Saturday, November 15, 2014

Street team abuse - it's real

I want to start off by saying that I know I've been a little absent lately, but I've had to rethink my blog offerings, primarily the Wednesday posts.

When I started off with my Wednesday reads, I made it abundantly clear that they were NOT reviews; rather, they were books I read and appreciated for their uniqueness, writing skill level, storytelling, or subject matter, or just because I like a sappy love story. Shut up. They were never intended to be reviews, as I stated.

Problem is, I've been inundated by authors, agents, and publishers wanting me to review their books. Let me say it again: I'M NOT A REVIEWER. The purpose of this blog is to support my WRITING, not to provide every Tom, Dick, and Harry out there with a frickin' review. To all my author friends whose books I've showcased here, I was glad to do it. To the rest of you, it ain't happenin', so just cut it the hell out. I even had one who had the audacity to pursue me and then ask me what my qualifications were for reviewing. I'm guessing you're thinking, "I know what she said to that," and you'd be right.

So I'm going to showcase the books from series I've already started and possibly do others, but I'm not going to do them on any set time schedule. I'll do them when I do them. That's it - that's all. Sorry. In between you'll get more of my pithy, sarcastic, screw-you attitude - which I know you love.

And now on to the purpose for today's post.

I had a little come-apart earlier in the week and sent a rather lengthy post to my street team, basically asking them if I posted it, would I get kicked off Facebook. The response I got was positive and sad at the same time. So I'm asking you to read this and then post the link all over the place so EVERYONE sees it. This is a message to all the authors and street team members out there who need to hear it.

You see, I've been hearing rumblings all over, and I mean ALL OVER. So here are some of the things I've heard.

I'm on a street team where we have to post ten times a day or we get kicked off.

They made me fill out an application to be on the street team and said, "We'll get back to you." And they never did.

I had to take time off for a family crisis, and I explained it to them and apologized. When it was resolved, I asked to come back to the team. They didn't want me back.

I'm being treated like shit in the street team I'm on because I'm on more than one street team.

According to them (other ST members, admins, or the author), if I'm on more than one street team, I'm being "unfaithful" to the author.

I'm being told that I can't be on this or that authors' street teams by the street team I'm on because that author doesn't like the other authors.

They've got a limit of five (six, three, etc.) street teams that I can be on, and it's a requirement that they're all in the same genres (or the same thing but all different genres).

The author wants me to have his/her tee-shirts, caps, swag, etc., but I'm expected to buy it.

So now I've got a little question for my author buddies out there. It's a simple one, really.


I mean, really? Here's an idea: Dock their pay. Take away their benefits. Cut back on their sick days and holidays, or cut out holiday pay altogether. Isn't that what an employer does?

Wait? You're not paying them? What do you mean, you're not paying them?

Get this now and get it straight: THESE PEOPLE DON'T OWE YOU A DAMN THING. They're doing what they're doing out of the goodness of their hearts because maybe they like you, or they like your books, or you said something clever on a Facebook post once and it made them laugh, or their best friend is on your street team, or your name is their dog's name too. Whatever. Doesn't matter what the reason - YOU'RE NOT PAYING THEM. You have ZERO right to impose any rules on them. No, I take that back: You do have the right to either deny them membership or to remove them from membership if they can't behave in a professional manner or if they are doing something illegal or immoral, such as soliciting drugs from another street team member or using the street team as a hookup ground for cybersex. Not cool - not cool at all. Otherwise, get this through your head - you're not paying them. You have NO RIGHT to impose rules on them.

Are your books so damn spectacular that they should kiss your feet for writing them? Are you so damn special that they should be in awe of you and be glad that you'd even let them on your street team? Are you sure as hell not going to interact personally with them? What kind of narcissist are you? Are you really egotistical enough to believe that the occasional free book or sharing some of your own advertising material with them is compensation? Uh-oh - I just threw up in my mouth a little.

