Tag Archive | Amazon


When Grandma’s Poetry Book was published by Matador in November, I must have been the greenest, most self-absorbed, self-published author on the planet. So I had a website www.dicastle.co.uk and my book was listed on the Troubador site. I had paid for basic marketing packages on both paperback and ebook and I just thought …..

It would all happen …………..

Ha ha, big joke. Briefly, I mused how much better it would have been if I could have secured an agent or a publisher. Then it would have been so easy. They would have done it all wouldn’t they?

Well …. actually no, that is not the case. Even mainstream traditional publishing houses cannot give close attention to every book they publish and it is up to authors to do their own promotion and to ‘get out there’ and sell books.

So there I am last October with some books delivered to me and some waiting in the publisher’s warehouse. I have a website and I do twitter much to the amazement, scepticism even abject horror of my friends. I actually have about 150 followers at the time but I don’t understand hashtags, other author posts with weird abbreviations and I have never seen a DM – isn’t that something to do with being tied up? Well I had some when I was hacked about two years before. To my horror ‘porn’ messages purportedly from me went to my followers but thanks to posting an apology and explanation, several twitter acquaintances helped me out. Change your password, ignore it, get on with life. Yay, thanks all!

In October 2014 I do have a Facebook page with about 100 friends and a writer page with about thirty likes. I have tried getting on LinkedIn without success. I think I am quite a wily bird until I look at the number of followers some authors have – whaaaaat! How do they do that?

I am fortunate that staff at Matador patiently answer all my newbie questions and provide advice about how to increase likes on my writer page and how to get more followers. They tweet my website when it is launched and tell me that if I put @matadorbooks in my tweets they will RT. What is an RT? No, I don’t really understand retweets either and it is some time before I link RT to this.

I begin tweeting, and finding people to follow and my list of followers begins to grow – slowly, very very slowly that I could easily fall asleep at my computer. I follow everything! Regardless.  A few days pass. Suddenly Twitter stops me following anyone. No reason given. Ugh.

Then I remember 2012 at Winchester Writers’ conference when I attended a workshop run by Sally Tickner http://www.sallytickner.co.uk/workshops.html . I had been in contact soon after. I resume contact and she looks at my twitter page. I can only guess at her initial reaction. I suspect she may, in her next workshop, use me as an example of the dumbest way to use Twitter.  I am following too many people. I need to prune my following and up my followers, produce good content and interact with potential readers. So I trawl my tweets and unfollow all those I deem unnecessary. Oh all those holiday places, tourist offices, publishers, famous authors, actors, Jonathan Ross, Stephen Fry!! Hoards of accounts which are NEVER going to follow back. A daily trawl takes time. There are about ten accounts connected to the Edinburgh Festival, several for the Lake District, more for the Peak District and anything to do with Swanage doh. I am also following several accounts connected to the Deaf community. I AM passionate about raising deaf awareness but in October I wanted to get people to buy my Grandma’s Poetry Book. I need to get followers who may spread the word, read the book or buy for a relative. Sally gives me a link to justunfollow.com which tells you who is not following you back. I spend evenings tweeting some, pleading ‘pls follow back’ followed by a link to my website. Much later, I learn it is important to provide the link to the BUY page on the site. Keep learning. Gradually my following numbers drop. Good thing as Twitter stopped me following new people once I was up to 2001. I have to get more followers before I can add. So shed a few and add a few.

I am now in twitter fog, my head spinning, my rear end stiff from sitting on my chair. I dream about the @ symbol. I haven’t found notifications. I can’t find my way around my own twitter account let alone someone else’s. Whatever happened to writing? I haven’t written anything for weeks. My blog is about to die. But I want to sell books. Ha! I read that to sell books I should write a second as quickly as possible. I have millions of words on my computer in various manuscripts, drafts and redrafts. But I have lost the will to live where writing is concerned. Actually I have a severe case of Writer’s Block. My life is consumed by Twitter.

