Tuesday, May 13, 2014

What is a "Street Team?"

Well, it seems the world of publishing, especially books, is becoming harder and harder to break into and once inside, harder and harder to get noticed in the thousands of new books debuting each month.

Can't say I don't see it and I've only been active in the book publishing world for a month. I did luck out and got a review on Smashwords, a very nice and positive, the day after my collection of short stories debuted. How, you might ask? My beta reader for that collection really seemed to enjoy my drafts and offered invaluable help for making the drafts better. As a thank you, I sent her a copy of my final collection. I didn't beg her for a review, but asked that if she liked what she read, could she please review it. She did. Here's the review below. I can't thank her enough for that, my first review.

Review by:
There are so many ways to do mythological erotica wrong. I gave up on it a long time ago after being repeatedly underwhelmed, so I was very surprised to inadvertently discover this collection of stories. Not only did the author satisfy my inner-Greek mythology nut by staying true to the tales, but she also delivered hot, toe-curling stories. I will be anxiously awaiting Persephone, Ms Green.
(reviewed the day of purchase)

Now, to get more reviews, I am stymied. I have my books listed everywhere I can think of assuming the more visibility they get, the more likely they are to be seen, bought, and read. And, if read, reviewed. Ok, great game plan.... but, it isn't working. When I put out my free short story, On the Hunt: Hyacinth, I got immediate hits and downloads. In a week, I got 178 downloads. I doubt all of those who downloaded the book have actually already read it, so I am going to assume about 50 have read it. And of those 50, how many wrote reviews? Zero.

There could be many reasons for this:

1) I overestimated how many read the download. Maybe it has only been 5. Zero reviews for 5 reads? That doesn't seem so bad. Much better odds than 178 reads to zero reviews.

2) They read it, liked it, but did not find it unique or original enough to warrant a comment. Good gods, this would stink. So much for trying to stand out in a crowd.

3) They hated it. Though, you think they'd be more vocal than silent on the matter. Really vocal, actually.

4) They don't know what to think of it. This I could live with, if it is the truth.

5) The readers could care less about encouraging others to read my stories. But, now we are back to the original question of why? why? why?

6) Or...

So, this is where a street team comes in. I find a way to gather loyal followers, friends, and fans and ask them to read a free copy of my book before publication. Then, on the day the book is published, these loyal people go out and review my book in mass on various fronts. No matter what they thought, I just need them out there making comments, reviews, notice on my books.

Any ink is good ink? Like saying any word of mouth is good word of mouth.

To me, this seems akin to begging or paying for reviews. Like what this guy on Fiverr is offering (though, I have considered taking him up on his offer since his extra gig seems pretty useful, he write mythology, and if you read his reviews... they aren't all "WOW! This is the most brilliant literature I have ever written and I guarantee this author will one day be famous!!!!"):

To get your story noticed, you need reviews. Do not spend hundreds of dollars to get one review from an "accredited" source. You need as many reviews as possible and you need them on the same page the book is being sold from. 

For 5$ I will read your short erotica story that is up to 20K words long. I can do a story that is not erotica also if it is the same length. I will post the review on amazon.com and Goodreads if it is featured there. I will also up vote other reviews on amazon if they are at least 3 stars.

And unlike some of the reviewers that advertise here, I will not take my review down after a few weeks, (unless you want me to.)

If the story is 99 cents or free I will purchase it. If not I will need the file to read myself. Please send in PDF or DOC form. 

This is not for full novels.

Note for the gig extra. I will give you my honest opinion on how you can improve the story and future stories you may write. Our vision may not be the same so be aware and know that I am trying to help.

Still, even in my rose-colored world, I don't know if this is a good thing or not. I would rather honest reviews than many reviews. Honest reviews can help me later with the future publications. A lot of reviews help me only in the present, especially if they are all good, vague, and over enthusiastic as to me greatness.

So, here's the conundrum... how do I encourage readers to leave reviews, honest reviews, without begging them or selling free works to get them.