benefit to understand how my waiting three days to buy their book vs grabbing it ahead of release week will affect their future output and my reading addiction.

    And I certainly am happy to spread this knowledge around to other fans–whether they give a fig or not, at least now they know it has a direct effect on the writer’s pocket and career. No, they don’t owe jackshit to the writer, but out of self interest, they may help that author along.

    Self interest, readers’ choice = all good, IMO.

    From that to street teams… I dunno, it makes me uneasy to have the author herself organize (or direct or whatever you wanna call it) this.

    And the re shelving issues just… ugh. ack. ugh.

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  33. azteclady
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:02:35

    For the full context of the crossed out word in Emmy’s comment, you can read this thread here and this one at Karen’s

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  34. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:07:39

    I think the porn comment was inappropriate. Romance may not be the genre you choose to read, however being insulting is not very mature.

    Robin, Emmy is basically messing with people with the porn comment. She’s actually a huge romance reader. ;) i’ve learned to take everything she says with several truck loads of salt.

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  35. Robin
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:15:33

    IMO there are definitely places where an author and a reader’s interests converge. Take reviews, for example. An author may submit a book to a blog for review, and the blogger may review the book. The author gets some promotion and the blogger gets to recommend a book they really liked. That’s a wonderful thing, IMO, because it serves both authors and readers without either side sacrificing anything or feeling obligated. No problem. But when authors feel like submittal should guarantee them a good review, or when readers feel like authors should write only certain types of books, things aren’t so great. Because there are disappointed expectations and entitlements, and all of a sudden things are personal in a bad way.

    Same with the street date issue, IMO. If an author wants to let readers know why that date is important to the author, no problem, IMO. But readers should never, IMO, feel obligated to a particular author to buy a book at a certain time or be made to feel bad if they don’t. Because while it’s true that a successful author is a boon to that author’s fans, that success should not be purchased at the expense of reader autonomy, IMO.

    The real difficulty is that you often don’t know when that line has been crossed until someone decides it has been. Because I don’t think authors are trying to exploit readers, nor do I think readers are waiting for authors to disappoint them. It’s just something that is a byproduct of a culture based on personal loyalty rather than on professional respect or other less personal values.

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  36. Robin
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:17:07

    Robin, Emmy is basically messing with people with the porn comment. She's actually a huge romance reader. ;) i've learned to take everything she says with several truck loads of salt.

    Shiloh, it was actually HollyD who made that comment, I think. I didn’t even notice Emmy’s comment, lol.

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  37. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:20:19

    Robin, Emmy is basically messing with people with the porn comment. She's actually a huge romance reader. ;) i've learned to take everything she says with several truck loads of salt.

    Shiloh, it was actually HollyD who made that comment, I think. I didn't even notice Emmy's comment, lol.

    Ahhh…. oops??? Sorry!

    *G*

    Holly…

    I think the porn comment was inappropriate. Romance may not be the genre you choose to read, however being insulting is not very mature.

    Emmy is basically messing with people with the porn comment. She's actually a huge romance reader. ;) i've learned to take everything she says with several truck loads of salt.

    :) Sorry, Robin!

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  38. Leah
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:29:16

    Not to be too stupid, but do pre-orders count towards best-seller lists, or should one wait until the release date and buy from a bricks and mortar store, period?

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  39. Anion
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:36:06

    Sorry, but no professional writer should suggest her fans put her books on the tables in place of someone else’s. No matter how nice she may be, that’s wrong and she knows it. I don’t mean to be harsh and the rest of the comments are fine–although I share everyone else’s misgivings re author/reader relationships–but really, that is not an appropriate siggestion to make.

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  40. Brie
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 13:46:25

    Leah, pre-orders do count toward best-sellers lists, because they are not actually released until after the street date.

    The whole what counts vs what doesn’t count is confusing. From what I understand (and my understanding is limited), purchases from places like grocery stores, some online stores, and outside of the U.S. sales don’t count towards the bestsellers lists. So basically it is a small amount of buyers that actually add to best-sellers lists: Buyers that live in the U.S., wait until the release date to purchase, and only buy from stores that count. *And if I’m wrong, someone please correct me.

    Personally, if I’m a fan of an author, I read their books, blog about them, and pick up their new releases when they come in. If I’m completely enamored with a book, I will write the author a little letter telling them so. That’s as far as my fan-ship goes.

    I’m not the type to not pick up a book before it’s release date just to help an author place on a list. Nothing against authors and their goal, but I buy based on what I have in my purse at the time, not thinking about best-sellers lists. If I see it, and I want it, I will get it. I understand those who do wait and adhere to the “rules” I’m just not one of them.

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  41. Emmy
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:07:12

    Oy vey! Not going to get into another romance vs porn debate.

    The teen thing was in reference to the beginning of the blog, which states that teens were used to promote materials to their peers. Was just saying that I *know* what kinda smut I read, and I really, really wouldn’t want my child out promoting that stuff, and I’d be very pissed at the author who asked the kids to do it. I’d be ok with some other more age appropriate genres, as I said, because it would be great to see teens excited about reading.

    I ♥ you, Shiloh! Would luv you more if you actually showed cover art instead of teasing, lolz.

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  42. Laura
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:29:24

    The only “street team” action that I have an issue with is the re-shelving. The correct term for that is actually stealing. The author is expecting to get, through guerilla fan tactics, something that others have paid for.

    Certainly, Ms. Tabke isn’t the first author I’ve seen suggest this action to her fans. I did see her latest facing out on the new books display at B&N the last time I was there, and now I wonder if that was a legitimate placing or not.

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  43. Bernita
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:33:39

    How would these authors feel if some other author’s fangang played these tactics on them?

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  44. Shiloh Walker
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:36:36

    I ♥ you, Shiloh! Would luv you more if you actually showed cover art instead of teasing, lolz.

    but… where is the fun in that?

    ;)

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  45. Janine
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:37:03

    I don't know…you guys at Dear Author-if not the SBs and the folks at TGTU-can be pretty close to a street team when you're giving away copies of books you've loved and/or allowing them to guest blog (sometimes authors you guys know).

    I wonder if this is a reference to my relationship with Sherry Thomas and Meredith Duran? If so, I’d like to address this.

    First, I recognize that readers rely on me to give honest opinions of books. I could have given The Duke of Shadows and Private Arrangments both postive and honest reviews — I thought highly of both books, though I don’t think either book was perfect. But I chose not to formally review them, as well as to disclose my friendship and CP relationship with both authors (something that wasn’t so comfortable to me at the time since it involved blogging about being an aspiring author as well as a reviewer, and not everyone was supportive of that choice) because I wanted readers to know the facts and be able to weigh my comments on these books accordingly.