Training. I need training. I put myself on any available social media course. A morning here, a full day there. I learn what social media means and write snippets in my notebook which might be useful. Good for networking and handing out my author cards if nothing else. I learn about interaction!  Hmm. I read blogs about spreading the word and using social media. I read advice that I should start conversations but I am not quite sure how to do it. There is a reply button, yes? Where? One of my followers on twitter begins a conversation about my book and Amazon. Interesting but what do I do about it?

Ah the Purbeck Literary Festival, February 2015; an opportunity for a morning course in the hotel a few doors up the road from where I live in Swanage. I sit numbed and braindead. I don’t understand this Twitter stuff and what is ‘Call to Action’? Oh that’s on Facebook, But the speaker Andrew Knowles begins to get through my fog and his wife explains about scheduling tweets on sites such as https://hootsuite.com/. I leave with her words ringing in my ears that one should not write a blog and tweet it only once. Waaaa that is what I’ve been doing since 2012 when I began blogging. Tweeting it once and getting a couple of likes and one follower if I’m lucky.

Scheduling? It means you can go on holiday and your Twitter feed still churns out tweets as if you are at home. Good for keeping burglars at bay if nothing else. It takes a while to get my head round Hootsuite but boy when I get going there is no stopping me. The same tweet at different times of the day, over the next week or ten days, change it slightly and re-schedule. It is such fun! I slow down when one of my much pasted tweets has an incorrect link – typo! I have to work through the schedule and delete but not before the wrong link has been retweeted to some 100K twerps. Ugh.

Andrew also teaches us Twitter etiquette. Do this or get unfollowed! Do that and get more followers. I begin slowly with a Thank you for following message that I paste into tweets of new followers. It includes reference to Grandma’s Poetry Book and gives my website.

Marketing at Matador suggest asking on twitter for people to LIKE my FB page so I try it. Twenty identical tweets sent at different times. Change the hashtags – yes I do understand them now – and do it all again.  I join a few author forums and friend a few authors. Some have twitter handles (yes I am getting the language now) and I tweet them. They begin to retweet my tweets about my book. I search local organisations, organisations of which I am a member and follow.

Sudden inspiration! An IDEA! If I can follow mothers with babies I might be able to persuade them to buy the book as a present for the grandparents. I now add Ideal gift to my Thank you tweet and I find they are favouriting my tweets as well as retweeting. What’s favouriting you ask. I don’t know. Perhaps so they can find it again? Yes!  I trawl my Facebook friends list as I have been friended by a few people who might spread the word. I message a baby photographer who puts a post and a link to my website on her Facebook page. She has 1600 likes!

Then the realisation that everyone who likes a page gets an update. So her post is reaching out to new parents and new grandparents who may also like the page. She herself buys two books from Amazon for the two grandparents for Christmas and puts glowing comments on her page. She reads them before gifting them. She puts a review on Amazon. I am getting there. I AM finding my readers.

In Part 2 of Finding Your Readers I will own up to getting rather pushy and cheeky and the fantastic results I had. And those hashtags! Great fun!

Grandma’s Poetry Book was published by Matador in November 2014. There are 16 4 and 5 * reviews on Amazon. A nostalgic memoir of a first-time grandmother’s sometimes wobbly journey with laugh out loud illustrations by Denise Horn.

What’s In A Name?

This morning on Woman’s Hour there was a lively discussion with 71-year old Virginia Ironside, grandmother of two and author of “Yes! I Can Manage Thank You!” and Helen McCarthy, historian of modern Britain at Queen Mary University of London debate how the role of grandmas has changed over the past 100-years.

One aspect was what grandmothers should be called which reminded me of the poem in Grandma’s Poetry Book (page 54) What’s In A Name.

I thought I should share this with you below.

