Tag Archives: social media

Kate vs the Dirt Boffins – New edition cover

Phil: Part of our great book relaunch includes a new brand new cover.

There have been many discussions with designer Zoe over exactly which type of tractor we required, and where you can put a pair of stylish red shoes so the barcode and price box doesn’t cover them up – a definite no-no according to Candice!

On the back, we have a picture of Simon waving his protest banner, but you’ll have to buy a copy to see that. How? Well, watch this space and all will be revealed VERY soon.

In the meantime, or social media onslaught continues with a brand new Twitter account – NolanParkerAuthors – so nip over and give us a follow for all the latest news and fun.

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It’s a Jungle out there

SHARK!!Candice:  Phil and I have been trying to get our whole book thing off the ground for nearly ten years now.  Some lovely readers may have been following us for the whole of that time (thanks – no plaques or gold watches I’m afraid).  Along the way we’ve been to a lot of conferences about writing and promoting books, talked to a lot of people about writing and promoting books and written a lot about writing and promoting books.

We would be the first to say we aren’t experts in either, but we’ve given it a darn good go.  My background in Marketing has helped with some of the ideas but there are two things we have been lacking in, money and time.

Along the way, we’ve worked with and paid for services from people, and some of this has been good and some of it not so good.  We’ve been promised the world and had delivered the Isle of Man.

So this is a cautionary tale for those interested in writing and then marketing their product.  NOT EVERYONE IS ON YOUR SIDE.

We are not going to name names but here are some hints and tips on what to look out for:

  • Rights – do you own the rights to what you have produced and can you get hold of it easily if you want to get out?
  • Do they want payment upfront?
  • Can they prove what they will deliver, and you don’t pay for everything if they don’t.
  • What do their reviews say – and not just the ones on their website?
  • What are other people similar to you doing?  Are they happy with the service and would they recommend anyone?
  • Are they TOO cheap?

Phil and I have reached the point where we really need some help with our marketing and have identified that social media would be a good route to tap into our audience.  But when you search the web for someone to do Book Marketing the options are infinite.  Costs vary from £100 a month to £2500 for one press release. Everyone promises to deliver a great return, but I know from experience marketing is very hard to quantify unless to have a good marketing plan.

Now, luckily for us, I have already done the groundwork and we have social media sites created, we just need followers which then lead to sales.  Everyone I talk to I ask the same question – what’s your conversion rate?  I want to see some numbers here for my dosh, that certainly what I would expect from a business to deliver at work.  It’s called ROI – Return on Investment.

We are still looking but if anyone out there has some advice or good agencies they have used please let us know.  We want to keep away from the Sharks and sell some more stories.

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Channels of communication

Mary Ann Clarke Scott, photo credit J ScottPhil: Is it still, “Good to talk“?

Apparently not, or at least that’s how it appears to me.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t communicate.

In my job, I spend a lot of time chatting to people but that isn’t always in person. Where possible, I like a bit of face-to-face chat but nowadays we are all so reachable that it makes up a small portion of my needs. Thinking through the channels I use for work, I came up with:

  • Telephone
  • Texts
  • E-mail
  • Facebook
  • Facebook messenger
  • Skype
  • Twitter

Candice also does a lot through LinkedIn messenger – and of course we both have work and person e-mail addresses. That’s 9 options, 10 if you include my favourite, sitting down over cake.

I thought technology was supposed to make things easier!

Instead we all have to manage all of these, guess who will be using each one and try not to duplicate messages on different channels. And we rely on them working all the time, recently my e-mails from my personal address to work stopped working and it was a week before we realised this was why there were no replies and another week to fix it.

It’s all very confusing. Maybe we were all better back in the day when arranging lunch with Candice I’d have dispatched an urchin bearing a card that read, “Mr P Parker requests your attendance at the Flue and Flaggon at half past the midday hour on Tuesday” then awaited the delivered by another urchin.  Doubtless I would have had to tip him with a small coin but at least I’d be spared the ping of another message flying in to one of my many in-boxes.

Is there a simpler way?

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Now the hard part: Selling the book

BuyNowPhil: On Tuesday, Candice was wondering what to do next once we’d finally pitched the book out into the big, wide, world. I feel the same way. We’ve been talking about this for years and now it’s done.

Trouble is that writing novels is full of hardest jobs.

  • Stitching enough words together to tell a story – Check
  • Polishing those words so the readers can enjoy them – Check
  • Publishing the words so others can read them – Check
  • Persuading people to buy the book – THAT’S the next job

Writing a book is a very personal experience. You live with your characters and story for years. Eventually, you decide they are ready for other people to see. At this point the project is massively important to you.

To everyone else, it’s just another book vying for attention on the ever crowded shelves of your local electronic book store.

We’ve pushed this on Facebook and Twitter. People have said nice things but the challenge is to turn those nice thoughts into sales. For example, one of my Facebook posts showing the cover quickly picked up 20 “likes”, but if everyone who liked it had bought a copy then our sales would be greater than they are.

I understand the problem and can sympathise. Hitting the Like button is easy. Going through the purchase process is fiddlier and time-consuming even if you are minded to hand over a couple of quid to your friends to find out what they’ve been talking about all this time.

Advertising people talk about OTS – “opportunities to see”, a count of the number of times someone is exposed to an advert. 5 exposures are (apparently) required for reasonable impact on the average person. Another 2 and you have a chance of changing behaviour, in this case making a sale.

