Had to break off last night for chocolate orange vodka (the first batch was like paintstripper, the second like heaven!) and Dr Who… here are my notes on the rest of the Nosy Crow Conference. (I also discovered Eric James had written an excellent blog post on this – definitely worth checking out: http://ericjames.co.uk/quick-overview-of-nosy-crows-childrens-writing-conference/ )
Building Your Brand – Marketing Yourself Online (Adam Tinworth)
This was a primer on the do’s and don’t’s of social media, distilled from a 60-hour version that Adam delivers to journalists (who apparently need that much help!).
Need to understand that social media is a SOCIAL environment, based on interaction, and building a relationship of trust. Marketing messages that just “push” in one direction are annoying and ineffective.
He explained his “parking theory” – NCP – Niche – Community – Personal.
Niche is about personal branding – who is this, and where can I find out more?
Community – there is a community of commenters/ bloggers / SM types for your interest – where does that community live? Go to them.
Personal – be human; have a distinct tone of voice (and don’t feel a need to be opinionated, if you are not); react and interact
Talk focused on two main streams of social media – Facebook and Twitter.
Note that FB is algorithmic, while Twitter is chronological, with exposure limited by time. The “half life” of a tweet is 2.8 hours (which is longer than I’d expected, but still not a big window). Consider the best time to tweet – ie when will your audience be most likely to check twitter. (Gave the example of tweeting things for journalists just before 9am, so they can go into the office, and do something that looks like work, without actually doing work, first thing!)
Recommended using www.bitly.com , rather than the automatic link shortener in twitter, as this will give you clickthrough rates for your links
FB pages are becoming less effective at reaching an audience, but you can targets ads, and you can “follow” people rather than friending them
Recommended to check out the terribleminds website and blog – a good example of a built-up community
Also recommended followerwonk.com
Comment re Pinterest – make sure you link through to it from your blog (on WordPress, for example), even if you do not use Pinterest itself. I haven’t tried this myself yet, so I hope I’ve got that down right!
In terms of starting a blog, three tips:
1 – Just do it! (So here I am)
2 – Don’t tell anyone for a few months
3 – Don’t try too hard. It’s a conversational media – it doesn’t need to be polished.
Adam’s blog is at www.OneManandHisBlog.com
The Bookseller’s Perspective (Florentyna Martin, Buyer at Waterstone’s)
This was an interesting talk on the realities of selling books in the market. The average Waterstone’s children’s section holds some 4000 titles, which seems a lot… but there are thousands of new titles published every year.
About 65% of their stock is from their existing range, while 35% is new books.
Note that every store is unique, and tried to respond to local issues and demands within their overall framework. (Make friends with your local bookseller!)
Publicity is key in selling books – getting the word out, through newspapers, TV, radio, film adaptations, awards, etc
A note for self-publishers – Waterstones would not rule out stocking self-published works, but the quality (of product and finish) would have to be very high, to compete with their other products. My interpretation is that this would be very unlikely to happen in reality, although not impossible.
Reaching Readers in the 21st Century (Jeff Norton, author)
I bumped into Jeff in the toilets before he presented, not knowing who he was, but glad that I wasn’t the only one who had turned up in a nerdy t-shirt. We shared a comment about the lack of men at these events… may well be the subject of a future blog !
Jeff is a charisma bomb in Canadian packaging. (How exactly do you secure the rights to manage all of the Enid Blyton books… without even knowing who she was??) He was effortlessly engaging, as well as giving some good advice on reaching readers.
1 – Fish Where The Fish Are – where is your audience? Find them, serve them: go to them. Eg schools, libraries, wattpad.com (described as youtube for storytelling)
2 – Don’t be too distracted by digital. Be aware of push vs pull. Push is the broadcasting of messages, marketing etc, while pull is building an audience and a platform. More pull, less push!
3 – Entertain. Your job is to be an entertainer, so do that!
4 – Embrace failure. Jeff gave the example of the baseball star Ty Cobb, who is in the Hall of Fame for his batting average of .366 . His sole job was to hit the ball. This means that he failed in this one task 63.4% of the time!
(Note also that Pixar makes and re-makes each film 7 times before it reaches the cinemas, refining through staff feedback and input)
5 – Collaborate. Quoting what he describes as the 20th century’s greatest poet (Vanilla Ice), Jeff advised us to Stop. Collaborate. And Listen.
Writing can be a lonely business, so collaborate your creativity.
Overall, this was a great event, perfectly pitched for where I am in what I hope will be my writing career. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to stay after and network (in reality, loitering by the cake table and hoping someone would take pity on me and start a conversation), so I’m hoping that social media can do what my own personal social limitations didn’t quite achieve!
Now, wonder if there’s any more of that chocolate orange vodka about…