Episode 91B – JP – Community

Overview

JP is back to talk about author communities. He credits finding the right community as being the reason he decided to work on his author career.

We met in J Thorn’s “The Author Success Mastermind” group. JP thinks author community has helped him grow and be successful as an author.

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Transcript

[00:00:46] Stephen: time for some author talk, which we’ve already done a little bit of.

Oh, let’s back up. Yeah, I wasn’t paying enough attention. What are some of your favorite books and authors? [00:01:00]

[00:01:01] JP: Okay. So some of my favorite books and authors, I love Neil Gaiman so much. I’m pretty much anything he writes. I’m willing to just immediately buy and read and listen to, especially if it’s an audio book.

And especially if he read them like ocean at the end of the lane, that kind of weird winsy is my jam. I really try to emulate that. I have a short story. That is currently with Jeff, or you might hear it on the dialect doctor by the time this comes out. It’s a fun exploration until weird and whimsy of death, because there’s strange thing you might have here with death, darkness and government agencies.

But yes. So

maybe I’ll put that there. I grew up also on a Tamar up here. So the circle of magic series a that’s another one that like that changed a lot for the, my perspective on like how I want to write and what I want to write in the future. And then Garth nix as well for young adult, his keys to the kingdom series is a really good one.

I’m going to, I’m going to leave it there. [00:02:00] Otherwise I will keep rambling

[00:02:02] Stephen: bookstore.

[00:02:05] JP: So I have a bookstore that is like within walking distance of my house called toda hall, but they mostly do used books, but it is a three-story madness. It’s just, if you imagine, like, Harry Potter, but in the real world, I’m pretty sure that it would be this building because the walls are from Florida ceiling, their books of every which way and wonder, and they have different rooms in the basement that some are more sketchy than others, where they just have various different books.

So that is a really fun place to go to and explore. I found some really cool old. Epic fantasy ones in there. And there’s also a local shop. They’re not primarily focused on books, but they do host like local authors called culture shock that I also want to recommend because they’re really good. Both of these are Rockford based.

[00:02:57] Stephen: Toad hall definitely sounds like. [00:03:00] Exploring, and you’re not that far away. So maybe sometime wife and I would take a jaunt over there and meet you up at it. That’d be cool. That’d be fun. Okay. So now let’s go on to author stuff. We covered that, then I forgot. So you’ve been writing for a couple years. But you’re still just starting leads to six books every month or anything like that.

So you still got your first one, but you do have some things done. And you said before that you went to APOC and learned. I like people. I like it helps me. It’s my thing. And because of that, you’re, you’ve got a coauthor and everything you were just talking about was coauthor at sea. So obviously you learn something about yourself.

Tell us a little bit about what that was like, everybody wants to write, but then you’re like, I, I don’t

[00:03:49] JP: know what it is to be honest. And like, I have my own personal projects, but I don’t find them as fulfilling or. I don’t know the right term off the top of my head, [00:04:00] but there’s something with working with another person that not only keeps you like accountable for what you need to do, but it keeps me motivated to keep going because there’s that other person that’s reliant on.

Getting done in terms of like where I’m at. I still have that day job. I still have that time that I have to commit to the day job. And so being able to work with a coauthor, being able to have certain tasks and then hand it over to someone so they can perform their tasks is something that has definitely changed the way that I write it’s improved the way that I write.

I’m basically getting someone that’s looking over what I’m writing and I’m looking over what someone else is writing and finding ways to improve that, which I mean that has expanded to editing services, which I now offer as well. And it’s all coming into full circle of the. Working with people is exactly what I like to do.

It’s exactly where I feel most comfortable [00:05:00] in. And it’s where I feel like I get the most growth

out

[00:05:02] Stephen: of. Nice. What are some other things you’ve learned with your writing since you started, besides that you needed more time?

[00:05:12] JP: If it’s structure, I guess the three-story method. Changed a lot on how I view story structure and how I can communicate with other people about story structure.

And it’s the fastest way to get into basically someone else’s head and figure out like where the little pieces, where the little keys are for seeing construction and kind of having that conversation. So when I’m working with, with another person, generally, Coming up with the outline either through helping them with Abe, we do the outline together, or with Jeff, I write the outline, he writes the scene.

