My Blog Page for "Daddy and the Word's Longest Poo"
In this tri-series of blogs on the value of a professional PR campaign, I’ve shared the degrees of failure and success I’ve had with traditional and social media campaigns.
To wrap the series, I'll share the lessons I've learned from the investment I’ve made in a social media PR campaign.
Building an Author Platform
Create your presence online via dedicated professional pages, rather than personal pages. For example, anyone who is interested in your work should be able to 'like' and follow your Facebook Author Page, rather than send you a friend request.
Facebook is a good channel for click-throughs to your Author website, so as minimum presence, I would recommend a website (including a blog page) and an author page on Facebook, for sharing content from your website. Use the two in tandem for cross-promotion, enlisting page likes and website subscribers (if your website is set up for the latter).
Instagram and Pinterest are popular methods for building your community online but they rely on catchy images. Are your marketing messages best told through images/photos, or better conveyed through words, images and web links.
What about Twitter? How many platforms do I need to use?
If your time capacity permits, I would recommend having at least two social media platforms in addition to your website. I would include Facebook, Twitter and Instagram in the core group because of their popularity and reach. Each of these platforms rely on different approaches but the key to building engagement on all is commenting and sharing posts from other users, not just ‘liking’.
Google+ and Pinterest are other platforms to consider, if you have capacity. The advantage of Google+ is that it has the best SEO results for your blog posts but it is harder to build a community. And though I have LinkedIn and have for many years, this is a serious professional networking site (an online CV), rather than an informal sharing site, so be aware of this.
What is Goodreads All About?
If you are a writer and presumably a reader first, you should be on Goodreads. It’s a dedicated social media networking site for book nerds. Set up a personal page but if you have a published book, you need to take advantage of the Goodreads Author Dashboard service (your own Author Page) and list your book.
Readers can follow you and rate and review your books here and it is not based on verified and unverified reviews, like Amazon. If you think that Amazon is the only place you need reviews, you are missing a trick. I value the exposure and networks I have accessed on Goodreads far beyond my extremely low-ranking, almost invisible indie author Amazon page.
Having said this, if your book is being sold on Amazon, set up an author page via Author Central, so that people who do visit your page can follow you.
Why have a website AND multiple pages on social media?
The above-mentioned platforms, except a website with a registered domain name, are FREE channels for author exposure. I am not recommending you join more social media platforms than you can handle but I am suggesting that the more channels on which you have a presence, the wider the reach for your content (blogs and book WIPs) and community building. And think of it this way… what if a publisher pulls your book from a slush pile and cares enough to Google you and see what they can find out? Will they find you?
How much time should I spend on social media?
Don’t obsess over rules. Follow sensible and achievable advice and adapt to your life. Only you understand what your time, skill and budget capacities are for driving your author platform.
My PR campaign manager said I did not have to be omnipresent on social media. I breathed a sigh of relief. Her advice was to build a consistent schedule of blogging/posting and interaction every week, whether it be 30mins total, or 30mins on each platform, each day.
The amount of time is not as important as the consistency and the quality of your interaction. Remember, comment and share. Don’t just 'like'. Another trick is to use your scheduled slot to pre-schedule posts on Facebook, so you can post content regularly without having to be online at the time.
Where can I market my book for FREE online?
Remember to class your author pages as FREE promotional channels but don’t just self-promote to your followers. There are an infinite number of FREE targeted marketing opportunities online, as there are an equal number of options for you to invest in commercial book promotion services.
Part of the journey for you is doing your own research on these options and weighing them up for yourself. Many options promise more than they can deliver, so manage your expectations and if you are going to invest money, ask for recommendations and work out what you want to achieve by paying for a service. Beware measuring success only in sales figures as you are likely to be disappointed. Brand awareness for you and your books is the endgame for an emerging author.
My Biggest Gem of Advice
SEIZE targeted opportunities for promotion on social media. Though I have invested money in a PR campaign, I have taken just as many FREE opportunities for promoting my work. You can see them listed on my website in Breaking News and the Links to Press page.
