Peter Jones – Author & Public Speaker

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How I Use Social Media As An #Author

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A while back I was interviewed for a forthcoming book on social media, and how I use it as a ‘wrangler of words’, selling my wares. Here’s my version of what went down.

What are the main forms of social media you use in your work as a writer?
Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, & various blogs.

What do you get out of using Youtube (any specific examples)? Why do you think that’s worth doing as well as a blog?

I started using YouTube because I was getting more and more radio interviews and needed some way of being able to put the audio on the web for people to find. I’ve found radio interviews on their own are pretty ineffectual. No one is listening. Or at least, no one is listening AND in a position to do anything about whatever it is you’re promoting – they’re either driving, or working, or on a rooftop somewhere. Regardless of how charismatic you are, once the interview’s over – you’re forgotten! And it doesn’t matter how big the radio station is (I’ve been on Radio Two and the World Service) or how long you’re on air (I have a monthly self-help slot on a local radio station) – it’s still ineffectual.

BUT, put that interview on the web, where people can find it, listen to it, and get to your book within a click or two, and then that interview is definitely worth doing.

I like YouTube because (once I’ve converted the audio into a video) it’s easy to manage, and that YouTube video can be embedded into a blog post, or a Facebook post, really really easily. And people like YouTube. They’re familiar with that big red play button. They’re more likely to click that than read what looks like a lot of words. Of all the posts on my blog, the audio posts are the most popular.

What have you personally gained as a writer through using social media? (skills, work, case studies etc)

I’d like to say ‘sales’… but I don’t think that’s entirely true, and it’s extremely difficult to measure. All the stats I collect suggest that my social media activities are probably only responsible for 20% of my book sales. If that. What social media has given me is…

  1. A way to interact with my existing readers – which is both fun, and presumably increases the likelihood that they’ll buy the next book, or recommend me to a friend.
  2. Office banter – the life of a full time author is a lonely one. Twitter and Facebook take the place of work colleagues. Who needs another cuppa?
  3. Networking – I’ve met some very useful people via social media. The author Keris Stainton was really helpful back when I was starting out. I found Alison my proof reader. I met and became great pals with Jamie Anderson (son of the late great Gerry Anderson). All have played a part in the production of the five books I’ve written so far. And the list goes on and on.

Which apps or tools do you find most useful to help you manage your social media?

Hootsuite is a life-saver. For me it makes sense of twitter, and makes it easier to manage. I’m not sure it’s worth paying for the full version (I did try it for a month but the extra functionality wasn’t worth the money).

I use goodness knows how many wordpress plug-ins to automatically tweet posts, or insert my twitter feeds on the side of my blogs.

Facebook is getting easier to manage now that you can schedule posts, and they have dedicated iPad apps for the various facets of the site.

What advice would you give to a writer who’s just started dipping a toe into the world of social media and isn’t sure what they’re meant to be doing?

If you’re unpublished forget about using social media to plug yourself and your (unwritten) works – you’re not at that stage yet. But do use it as a networking platform to schmooze with other writers, and to make contacts.

If you are published dismiss immediately the notion of creating a Facebook fan page for you the author. Only 1% of the people who ‘like’ that page will see your posts, and even less will interact with it or do anything useful (…unless you’re willing to pay Facebook to ‘boost’ a post of course, but honestly, that doesn’t make financial sense).

Instead, use your Facebook profile as your author platform. What do you mean you want to keep some posts for friends and family only? Why?? What on earth are you saying to them that you can’t tell the world? Stop that immediately.

Above all, published or unpublished, remember that it’s SOCIAL media. Not SELLING media. So be social. Say something funny or interesting. Keep your promo activity to a minimum, and find new, interesting ways to plug stuff.


Social Media For Writers by Joanne Mallon is now available, in print and as an ebook.

 

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Things That Matter : Guest Post by Della Galton

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ice-drop-shadowAuthor Della Galton explains why she’s drawn to write about controversial subjects, and shares the motivation behind her latest novel ‘Ice and a Slice’

I’ve often wondered how we choose what we write. Do we choose to write short stories or novels because we love them, or do we just drift into the form? And what about the subject matter? Why do we choose that?

