Two Tier Support?

screen-shot-2017-02-20-at-12-58-35-pmI am toying with an idea here, and I need to know what you think. It is somewhere in the space of having two distinct groups in my launch teams.

People who have their own launch teams tend to be way better supporters of others, and I have seen groups where they unwittingly land up with a group that is deeply connected and supportive, much like I spoke about in this post a few weeks ago. The problem with this is that it can backfire and if it does it will happen without notice, and it is irreversible, and you can land up losing your very best reviews.

This is just a thought that I am having, so bear with me, please.

What about having a two-tier support group or even two launch teams? is that too hard. But the benefits are twofold. The first is that you split your roles but secondly, you can grow your team way bigger (I think).

Team A: These people are full-on supporters. They read ARC copies, they download your book on its free day, they leave reviews on every country of Amazon and Goodreads and they blog about your book, share it on Facebook and so on. These people are a dream come true. They are FABULOUS. They are also people that you trust to follow through. These are the people that I would have on my launch team whether I had one or two.

But Amazon will not let them review our work if we are personal friends OR EVEN IF SUSPECT that we are friends. We need these people desperately but then all should agree to not connect on a personal level through social media!

Team B: These people are just as important. But they don’t have enough cred on Amazon to leave reviews, and/or they are family and friends that can’t review us anyway. They are the people who don’t want to be bombarded with all the info on the launch team site and they don’t have the time to read ARCs, and nor do they want to. They are simply happy to give us some love when our book comes out, share on Facebook and so on. I find that a lot of people lose these people from their launch teams because they are simply not that into the whole process. They just want to lose the bottom line.

They aren’t second best, they just play a different role. They can be friends on Facebook, they can love and support. But if we keep them out of the nitty gritty then more of them might stay?

Any thoughts?

Where Jennifer hangs out: 

@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

Infiltrate or Collaborate?

screen-shot-2017-02-08-at-12-42-17-pmTwo completely different words, with completely different meanings, and yet some people get them totally mixed up! As you know, I am all about collaboration, “paying it forward”, and being a genuine part of a community. If an author wants to sell their books they need to build a launch team and if they want people to join them then they need to be a part of a community (a few of actually). And if you want to be a part of a community then you need to contribute. It is as simple as that.

But I need to make it abundantly clear so that you know where I stand. Joining a community that you aren’t prepared to genuinely participate in, congruently contribute to, and stay in for the long haul, is not collaboration! If your sole purpose is to use members for your gain, then you are simply infiltrating, and that is worse than doing nothing at all.

Many years ago I had the privilege of mentoring a young woman who’s husband struggled with addiction. I won’t go into any more detail than that, but as we sat in a coffee shop in the middle of a New York City winter, a couple of weeks before Christmas, she poured her heart to me. You see, the movie “Thanks for Sharing” had recently hit the big screen, and the main actor had done a brilliant job in one sense, of showing what sexual addiction was actually about (it is nothing like it is commonly portrayed I can assure you!). Her problem wasn’t just that this poor woman was dealing with a husband just like the character in the movie, she was now dealing with worse.

It turns out that the accuracy of the movie wasn’t a coincidence. The actor had joined her husband’s addiction group and as there are loads of other actors and famous people in many addiction groups, especially in places like LA and New York, no one thought anything of it, and the confidences were respected at every level. But it reality, the actor wasn’t a sex addict at all, he just wanted to experience being in an addiction group so that he could do his movie realistically! All the secrets he told were lies, all the hours over weeks and months, that he poured into those relationships were all fake. He betrayed the other members of the group at such a deep level that many of them, like this woman’s husband, stopped going.

Some of these men had only been going in the first place because it was part of their treatment and because they were assured of secrecy. No one broke the secrecy, no one did anything “wrong”, but this small group of broken, struggling men, were betrayed at one of the deepest levels. Over a period of months, the actor learned, got what he wanted, and then he left. He heard the others bare their souls, but he only pretended to bare his.

I know that that is an extreme example, but the point that I want to make is that joining a community needs to be real if you ever want them to support your stage, your writing, your blog. So don’t be an asshole like Mark Ruffalo and screw people over just so that you can make your million!

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

A Perfect Launch Team Member

Screen Shot 2017-02-06 at 7.13.16 PM.png

Does this sound like a perfect launch team member to you:

Someone who reads your book over and over again, each time helping with thoughts, corrections, and ideas, bringing out the best in you. They tell everyone they know about your book, they write reviews on every Amazon site, on Goodreads and they write an independent review. They buy your book with their own money, they share every Tweet Facebook post you make about it and they email every single person on their email list.

Well, if you do you then you may just be right. Except, that if you know someone like this then it is probably your granny. Which is lovely, but the reality is that not only are their few people like this available to you but believe it or not, this kind of person can also work against you. If they over do it, never shut up about your book or cover their entire social media in it, then people can so easily get sick of it, stop following her, and at the very least roll their eyes and move on, without even clicking on your book never mind buying it.