 First, note that Grandma’s Poetry Book is available from the author, the illustrator and Troubador Publishing. It can be ordered via independent bookshops and already sits on the shelves of THREE Dorset bookshops. Bookshops are preferable to Amazon but if you really have to …… hmm It will soon be on the shelves of Dorset National Trust shops. Many readers are returning to buy more books (two or even three – one bought five for friends’ Christmas presents!) Today, 10 April, one reader bought a second book from the illustrator as her mother-in-law liked it so much she wanted one to send to South Africa.

What’s In A Name?

Nannies go by many names.

Some families sport a few.

They’re either, Nanny, Gran or Nan

Or Grandma, ‘Her’ or ‘You’.

I am known as Nanny Wo Wo.

I’m the one who has a dog.

But if I lived in Holland

I might be Nanny Clog.

So glad I’ve given up the smoke

So I can’t be Nanny Fags.

Must temper shopping habit

Or I might be Nanny Bags.

I’ve had to stop the whiskey,

So I can’t be Nanny Booze.

I’m down to only twenty pairs,

So I can’t be Nanny Shoes.

How well I do remember

My little shrunken Nan.

To us she was Small Grandma

The other one was Gran.

Grandad may be Pops or Gramps

But who cares what you’re called?

When you’ve had the chance to be a bear

And round the garden crawled!

Grandma’s Poetry Book was published in November 2014.

My Bookshelf

I always have been mad on books. I was that glutton for punishment who made the Book Clubs so rich. I was never quick enough or alert enough to tick the box for ‘no books next month’ and had never read the small print which said you had agreed to buy x £ worth of books in the first year of membership. So I have some strange books on my bookshelf from those years.
After that I discovered I had produced in one of my daughters the ability to become a Marketing Manager for a leading publisher. I lost sleep excited prior to birthdays and Christmas knowing there would be a carrier bag full of books from the pulp shelf. Her choices were good. She knew me well. Sometimes when browsing my shelves I note a book and cannot remember how it came into my possession but, when I read the name of the publisher, all is clear.
Charity shops are another weakness of mine and so, on my shelves, I have numerous books waiting to be read. Sometimes I reorganise my shelves into Have Read/Must read/Give away and other futile headings.
When I joined a reading group I thought this would limit my addiction to buying books but the opposite was the case. If I really enjoyed a book, I was overcome with the desire to ‘own’ it and would make for the Amazon website to buy my own copy.
My love of books is recognised by my family who present me with many requests each year. They sit on my coffee table waiting to be devoured alongside my coffee – or stronger.
When I started writing ‘Deaf – not Daft’ a novel about two siblings in the 1950s (one deaf and the other hearing) I began collecting books about the Deaf and deafness.

All this on top of my over-zealous borrowing behaviour in my local library. We are fortunate to have kept ours as my seaside town is home to many retired people who make full use of its facility. It was definitely a case of ‘We used it and didn’t lose it’.

Writing my memoir brought on the purchase of books about my birthplace, books on how to write, books telling me how to write my life story and Chronologies of the 20th century. Half of these have not been read, although there are postits in various sections suggesting that I have referred to their inner depths from time to time. No doubt some wisdom sits deep in my sub-conscious awaiting later inspiration.
Another weakness in my pursuit of book ownership is attending writers’ conferences and author talks (again at our library and further afield) where the temptation to own a ‘signed copy’ is too tempting for words (all 80,000 plus of them).

Now, I have made a mid March resolution to weed out some of the lesser varieties of books from my shelves: those I reckon I will never read and, believe me, there are some that leave me gobsmacked. Why ever did I buy this? Moron! It must have seemed pertinent at the time but, as with all things, we move on and I harbour fleeting thoughts of greed and hoarding which lead me to bag up the unwanted and drop them off at the local charity shop in the hope that they may find a more appreciative home.
And that all leaves space for more …………… books.

Read about other bookshelves. This blog was inspired by Louise Gibney. Read her blog on http://www.misswrite.co.uk