One advantage of devoting consistent slot/s to building your online platform is getting to know other writers and accepting offers of interviews, Facebook page shares, FREE book listings etc.
The golden rule is RECIPROCATE. If someone gives you a free promotional opportunity, don’t take it for granted. Share the mention and tag in the page on which it originated. Thank people and offer to promote them when the opportunity arises.
Build goodwill and strong content and you’ll find yourself with an Author platform. You might then just find yourself with sales.
Last week, I shared the limited results of my traditional media PR campaign, for my self-published picture book. The feedback I’ve received from readers, many of whom are independent authors, has been encouraging. This is a topic ‘indies’ want to know more about and not just the success stories.
I’m learning more in this author journey from the obstacles I’ve faced, than the boosts I’ve had along the way. If you hit pay dirt from the outset with self-publishing, kudos but does this mean everyone can replicate your path to success?
What problems do ‘indies’ face with online marketing?
There are themes that arise frequently in discussion threads in Facebook groups for independent authors. Do the sample queries (below) sound familiar?
Hi, I’m just starting out in self-publishing and I have no idea how to market my work. How do I get my book out there on social media? I only use Facebook and I don’t really know how to use Twitter or anything else. Do I have to blog? Advice please.
Hi, I don’t really know how to use social media and I don’t have much time to promote my work. Any recommendation on people who don’t charge much to do your social media for you?
Social Media Public Relations (PR) and Marketing
I paid for a six-week professional social media PR campaign, to run alongside a six-week traditional media campaign.
It. Was. Not. Cheap.
I may never recoup this cost from royalties for the book aligned to the campaign. I realised this going in, though I hoped it might be the catalyst for putting my book ‘on the map’. At the time, I did not have the necessary social media skills, nor a developed author platform, to market the book myself, to a wider audience than Facebook friends and family.
So, if I had my time over again, I would do what the canny self-publishers do and build my online author platform, well in advance of publishing.
What if you don’t have the time or the skills for social media?
You need to somehow make time, i.e. build a manageable weekly schedule for interacting online professionally, whether 30 mins a week, or 30mins a day.
You also need to upskill yourself in the effective usage of some social media platforms, if not all.
Now, here’s the kicker for indies. If you don’t have social media and marketing skills from your day job and you can’t see a way forward, then:
a) you may have to pay for training, and/or
b) you may have to invest in some targeted third-party social media promotions for your book. Examples include a Goodreads giveaway or a boosted/sponsored post on Facebook.
Remember, if you are in business (or a commercial hobby), where you expect to make money off the sale of your work, I’m not sure if you can ever avoid spending money to make money. The degree to which you apply this is entirely up to you.
What can you expect from a social media campaign?
From my own experiences with a book PR campaign, I could have refrained from paying for traditional media approaches and concentrated my efforts (and funds) on social media promotion. The online space offers legitimate, visible channels for marketing and selling your work these days, even if you are an unknown. It is about finding your target audience (and I'm not pretending that is always easy).
To my initial surprise, the PR manager for my social media campaign did not blog, create my Facebook author page, or tweet anything for me.
She advised a schedule of weekly book blog topics and spent one hour each week in a video call, training me in social media platforms, tools and marketing strategies.
In other words, she taught me how to run my own social media campaign in the short-term and strategies for maintaining and building my long-term author presence online.
I asked sheepishly if she would post or blog for me, as part of the service. Response: this was not the firm's policy. There wasn't time or resource to devote to this level of service, within the confines of the package I had purchased.
What this meant in real terms is, you would need to pay more, a lot more, for a professional PR manager to execute your social media presence. Does this answer the question whether there is a cheap option for someone to do your social media for you?
What was the objective of the social media campaign? Was it met?
The point of the social media campaign service was to empower me as a writer and independent publisher, to manage and execute my own schedule of strategic social media interactions. It was also to understand how to blog as a promotional tool.
After all, I’m a writer, so shouldn’t I be able to frame creative posts on social media and put together a regular, coherent blog piece? And who better to know what I want to say to my audience than me?
