A Reader To Do List?

Whenever I attend writers’ conferences, I encounter conflicting advice. One issue is about enlisting the help of readers to promote my work.

Some folks believe the readers’ only job is to read. This appeals to me. Of course, there was also a time when publishers took care of promotion and a writer’s only job was to write. In case you’re keeping track, only James Patterson gets TV ads each time he has a new release now.

Even so, I’ve always been reticent about asking folks to do things for me. It seems unfair to ask readers, who’ve already plunked down their hard-earned money for my words, to do something more.

But this is a different time. Readers and writers are connecting in ways beyond the books. We’re Facebook friends. We tweet to each other. We have cozy little conversations here on my blog. (And I treasure all those interactions because, let’s face it, the imaginary people I spend my days with sometimes aren’t the best company!) So the rationale is that readers are more invested in writers whose work they follow now than ever before.

And they may want to help in order to make sure the writer keeps producing the stories they love. So with this in mind, some authors are organizing “street teams.” This is a special group of fans who are willing go the extra mile to help the author promote their work–delivering bookmarks to bookstores and talking up the author’s book around the release date to the booksellers in their town. In return, the street team members receive extra “goodies”–T-shirts, mugs, chances to snag an ARC, etc.

Then there’s the “Call to Action” message some authors suggest adding to the backmatter of their ebooks. Here’s a sample:

Did you love XYZ Romance? If you’d like to support Beloved Author‘s work, here’s how you can help:

1. Loan this book to your friends.
2. Buy Beloved Author‘s next book during the first week of its release. Sign up for her newsletter so you’ll be in the know.
3. Post a review on Amazon, B&N or Goodreads.
4. Tweet or Facebook about the book. Consider adding a link to Beloved Author’s website.
5. Mention the book on blogs that ask what  you’re reading. If Beloved Author is blogging someplace, be sure to leave a comment.
Thanks for your support!

What do you think? Does it seem pushy? Is this a “I’ll-never-read-Beloved-Author-again” deal breaker? The whole world of author promotion is so “Wild West.”. There seem to be no rules until you accidentally break them. Anyway, I’d really love to hear your thoughts about this.

18 thoughts on “A Reader To Do List?

  1. Barbara Britton says:

    Hi Mia,

    I went to a workshop given by a successful YA author and she swears by her street teams. The author gives her team members t-shirts and swag for their help. I don’t see the list in the back of the book as pushy–just informative.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Clearly I need to find a good t-shirt printer.

  2. Good morning from NZ, Mia

    I wear two hats – avid romance reader and also a writer. I love Goodreads for promo the books I have read and love. I have a policy that I won’t ‘review’ any other authors book as I don’t feel that is fair as I’m an author.

    I’ll certainly facebook my favorite stories too.

    I too find it hard to ask my readers, I’ll simply have to get over that! As every bit of promo helps me keep writing.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks for dropping by, Bronwen. Everytime I see that NZ, I wonder about how lovely it must be to live in Middle Earth! Someday, I hope to visit you Kiwis.

      ATTENTION ALL BLOG TOURISTAS: Bronwen is starting her own blog tour for Invitation to Scandal, her newest release. The Grand Prize is a whopping $200 Amazon or B&N voucher! Check it out at BronwenEvans.com

  3. Hi MIa! This is a great topic. I know that, as a reader, I love recommending favorite authors and books. As an author, yes, we’re largely responsible for our own promo – but man, is it ever hard to ask for help with that! Those who know me know that I can be way too independent and I often hesitate to ask for help, like even to open a jar or get something down from a top shelf. Asking for help promoting my work…yeah, at first blush it does seem pushy. Add to that, I’m Canadian and we tend to be hesitant about putting ourselves out there. But as you say, the world has changed. We’re all networked together way more than we used to be, and that has plus sides and minus sides. On the minus side, some readers find out about our work and they pirate it (why is it called pirating rather than just plain old stealing?). Others find out about our work and help us promote it. Others just read and enjoy it, and bless their hearts if they buy the next book. There’s a whole range of things going on, way more than in the past. Anyhow, it seems to me that in this day and age, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with an author saying, “If you want to help, here are some ways you can do it.”

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      LOL, Susan! Sounds like Canadians are Midwesterners on steroids when it comes to self-deprecation. I so understand you.

      About pirates…yes, it is downheartening to have our work stolen. And it upsets me even more when I think that some people may not even realize what they are doing is taking money from our pockets and possible publishing contracts from our futures. Readers who would never shoplift, for example, might download a book from a pirate site without realizing it’s stealing.