Then I go back and I do the edits, but I can use that three-story method as a shorthand to see each little point as we go along the way and see where we can turn it, where we [00:06:00] can fix it based off of the overall story structure, where we’re heading. So that’s really what I’ve learned the most. Is this just super simplified version of stress.

[00:06:10] Stephen: Okay, nice. And what software and services do you? I

[00:06:15] JP: wish I could. I really do. I really, I used Scribner for my own works, but when you work with a coauthor, when I work with a coauthor, I should say, Scribner does not work. I use Google docs. It’s the fastest. And if one of us is in it and the other person just needs to jump in and do some quick edits, like we’re both there.

I really legal docs. Now there’s something some people have told me, make sure you say that offline because of it’s technically not up physical documents. So just fair warning. That is what I use. Google docs. Pretty much it pro writing aid is the next thing for just making sure my documents are clean before I send them out to

[00:06:55] Stephen: now.

Have you looked at it’s something new that he just came out with? He [00:07:00] originally wanted to replace vellum windows. Uh, I can’t use that well and Scrivener, isn’t the easiest to use with the compiling and all that. But now Atticus and I just got it. I’m still trying take to find something to use it for, but I’ve got it on my windows machine, my Linux Mac laptop, my Android phone, my iOS.

Pad. So it’s, you can have the document shared all over, so it’s better for co-writing. So I’m still looking into it and there’s still, every other week, he comes out with a new email of new functions and features because it’s still been beta

[00:07:38] JP: using Google docs, mostly for the comfort of working with another person.

But I love finding new apps and writing in them and then losing all the work that I did in them, because I forget about it. I was an early adopter in the. The Johnny Sean and Dave app that I can

[00:07:55] Stephen: remember story shops, [00:08:00]

[00:08:00] JP: which to be honest, I liked it. It worked for me. There were obviously faults to it, but that whole concept worked really well with me for world-building.

And I haven’t really found anything that was similar enough to it. I found some things here and there, but ultimately I ended up back at Google. I think I like the shiny stuff, but I think Google docs does it.

[00:08:20] Stephen: Yeah. I actually, when I first started writing, pulled up word, cause that’s what I had. And almost immediately I started writing.

I’m like, yeah, I don’t think I could do this. And I got Scrivener found it clicks with me right away. So I’ll see what Atticus does too. Okay. So here’s a question, your Vela series, how are you marketing that? Getting the word out? You said you’ve got some groups and things, but are you doing anything else to get the word out?

Yeah.

[00:08:47] JP: So we just did a book funnel because we figured out a way to put the Velo series in book funnel. And then we did for October spooky season velour breeds, and we got about 10 different authors and promoted it that way. And [00:09:00] I think I saw like a bump in our reads. Definitely could see the click through and that.

Other than that, we do a lot of promotions on the social media and Instagram and Twitter are our main ones. And the key to me with the aspect of working with other people. If you share what they have, usually they share what you have. I focus on making sure that I’m bringing a voice to some of those other authors and then I’ve seen and response that they also will then share whenever I have a new episode out.

So that’s really how we’ve been doing it. We did a couple of Facebook ads to start, and Jeff is better at using his newsletter than I am on mine, which is pretty much. The null and void, I need a better newsletter, but yeah, that’s pretty much it. It’s mostly just been trying to get it word of mouth through social media, through

[00:09:51] Stephen: newsletters.

Okay. Nice. All right. Let’s talk about our big topic, which we hinted at a community, and it’s one of the things you’ve [00:10:00] discovered, uh, about you to help with your writing. So. When I asked you, uh, what other topics do you want to talk about? You said community. What were you thinking about? What, why do you want to bring out community to everybody else?

[00:10:13] JP: Because to me, when I was back in 2015, that’s really when I had a moment where I was angry about I’m going to, I’m going to do a quick side rail. So in 2015, I took a like a supervisory skills course. And in that course, we had to write down. All the things we didn’t have time for. A lot of people are like, I don’t have time for laundry.