What I may not understand as a writer, unless I’ve worked in this field, is how to effectively market my product and how to use social media tools, to at least an intermediate level.This is why I sought professional assistance.
After a six-week paid campaign, I have been professionally trained in how to use Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Hootsuite and Google+. I have also been taught blogging strategies for building audience engagement. This for me, has been worth its weight in gold, though I am not advocating that every indie should pay for a professional PR campaign.
My advice is to acknowledge you need a social media marketing strategy. You need to skill yourself to execute this, within your means, time and budget.
I have broken the first rule of my blogging training (keep it to about 500 words or less), so if you are still reading and caring, thank you.
Next week, I’ll share some specific tips and examples from my campaign, that may provide you with a starting point for planning your own approach.
Have a productive week!
You’re an independent author and you’ve self-published your first book, via Print on Demand or an online publishing service.
When considering your public relations campaign, you may be asking: - do I pay a professional to publicise my book, or do I market it myself, through all possible ‘word of mouth’ channels?
I have seen questions appear in ‘indie’ author group threads, asking for recommendations on cheap publicity services. I think we need to be aware as self-publishers, that there is a difference between relatively affordable publicity opportunities like a Goodreads Giveaway, or a twitter book promo on Shout My Book, and an end-to end publicity service from a public relations professional. The latter will cost you and there is no cheap option and unfortunately, no guarantee of return on investment.
I’m coming at this from hiring a PR company to manage and execute a six- week traditional and social media campaign, for my debut picture book. I was prepared to invest money in a third-party professional service to promote my self-publishing project. I did not have the wherewithal at the time, to promote it myself.
Did I succeed? Do I have regrets? Well, I certainly have a lot of mixed emotions but for the purposes of this blog post, I’m going to offer my verdict on the value of a traditional media vs. a social media book campaign.
This week I’ll cover my traditional media PR experience (epic fail!) and next week, the outcomes of my social media campaign. That’s where the gems of true wisdom lie, so stay tuned…
Traditional Media Campaign – What to Expect
Traditional media is considered media that was around before online i.e. TV, radio and print magazines and newspapers.
Once you have contracted a publicist for an agreed period of service, they will read your book, interview you and write a press release to send out on ‘the wires’. This will be visible to media outlets (within the agreed geographical parameters) and they may pick up the story of your book’s publication.
This could take the form of requesting an interview with you for print, TV or radio, or asking for a ‘review copy’ of your book, to profile on their media service. The press release blast will be followed with a systematic plan of personal approach from the publicist, to targeted media outlets, identified as good prospects for interest in your book.
Sounds great, huh?
Even in adversity, I live in hope of triumph, so I would always encourage you to shoot for the stars. However, my biggest take-away from my traditional media campaign is manage your expectations. Your publicist may even warn you that media relations are a tenuous process. Best believe them.
My press release, which went out to media in five US cities and Sydney, was re-posted by a small handful of US media outlets on the day of release. Furthermore, there were two interview enquiries (one from a local newspaper in Sydney) and one other enquiry for a review copy. None of the enquries came to anything.
What I’ve Learned From This Type of Campaign
Fact. My book is not going to appeal to everyone and I accept that the traditional media campaign may have failed because my book missed the mark and lacked media appeal.
As an ‘indie’, what I also need to understand is that there is a big wide world of professional publishing out there and there are systems in place for traditionally published books to reach the right media channels through a publishing house or an agent’s PR.
It is also less likely that an unknown, first time author, who has published their own work, will be of any traditional media interest, or will be considered marketable, or saleable to the book-buying public. After all, who do you like to read about in the traditional media?
People you know.
My Verdict on Traditional Media Publicity Services
I would not recommend that an emerging, self-published author invest in a third party's traditional media PR services.
You are likely to know your own local media networks best, so approach editors with a copy of your book and gauge their interest. Don’t expect anything and be pleasantly surprised if something comes through. After all, a mention in a real-life traditional media source is still the best feeling and offers ‘cred’ for your work. I’ve seen many a traditionally published author get excited by this type of exposure.