    I actually feel constrained from posting as much as I’d like to about my affection for Sherry and Meredith’s books, precisely because I am their friend and critique partner, and I don’t want my love of their writing to reflect negatively on Dear Author’s credibility.

    Neither Meredith nor Sherry ever asked me to do anything to promote their books here at Dear Author.

    Re. Sherry and Meredith’s “My First Sale” pieces, I did solicit those, but keep in mind that I knew they had interesting first sale stories. Private Arrangments had sold in a pre-empt and The Duke of Shadows won publication in the Gather first chapters contest. If I hadn’t thought these stories would be of interest to DA’s readership, I would not have solicited them.

    With regard to the Private Arrangements giveaway, I had absolutley nothing to do with that. I believe (someone correct me if I’m wrong) that giveaways are always done at Jane’s impetus. She contacts the publishers when she is excited about a book and wants to do a giveaway.

    Jane was enthusiastic about Private Arrangements and decided on her own to promote the book by having a giveaway. She was not a friend of Sherry’s so her decision was not based on a personal relationship with the author. You’ll notice there was no giveaway for The Duke of Shadows. As she was a lot less enthusiastic about The Duke of Shadows, she gave that book a C grade in her review of it.

    Probably the biggest author promotion I’ve been directly involved with here at DA was back in the fall of 2006, when we posted a review of a Sharon Shinn book each day for an entire week, as well as a lengthy interview I conducted with Sharon Shinn. None of us knew Sharon Shinn from Adam when we decided to do that promotion — it was based on the fact that we loved several of Shinn’s books and wanted to bring them to the attention of our readership.

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  46. Lynne
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:45:57

    I sometimes move a copy of an African-American or Multicultural romance from the AA section to Romance when I’m at Borders because they have that screwed-up segregation policy, but other than that, I don’t believe in reshelving. I’m not comfortable doing it, not even to boost a favorite author’s visibility, and I wouldn’t want anyone doing stuff like that on my behalf, either. It just feels off, to me. Of course, everyone else’s mileage may vary. :-)

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  47. Robin
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:48:08

    Janine, I think the comments were more generally aimed at the pimpage we sometimes engage in (like how I try to get everyone to read Jo Goodman, and how Jane and I were gaga over the recent Bourne and Chase releases, etc.), but I think your own experience of how you negotiate these sometimes difficult issues is very relevant to the discussion, because it highlights the way in which that personal professional line is consciously addressed by all of us, in different ways, depending on the situation.

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  48. Robin
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:54:49

    A bit of an aside, but I can’t help myself: in regard to the pron debate, check this Washington Post story out. And in case you think I’m spending my time reading serious journalism pieces, this was my original source. OTOH, I’m glad we’re not the only one fighting this battle, but OTOH, I’m amazed we haven’t, as a society, gotten over the whole nekkid thing yet.

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  49. Brie
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 14:59:44

    Facing and re shelving books reminds me of the whole Amazon brouhaha. What is the difference between clicking the “not helpful” option on an Amazon review because it puts the author at a disadvantage, and facing/ re-shelving books to put an author at an advantage? They are one in the same to me.

    If an author is going to become a best-seller, let them become one on their own merits, not because they are playing the system in their favor. Isn’t the reward sweeter that way?

    I sometimes move a copy of an African-American or Multicultural romance from the AA section to Romance when I'm at Borders because they have that screwed-up segregation policy,

    Hopefully there will come a time when all romance, no matter what the ethnicity of the characters, will be shelved in the same section.

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  50. Bernita
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 15:01:59

    “You don’t have nude art on your front porch,”
    ~chortle~
    Well, actually, I do…

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  51. MaryK
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 17:21:57

    it seems that the reason why Karin's attempt to create a street team is being pointed out is because she's an author and DA, SBTB, TGTU,etc are helmed by readers.

    Well, yeah. Because of this:

    I've been persuaded to waste money on books that were recommended by street teams, which I didn't know at the time. I thought they were honest reviews, but, nope, they were strategically placed marketing material.

    Reader sites pimp what they like, and I would have no problem with street-team members who share honest enthusiasm about a book. But I don’t want to be inundated with blanket “joy, joy” about an author. After all, that’s the problem with cover blurbs and with most Amazon reviews – no specifics.

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  52. veinglory
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 17:26:07

    It just strikes me that if fans smuggle all the books to the front, customers looking for them in the correct place might not find them!

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  53. Janie Harrison
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 21:11:01

    I actually feel constrained from posting as much as I'd like to about my affection for Sherry and Meredith's books, precisely because I am their friend and critique partner, and I don't want my love of their writing to reflect negatively on Dear Author's credibility.

    What?–good grief. I think I’ll get off the net for awhile.

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  54. kirsten saell
    Jun 17, 2008 @ 23:09:32

    In reference to the Washington Post story, how is it that a man with 14 kids has such a problem with boobies? Just saying…

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  55. Emmy
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 02:02:23

    Cuz kids dont come out of bewbeez, lol

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  56. Angela
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 08:48:47

    Ah…I see what you mean Jane.

    Janine–it wasn’t a dig at you, because I’ve noticed that many of the big-time reader bloggers are friends with authors they regularly feature. When I reference that many bloggers know authors personally, outside of their work, when promoting their novels, one does have a stake in them because of friendship. One always wants ones friend to succeed. Like I said, it’s a really tight line to walk. I’m not implying a bias or that there is a concerted effort to push the personal with the professional, but this whole post rubbed me wrong.

    While I agree that things are unhealthy and detrimental to the industry, it appears that authors are getting the push and stress over numbers, promotion, etcetera from the people at the top–the people who determine whether that author is going to get that next contract, or a smaller or larger print run, or that great cover, etc. A book is a piece of entertainment, and the entertainment industry thrives on the bond between the “star” and the audience. Sure, the contact is much closer between an author and a reader, but it’s the same as when a studio pushes that Next It actress in all of the magazines, on late-night TV, etc for a large group of people to feel affection for and thereby create a built-in audience for that actor who will see any movie/TV show/appearance in which they are featured.

    The personal will always be entwined with the professional because it keeps people coming back. If that wasn’t the case, why is there such a fuss over author behavior online? If no one took authors on a personal level, they could run haywire all over the internet and no one would say “I’m never buying their books again.”

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  57. Robin
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:19:57

    The personal will always be entwined with the professional

    But isn’t that the best reason of all not to exploit one to further the other?

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  58. Janine
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:23:57

    What?-good grief. I think I'll get off the net for awhile.

    Janie Harrison — I wasn’t trying to say that other writers should feel similarly constrained, or even that I know whether or not it’s right for me to feel that way. And I don’t always let that feeling stop me from posting about Sherry and Meredith’s books. I do post about them from time to time.

