A piece of your stage?

A great way to get out there if we are humble enough is to be the “supporting act” for someone else for a while. It also hones our skills, gives us community, puts us in front of an audience that we could never pull together, and so much more. I think that you might just get sick of me using the word “collaboration” but honestly, it is my strategy number one. I need people to support me, help me build a stage and draw in an audience. I need them to proofread, be honest with me, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to celebrate with. If I want all that from people, then I need to be that for a bunch of other people first.

And to be honest, it is kinda cool seeing my stuff out there on a different stage! Last week I started a series guest blogging on the Site “Surviving my Past”. It is a stage way bigger than mine and I truly respect the guy who runs it. He is truly amazing. I am not stupid, I know that I will never have a stage like his, and it is an honour to be invited! We are different people doing different things. I want to write books and will never blog at his level. He is a pro at blogging (but is also writing books), but the point that I am making is that spending time on his stage is an honour and a privilege and it not only helps us both out in the ways mentioned above but it is fun!

Check out my post HERE. You will hopefully still see that it is me, my voice, but it looks quite different and appeals to a different audience to my own.

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Where Jennifer hangs out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon

@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

What Kind of a Stage?

img_1061Last time I talked about the idea of hosting a stage for others. That cooking dream sounded great, but it can be applied to the most simple things. Use your stage to interview new writers, review books in your genre, build a following made up of the people who you want to one day read your book. If your genre is fiction based on small creatures then find every book on the planet on small-creature-fiction, borrow them from the library, download them from Amazon on free or 99c promotions, follow all the author’s blogs and comment kindly on many of their posts, and then over time, review each and every one of them. Soon you will have a huge chunk of the small-creature-fiction fans on the planet following you. Write about everyone else and they will listen… then you can share that you write too. Blog on your dilemma about how to choose the perfect name for a main character that is a millipede, run a competition to help choose the final name… the list is endless.

My ego says that my stage would be filled with my memoirs, my books, my interviews … but when I put aside my ego, I have learned the last year that I am also pretty good at sharing my journey, helping others feel comfortable asking me questions and working alongside people. They appear to like that I bear my soul and the hard stuff in this journey and they come to me saying “me too!“. Because of that, I have received so many requests for help in setting up a platform, launching an eBook, and so on, that I don’t have time to answer them all. But because they are mostly all asking the same question, I can write about it in one place and we can all learn together.

Building a stage with something that you are good at is the perfect way to start. It might be small, and humble, but it is real and will ultimately bring an audience. I am still finding my way around, but I am thankful that I have fallen into this space really. People then keep telling me that it is all very well for me, but they haven’t fallen into their space. So let me help you… experiment, play around, ask people that you trust. Set up an author site like this and write, blog and share what you are passionate about and what draws people in. It doesn’t hugely matter what, as long as you enjoy it.

Some of my favorite blogs are simply about journeys. Where people use them as a journal and like-minded people follow along, becoming invested in the outcome.

I took three months off from writing (and I write full time) to research and experiment with social media. Six months ago I was too scared to even look at a Twitter App never mind download it or work out how Twitter works. I now have 4 Twitter accounts, (the author one is closing in on thousand followers), 4 Instagram accounts, an author page on Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon and I have published a short book which has sold over 2,000 copies in it’s first few weeks, most of them on the free days but still, it is creating a buzz. All in order to begin to create a following… I am muddling my way around. But for the most part, I simply share my story, my struggles, my journey and I give out all and everything that I learn … for free!

I am muddling my way around. But for the most part, I simply share my story, my struggles, my journey and I give out all and everything that I learn … for free!

My stage does not fit any simple box and people appear to like that. But there are others out there looking for cooking picture blogs and small-creature-fiction. It doesn’t matter if everyone else has already done the same thing… in fact, that is better because they will be your tribe if you write comments on their blogs and interview them and share their stories…

This is supposed to be about Launch Teams and it is, but supporters of launch teams come from the people in your tribes. People who are happy to come to your stage and be there to support you when you launch that book!

For the readers out there, they can’t wait to be a part of your launch team, they just need to know about you!

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Where I hang out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon
@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

Hosting a Stage.

IMG_3536Yesterday I talked about the concept of building a stage instead of a platform but mentioned that one option is to still build your own stage but maybe invite others to use it for a while. This is both to draw people in using already established talent while at the same time still marketing yourself as the “owner” of said stage. This sounds like a great idea but what if no talent wants to come? What if I am so much of a nobody that I can’t even invite talent to come, never mind have any chance of them saying yes!

But here is a thought; in this day and age, we don’t need to have people actually come onto our stage. We can just place them there electronically! What do I mean? Well, this is also where humility comes in. What kind of stage would each of us be REALLY good at creating if we were put our egos aside?