So what then makes a second best launch team member? Someone who at least buys, reads, and writes a review on Amazon and Goodreads right?

Well sort of. The reality is that we need ALL kinds of people on our teams! I learned the hard way that not everyone has a “certified” enough Amazon account to write a review. And not everyone has the time to proofread and not everyone has the social media links to spread it. If people love you they will do their bit, but it is most likely that their bit will be quite different to the next person. And you need them all. I had to learn that they all had something different to offer. Even the people who have no time, expertise or capacity to do much, they at least downloaded my book on “free” day and it counts as a sale.

And that is why you need numbers and you need them from far and wide. Only a quarter will leave a review, a small handful will finish a proofread, and tiny proportion will even tell their friends. Keep going, keep digging, and round up those friends … but don’t expect too much from them and don’t forget that they are doing you a FAVOUR!

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!

_________________________________

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

Ethical Launch Teams Part 2:

img_9270 Yesterday I started a Facebook Group for anyone who is interested in the whole concept of Launch Teams. With so many people doing their own publishing, it has become imperative to also do one’s own marketing as well, and if you are a writer like me then that is HARD! I am not a sales person, I don’t like sucking up to people, and I am absolutely useless at self-promotion, but worse than all of that is the fact that I am also an introvert. And I would also way prefer to be writing my book or my blogs than writing about me or my book or my blogs. And what would I say anyway?

So while I don’t think that anyone enjoys the whole marketing side of their books, things like Launch Teams have become a necessity. But this has also opened up a massive opportunity for readers who aren’t writers. A world has emerged where readers can spend very little money and read as many books as they would like or are able to. They can get in on the ground floor and be a part of the machine that puts great books and great writers out there. Joining a Launch Team for them is a great way to get cheap or even free books.

That sounds like a perfect match to me, and I keep hearing people who are new to the game say the same thing…. and then a few months later they burn their toes and wonder how it happened. You see in the rush to be seen and heard, many authors ask for reviews, publicity, and support and are kind and willing enough to return the favour. This is where it comes unstuck. Let us imagine for a moment that you and I are in the same literary group. There are twelve of us and we have been meeting at the library on Tuesday evenings for a decade and now it is time for us all to launch our much loved, hard earned, soul-bearing books. The timing isn’t exact, but within a year or so of each other we all proofread, edit, double, triple and quadruple check everything, and each of us launches our book. We have all supported each other in every way possible for a decade and we all feel the love of the others as we all sign up for Amazon, buy each other’s books, and give each other an honest review.

Our little group sends out weekly emails to each other and we are all friends on Facebook. We even meet for Cocktail Hour at the local pub once a month. This group is harmless in every sense of the word and the love for each other (well, most of each other) is deep.

The problem is that Amazon and Google and all the powers that be which we don’t like to think exist, know that we all know each other and they also know that other less noble citizens are prepared to swap (or worse; PAY for) reviews and reads …..and they can’t tell us apart. We all look dodgy to them. So they remove some of our reviews, they reject others outright, and the readers of our small local library who have so kindly offered to support us, get caught in the fallout too.

It sounds like a very bad and ridiculous movie. But it isn’t. I am now watching people choosing NOT to join or create a Launch Team because they are frightened of the mix up between genuine support and the swapping of reviews or appearing to be coerced into giving one. Amazon is ruthless.

But I have to tell you, that the concept of a Launch Team is still a very good one. We just all need to be prepared to work in a MUCH wider circle, to “pay it forward” and trust that someone else entirely will do the same for us.

Soooo…. with that in mind, if the first step to a Launch Team was to create The Facebook Group to host it, now it is time to recruit. And the first tempting thing that people feel they “ought” to do is to reciprocate. But my advice is to be honest, be transparent, say why, but don’t jump onto every other persons’ Launch Team and create a virtual small circle. There are other ways to pay back and I will give a bunch of examples next time but for now give all you can to the Launch Teams that you sign up for, but don’t become too incestuous. Gather the bulk of your Launch Team members from work or school colleagues, family and distant friends. You can even ask friends if they have friends who might like to join. Advertise for some help at your local library, church, book club or corner store.

Throw the net wide, gather what you can, and if it isn’t big then that is OK too. Growing slowly is better than having dozens of people sign on but have nothing to give. Many of us have learned that the hard way. And above all, think of it as a loving, helpful, but business arrangement. They are going to get to be the first to read your book, have a say in the colours and font on the front cover, maybe even win something later on, but if they aren’t already your personal Facebook friend, then leave it that way. Keep them at a little bit of arm’s distance. You don’t have to pay them, pay them back, or give them stuff.

I have met some AMAZING people on this journey, two at least whom I hope will become real life, long term friends. But right now each of us needs to get our books out there and we need to keep our respect and help for each other at a bit of a distance. When we are both famous and have thousands of fans that the other can get lost in the middle of (as far as Amazon are concerned), then we can be Facebook friends as well. But for now, this is business guys!