I don’t have time to do the dishes. I don’t have time to write. I don’t have time to do art. I don’t have time to do all these creative things that I like doing. So I had this list and I was like, yeah, I don’t have time to do a lot of stuff. And then the guy at the front of the class, he’s okay. Now I want you to each have one of you to say, instead of, I don’t have time.

I don’t want. And then [00:11:00] say all of the things that you wrote down. And I got so mad, I was so angry that I had to say, I don’t want to write, and I don’t want to do arts. And I was like, that’s not what I meant. That’s not what I wanted to do. And that was like my wake up call to be like, what you’ve been doing is not what you’d like to do.

And you need to focus more on what you like to do. So that’s when I hit up podcasts and I. I ended up like on rage, parents, podcasts I found or writers podcasts, which then turned into the career office. And I found Johnny, Sean and Dave, I found Joanna Penn. And I started listening to all these different voices, but really it was for four years that I was just listening to podcasts.

I was reading on craft and trying to figure out like what it is about writing that I really liked to do. And I wasn’t really getting anywhere in any sort of rapid pace I’d do NaNoWriMo. I would get all those words out, but then what do I do next [00:12:00] 2019 hit? I went to an event because I was like, okay, JP, what’s the next step?

What do you got to do next? You got to go out there. You’ve got to just fake it till you make it go. Be like, yeah, I write. And I’m like, yeah. Okay. And so I went to this event and I was like, okay, I’m going to do this. I’m going to write the shirts. And really what happened is I met an author community that was amazing.

We were chatting on slack before and after the event. And pretty much like after the event, I felt even more comfortable chat, chatting with them. And then I just kept going to these events and I kept going and making sure that I was having this communication with different authors and I feel. I have exponentially grown since the moment I went out and I actually met other authors and that was really a wake-up call for me to be like, you know, I feel like I’ve been told writing is the solitary practice that we all just pull up in our homes.

And we just think up things inside of our heads while drinking scotch. And [00:13:00] I wish I had more scotch scotch or not. There is a solitary aspect to writing. There is also a social aspect to writing and I have found that had I not had that, I think I would still be. Years behind where I am.

[00:13:18] Stephen: Okay. And have you looked at other communities and groups and they didn’t fit you?

W why this one, why didn’t the other ones work?

[00:13:29] JP: So to me, Taz, I’m the author success map. Mastermind is built off of a platform of basically anyone is welcome in its inclusivity and also. This foundation of three-story method, which to me is the simplest way of getting people to share a common language about story so that people can help other people so that I can have a conversation with you knowing that you’re in the author, success mastermind and tell you that [00:14:00] well, when I’m looking at the scene and you’re telling me listening to those at work, and I can read it and be like, your choice could be better.

You already are nodding along. You already. Yeah, that makes sense. And then we can have a better conversation about how that choice can be better. So knowing that I have that community that has that shared language is like significantly better than going into a place that has. The tens of thousands of people, your voice gets lost in it.

And none of you are sharing the same language someone’s telling you. You’ve got to do the six plot structure, someone else’s telling you, you’ve got to do the w plot structure and no one’s really sharing their communication. They’re just telling you what works for them. Um, and by no means, does three-story method like no mean, is that the tell all, but that’s the starting point of the conversation.

And then. Those other methods, those other structures can fit in that structure, but it’s that shared language that really [00:15:00] makes the author success mastermind like my go-to community. I do have other communities, but that’s my go-to one.

[00:15:05] Stephen: Got it. And I know for me, and for probably a lot of people, you look for critique groups to start with.

They have. Author groups or whatever at libraries and through meetup. And I went to several of those and I haven’t found any of those to be that helpful. You usually get one or two people like overloading on everybody and here’s everything wrong with what you just read and get a lot of back and forth.

Whereas in tandem, there’s a whole lot of. Yeah, everybody has their own thing that they contribute. And you’ll hear from different people depending on your issue at the moment. And everyone does help a lot.

[00:15:44] JP: And that’s. I think that the next level for the author sickest mastermind is for those people in that community to start looking at their local communities and start looking at how to restructure that.

