Tag Archives: twitter

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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Men DO suffer from Imposter Syndrome

What IS this? We aren't at eat n park! #imposterPhil: I was loitering on the station at a steam railway last weekend, chatting to a fellow magazine editor, and someone interrupted our conversation.

“You’re Phil Parker. I just wanted to say I really enjoy your work.”

It took me a few moments to recover, but I quickly slipped into the “Thanks very much. Glad you like it.” mode followed by my standard “Don’t forget, if there’s anything you’d like me to cover, drop me an e-mail.”

Working in hobby publishing, and appearing on a DVD for subscribers, it’s long fascinated me how people seem to think they know you. I admit, I enjoy this most of the time as I’m not great at starting conversations, but comments of my on-screen work have kicked off many pleasant chats and provided me with inspiration for several projects.

The best bit though – feedback.

A comment this week on Instagram annoyed me. “Women suffer from imposter syndrome and men don’t.” It’s not the first time I’ve read this, and not just from random people but proper newspaper columnists, and it always winds me up. 

Imposter syndrome is the nagging feeling that you aren’t good enough for your job, and that one day you’ll be found out and asked to leave.

Some people enjoy massive amounts of self-confidence and breeze through like not caring about anything. Not me. I’ve always been sure that I’m hanging on to whatever position I have by my fingernails. At least once per employment, I’ve been involved with something that I’m sure will result in me being fired. Not deliberately, just because I’m Not Good Enough.

I’m sure most people are affected in varying degrees. We all have moments of self-doubt – yes, even men.

Which is why feedback is important. I like to think I’m doing OK, but that outside validation is important, otherwise, I might be deluding myself.

Even critical feedback is useful. That way you can assess whether the person offering feedback is likely to be reliable, or operating on their own agenda to undermine you. It happens and recognising this is an essential skill, albeit, not one that’s fun to learn.

The thing is, we can all help each other. If you read something and like it – say so. Hit the like button, send a Tweet or an e-mail. Do something to spread the positivity. There are enough negative thoughts in the world right now, make some positive ones!

The Interweb has put the power of feedback in everyone’s hands. At the moment, it’s largely used by sad trolls sat in their pants in front of a computer to bully others or hurl abuse. This doesn’t have to be the case. Both Candice and I have contacted authors whose books we’ve enjoyed by Twitter to say something, and they have generally responded to say thanks. Even moderately famous people like reassurance!

Now, you see that Like button, you know what you have to do now… 🙂

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Lessons from Ken Dodd

Image from RuddyMuddy on Twitter

Phil: I can’t claim to have been one of the late Sir Ken Dodd’s showbiz friends, but I did meet him a couple of times while working at a local theatre.

Once, while minding the stage door at some time past midnight, he came off stage and pointed at my shoes.

“Crikey”, he said, “Those are fine feet, are you a policeman?”

I replied that I wasn’t to which he added, “Well, you know what they say about blokes with big feet…” and then swept off to his dressing room with a chuckle.

The amazing thing about Ken (never Mr Dodd) was that he’d arrive at the venue looking every bit of his 80 years. A small, quiet old man.

Yet the moment he got on stage, he came alive. The Ken in my anecdote was buzzing, almost as though there was electricity flying off him. This was after a 6-hour show too.

So, lesson 1 – If you are doing something you really love, you’ll never feel better or more alive.

In all the tributes, it’s been said by many people who you never knew when a Ken Dodd show would finish. The rumour was that every night management would have to haul him off the stage so the staff could go home.

This is a good story, but not strictly accurate.  Yes, the performances would go on a long while. No other act gave a longer show, but the staff knew when he would finish. Usually 1am on the first night, 12:30 on the second. Hidden from the audience in the wings was a clock which Ken kept an eye on.

Lesson 2 – If you want to be good at something, you need a professional attitude.

Ken didn’t just hang around telling jokes until he got bored. He honed his act through the study of comedy. Learning to play an audience, he only kept the jokes that got a laugh. Yes, material stayed in the act for many, many years – but only if the audience enjoyed it. In many ways, this is just like editing a novel. You take out anything that doesn’t add to the reader’s enjoyment. After a while, you are left with pure gold.