      At least, it helps me to tell myself they don’t realize it.

  4. I don’t think these ideas sound pushy at all. But I’m more on the authorly side these days rather than the reader side. I only have one request for you, Mia. If you figure out how to tame the marketing beast, could you please share what “treats” work the best?


    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Maeve, I doubt I’ll ever figure out what works. I think that’s because what feels like a reward to some is not for others.

      At RT, I wandered down what they call “Action Alley” several times, studying the swag put out by other authors–bookmarks, key chains, emery boards, excerpt booklets, etc. I didn’t have anything there because nothing I’ve found in those venues has ever enticed me, to buy a book.

      I’m thinking that things like getting to name a character in an upcoming book, or access to ARCs or other free reads would be the kind of goodie a street team member would enjoy.

  5. Marcy W says:

    I think it might feel ‘pushy’ only to those of us of a certain age, and different generation. To the younger crowd, those who actively use the social media to make and maintain relationships (rather than lurk to keep up with the kids, as I mostly do), this kind of use of those venues makes perfect sense. I imagine that the answer to this question from a lot of folks will be “well, duh!”. :-)
    That said, even I don’t think it’s pushy! You clearly say “if you want to, here’s how to help” … that’s not pushy at all, Mia. That’s gently doing business in today’s world. More than that, it invites me to join a select group, other readers who enjoy the same authors/books that I do … and we all like to ‘belong’. I say go for it … I can’t imagine very many readers being upset by it; they’ll either ignore it, or be flattered to be asked, IMHO.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Belonging is always good. If I do this, I need to make being part of the group very special.

  6. Diane Haynes says:

    I think it’s a great idea-this morning, I’m going to try, starting with Facebook. As a new author, I don’t have enough readers to piss off, so I’ll let you know how it goes. Thanks, it was nice meeting you at the conference in salem yesterday.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Let me know how it goes for you, Diane. BTW, it was nice to meet you when you were visiting with the fabulous Hannah Howell. I didn’t realize she refers to her husband as DH as well. So we’re both taking your inititials in vain! LOL.

  7. Hi Maureen *Waving madly.* Love seeing you here on Mia’s blog.

    Hi Mia,
    Interesting dilemma. As a hopeful writer, I can understand the reluctance authors face when they consider such a step. When I publish, I fear I’ll be very ‘backward’ and shy about asking others to promote me. And, yes, if an author is too ‘pushy’ about it, it might turn readers off.

    But as a devoted reader, I would be more than happy to promote an author I like. I’d love to be on Street Teams for some of my favorites. If I think they’re good, I want them to publish just as fast as they can write the next great story.

    The notice you posted above sounds great.The trick may be in discovering through which venue to extend it. Newsletters, certainly. Facebooks and Twitter. Websites. Signings. But–it’s a good idea.

    Do it. I volunteer. LOL.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Bless you, Barbara. I’ll let you know if I decide to do it.

      I’ve been quietly stalking other author’s websites for info about street teams. One author, who shall remain nameless, asked her readers to move her books “with the stealth of a panther” off the spine out shelves and onto the bestseller or new release end cap.

      This is a bad idea. For one thing, a book store is all real estate and those spots are bought and paid for by the publishers. It’s not nice to interfere with contractual arrangements of other parties.

  8. Maurine H says:

    I’m not a member of any street teams, but wouldn’t be turned off by the “Call to Action” list in the back of any e-book. Most readers are aware that the majority of authors do not get promoted and would do anything to see that their favorite authors keep writing books they enjoy reading. So, no, that wouldn’t be too pushy. It informs the reader as to what s/he can do to help ensure the good books keep coming.

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      If that’s the case, most readers are better informed than I was before I became published. I had no idea what promotion was or that I would be expected to do it.

      Promotion still chills my soul, but connecting with readers is fun. Hopefully, I can keep things turned in that direction.

  9. Desere Steenberg says:

    I am part of several street teams and I just love it! I love the goodies that we receive but more than that I love that I am part of helping my favorite authors to promote their work,it makes me feel part of her world. And you already being one of my favorites ,it would be really cool if you could start a street team I for one would not mind at all to help you spread the word on your fabulous books!

    So not pushy at all!

    1. Mia Marlowe says:

      Thanks, Desere. I will definitely let you know if I decide to form a street team. I’m already trying to think of a great name for it. Jade Lee calls her team “Jade’s Jewels” and I see that Sarah Taney Humphreys’ group is Sarah’s Angels. Any suggestions?

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