    I just think that if I wasn’t conscious of wearing my reviewer hat and my friend/CP hat at the same time — if I was just a reader of their books and nothing more — I would feel more free to spread the word, because I wouldn’t be so conscious of the fact that some readers don’t trust recommendations from writers of books by their author friends.

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  59. Janine
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:26:48

    Janine-it wasn't a dig at you, because I've noticed that many of the big-time reader bloggers are friends with authors they regularly feature. When I reference that many bloggers know authors personally, outside of their work, when promoting their novels, one does have a stake in them because of friendship. One always wants ones friend to succeed. Like I said, it's a really tight line to walk. I'm not implying a bias or that there is a concerted effort to push the personal with the professional, but this whole post rubbed me wrong.

    Ah. I see what you are saying. Thanks for clarifying.

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  60. Angela
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 11:38:45

    But isn't that the best reason of all not to exploit one to further the other?

    Certainly! But who is going to say black is black and white is white? To me, to disassociate an author from their work, the extremist view would be to take the name of the author off the cover. The less extreme view would be for authors to have websites without bios and only information about the book, and for reviewers to just review books without guest blogging, interviews, etc–anything that has to do with bringing the author out from behind the book. But that isn’t feasible, so what are the guidelines and lines not to be crossed? Who is going to police that line?

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  61. sallahdog
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 12:45:54

    the only “street teams” I have seen are on the net. I have noticed on random blogs, sudden pop ups in conversations with ” I love X author and her new book is out now!” Now if the topic is about newest releases, its fine, but hey, I saw it in a post talking about menopause for craps sake (it was taken down)..

    I also see the danger in the sense of entitlement coming from fans. Used to be a huge fan of LKH, never on the net though. Some of her harshest critics now are people who in a way felt they were “betrayed” by her 180 in her books. They were people who went to book signings, and pimped her books all over the place, and in a way, felt they had a stake in where the books went…. Whereas I, who never was that involved, only read the books, just turned to some other author.

    Its always a danger with the rabid fangirlys, I never joined JR Wards site after seeing stupid behavior on various blogs, and now I hear that you wont really know whats going on in future books because so much content is on the blog, but won’t be in the book?

    I feel for authors who are pushed to do more and more promo, and that a lot of that promo can completely blow up in their faces… Frustrating, I am sure…

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  62. Robin
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 14:09:27

    To me, to disassociate an author from their work, the extremist view would be to take the name of the author off the cover.

    Sure, but I don’t think this discussion is anywhere near this extreme. Even I, who, I think, am more rigid than Jane about this street team issue, would not suggest such a thing. Obviously the author is always going to be part of the equation, even if the author is only a name to the reader. And obviously something as personally impacting as a book is going to elicit emotional responses with both readers and authors. And precisely because of that, to use those personal connections is inherently fraught with danger, IMO, because all those incredible highs that authors get from reader loyalty can so easily turn into equally powerful lows when/if readers become disappointed or feel entitled.

    So with a strategy like these street teams, I feel (and I’m only speaking for myself here) that ultimately it’s exploitive of readers’ personal loyalty. Because there’s no fair give and take, IMO, and not any professional compensation(although then we stray into the territory where readers are paid for blog comments and the like, which has its own set of problems, IMO). Even as the readers are probably eager to participate, the whole thing is so far past the spontaneous outpouring of fan enthusiasm that it feels to me like a significant imbalance of power between author and reader.

    That doesn’t mean I think the personal should be completely absented from the equation (after all, my belief is that things are currently *over*personalized), but just that IMO there has to be a substantial gain on both sides, for both author and reader. I understand why authors might embrace this strategy and realize that they intend no exploitation of their fans, and I know that the reader enthusiasm is authentic, but seriously, what is the gain to the reader, and is it commensurate with the author’s gain?

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  63. Anon
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 16:51:51

    These street teams should not be about any one particular Author…they should be about a Publisher and promotion of that Publishers books.

    Unless of course you’re a newbie or midlist author–then you ain’t gettin’ no publicity love from the publisher. More and more publicity responsibilities fall to the author. Not all of us have a publisher willing to spend co-op dollars on us or pay for a strict laydown date so we get those solid first week numbers or whatever….

    Not saying I agree w/Karin’s strategy, but not saying I DIS-agree either. I do see where it’s a fine line…but I also applaud her for taking the initiative. I’ll be interested to see how it all plays out.

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  64. Robin
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 17:04:40

    I know that there are many authors out there who really hate promoting themselves. But what if they teamed up with each other, and promoted *each other* rather than themselves (i.e. an author street team that worked for the benefit of participating authors). They would each have a vested interest in the success of the group, would know where to target their attention, and would each have an equal stake in the work it took.

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  65. Alma Alexander
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 17:56:23

    From an author’s perspective…

    * no, I don’t have a “street team”.
    * if I had one I would clearly establish the parameters of what I would expect of these fans (who would not be coopted, but would be volunteering to spread the word, as it were, off their own bat)
    * the first of these parameters would be that NO extracurricular shelf shenanigans will be undertaken on my behalf in bookstores. Facing my book out on the shelf, however, is fine if that is doable, particularly if it is sitting next to a wall-to-wall display of somewhat long-in-the-tooth Douglas Adams volumes which have been faced out and really REALLY don’t need the promo any more (anyone who HASN’T heard about the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by this stage, let’s face it, has been living in outer Mongolia for most of their life…) But absolutely no reshelving in different places. I would love for the books to be out on the front displays – but unless the publisher and the bookseller put them there random fan placement just annoys the bookseller and predisposes them against the author.
    * if anyone has anywhere they would like to take bookmarks and hand them to people like libraries or bookstores or coffee shops, be my guest – I’ll even supply them for you if you let me know you need some.
    *Asking a library to order a copy of any of my books is perfectly fine. Asking a bookstore to order them as a special order is NOT, unless you intend buying the thing. Again, it annoys the bookseller and predisposes them against the author. It’s fine to march up to a bookseller and ask them to get a particular book in – if you’re going to be back to pick it up. But giving the bookseller a fake name and having them order a book which you have no intention of going back for – they aren’t just going to stick it on the shelf, if that’s what people are hoping to achieve. They’ll probably just return it.
    * doing your own thang to promote something I wrote is magnificent and above and beyond the call of duty. I’ve had fan-art done of some of my characters, and it’s been FANTASTIC. But that isn’t something that an author can ask for. If it comes, it’s groovy.

    In other words, if you happen to read something I wrote, and you like it, please DO feel free to tell other people about it. If you want to do that armed with promo materials and you have ideas about disseminating same, or you want to write/have written a blog review of my work, or anything of that ilk – my email is on my website and I’d be happy to know about your efforts and/or discuss the matter further with you.