Legend is an over-used term, but it’s appropriate here. There will never be another Doddy, but if you aspire to his status, you better put the work in like he did.

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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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Books for children

Phil: Last week saw World Book Day so Candice asked on Twitter “Whats your favourite children’s book” sending around a few of our favourite authors. And me.

Daisy Waugh was first with a reply – The Secret Garden. My favourite book ever, inc. all the others, except mine

Which is interesting. How many of us, if asked for our top ten books, would include something we fell in love with as a child?

Julia Crouch came back with – Winnie the Pooh. I re-read it last month, and it’s still glorious.

Of course a good book is a good book no matter how old you are.

Polly Courtney’s daughter is only a couple of years old, so much more up to date – If I delegated this Q to my daughter, she would say Peppa Pig. Or more accurately, “Gekka!”

It seems that Peppa is the darling of the 2 year olds as Candice admitted  – We love peppa in out house. sent her to nursery with chicken licken today.

Now I think I might be responsible for Nolan Jnrs Chicken Licken interest. My mum tells me I used to drive her mad asking for it to be read to me many times a day. The story involves Chicken-Licken, Foxy-Loxy, Henny-Penny, Ducky-Lucky, Draky-Laky and co. So for her first birthday, the young Nolan received a copy. I’m chuffed she likes it, or maybe mom has sent it hoping it will be lost in transit!

Ron Sinclair is more pragmatic – hmm depends on age band! Mr Men books for younger ones, Discworld books for older!

Discworld is a series I’ve never been able to get into. I don’t know why but young Phil might have been different. Many hours were spend playing Fighting Fantasy books and I suspect that the satirical fantasy world of Terry Pratchett would have appealed greatly. I might even have read Harry Potter.

paddleAs it was, I’ve plumped, not for Thomas the Tank engine as you might expect, but Paddle-to-the-Sea. It’s a lovely story about a carved wooden Indian in his canoe released into the great lakes by a child who carves him. Each stage of Paddle’s journey is illustrated with a big watercolour and often footnotes explaining some of the things he encounters along the way. Both educational and entertaining, I’ve loved the idea of toys going on a journey and wondering what they would get up to ever since.

And Candice? I always loved the Faraway Tree series. Escapism is my thing.

I’d never heard of these despite being a devotee of Enid Blyton as a child. I read all the Famous Five books several times and probably all the Secret Seven too. Was I deprived?

And what is your favourite children’s book?

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Making our own film?

Phil: Now we are in the business of book selling, there has been much thought going on within team NolanParker about ways we can publicise our great work of fiction. In the modern world, what we all dream of is creating something that “goes viral”. In other words, an idea or image that spreads around the world on the tide of social media. If we can do that, and relate it to our book, we’ll start seeing mahoosive sales instead of the odd one or two.

Images are my strong point. Last week we had a Stormtrooper reading our book and in half an hour on Instagram, over 20 people liked it. Not a bad start but hardly the millions we might hope for.

Perhaps we should produce a short film?

A good idea but it’s going to involve actors and sets and expensive stuff. I have promised a screenwriting friend he can have the adaption gig for the book if he can do a deal involving a Hollywood A lister appearing, but so far nothing. We’ll have to do it ourselves.

Looking around the interweb, I’ve found a couple of smaller scale options. Rather than a film, how about a series of pictures that tell the story?

For a start, I could use a model railway as show here:

The Farthing Layouts

A tale of theft and skullduggery at the turn of the last century.

All very nice but only if you happen to have a “set” handy. I’ve looked at our book and we need too many locations.

Perhaps I should use some toys?

If you follow the BBC Radio 4 tale of country folk, The Archers, it’s worth keeping Twitter open during the Sunday omnibus, pointed at Ambridge Synthetics. They illustrate key scenes through the show with Playpeople:



If you are watching and listening, it’s brilliant.


All the main characters have their own figures and mostly the normal Playmobile accessories are used. Sometimes they get a bit off-piste with other items. recently we’ve seen a stuffed rabbit and real life guinea pig on the set.