The first short story I ever had published was called Second Chance, and it was published in a teenage confession magazine called Loving (I wish that magazine was still around, it was excellent).

Second Chance was set in a doctor’s surgery, and it was all about a teenager who was planning to have a termination – blimey, I don’t think I’d sell that story now – it’s quite a controversial issue, even today. But then I’ve always liked writing about controversial issues. I don’t have a copy of Second Chance any more but I can remember the last line, which went something like this:

Throughout her life she would give her baby many second chances, but none of them would be as important as the one she was giving him now…

The first novel I ever wrote was called Prisoners. It was about a woman who works in a pet shop and falls in love with someone she shouldn’t (her married boss). There are a few animal characters and they have a few nights out (the people, not the animals) and in the end the couple get it together.

If this sounds like an immense muddle, then that’s because it was. I’d had four or five short stories published when I wrote Prisoners. I thought writing a novel was simply a matter of writing 70,000 words.

Moving swiftly on, my first published novel, Passing Shadows, was about a woman who works in an animal sanctuary and falls in love with someone she shouldn’t (the father of her best friend’s child.) There are a few animal characters and they have a few nights out (the people, not the animals) and in the end the couple get it together.

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? So why did this novel work and Prisoners not work? Well, partly because I knew a bit more about what I was doing. I was passionate about the main characters, Maggie and Finn. Also, this novel had some strong themes, friendship and betrayal being two of them.

Ice and a SliceMy latest novel, Ice and a Slice, also has some strong themes. It’s about friendship, beating the odds, and love.

It’s also about alcoholism, which is a theme I’ve explored in short stories too, but I wanted to take it further and the only way to do this was to write a novel.

The main character in Ice and a Slice, is called SJ, and she drinks too much – although she would argue until she was blue in the face about that! And if you don’t believe me, then do check out her Facebook page here or her Twitter account here, where she is surprisingly active!

So, why did I write about alcoholism? Well, as I said earlier I’m big on issues. I like writing about things that matter, and alcoholism is a subject very close to my heart. Many of my family suffer from it. Some of them are in recovery and some of them are not. And some have died needless premature deaths.

An alcoholic is not someone, as I once thought, who drinks meths on a park bench. Alcoholism is not a moral issue for weak minded people – it’s a disease that can affect anyone – it can strike doctors, lawyers, teachers, plumbers, vicars, secretaries, taxi drivers, anyone. It’s a disease of our time.

So, yes I feel passionate about alcoholism and that’s why I wrote Ice and a Slice. SJ – or Sarah-Jane Crosse to give her full name – is deeply flawed, but I love her to bits. I think she’s probably the most three dimensional character I’ve ever created. Hence, she has her own social media pages. Do check them out.

You’ll have more luck getting a sensible answer from her when she’s sober – so mornings are good!

And if you like what you see, do take a look at Ice and a Slice too – you can read a free sample or buy it for less than a glass of Chardonnay 🙂

Thanks for reading.

Della Galton x


Della Galton is a freelance writer and tutor. She is best known for her short stories, and sells in the region of 80 short stories a year to magazines both in the UK and abroad. She is a popular speaker at writing conventions around the UK and is also the agony aunt for Writers’ Forum. Her third full length novel Ice and a Slice’ is currently available for all kindle enabled smart phones and e-readers from amazon (.co.uk | .com) and will be available in paperback shortly.

To find out more about Della Galton visit her website, LIKE her facebook page or follow her on Twitter.

Social Meeja

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I’ve become a big fan of social media these past few months. Yes it’s very distracting. Yes it’ll eat up every single spare moment you have (if you let it). But as someone who works from home, it’s also become a great way of keeping in touch with people. Where as once I had ‘colleagues’ now I have facebook friends, and twitter pals.