    Other than that, all I can ask of those at the other end of my books… is to read them. If they like them and are willing to spread the word, that’s a bonus.

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  66. Jane
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 18:00:14

    Angela – if there are instances of bias that you think aren’t transparent enough would you share them with me either in the comments or in a personal email? We work really hard to show no bias toward the books that are reviewed or even the individuals who are invited to guest blog (and I admit to not really know what guest blogs you might be referring to unless it is the first sale letters) but I am interested in knowing how we can improve on the transparency issue. My email is jane at dearauthor.com

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  67. kirsten saell
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 18:14:14

    Other than that, all I can ask of those at the other end of my books… is to read them. If they like them and are willing to spread the word, that's a bonus.

    Count me as one of those authors who hates promo, and hating it I’m unwilling to ask others to do it for me. I’ve been lucky enough to have a couple people spontaneously pimp my little book out of the goodness of their hearts, but I would never have asked them to do so. That same “me me me me!” that I hate about promo prevents me from coming out and asking a reader/blogger to promote my work. If someone does and I notice it, I will send them a brief thank you to let them know I appreciate it. I just don’t have the brass it would take to follow up that “thank you” with a “and could I send you some bookmarks to distribute at your local bookstore? And while you’re there, face my book out, please.”

    Of course, in a few years, Ms. Tabke and those of like mind may well be fixtures on the bestseller lists, and I’ll probably still be toiling away in obscurity.

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  68. Ann Somerville
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 18:44:44

    But what if they teamed up with each other, and promoted *each other* rather than themselves

    Robin, isn’t that exactly what we’ve seen from some of the e-presses, and the more rabid author groups (DAM’s lot is a recent example?) To me, all that leads to is a bunch of froth and fluffing, and unreliable reviews from one chum to another. There’s one e-publisher whose authors regularly pimp each other, and frankly I don’t give a cent for their views because I know they doing it out of a ‘you scratch my back etc’ mentality. If any of them were authors I respected, or I knew they would be willing to give a bad review to a friend, I might trust their mutual promotion more. As it is, it’s just more noise to filter out, and the same goes for mindless squeeing by fans. Some people buy into that because they want to be part of the ‘in’ crowd, but I very much doubt it works on most readers. Of course, this publisher is only shifting a few dozen sales per item, so even one reader buying for the ‘gang’ feel, is a big thing for them. But for serious publishers? No way.

    Your fellow authors *can* help you promote, if they’re honest about it, and it helps them because promoting excellence in your genre, increasing awareness of it and what it offers the reader coming to it the first time, is going to bring readers to you as well. That was my motive back at the start of 2005 when I set up Uniquely Pleasurable. Back then, “original slash” or m/m writing, was the bastard child of fanfiction, and there were basically only two publishers producing it commercially. I wanted to help the genre grow, to encourage people to write it and to read it. Back then, there was more free stuff available than ‘pro’ – now the balance has radically shifted in the other direction, somewhat to my regret. But the genre is still tiny, and still largely unaccepted by the big presses, and still seen as just another kind of erotica, instead of a genre in its own right. So authors like myself who want to keep writing in this genre, and don’t want to be pigeonholed as ‘porn writers’ by default, need to keep promoting the good stuff by fellow writers, and not just our own.

    But the promotion has to be credible. Pimping a book by a friend which is inferior, might con a few readers into buying it – but then *your* currency as a reviewer and an author is devalued. That’s why promotion out of anything other than genuine conviction and admiration, is not going to work, not in the long run. It might work *once*. After that, the readers cotton on.

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  69. Robin
    Jun 18, 2008 @ 20:31:27

    Robin, isn't that exactly what we've seen from some of the e-presses, and the more rabid author groups (DAM's lot is a recent example?) To me, all that leads to is a bunch of froth and fluffing, and unreliable reviews from one chum to another. There's one e-publisher whose authors regularly pimp each other, and frankly I don't give a cent for their views because I know they doing it out of a ‘you scratch my back etc' mentality.

    Good points, lol. But I think it comes down to what you say in your last paragraph, that the promo has to be “credible.” I guess I imagine a team of authors to be not so much a pimping tag-team, but more a collective of similarly situated authors who can a) distribute each other’s bookmarks in their respective hometowns, b) collectively blog (as many authors do), c) ask their local bookstores to carry each other’s books, d) come up with creative ideas for promo that they can carry out in way where it doesn’t look like they’re a girlie gang.

    Also, I think that if we could move away from this hyper-personalized model in genre fiction, it wouldn’t have to be such a gang mentality when it comes to authors and readers. I think the reason I could see it working with authors working together (and of course this depends on the mental health and temperament of the authors ;D ) is that there’s theoretically no exploitation of the reader author relationship involved, as well as an authentic mutual interest among the authors. Certainly it can backfire and explode in the ways we’ve seen, but there are authors out there right now who talk about friend’s books that I absolutely pay attention to, because I see them as sane overall and as people who can wear both an author and a reader hat.

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  70. Angela
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 04:01:39

    Jane-
    I think you guys do a pretty good job on not being biased because you do talk about books you Ja(y)nes/Janine/Jennie/Jia are excited by. But I sort of spun off from street teams because any form of promoting an author outside of the context of their book can fall under the gray area of the author-reader relationship. I just don’t think there is a true, definite answer on what can cross the line (outside of the craziness that goes on with all those e-pubs and folks like DAM) when authors are being pushed to forge “personal” relationships with readers by their publishers, and are being pushed to find more inventive ways to boost sales.

    what is the gain to the reader, and is it commensurate with the author's gain?

    I see what you mean Robin. In response, I can reference the habit of readers to email an author asking them for a book for a particular character or characters and pushing the author to come up with a story for them–whether the author intended to or not. Which then circles back to the reader entitlement derived from their pimpage of the author and their works.

    So what comes first? Reader entitlement or the author creating a personal bond with readers?

    Regarding groups of authors coming together to promote one another and themselves, isn’t that what the Word Wenches, Risky Regencies, History Hoydens, Romance Bandits, et al do? When I visit those blogs I feel little pressure to be buy their works, so that is a viable resource–but there are so many group blogs these days, the impact can feel a bit diluted.

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  71. Sola
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 06:15:13

    Kirstin said, “Of course, in a few years, Ms. Tabke and those of like mind may well be fixtures on the bestseller lists, and IÂ’ll probably still be toiling away in obscurity.”

    If so, it won’t happen with *my* book buying dollars. This behavior is tacky. It’s like she doesn’t care who she stomps on in her mad rush to get ahead: her friends, her readers, or other writers who actually earned their spot on those tables.

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  72. sallahdog
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 15:14:24

    Hey Sola, tone down the bile… Its a discussion, not a slam dance session… I thought Karens post was pretty tongue in cheek, and what the heck would you have newer authors do? The promo done even for the biggies is practically non existent, and the pressure to perform well on the FIRST book, or risk not having a second is immense..