I think that’s [00:16:00] where terrorism is headed. I haven’t been personally told that per se, but I think that’s the direction it’s headed as how can we as a community that is. Basically internet, we have different people from different parts of the world, but how can we as a community online focus on our local communities to really rise up those authors who may not have access to.

This online community. And that’s really, that’s one thing I would love to do after COVID, which there won’t be an after COVID, but after COVID becomes somewhat normalized and more back, but it’s something that I would like to do within the community is to be able to reach out to those that are local and have that conversation and see where that goes.

[00:16:44] Stephen: 100%, which fits your. Secret.

[00:16:48] JP: There’s always a theme that,

[00:16:52] Stephen: right. And for people listening that maybe are sitting at home, because I know I’ve go to some of the authors things at the local [00:17:00] libraries, and I see authors there, but I never see them anywhere else and talk to them. And that’s what they do. They sit at home they’re alone.

They go to the couple conferences at the library, and I agree with you reach out, find other authors, and if there’s nothing in your area, Make one, but I know at the local library, to me, there’s a group that meets though. I think it’s mostly senior citizens. Cause it’s one 30 on Thursday. I’m like, who’s going to that one.

Yeah. And then there’s up by Jay. There’s a bigger library. I know they do a couple of groups. They have a whole writing center. And I know when you look around there’s groups that you can find, people are listening. Yeah. Get out there and find the ones online and you’re right. Facebook’s probably the. Go to, but that you find things, not that it gives any of those groups where you find the groups that have 57,000 people, it’s hard to have a community that way, unless it’s broken down into subgroups.

Uh, and with Jay’s Tanzeum, we’ve got. Group, [00:18:00] but we also recently broke it down. We have sub genres for some of our messages. We have a group that meets on Saturday and then there’s everybody else is just in the slack and discussions on everything under the sun.

[00:18:15] JP: Yeah. And I think that there is a, there’s a special element to critique groups and really it comes down to.

Are you there to help someone or are you not, and are the people that are there encouraged to help or are they there to just state their opinion? And that’s why like in tandem, in the like platinum group or whatever mastermind group, the higher level, the one that meets every Saturday there used to be, and there still is a occasionally, but these analyses where they view our scenes and Jay leads a basically it’s a critique with suggestions on how to improve.

[00:19:00] But all based off of the same shared language and it really isn’t room or space for that critique that comes off as like pompous or whatnot. But it’s really a critique as to how to improve the craft and the author themselves. He also had us do a reading in one of them. It was Bandersnatch was the name of the book.

And I really enjoyed

[00:19:23] Stephen: it. I interviewed Diane to be excellent.

[00:19:28] JP: Super excited. Yeah. No, that was a really good book because it was, it was focused on back in the day, J Jared token and a few others had this critique group and it really talked about how. Even back then writing wasn’t done alone and how they got together.

And they gave each other these critiques. Now some of them may have been a little more competent than others, but it was still critiques. That was community. And that’s really, I feel like. That was a good representation of an author community that was successful. [00:20:00] And that’s an author community that I would love to emulate in person.

I’ve had that wonderful experience online. But I think the next level is finding that in person

[00:20:09] Stephen: and the, for the people that aren’t in a community first, you got to find one that you feel comfortable with people you feel comfortable with. And then the next thing, when every group should have some sort of critiquing or review and feedback, I think I’ve learned more from reading everyone else’s stuff and especially then listened to Jay or evaluated it where the three CS are, or however you want to the beats and whatever else.

I’m not so uptight about reading my own stuff and I can more naturally see things, but then when my stuff gets evaluated, it makes more sense to when I hear the feedback. So that’s the biggest benefit, especially when you’re first starting. Yeah,

[00:20:53] JP: I think too, there’s a key. Finding out who this group is and what they write, [00:21:00] because I would be looking for some people that are in those commercials, genres, people that write urban fantasy people that write various different commercials genres for me.

That’s the kind of author that I’m looking for. And then someone who is looking for that kind of structure and the three-star,

[00:21:20] Stephen: it is important to find a group that has at least some people writing the same as you cause like in Taz. And we’ve got everything, we’ve got the romance and comedy and Saifai and everything else, and that’s just lawn.

