Monday, October 27, 2014

It’s not a bug, it’s a feature!

If you look close, there might be a hidden message on this shirt!

Several months ago, I decided to form an author street team. 

A street team is basically a group of people who like an author’s work and volunteer to help promote it.  In exchange, the author gives out swag, hosts special online events, and does other fun things with those fans. 
I’m sure there are lots of proven best practices for street teams. I even bought a Kindle book on the subject.  But since I don’t own a Kindle, I haven’t read it.  (Yeah, I’m THAT person.)  I’m basically making this up as I go along. I’m in the middle of my street team launch now.

As any Microsoft alumnus knows, you can’t have a launch without a free t-shirt, so I decided to give free shirts to my first wave of volunteers.

It seemed like a good idea at the time. 
I knew t-shirts would be pricier than bookmarks, but I’d survived the coffee cup giveaways without becoming homeless, so I figured why not?  How expensive could a few dozen t-shirts be, anyway?
There were a couple of flaws in my plan. First, I got a lot more volunteers than I originally thought I would.  (This is a good and awesome thing, and I am SO HONORED!) Next, I learned that I had priced t-shirts with single color printing. (The red shirts with full color printing I had my heart set on were about three times the cost.) And I forgot all about postage costs to mail them around the world.
My husband joked that I’d make heck of a lot more money if I gave up writing and watched TV all day, but I was still happy.  Soon my t-shirts would be flying world-wide, making my readers happy, and hopefully spreading the word about my newest book.  I wrote a nice letter to go along with them, a friend of mine packaged them up, and they went on their way.
The first recipient sent me a photo.  The shirt looked great, except for what I thought was a very odd shadow. I narrowed my eyes, but couldn’t make out what it was.  The next had the same shadow, only in a different place.  Then the third.  You get the idea. Turns out, the ink from my friendly letter had transferred to the printing on the shirt, leaving my welcome letter in the clouds, across my protagonist’s shirt, sometimes stamped solidly across her face.
I was mortified.  I felt like a well-meaning (but somewhat senile) aunt that sent all the kids broken Christmas presents. I called up my husband and told him to mentally prepare to do it all over again. He asked if I’d learned my lesson. I told him probably not.  (At least I didn’t lie.)
But here’s the learning.  My readers rallied behind me.  They experimented with and shared ways to get out the ink, sent notes assuring me that I wasn’t the worst Santa ever, and even started an “I love you” thread on Facebook.  One reader assured me that she likes her shirt BETTER now that it has a flaw.  Others offered to pay for their replacement shirts. (Which I won’t allow, of course.) Some of the shirts were salvageable, others I will soon be replacing.  But somehow I suspect that the error has drawn us all closer.
I always was a little off-kilter.  Why should my shirts be any different?


Tracy Weber

          A Killer Retreat

About Tracy:

My writing is an expression of the things I love best: yoga, dogs, and murder mysteries. I'm a certified yoga teacher and the founder of Whole Life Yoga, an award-winning yoga studio in Seattle, WA. I enjoy sharing my passion for yoga and animals in any form possible.  My husband and I live with our challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha and our bonito flake-loving cat Maggie. When I’m not writing, I spend my time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at my favorite local ale house.

For more information, visit me online at and


Deb Krenzer said...

Ha!! That was totally true and I. Proud to be a part of your team!!

Barbara T. said...

I truly love my ink enhanced shirt. It emphasizes the fact that this is a book cover with words inside. I was so happy after reading the discussion of the so-called damaged shirts that mine was perfectly enhanced when it arrived. Thanks again!

Connie Correll said...

I shall be proud to wear my shirt! And blessed to be a part of your team!

sheri levy said...

I love my shirt and wore it on vacation. It is fine! People stop and ask me about it and we discuss your novel. I passed out bookmarks to yoga classes. You are a busy lady and just need the team to pass the word and write reviews!
Sheri Levy

Risa said...

I love my "flawed" shirt. It is an original and I wouldn't trade it in for anything. And I am proud of being a member of your street team!!!

Tracy Weber said...

Thank you, all! Your comments are proof again of how luck I am to have you in my life.

Nancy Perkins said...

I love my shirt, it arrived in pristine condition and I wear it with pride. Now, however, I am feeling like the non star-bellied sort... a big hello to all the sneetches!

Tracy Weber said...

I didn't get the sneetches reference until I saw your post on Facebook. Good one!

Laura S Reading said...

This sounds like a great street team.
Any chance you have room for one more?
I wouldn't need a shirt, but I can hand out bookmarks with the best!

Being an author and a street team member is a growth experience. It works best with support. And it is the imperfections that set one apart - make you stand out and be noticed.

Tracy Weber said...

I would love to have you on my team! I have an e-mail team (because I have people who don't use Facebook) and a facebook group. Many people are on both. The beauty of the Facebook group is that it breeds conversation. The e-mail list is me reaching out to you. But with the e-mail, you know you get my messages, whereas Facebook can be flakey.

For anyone who wants to join us:

if you want to be on the e-mail list, send me your e-mail to

The facebook group is:


Kaye Killgore said...

Proud to be on your team.

Tracy Weber said...

And I'm so happy to have you, Kaye!