Next week – Should I Pay for PR on Social Media?
Many indies I know are masterful at the art of self-promotion on social media and may laugh at me for paying someone to promote my work. I envy their nouse.
I also see questions on indie group boards from many who are struggling to understand how to best market themselves online. Next Tuesday, I’d invite you to return to this blog to hear my experiences with a professional social media PR campaign. This is where things started to look up for me, so don’t worry, there’ll be loads of constructive advice and you won't have to pay for it.
Have a wonderful week.
It’s that time of year again. The time dads in the UK, US and Canada, feign surprise on Father’s Day, as they open tool and gardening related gifts from their kids.
I’m an advocate for Father’s and Mother’s Day, so don’t get me wrong. I know it’s highly commercialized but we need to teach kids to show appreciation and to GIVE to others, even if it means putting their hands in their piggy banks. And sure, I agree, giving and showing appreciation needs to be a behavior demonstrated all year round, not just on one commercially decreed day.
Still, we live in a commercial society and most parents will go through the motions of choosing a present with their children, to give to their dads on the third Sunday in June (that’s 18 June this year).
A popular gift idea, apart from tools, or hand-made goods, is books about dads and grandads. I remember on my baby son’s first Father’s Day, giving a touching book about a baby bear and a grandad bear, to my father. I also remember my parents giving a copy of My Aussie Dad, a fabulous book from Yvonne Morrison and Gus Gordon, to my staunchly English husband, on his first Father’s Day in Australia. Fortunately, we are a bit cheeky in our family, so the joke was well received and we loved reading the adventures of a BBQing, sports-loving dad. They have those in England too, so it wasn’t that much of a stretch.
And what, might you be asking, is my point in all this?
I’m a children’s book author, so I would advocate giving a book to Dad or Grandad this Father’s Day, especially if your son or daughter need assistance with reading. Childhood literacy is important and experts acknowledge that the power of a male role model reading books to themselves, or to their sons, in particular, has an incredible influence on young boys, who may naturally favor more physical pursuits.
Humour is also a useful tool for encouraging young children to read and dare I say it, a funny book might just encourage parents and grandparents to read more with their kids.
So, can you take a joke? Are you ready to laugh at yourselves? I would venture that if you’re a parent or a grandparent, with precocious four to seven year-olds in your life, a sense of humour is the key to sanity.
My debut picture book, Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo (Lulu Publishing), is for every family who has ever laughed at a certain someone who sits on the toilet for too long. It’s for a Mum who’s ever wondered where her husband was hiding out for hours on end. It’s for a child who finds poop hilarious and most of all, it’s for a cheeky dad or grandad, who can laugh at himself.
"Daddy and the World's Longest Poo is a wonderfully whimsical book about one of life's greatest mysteries. Both children and adults alike will enjoy the authors wicked sense of humor as she explores where and why dads disappear for such long periods of time. With bright beautiful illustrations that at times reminded me of Dr. Seuss' art style bringing the funny story to life. Children and adults of all ages will enjoy this delightfully entertaining book." – Amazon Customer Review (5 stars).
For Northern hemisphere shoppers, Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo is available to buy online at Lulu.com (in paperback and eBook) and Amazon (in paperback). Don't miss out for Father's Day - order your copy now.
I, Daddy, from Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo, would like to thank the academy for this most auspicious of accolades. My author, Brydie Wright, would like to take the credit for this Sunshine Blogger Award but without my character, she’d be nothing and her book wouldn’t be the success it is (or could be one day).
But even I must give credit where credit is due. Without a nomination from Kim M Watt, blogger extraordinaire, my blog may well have been overlooked. Kim’s own interview for the Sunshine Blogger Award, won on behalf of Layla, the world-dominating cat, is one of the most entertaining I’ve seen in recent years.
I read it on the loo where all my best thinking is done.
And It is now my pleasure to carry on the Sunshine Blogging tradition and answer the interview questions Kim M Watt wrote for me, before my author can get a word in.
i. Is your author disproportionately cruel to you, or does she enjoy embarrassing you for comic relief?