So let me clue you in on a little sumpin'-sumpin'. If you've been in the indie publishing game for three or four years, the playing field is being leveled as I type this. It's unlikely that you'll be getting those big checks anymore. Why? Because there are thousands of people hitting "publish" every day who shouldn't. Their work is crap, and some of them know it, but they're so in love with the idea of being an "author" that they're going to do it anyway, even if they know their work is shit. That puts them out there in the marketplace where YOU have to compete with them. Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Owners' Lending Library is making that more lucrative for them every day, and people who otherwise would never have sold a book are getting little chips off the Global Fund block for borrows. That's enough to encourage them to keep going. What that means for you, as a seasoned indie veteran, is that putting out a book every one and a half to two years is no longer going to be acceptable. Six months, and they've moved on to another author. Some of our readership doesn't have a lot of discretion, so they'll read crap and think it's wonderful. And you've lost a reader. (Don't tell me you don't care about those people because they don't know good books when they read them. If everyone like that quit buying your books, you'd have to get a job at a convenience store, and you know it.)

Street teams were intended to fill in that gap between the author and the readers out there who've never heard of them. Anyone who knows anything about business - and a lot of you really don't - knows that advertising is the number one biggest expense any business has. Street teams are a cheap, fast, effective way to do some advertising when you don't really have any cash flow.

So why in the world wouldn't you be kissing your street team's collective asses? You certainly should be. They're doing you a favor, dumbass. They're working for you when they'd rather be reading (maybe even someone else's books), or shopping, or watching TV, or any of a number of things, but instead, they're in there glued to the computer screen, pimping as fast as they can go (and sometimes getting put in Facebook jail, right, Tabby?), talking you up to anyone who'll listen, and offering to leave swag all over their town to get people to notice you. And for some unfathomable reason, you think they should reach a daily "quota" of work for you, or buy your swag at ungodly prices, or sequester themselves in your street team and your street team alone (insecure or jealous, are we?), and work like a sonofabitch for you while you watch them in your notification boxes and pat yourself on the back. What the hell?

Don't get me wrong - I know many of us can't afford to pay a street team, and I know I certainly can't. But if I'm not paying them, I don't have the right to impose ANY requirements on them. None.

So here's the deal. I love my street team. The ladies on there will tell you it's more like a family than a street team. I get messages from some of them saying they're going through a hard time and they'll be absent for awhile. I always tell them family first, and I mean that. Yeah, I've got a few I haven't heard from in ages, even though I've tried to contact them. That's okay. Their name on my membership roster isn't costing me money, so what difference does it make? I try to remember their birthdays and when they're having surgery and if they or one of their children has a chronic illness, and I try to be supportive. God knows my memory is crap, but I try, I really do, and I think they'll tell you that I do.

Street team members, if you're not being treated that way, or at least with some respect, GET THE HELL OUT OF THAT STREET TEAM. No author should use and abuse street team members, and if you're in that situation, tell them to go fuck themselves and get out. Want a street team to go to?

Come to mine. I guarantee it's a fun, friendly, family-type place to be where you can promote me to your heart's content, even if that just means one day a week, or maybe once a month. I'm not picky. I'm not paying you. I'll take whatever time you can offer me and be thankful for it.

You authors out there with your noses up in the air, you should probably get yourself an attitude of gratitude and thank your lucky stars that you've been as successful and popular as you have been, because the times, they are a-changin'. In a few months, you may just need those street team members. If you keep abusing them and their time, they may not be there when that happens. It'll be a painful lesson.

So to my street team, I love you guys and appreciate every little thing you do for me. My goal in life is to write great books and live up to your expectations. If I fall down, I expect you to tell me, and to know that I don't blame you. And if I'm successful, it will be because of you, so I thank you in advance.

And authors, if you think I'm talking about you, I probably am. So think about why that might be and go thank your street team RIGHT NOW before they all come over to the dark side to have cookies with me. I serve tequila shooters and craft beer too. Yeah, that's right - I'm way more fun than you are.