    I have problems with the idea of “street teams” but I also see where a newer author almost has no choice, or be lost in the rush…

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  73. Ann Somerville
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 16:02:15

    I thought Karens post was pretty tongue in cheek

    Sallah, I’m sure you want to keep the tone of the discussion within your comfort zone, but the reality is, not everyone saw that advice as tongue in cheek, and it highlights a problem with making a post like that – it will alienate readers who don’t like being manipulated, and it will alienate fellow authors who won’t appreciate their own shelving being messed around with.

    I assumed she was serious, and was disgusted, and so was Sola. That’s the risk of overly enthusiastic promotion by authors or fans – as we’ve seen here over and over, when people get carried away by their adoration of an author, it ends up making the author look like a dick.

    The advice went too far with the reshelving thing. If the author’s joking, then she needs to be explicit because tone isn’t conveyed well on the internet.

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  74. Julia Sullivan
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 17:12:37

    Is “tongue-in-cheek” the new “social experiment”?

    Because telling people to reshelve books in bookstores is Truly Horrible Advice. Bookmarks, great. Talking the book up on blogs and forums and loops, you go. Positive reviews, outstanding.

    Wasting the money of publishers’ marketing departments and the time of bookstore employees? No.

    Saying, “Whoops, I messed up” is a lot more gracious as a response to making an error like that than saying “I was just kidding,” in my opinion.

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  75. Anion
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 18:13:17

    I thought Karens post was pretty tongue in cheek, and what the heck would you have newer authors do?

    What I wouldn’t have them do is screw over other authors and create more work and problems for booksellers.

    As I said above, suggesting reshelving books is not funny, it’s not cute. It’s wrong and it’s irresponsible and it’s reprehensible, and anyone with even a modicum of publishing experience knows it. The only people who don’t know it are the readers being used in this shameless fashion, and what happens to them when they’re caught doing this by the booksellers?

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  76. Anion
    Jun 19, 2008 @ 18:26:03

    Sorry, I should clarify: reshelving books as in stealing table space from writers whose publishers help support bookstores by paying for that space, is irresponsible etc.

    I am for the reshelving of AA romance in the “regular” romance section if the author has indicated a desire to be shelved there.

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  77. sallahdog
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 16:21:36

    Hey, I have said I am not too wild about the whole “street teams’ idea… and reshelving books is probably not a bright idea, but it was said in a joking way “the stealth of a panther” and hardly warranted “This behavior is tacky. It's like she doesn't care who she stomps on in her mad rush to get ahead:”… Next there will be a ” I am so DISGUSTED” post(whoops there was by Ann ” I assumed she was serious, and was disgusted, and so was Sola”)and alluding to Tabke being the reason that food prices are going up, national debt and the general degeneration of the nation… Balance people, I realize its not as much fun, but hey! a novel concept…

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  78. Ann Somerville
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 16:53:50

    Sallah, I think you’re now being unfair. This author may be ‘tongue in cheek’ but she’s the one who wrote the words and published them. She needs to own them and take responsibility for the effect they have on people, same as I or you do for what we write.

    She’s been criticised for one particular thing – advocating irresponsible behaviour in her fans, whether jokingly or not. You don’t need to exaggerate. Yes, I find that disgusting, particularly after seeing what fans gone wild (let alone authors going wild) look like from the outside. No author should encourage that kind of thing.

    But no, I’m not looking for her head on a pike. A simple ‘hey, I don’t really want people to do this’ disclaimer would be good, along with her not repeating that kind of ‘joke’ in future, but this isn’t a discussion for *her*, it’s about people’s reactions to the ideas. My reaction is negative, and so was Sola’s.

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  79. Anion
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 17:30:35

    Next there will be a ” I am so DISGUSTED” post(whoops there was by Ann ” I assumed she was serious, and was disgusted, and so was Sola”)and alluding to Tabke being the reason that food prices are going up, national debt and the general degeneration of the nation… Balance people, I realize its not as much fun, but hey! a novel concept…

    Okay…I’m not really sure what exactly I’ve said here that you need to insult me by implying I’m incapable of having a rational discussion or that I’m incapable of keeping things in perspective, but it seems to me the only one making wild exaggerated claims here is you.

    I don’t think this needs to get personal in such a manner, do you?

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  80. kirsten saell
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 18:03:40

    Sallah, it doesn’t even matter if the author was being “tongue in cheek”. What matters is that many of the commentors here didn’t take it that way, and it’s a given that some of the author’s fans would take it seriously, too.

    And I’m not sure how “tongue in cheek” it was. She asked her fans to do something, she asked them to be sneaky while doing it. Many of those fans would be unaware that doing this is tantamount to stealing prime space from those who have paid for it. Regardless of the author’s intent, I’m thinking her books are probably showing up in prime spots in more than a few bookstores due to her careless (or purposeful) words.

    And people are allowed to feel certain behaviors are tacky. I find the idea of asking fans to do my promo work for me tacky. I’m aware that others might not feel this way (they may indeed feel my behavior is often tacky–in fact I’m sure some people do), and they’re entitled to their opinions. I’m entitled to mine.

    I don’t feel Ms. Tabke is “stomping” on her readers, as Sola put it. But I do feel she’s taking unfair advantage of their enthusiasm and goodwill, and I don’t find much to admire in that.

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  81. sallahdog
    Jun 20, 2008 @ 21:29:22

    look, let me preface this by saying I have never read a book by Tabke. so I am hardly a fan.

    I think the thing I am objecting to, is the taking things to extreme. I would worry also about fans getting to fanatical, I just get a little irritated when words like “stomp on people” and “disgusting” and other comments that seem a little out of proportion to the original post.

    Heck, she could have been completely serious, and deserves a chiding, but she is hardly abusing other writers, or behaving disgustingly (I have teen boys in my house, I know what disgusting truly looks like)….thats all I am saying…

    Its fun to jump on the bandwagon to give this author a spanking, but come on… she didn’t drown kittens or smack puppies around… Take it for what you will, I just find myself laughing when I see posters get all giddy with the zeal of the righteous over what may very well be a poorly thought out choice of words, hardly the anarchists manifesto…

    But hey, don’t let me rain on your parade, have a good old time..

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  82. Ann Somerville
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 01:36:26

    Sallah, I’m really irritated by your insistence that you have the right to arbitrate on the appropriateness of a reaction. Do you honestly think that only mothers of teenage boys know what disgusting behaviour is? Because you’re wrong, and being rather patronising to boot.

    Poorly thought out choice of words or not, this author wrote them and put them on a public blog. The actual fact of what she’s describing, whatever words she uses, is ethically wrong. She’s doing her fans down, and she’s doing other authors down. The point of how wrong it is has been made over and over. I’m entitled to react to that as I see fit, and so are other people.