Yes, I think my author is cruel to me. Everyone deserves a bit of privacy when they are in the loo, bathroom, toilet – whatever you want to call it. For some of us, it’s a haven; a world away from our troubles. Can’t a grown man have five minutes’ peace without his author holding his bowel movements up for public ridicule?
ii. Are you named for someone in your author’s life? Why?
My name is Daddy. I have a sneaking suspicion that my author must have had a daddy like me at some stage or maybe even a husband. The more I think about it, it’s probably the latter. She seems to have a lot of ideas about why husbands spend ages on the loo. She thinks we are doing some sort of gigantic poo but it’s just secret men’s business and there’s nothing funny in that. Just good harmless reading, thinking or listening to our iPods.
iii. What quirks has the author given you that you really wish they hadn’t?
Where do I start? My author portrays me as this secretive dad hanging out in the toilet for hours on end, neglecting my domestic duties. When have I ever done that? Can I help it if nature calls, or I just need some time out? I’m a regular sort of guy and when you need to go, you need to go.
iv. Do you feel confident that you’re going to make it into a sequel? Why/Why not?
Isn’t anything sacred anymore? What could my sequel possibly be? Daddy and the World’s Longest Pee? I think my author needs to leave me in peace. Having said that, I’m a pretty interesting guy and there’s a lot more to me than my toilet behaviour. If there was a sequel about my son and my wife, then I’d have to be in it. Come to think of it, I I heard my author saying something about a short story she’s written, starring me and my son, all about our gardening exploits. Stay tuned for this later in the year…
v. How do you justify not doing what your author tells you to?
Pass. I seem to always end up doing what my author wants me to do.
vi. What is one thing about you that your author has edited out/is going to edit out, but you’d like to tell us?
Well, I think it’s important to say that my wife is not perfect either. Sometimes I catch her hiding from my son, watching The Bold and the Beautiful in bed. You know what they say, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. We all have our own ways of trying to find a little peace.
vii. What’s the most interesting thing about you?
Maybe you should ask my son. He follows me around everywhere, even when I’m in the toilet. He’s always asking me questions. I think what you could say about me is I know when to take five and just breathe. I think it’s important for everyone to find their own place to meditate and have some ‘me’ time away from the family. The toilet is that place for me. It’s usually very peaceful, until my son discovered my hiding place.
viii. If you’re not the protagonist, do you wish you were? Why/ why not?
My son seems to be the protagonist but I think I steal the show. After all, it’s called Daddy and the World’s Longest Poo, not The Little Boy Who Wonders What His Daddy is Doing in the Loo. That title just wouldn’t work.
ix. Do you have a sidekick or helper? Who are they?
My son is my shadow, my sidekick and my helper. One day he’s going to grow up just like me… he’ll appreciate the toilet too.
x. What would you like to tell your author?
I think my author is on the right track naming her books after me and making me a central character but next time, spare a thought for my privacy please. I’m the laughing stock of my dads' circle now. As if they don’t love the toilet too. I’ll say it again, people who live in glass houses…
And now I must hand over the mantle of the Sunshine Blogger Award to four of my other favourite bloggers. I hereby nominate:
When I was having some quiet thinking time on the loo the other day, I came up with 10 questions and I’d love for my nominated bloggers to interview any one of their characters in either a completed work, or WIP.
- What genre did your author write you into? What makes your character a great fit for this genre?
- What is the hardest thing about being you?
- Do you agree with all the choices your author makes for you?
- Being a literary type, we really must know – are you a cat, or a dog person?
- Does your author play favourites with her characters? Where do you fit on this spectrum?
- If you could choose a love interest from the other characters in your book, who would it be and why?
- If you could choose a name for your own blog and write about what you know and love, what would it be and why?
- Do you have any plans to take over the world?
- What do you think your author’s best qualities are?
- If you could speak directly to your readers, without the author as a middleman, what would you like them to hear from the horse’s mouth?