It’s pure pantomime. Regular listeners will immediately recognise evil Rob Titchner (boo, hiss) from the picture above. Even if you aren’t you’ll pretty quickly work out he’s not a goodie.

When I was a kid, I had loads of Playpeople. I had even more Lego though. Perhaps Kate vs The Dirtboffins in plastic bricks?

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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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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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Getting up close and personal

CaptureCandice: I’ve commented before on how I like the social media, Twitter especially as it gets me up close and personal with people who wouldn’t have given me the time of day before.

When I was growing up if you wanted to get close to someone famous, you queued outside the stage door or joined their fan club. This, if you were lucky, you’d get sent a regular newsletter and perhaps a signed photo. But you’d never get to communicate with them face to face.

Previously we’ve met/seen authors at event and then but some social media jiggery pokery we’ve got them to do an interview with us. I have to say this more me than Phil but then if am the cheeky one of the bunch (hence why I will be on Loose women).

I don’t have the time to keep tweeting as much as I would like, which is probably why I only have just over 100 followers but I can see, if I did I would struggle keep off it. It’s bad enough at the moment with our habit to have our phone with us at all times, so that any little thing that comes in we are checking. Some times this is a good thing but some times a terrible distraction as that flashing symbol means we don’t really concentrate on what we are doing and just jump around all over the place. This is emphasized by the fact I have finally upgraded my Blackberry to a Samsung Galaxy which I’m finding easy to use and also even easier to check my social media only! Any way, this blog isn’t about the downsides of our ‘always on life’.

So a few weeks ago I finished The Seafront Tea Rooms. I blogged about it and @ it at the author. She came back saying thanks for the review.

Then I sent something to Rob Sinclair, who Phil met last week at his met the author session, he said look forward to meeting you and it gave Phil an introduction.

I then sent something to Adele Parks to say looking forward to her session, she said thanks. And then when we met her on the night it was the opener to a conversation as I mentioned we’d ‘chatted’ over Twitter.

And finally, I’d just finished The Miniaturist, which I loved, I sent something to Jessie Burton, its’ author. I said ‘I wanted to know more’ and she said ‘you’ll just have to wait and see’.

It’s amazing to see a response from the people who’s book I be just read. For them it must be nice to get a true response, rather than just a formal review in a paper. This is their audience so it’s their chance to communicate to them, as well as us readers to get a buzz from getting a response from some one who is famous.

It’s also a very clever marketing ploy, as I now want to read more of their books as I think I know them and they like me.

Phil said Rob spends half his day on social media, and I think you would have to to respond to everything that comes in. But it’s worth to get that extra reader to engage with you and want to come back for more.

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Whats going on with Twitter?

View image on Twitter

Candice: Phil and I are very aware that there are a lot of clever marketing ploys out there to get your name out to the masses.  It seems in this world of self publicity the best way to get signed with an agent is to do some of the leg work yourself, hence the blog and social media, twitter included.

Add to that getting your book sold on amazon for 99p and suddenly you can prove that you are a viable entity, and thus more likely to make your publisher some big cash, which means you are more likely to get picked.

Phil and I had a conflab yesterday over his copy of Writers and Artists year book and picked some Agents to send the book to in the old fashoned way.  He will be on the case this week.  But we have also been looking more into self publishing and he’s found an interesting option.  We’ll tell you more if it comes off.

However, along side this we have been ramping up the publicity. Well I say we have, I’ve been on Twitter more in the last two months than I have been for ages but I don’t think I’ve done anything amazing, yet I’ve picked up quite a few more followers.  They are all book related people which is great, and I can only assume that my feature on some of their feeds has lead to people thinking we are interesting and hence more follows.  I’ve even got a follow from some one with 17,000 followers – if that can’t help the stats I don’t know what will.

But what I really need is a good selfie, as demonstrated by Ellen at the Oscars.  Yes it would be great if Phil and I could get Brad Pitt and Angeline Jolie into our blog, though I think the closest we would come is two lookalikes (though that would be funny, trying to mock that shot up with a load of lookalikes!) If I can get 2 million retweets one day I’d be a happy woman.  Well, if I could go to the Oscars one day I’d be a happy woman!

All in all, these days it can only help if you blow your own trumpet!

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