But the one group I was in. There, there were two writers, they’re both thriller writers and they would give almost the same advice to everybody that read something. And after a while, and as I got better, I realized this isn’t completely always, for example, In the horror genre, I’ve talked to Jay about this.

You don’t always want to put the giveaway on the first page and you [00:22:00] need a buildup for horror to work well. And a good buildup is what will attract a horror person, but a thriller. You want the dead body in chap in paragraph two. You can’t give that thriller advice to the horror author. And again, these were things I wouldn’t have known and thought about until I was in several communities that started hearing.

And podcasts are almost there like a asynchronous community, because you can hear a lot of good things and it gets you started at least. Yep, definitely. Well, JP, this has been a great talk, not our normal Saturday, but before we go, do you have any last minute advice, something you’d tell new authors.

[00:22:51] JP: I guess what I would say. To, to JP back in 2015, don’t give up, you are going to [00:23:00] write a lot. At least I wrote a lot that may never see the light of day and that’s okay. And I think. Really get out there more consider going to small writing events. I could not suggest the world building events from J Thorton, exact go hand in any more than possible, but really key to those events are 20 ish people, 20 ish authors that are there for a shared goal.

They’re there to write, to create the. Storyworld that they’re going to write short stories and having that as a platform to get to know other authors, to get, to know how to write the way that you want to write and see the way that other people want to write. Like, there is something about community.

Really expanded my worldview for writers. And it’s something that I would just [00:24:00] really encourage people to do. There has to be at events near you, regardless of if it’s, I don’t think you have to spend hundreds and hundreds of dollars to do these sorts of things. I think that there’s a way that you could find something nearby.

So that’s just, my recommendation is to get out there. Um, even if. That means like responding to podcasts, encouraging comments on podcasts that you’re listening to for writers, finding those communities and communicating more, getting on zoom calls, something along those lines that you are our indirect communication with

[00:24:35] Stephen: other authors agreed.

And obviously you mentioned the world building events. That’s through. Author’s success mastermind. I’ll put a link in the show notes. We’re big part of that. We both gravitated to it because it was very comfortable. It’s a great community. And I know Jay is really making a push through this year and next, so I’ll make, put show notes, everybody listening, check it out.

And the world building events that you [00:25:00] mentioned, which is great, because a little preview, we’ve got a panel. We’re going to do for this podcast of a bunch of us that went to one of these, a couple of these world events. And I think honestly, Jay is very unique. I don’t know if anybody else is doing anything like this there’s conferences with talks, but this is a total unique thing that he does.

And we’ll talk about that on the panel more, but yeah, I agree. Th the two I’ve gone to have been some of the best inspiration next to the career author summit.

[00:25:32] JP: Yeah, definitely. If no one else is doing them and it’s just him and Zach, then maybe there should be more, not competition, but healthy room for

[00:25:42] Stephen: other if they’re only doing a couple of year and they’re only taking 15 or so people.

As the word gets out, there’s going to be lots of room. And I thought, cause you’re close to me and I don’t know who else is in there. We should do a informal get together, just find some [00:26:00] midpoint of three or four people, and I’ll get together at a coffee shop for a simple, I guess world-building where we come up with some characters or something.

And then we all have something we write as a coauthor thing almost and put it together. But I haven’t worked that out way too busy lately there’s room for other things like that. And I think. Putting the community with the world-building events is super fantastic. I haven’t heard anybody say, yeah, this was a waste of my time at all.

Super. You missed the vampires in new Orleans. Very, and we got on a float.

You didn’t hear that

[00:26:43] JP: parade.

[00:26:44] Stephen: And she just, her way into one of the floods. Yeah, it was pretty great. It was a nice topper and she was at a zombie run and Jay was too. So I heard. All right, man, I appreciate you taking some time tonight. I had the [00:27:00] twist your arm to get John here. Cause I wanted to hear from you, but because you’ve got things coming out that weren’t not yet.

So, uh, hopefully this will release very close to the time those are out. So that would be great. Yeah, that’d be wonderful. All right, JP, I appreciate it. Have a good evening.

[00:27:15] JP: See you later.

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