    No big deal to you? Then why bother laying down the law to those who feel differently? Why are you in this discussion if the only valid view is the one you approve? Surely you know well enough by now that’s not how it works.

    You’re sounding more and more like those supporters of Tess Gerritsen who could not begin to fathom why their idol had enraged so many people, and who had to resort to mockery and insult to make their point because the actual logic of what they were trying to do – change people’s emotions – didn’t have a hope in hell of working. And neither does what you’re doing, although you’re doing an excellent job at pissing a few of us off with your condescending manner.

    If that’s your intention, why then, to quote you, ‘have a good old time’.

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  83. Robin
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 02:23:38

    I’m still trying to figure out where the idea that Tabke is kidding came from. I know Jane posted the link to Tabke’s piece on Writer Unboxed, but here it is again for reference. Tabke says that she will be disseminating her Street team information widely:

    Below is the email letter I recently sent out to a few of my friends, I'll also be posting this on my blog, The Write Life, later this week, and there will also be a page or two on my website dedicated to this as well as a Street Team link on my home page. I'll also have it up on my new MySpace.

    The “panther” reference occurs in the section entitled “In Person Team Spirit” and reads as follows:

    With the stealth of a panther, take all of my books and front them on the new release table in the front of the store! (Note, if you insist on slipping one or two in a few best seller slots it won't hurt my feelings.)

    She goes on to say,

    I'll be creating a data base with all of my street team members names and locations, and I'm going to ask my uber web guy, Justin Knupp at Stonecreek Media, to create up a pic of the USofA so I can put dots in all the areas my Street Team is hard at work. I'm hoping to see it crowded with dots!

    I don’t know; it sure sounds to me like she’s serious about this concept, and she seems to have a pretty detailed and ambitious plan. Not that there’s anything wrong with ambition, but I see no reason that readers would not have strong opinions about this idea, both positive and negative. And I think talking about those opinions is just as fair as Tabke’s public presentation and solicitation of her street team plans.

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  84. Robin
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 02:46:40

    In response, I can reference the habit of readers to email an author asking them for a book for a particular character or characters and pushing the author to come up with a story for them-whether the author intended to or not. Which then circles back to the reader entitlement derived from their pimpage of the author and their works.

    Oh, I agree that this behavior is over the line, as well. But for me it breaks down to a power differential in regard to readers and authors. And particularly to a mistake that both make, IMO, about who has no power. Obviously authors are conditioned to believe that readers have power because editors and publishers are constantly trying to meet what *they* believe are reader expectations. But IMO authors still do and should have control over their work and over the integrity they feel about that work.

    And when it comes to promotion, I think that no matter what lines readers might cross, that authors *should* exercise restraint around doing things to encourage or invite even more line crossing. Because IMO authors don’t deserve to sell well just because readers have unreasonable expectations for their work, if that makes sense (in other words, they should not exact payment in the form of readers basically working for them).

    Ultimately, I think there’s a false sense of power for readers in this street team strategy, where readers are made to feel that they have some power in how the author sells, which IMO is unrealistic, untrue, and somewhat dangerous in terms of the way it can make readers feel both responsible and entitled (perhaps simultaneously). Many factors determine how well an author sells, and I just think getting readers to feel obligated to the author in regard to promotion is fraught with problems and somewhat troubling aspects.

    As for author groups blogs, I think you’re right that they can feel overwhelming and even monotonous, but as the street team concept illustrates, there are many avenues to promotion that IMO authors could do for each other — approaches that aren’t predatory and can create a sort of cooperative among authors (like local craftspeople establish, for example). At least with authors there’s more of a lateral relationship to start with, which makes the accountability issue clearer, IMO.

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  85. Ann Somerville
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 04:37:17

    she seems to have a pretty detailed and ambitious plan

    Robin, I agree. This was where I had difficulty seeing the ‘joke’, and frankly I don’t believe there was one. The plan was too well thought out – if she was playing it for laughs, it would have been more ridiculous. ‘Stealth of a panther’ doesn’t make it silly enough to be obvious she doesn’t want anyone to actually do it. I honestly don’t know if she’s serious or not, but only one person here is suggesting she’s not, and everyone else assumes she is. That to me indicates at the very least, she’s misjudged the tone.

    If you mutter something like ‘Rid me of this troublesome bishop’ in front of people overeager to please, you can’t complain when someone presents you with the head of Thomas à Beckett. Joke or not, it’s not a sensible thing to say out loud.

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  86. Anion
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 07:00:31

    Heck, she could have been completely serious, and deserves a chiding, but she is hardly abusing other writers,

    I can’t address the rest of your comments better than Ann did, but I do want to say something about this. She is, in fact, abusing other writers by suggesting fans remove their books from Best Seller slots or from New Release tables and replace those books with hers (or putting her books on top of theirs, or wherever they would have to go to fit into those slots or onto that table; I’m aware she didn’t explicitly say to remove other books, but there’s only so much room in those slots and on those tables).

    I’m not sure where you missed the point that publishers PAY bookstores for placement on those tables. It isn’t a matter of the bookstore just deciding to throw any old title up there. It has been PAID FOR by a publisher, and that money is part of what helps keep bookstores afloat. If a publisher finds that books which should be on the tables are not on the tables, don’t you think there’s a good chance they’ll stop paying? Maybe not today or tomorrow, but eventually? Don’t you think there’s an excellent chance they’ll ask for their money back, since the bookstores aren’t complying?

    No, it probably won’t happen, in large part because the booksellers will have to undo that stealthy fan work. Which isn’t going to endear the fans to the booksellers, and even if it did, why should they have to keep doing the same job over and over because some writer thought it would be cool to encourage her fans to mess things up?

    Best Seller slots are EARNED. It’s not fair to take that acheivement away from another writer.

    Nobody is calling for blood here, nobody is demanding Tabke come here and “answer for her shameful actions”, nobody is sending emails to bookstores telling them to beware of stocking Tabke books. We’re expressing opinions in what I think is a well-reasoned, thoughtful, and calm fashion, so again, I don’t know why you feel the need to refer to us as though we’re slavering goons.

    As a reader this may not be that important to you. As a writer–one whose publisher paid for table placement–I can assure you it’s important to me.

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  87. Robin
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 12:54:25

    I think it’s obvious to everyone that Tabke is trying to be funny with the panther image, but since she’s got an email address for prospective street teamers posted on her blog, I’d say she’s pretty darn serious about the concept itself.

    As a reader this may not be that important to you. As a writer-one whose publisher paid for table placement-I can assure you it's important to me.