So all we need to do is keep beating people over the head with the book and it will sell?

Possibly, but as we are both pretty selective about our social media contacts, at least on Facebook, there is the dilemma that the more aggressive you become, the greater the chance of spending your life lonely and living with cats rather than people.

Basically, we need to market this so we keep all our friends but still sell some copies. Over to you Mrs Marketing…

Oh, and do go and buy the book from Amazon or Lulu.com

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Filed under Books, Phil, Publishing, Writing

Real friends

FreindsPhil: Last week, Candice mentioned her love of social media. The joys of being able to contact an authors whose book you have enjoyed directly and tell them.

All this is fine but it does create problems. For a start, what about people who don’t like your book? How is it to be bombarded by criticism?

You can say, “Well I don’t take it personally” but that’s got to be almost impossible.

The problem is the intermingling of public and private persona’s. Nowhere is this more of an issue than Facebook.

In my own field, I am mildly famous. I blog, I write for magazines, I turn up at exhibitions where people come and talk to me. All this is part of the job and absolutely marvellous.

But, because of this, lots of people have requested that they be my friend on Facebook. Currently there are 18 awaiting acceptance, none of whom I have met as far as I know. Once this started happening, I made a rule that if I don’t actually know you, I don’t accept you as a friend.

Facebook is where I keep in touch with friends and as I’m not a 12 year old girl, I don’t gauge my life by having a stupidly large number on-line. I like to think that everyone on that list is someone I could go for a drink with. Someone I actually remember meeting more than once for a start.

Those who randomly get in touch are probably lovely people but I can’t be sure they aren’t axe murderers. As such, I don’t want to accept them. Discussions, jokes and anything else shared on-line is to be shared with like-minded people, not just random bods who got in touch.

In the future though, is this going to be an option? Once The Book is published, how do we deal with all the people who will then want to be in touch?

Do we have two groups of people – real friends and professional friends (fans?) and do we both need two sets of personality on all social media to divide the two?

Is it time for Nolan Parker to become a real (virtual) person and sign up for Faceybook and Twittier?

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A view from the other side – how to be a Literary Agent

Jonny Geller

Candice: I was going to write a post about the book I have just finished reading, ‘Reckless’ by Andrew Gross.  However, though it is a perfectly readable book, and I finished it, I wouldn’t say it broke any boundaries or I could add anything to it, so I’m not sure what I’d write about it.

So, I’ve been trawling the web for ideas and found this interesting interview with a Literary Agent. Obviously, Literary Agents are like God to us. To get one would be like finding the Holy Grail.  But it seems no one wants to bite.  So I thought it would be useful to see the other side of this conversation.

The interview is with Jonny Geller from Curtis Brown.  He represents some big names including John LeCarre and Adele Parks.  It seems he fell on to his role by chance.  But I have to say that is the case with a lot of careers I think, I certainly didn’t come out of my degree and decide to become a Marketer (though I did want to be in something creative like writing or acting), I worked my way around to it.  I often think that’s better as you have time to develop into what you want.

The most interesting piece in the interview is the kind of authors he is looking for.  “We get around 13,000 manuscripts a year and I’m looking for someone who is a career writer.”  He wants some one who is driven to write above all else, and of course some one who can generate a stream of books which he can make money from.  Now, at which point in out covering letter have they missed the fact Phil and I have ideas for a seven book series….

He also doesn’t rate social media. “I think social media is really interesting, because I don’t think it works for most writers.” He thinks it actually means they are giving all their hard-earned ideas away for free.  Hum, I’m not sure if I agree, I think you can tease through social media to get more of an audience, especially the younger ones.

However, the most important point to me in the interview is this, “It certainly doesn’t matter if an author is good-looking or not because sometimes that actually gets in the way funnily enough.”  Phil, I don’t think we need to worry about that head shot quite so much…

Read the interview, it’s a useful insight into the literary world.


Filed under Candice, Writing


Tweeting BrianPhil: With a renewed push to get our book on the racks of your local airport bookstall, I’ve been digging around Twitter. As 21st Century authors, we can’t ignore one of the largest social media platforms, especially one that seems to be the main source of material for so many traditional media outlets nowadays.

Basically, I’ve been looking for firms who promote authors through Tweets and following them like a crazy stalker. Except that I don’t need to stalk, they won’t leave me alone.

One outlet promises to tweet to it’s 60,000+ real followers about you. Assuming they are real, then the law of averages says there must be someone out there who could show useful interest in you. Or at least, they would except for one little problem these marketeers haven’t spotted. Quite simply, they never, ever shut up.

I follow many people from nerdy transport fans, poets, writers, media people, useful local news services and even Brian the Robot from the insurance adverts (Don’t tell Candice, but I’m a bit of a connoisseur of good marketing. I tell her I think it’s all colouring in and playing with glitter though) all of whom seem to get this social media thing right. Those people I have un-followed always get the chop for the same reason.

Too. Many. Tweets.

The author marketing people were sending out over 50 tweets a day. I don’t have time to read all those. Quite frankly, there were so many of them, I couldn’t be bothered to scroll through and look at anyone else’s peals of wisdom. I’m pretty certain that no-one else has that sort of time either. Anyone likely to be looking for authors will want to spend time reading manuscripts, not random adverts on social media.

Marketing people. When you go to a party, do you like the person who stands in the middle of the room bellowing a stream of consciousness?

No? Well don’t do it on-line then.


Filed under Phil, Publishing