It is easy to forget that you are an expert at something. We all want to be a writer or a dancer or a cook or a movie star. But let’s be honest, few of us are expert enough to be famous in any of those fields. Or are we? I will use cooking as an example, mostly because I hate cooking, I can’t cook, I hate that I have no choice but to cook sometimes, and I have too many bad experiences with family members who used cooking as an excuse to hide in the kitchen so as to avoid contact or intimacy with anyone else in the family. So worse than I hate it, it is also a trigger for me. But just say for a moment that I LOVE to cook, and I want to be a famous cook one day. I cook, I talk about cooking, I watch all the shows on cooking, but for one reason or another, I would never be able to go on Masterchef, I don’t have any famous contacts, and I simply don’t know how to get myself out there. I can’t even take a decent photo of the fabulous things that I cook.

But I am humble enough to recognize that I am pretty good at finding simply GORGEOUS cooking photos on the internet. I drool over them, I bookmark them, I dream of them. So I start a blog. A simple blog, with few words like myself, but every morning I spend an hour on the internet, searching in all the deepest, darkest corners where nobody else can find them, and I share the best that I find that day. Each blog post includes the links to the sites where the photos come from and a few snippets of information about what I love most about the picture. I also write to the author of the cooking site that I have highlighted, to let them know that I have shared them. This is both a courtesy, but it is also because I know that anyone with a site wants it to be shared and that they will be thrilled. They will likely share my blog post about them on their site or at least their social media, and they might even like my Facebook Page and start following to see who they share my space with. As my blogs all have an automatic link to my Twitter feed and to my Cooking Photos Facebook page, without having to do anything, my Twitter and Facebook feeds start to become filled with stunning cooking photos.

People start to notice, and soon I gather a small following, which over time grows bigger and bigger. I know that I am not showing off MY cooking skills yet, but I am building both a following and a stage that people start aiming to be included in. Depending on how hard I work, how good I am at it, and a bunch of other factors, eventually I gain these things:

  • Confidence in what it feels like to actually have a stage…
  • A huge insight into what people are looking for and all the gaps that I could potentially fill in…
  • A following of people who look at my blog, my Facebook and my Twitter, every single day. My photo is in the corner of everything and I engage with my followers where ever possible. They see me as a very real, imperfect person…
  • I become known and followed.

This is that middle space that I was talking about, between the tools of sharing and the stage we want to create. What I love most about this space is it isn’t hard work, it is actually enjoyable, it contributes, and you meet great people along the way. This is the perfect stage for me to launch a book from. The audience is there, it is all about me … even though they came in the first place, many years before, because of my stunning pictures that came from other people!

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Where I hang out: Blog | The Mighty | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Goodreads | Amazon
@JPeaSmith
“Here she comes, running, out of prison and off the pedestal: chains off, crown off, halo off, just a live woman.”  ― Charlotte Perkins Gilman

 

Author Stage or Author Platform

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Many people who are new to writing are doing exactly what we are all advised to do: Build an online presence, an online platform, and get the word out there. We have to sell ourselves, and we have to sell our books. But the biggest question I get asked over and over again is how do I get people to come to me and listen to what I have to say. This is the hardest part in some ways, but in other ways, I think it is actually the easiest, but you do need a few key ingredients: Humility, Patience, and Community are just three of them but believe me, you can’t get far without ALL of them. Here is why:

The first mistake we make is to go out, buy the wood and build ourselves a little stage in our back yard. We stand on it and wait for the crowds to come. It is heart-wrenching when no one turns up! So we fork out the cash for advertising, we stick posters on the lamp posts, and we tell all our friends. Some of them come, but still, there is no crowd and few of our books sell. It feels so unfair.

The problem is that many of us build a stage before we build a platform. Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook are all great tools, but they are just that, they are tools. They are the loudspeakers and the flyers and the billboards. But the problem is that they are lost in millions upon millions of almost identical loudspeakers, flyers, and billboards. At one end we have a FABULOUS product (aren’t all of our books going to be the next best seller?), and at the other end we have the advertising, but there is nothing in between. There is nothing to connect us and make us stand out. Even our STUNNING front cover is lost among thousands of other stunning covers!

So in comes humility and patience. Humility to ask someone else if we can perhaps have a seat at their table, to get to know them, and to one day accept a teeny corner of their stage. Over and over people tell me that they don’t have the time to meet people, to get to know them before they ask for help, or even then, that they don’t want to stand on someone else’s stage! They want to stand on their own stage. I get that. We all want our own stage to shine, but we can’t force people to come or to buy.

Another option perhaps is to build your own stage by all means, but for the first season, don’t stand on it other than to introduce our guests. Invite others to come and speak on it instead. Bring in people who you know others would love to hear. It is still your stage. But if you spend a season being the host, welcoming people, giving others a voice and a place to stand, then after a while, when people love and trust you, they will turn to you and ask you ” do you also write? I love to hear your voice at the beginning of each show, I would love to hear what else you have to say”.

These things both take time, they both take humility, and they take a whole lot of “paying it forward”. I am not saying it is easy, but for me, it is actually a whole lot easier than embarrassingly standing on a soap box and shouting “PLEASE BUY MY BOOK!” at the top of my lungs all day, every day.

We need to build an online presence and an online platform, but we must be a little careful of confusing it with simply building a stage…

Over the next few posts, I will dig much deeper into these things and answer any questions you have. Please feel free to join the closed Facebook Group on the subject of building ethical launch teams if you would like to ask your questions in a more private space, by clicking HERE.