    I’m merely a reader, and I had a very negative reaction to the whole thing, and the more I think about it, the more I dislike it. That doesn’t mean I think Tabke or any other author is trying to scam readers or anything. I think authors just want to sell their books — books they believe in because they wrote them.

    But from my POV as a reader, the whole thing seems exploitive of the IMO overpersonalized construction of the reader-author relationship. That readers and authors might not see it that way is indicative, IMO, of how normalized that personalization has become, and, I think, how tough authors feel it is to get their books noticed and bought, not only in a tight economy, but in a crowded marketplace. I’ve long felt that the publisher standard of pimping authors who are already bestsellers is unfair, but I think it’s equally unfair for readers to do the work of marketing folks. I don’t know what the solution is, but I don’t think it’s street teaming.

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  88. Bernita
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 13:12:55

    The idea of displacing another writer’s books is a little too cutthroat for me.

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  89. sallahdog
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 15:00:39

    Sallah, I'm really irritated by your insistence that you have the right to arbitrate on the appropriateness of a reaction.

    Ann, I get pretty irritated(not really irritated, more really amused) by people taking someone they disagree with and blowing what they say way out of proportion… Lets just say I save my digust and horror for crimes that truly merit it. Moving a book (however wrong) just doesn’t rise to the level of shock and Awe for me… sorry, that upsets you… by the way, I am no arbitrator, I have always been more likely to toss gas on the fire.. but like you, I also have a right to express my opinion. And thats it…

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  90. sallahdog
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 15:02:49

    I'm not sure where you missed the point that publishers PAY bookstores for placement on those tables. It isn't a matter of the bookstore just deciding to throw any old title up there. It has been PAID FOR by a publisher

    I didn’t miss anything, in fact I am well aware of product placement (it also happens in the grocery store)… my bemusement comes more from the seemingly out of proportion reaction to the offense… thats all..

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  91. Anion
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 16:08:00

    Okay, well, if the calm and reasoned comments here are really what you consider “out of proportion”, I suspect the only reaction you would have found appropriate would have been no response at all.

    No matter how rationally or deliberately worded or well-thought-out anyone’s replies to you are, you still keep saying we’re all overreacting and taking this way too far and having a “slam dance session”. It makes me seriously wonder what you’re seeing that the rest of us aren’t.

    It also makes me see that it’s absolutely pointless to attempt to have a discussion about this with you, because rather than respond to what we’re saying you just keep accusing us of being nutjobs who take our livelihoods way too seriously and are going after Tabke with knives and burning her in effigy all over the internet (instead of simply expressing our opinions here calmly and articulately). It’s silly, and it makes me believe your intent here isn’t to calm people down so much as it is to stir them up by being deliberately accusatory, combative and obtuse.

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  92. sallahdog
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 21:46:57

    anon,I didn’t object to robin, and most of the other posters disagreeing with street teams or reshelving. In fact I agree with the fact that reshelving books is a bad idea.. I simply think terms like” stomping on fans and authors” and disgusting, disgraceful, etc, are like hitting a gnat with a 2 by 4…

    It happens a lot on the internet, to make a post memorable, the tone of the posts get more and more dramatic until you would have thought that the original poster advocated some heinous crime… and thats pretty much my last word on this subject because I am notoriously short attention spanned..

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  93. Ann Somerville
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 21:59:07

    Sallah, I know you’re trolling, so I’m discounting the idiocy of your apparent belief that there’s some kind of campaign to make this or any other post ‘memorable’ (what do you think happens? Jane et all whip up their street teams to come over and kick some righteous ass? Come off it.)

    But I sure as hell take one message away from your dramatics – you think your sons are disgusting, but unethical shafting of authors and publishers and booksellers isn’t.

    What? you scream. You never meant that? But it’s what you said.

    See how easy it is to take ‘tongue in cheek’ remarks the wrong way?

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  94. Gennita Low
    Jun 21, 2008 @ 23:22:45

    I really don’t think Sallahdog is trolling (in the sense I understand) because she often comments here and at Karen’s blog. Just stating her opinion vs others here, that’s all. We all don’t agree from time to time. I don’t think Sallahdog was making any statements about the ethics of using street teams or moving books; in fact, I think she wrote several times that reshelving books was a bad idea. There just appears to be a disagreement on phrasing. ;)

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  95. Sola
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 13:23:59

    IMO ‘stomping’ and ‘tacky’ aren’t inaccurate or extreme. Mrs. Tabke is encouraging friends and readers to do something that could get them yelled at if caught. She is advocating taking high visibility shelf space away from authors who earned it or whose publishers paid for the privilege. What would her editors say? How wouldthis go over with the marketing department?

    If there is any question as to how ‘tongue in cheek’ she was about the suggestion, her street team Yahoo list is completely unlocked for nonmembers to read, which might surprise a few ppl given the unguardedness of their comments.

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  96. Robin
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 16:50:24

    OMG, Sola; that was, uhm, eye opening. I wonder if they all realized that their comments were public (especially the authors, lol).

    Since the list and its posts are public, I will quote Tabke directly here (she’s referring to this op-ed post and its comments, BTW):

    lol, another friend just emailed me. I told her to chill, i’m enjoying the buzz.
    as far as those ladies getting their panties in a snit about reshelving books? I’ve been doing it for years for my friends. I call it Karin Co Op.

    So, not only is she encouraging others to reshelve books, but she does it herself. Okay.

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  97. azteclady
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 17:14:18

    Gee, over at the yahoo group, Ms Tabke says,

    Ladies, I love you all, and I do appreciate your fierce defense of me and our Street Team. But from the many emails I have received this morning not only from several of you but others it seems this is becoming a blood pressure issue for many of you.

    I want you ladies to take a big deep breath and walk away from the keyboard. We have nothing to defend to anyone, because we are doing nothing wrong. Let the people say what they will and let us be on our merry way.

    Hmmm… so taking up paid for placement from other authors is not wrong. Whoddathunkit.

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  98. Anion
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 18:08:07

    *shakes head*

    I wonder how she would feel if she discovered people were moving her books to, say, the Books in Spanish section?

    I’m not suggesting anyone do this, because again, it simply creates more work for booksellers and that isn’t right. I just wonder if she would still think there was nothing wrong with moving books around the store to suit a whim.

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  99. Ann Somerville
    Jun 22, 2008 @ 23:10:42

    So, she’s not joking and she’s not ashamed, and she has no idea that what she’s advocating isn’t harmless. And no, she’s not going to rein her supporters in because she thinks it’s exciting and fun. Bloody marvellous. ::rolls eyes::

    Is it okay if we criticise her now? Because you can make all the special pleading you want because she’s a nice person and she was doing a favour to someone or other etc – but what it comes down to is, she’s behaving like an ass on this issue. I can’t for the life of me see why she should get a free pass when no other author on the planet would if they did this, or encouraged it. It’s A-grade dickery.