Building an Ethical Launch Team!

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-7-28-51-pm

The ink is still wet on my first book and I am already planning the next one. Actually, the next few books were written long before the Lion and the Peacock was even an idea, but that is beside the point. It is and forever will be my first book and it is not by any means forgotten, but I learned so much from the process that I am keen on sharing my ups and downs with you and what I would have done differently. I am also keen on putting those learnings into practice to see if they have an effect or not.

So with that in mind, I am starting my Launch Team much earlier this time and will use it as a learning tool for myself and anyone who would like to come along for the journey.

The first step of any Launch Team is to create a Closed Facebook Group. The idea behind it is to rally people to support your upcoming book. The slight difference here is that I will also have people joining it simply to learn the process, but the first step would be the same for any Launch Team. You want the group to be closed and not public simply because it can be a safe place to talk about “behind the scenes” things that you don’t want the public to know (as yet anyway). It will later become a space where you can share your ideas for a front cover and people give feedback on the font, picture, layout etc. It is an interactive group.

But I want to point out that it should NOT be a space to create “read and review swaps”. Or a place that guarantees any kickbacks. It should be a place of community and support. Anyone who joins the launch team should expect nothing in return but because of the way the group should function, they would hopefully ultimately feel that they gained a lot by being there.

If you are an Author:

Join someone else’s Launch Team because:

  • You can learn so much from the process in order to do a great job (and hopefully even do a better job) yourself. It is almost silly to run your own launch before ever being on one and seeing it from the other side, or having launch teams to compare mistakes and successes etc. It is a totally free way to learn!
  • You want to “pay it forward”. In other words, when it is your turn to have a launch team you too will want people to sign on and help you. Of all the professions in this world, being an author is one of the greatest in terms of this. Whether you like it or not, all authors need the generosity of others, and if you have never given anything it is tough to ask others to give it to you.

Don’t join someone else’s Launch Team if:

  • You expect them to join yours. It could well backfire on both of you as the Amazon Bots are always on the look out for “review swaps”. The process of Launch Teams is a little like the analogy where it “all comes out equally in the wash”. If you belong to enough communites and are active in them, then there should be plenty to go around if you all join a handful of launch teams with no one reciprocating.
  • You aren’t prepared to give anything to them. If you think about it, they have started the group for themselves but you have been given the privilege of being a fly on the wall of this intimate and soul bearing exercise. The least you can do is any one of the little, free, 2 second ways that you can support them (“Like” their author facebook Page, share their posts, retweet a few of their tweets, tell your freinds about them … the list is endless). But think about giving them a review at the end. If you are not doing a review swap then this is the greatest way to bless them!
  • You don’t like their writing! I know that a lot of people dont agree with me here but it is really hard to read and review a genre or a book that you are completely uncomfortabel or unfamiliar with. Spend a little time reading soemthing that they have out there for free (free book on Amazon, or a blog that they write, or an artcile that they have written for a publication, or check them out on Goodreads).

If you are a Reader:

Join someone’s Launch Team because:

  • You can learn so much about what goes into a book and I believe that your reviews will be so much richer for understanding the heart and soul of some of the authors. It can be so easy to criticize something that appears small and simple but isn’t. I beleive that a great reader would enjoy getting to know some authors and their processes.
  • You want your favourite authors to succeed. Never before have readers had so much power in the success or failure of the authors of the world. So many people have asked me when my next book will be out and the answer is very simply: “when I get enough people to support it”. If no one is going to even know that it exists, then I will fail before I begin. If you want your favourite authors to write, then support them at the foundations and help the world to see them 🙂
  • It’s fun! OK, maybe fun isn’t always the right word, but when I read the books of some of my favourite authors I have a yearning for so much more. I want to know the things that I felt were hidden between the lines, if there are photos of the journey then I want to see them. Launch Teams and newsletters often let you into private spaces that no one else gets to see.

Don’t join someone else’s Launch Team if:

  • All you want is to be a fly on the wall and give nothing back. If an author allows you into their heart and soul process then please be gentle and helpful with that gift that they have given you. Too many people say yes please to the privilege of being on the team and then do nothing but take advantage of the days that the book is free and give nothing back.
  • You aren’t prepared to Like their author facebook Page, retweet a few of their tweets, tell your freinds about them … again, the list is endless. But most of all if you aren’t prepared to give them an honest review at the end then think carefully about pretending to support them when in fact your aren’t.

So to recap: First step is to set up the Closed Facebook group and the second is to find people to join. The reason I suggest people to start early is because it takes time to build a good team. So many people urgently create a group a couple of weeks before launch and don’t have the numbers that they want. Next post I will talk more about how to find the people that you need to make this group work! (but in the meantime, set up your group and ask a handful of Facebook friends and family to join you).

Here is my new Launch Team link if you would like to join, follow and learn from my journey: JOIN THE TEAM

Here is the link to be on my no spam email list to receive updates, specials, and exclusive updates, photos and personal details: SIGN UP