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  100. kirsten saell
    Jun 23, 2008 @ 01:16:54

    It's A-grade dickery.

    Freakin’ ditto. WTF? Fucking around with shelving in an attempt boost one author’s sales at the expense of other authors won’t just get you yelled at–it can and will get you banned from stores. And if I was a store owner and caught someone doing this, and found out it was encouraged by the author–well, guess what author I wouldn’t be stocking anymore?

    This woman is a piece of freaking work.

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  101. GrowlyCub
    Jun 23, 2008 @ 08:08:30

    Wasn’t Tabke the one who got to launch the Kensington Aphrodisia line on Geraldo? I read that book and Tabke’s story was, let’s say, not memorable.

    (There are some great Aphrodisia books out there, however.)

    You’d think she should have been able to get enough books sold via national exposure…

    So now she’s trying street teams and encourages her readers to do something that’s both morally questionable and illegal and she’s dismissive about people who point that out.

    There’s a new entry in my ‘never-to-be-bought(again)-list that just keeps growing and growing and growing.

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  102. Robin
    Jun 23, 2008 @ 11:12:50

    I don’t necessarily expect readers to understand the politics of book placement, but I sure as hell expect authors to understand. So Tabke’s attitude rubs me wrong on two levels: that she still reshelves, meaning that she’s intentionally displacing other authors for her and her friends; and that she seems to think our objections are stupid (although I’m still trying to figure out the imagery of having one’s panties in a snit).

    I have several times gone into Borders looking for a book, having the computer insist it’s on a certain shelf, and still not being able to find it. How the hell many people are engaging in reshelving, because it’s not just insulting (and IMO totally unfair play) to other authors, it’s also frustrating to me as a reader, because it’s a potential wasted trip to the bookstore. And we already know it’s a waste of resources for the bookstore and for the publisher who pays for placement.

    Not that long ago people were incensed at DAM’s clickies. So what’s the difference between DAM asking people to click “unhelpful on reviews” and Tabke reshelving and asking readers to do the same?

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  103. kirsten saell
    Jun 23, 2008 @ 11:43:15

    Not that long ago people were incensed at DAM's clickies. So what's the difference between DAM asking people to click “unhelpful on reviews” and Tabke reshelving and asking readers to do the same?

    Yeah, the whole thing leaves a icky taste in my mouth. Bluh.

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  104. Karen Templeton
    Jun 23, 2008 @ 13:08:23

    Speaking as the ultimate promo cynic, the thing I’m not understanding is how much impact on an author’s sales figures these tactics really have. Forget the bookmarks, etc. — the few sales gained from potential readers’ seeing/taking a bookmark is negligible. But unless one’s “team” is numbering in the thousands, it’s highly unlikely that the number of books that might actually sell due to the rearrangement factor will ever be enough to substantially impact an author’s bottom line.

    And if one’s team is that large, then I’m thinking the whole strategy is moot. :)

    So not only do I find such tactics disturbing, for many reasons — not the least of which is the implication that one can’t succeed without resorting to such overt, sometimes downright squirrelly manipulation — I find it a bit disingenuous.

    I certainly understand, and sympathize with, authors feeling pressured to get the word out — you know, because nobody will buy the book if they don’t know it exists — but I’ve also seen a lot of flashes in the pan over the last dozen years, authors whose first books were pushed out the wazoo but who never really caught fire and ultimately (sometimes with embarrassing speed) fell off the radar.

    Perhaps force-feeding might work with a first book, to some degree, and perhaps those sales will garner an author a subsequent contract. But ultimately, it’s all about matching up an author’s WORK with readers who dig her voice/stories/characters/whatever. And all the manipulation in the world can’t forge that relationship.

    Not in the long term, at least.

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  105. nonny
    Jun 24, 2008 @ 19:32:57

    I was at the Big Box store today, and there amongst the new romance releases was Karen Tabke’s “Jaded”. I found myself wondering if it belonged there, or if a fangirl-sorry, stream team member-had placed her title there. I coudn’t help myself; with the stealth of a panther, I moved the copies of Tabke’s book somewhere else in the store, and replaced them with a few copies of a new title by an author I enjoy and respect.

    Was it the right thing to do? No. I won’t do it to any other author, but I’m sure Ms. Tabke will appreciate the co-opting of the Karen Co-op.

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  106. sallahdog
    Jun 26, 2008 @ 10:18:57

    I really don't think Sallahdog is trolling (in the sense I understand) because she often comments here and at Karen's blog.

    back again, thanks, gennita.. I have been accused of trolling before, mainly because I am not afraid to put up a dissenting opinion. and I tend to be sporadic so I am sure that it does look like I am just being a shite stirrer (they may be right occasionally)…

    I save my disgust and horror for things that truly merit it. War, famine, etc. The reshelving issue, while petty, stupid, prone to backfiring(see nonnys post above,lol) and just a wee bit desperate just didn’t raise to the level of disgust…. For me personally… Others mileage may vary…

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  107. Karen Scott
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 17:24:26

    Was it the right thing to do? No. I won't do it to any other author, but I'm sure Ms. Tabke will appreciate the co-opting of the Karen Co-op.

    Now that shit’s funny.

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  108. Karen Scott
    Jul 07, 2008 @ 17:35:56

    I coudn't help myself; with the stealth of a panther, I moved the copies of Tabke's book somewhere else in the store, and replaced them with a few copies of a new title by an author I enjoy and respect.

    I did something similar the other day when I saw Deborah MacGillivray’s books in Borders. I hid them in three different sections in the store, including the black history section.

    Yes, it was quite a naughty thing to do, (apologies to store assistants) but it felt really good.

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  109. Buzz: Street teams taking over? | Stephanie Lawton
    Jul 29, 2013 @ 10:43:31

    [...] street team expects certain things. For a look at specifics and the negatives, here’s a fantastic article by “Jane” on Dear Author. I’ve been hard-pressed to find stories of successful [...]

  110. Corgi Avenger
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 08:55:43

    Y’know, I’m reminded of an infamous SP author who enjoyed placing her books on the best-seller’s rack at her local bookstores, then photographed them and posted the pix all over the web with claims of being a best-selling author. It basically made her a laughing-stock.

    I know it’s an extreme example, but beware the slippery slope. Re-shelving is unethical, no matter how you spin it.

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  111. J. R. Tomlin
    Jan 12, 2014 @ 15:32:32

    Two of these are totally unacceptable behaviour that would get you kicked out of bookstores. That these unpleasant strategies would work large scale is, to put it mildly, doubtful anyway. Asking fans to tell people they like your books is a good idea. The rest… *sigh*

    They are why many people consider authors nut cases.

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