I mention this merely because every now and then I get a message from someone asking me (in the nicest possible way) to blog more – and whilst I enjoy blogging, if you’re really chomping at the bit for some daily Jones-flavoured interaction, you’ll find plenty over at a social media site of your choosing. Here’s a quick round-up of where you can find me and my daily musings.

Facebook.

You can find me personally at www.facebook.com/peterjonesauthor – where I chuck out the occasional pearl of wisdom (or more likely a nugget of nonsense) about this writing life. I usually only ‘friend’ people I’ve actually met, but anyone can subscribe to my public updates or send me a message.

Alternatively, if you want to read and discuss ideas raised in How To Do Everything and Be Happy, you’ll find the book’s facebook page at www.facebook.com/howtodoeverythingandbehappy. Six hundred and something hard core readers such as yourself hang out there. Feel free to post your thoughts or comments on the page, as well as pictures of Book Shops or your Trophy Board.

Twitter

It’s taken me a while to become one with the whole twitterati. In many ways I still feel like someone who moved into a village ten years ago and is waiting to be accepted by the community at large. But the upside of this is that I’ll talk to virtually anyone who so much as glances in my direction. Don’t be shy. Feel free to tweet at me as much as you like.

I’m @peterjonesauth, whereas the book is @doitallbehappy. Follow either or both.

Instagram (and other sites)

I’m currently experimenting with Instagram. It’s fun.  I’m not sure you’ll ever see anything of any ground breaking significance (and it’s probably worth mentioning that every photo I post also appears on facebook and twitter), but if enjoy the occasional picture of hats and lollypops it could be right up your street. http://instagram.com/peterjonesauthor

You’ll also find me on pinterest, though I’m struggling to see the point (Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are pretty pointless too, but in a much better way). Feel free to look me up if you really want to. I’m peterjonesauthor (I think).

The wisdom of Jamie Anderson

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jamie-anderson

One of the best things about being an author – if not the best thing – is the opportunity I’ve had to meet my readers, many of whom have interesting ideas, fabulous suggestions, or extraordinary tales of their own to share.

Take for example, this week (or last week when you get to read this). Reader Jamie Anderson popped by How To Do Everything and Be Happy‘s facebook page to “LIKE it“, having just finished listening to the audio book. I got an email telling me he’d done so and moments later I found myself admiring his “cover photo” (all of which will mean something if you happen to use facebook). Anyway, we struck up a conversation, and a while later Jamie dropped me an email to tell me why the image meant so much to him.

Here’s part the email I received:

About 4 years ago I was running a company I had set up 3 years previously doing something I was good at but didn’t really love. Suddenly one night I was struck ill, and ended up in hospital. The doctors told me I most likely had an autoimmune condition and that my life was about to change forever. I lay in my hospital bed reading pamphlets they had given me about how my life was about to change. I downloaded Audible on my phone and purchase Michael Heppell’s “Flip It” book, which helped me look at this potential nightmare in a different way.

Anyway, I was discharged and went home with my huge basket of new drugs to deal with this condition.

I sat down, and started to list all the things that I wanted to do. All the things I wanted to change. All the things I wanted to try before this condition got the better of me. “Fly a helicopter”, “buy a stupid red American 80s sports car”, “Try rock climbing”, “travel to…”, “Get out of this company I hate”. You get the idea.

6 hours later, I got a frantic answerphone message from the doctor whose care I had been in. “Please call us back urgently Mr Anderson, we need you to come back in”. I feared the worst. Had the biopsies shown cancerous growths? Could this get any worse?!

I headed back to the hospital, and met with the anxious Doctor. “Mr Anderson, I’m sorry, we have made a big mistake”. “Oh God… it’s cancer isn’t it” I thought.

“You don’t have this autoimmune condition at all!” She said. “It’s a simple bacterial infection that has caused all of this, and we can clear it up in 7-10 days with these pills”. She thrust some new pills into my right hand, and took the bag of pills from my left hand.

It had all been a terrible mistake, and after about 1 month I was fully recovered. But it made me think how fragile life is and how quickly it can change. If that’s the case then what the hell was I doing living a life I didn’t love, doing things I hated every day, and not doing the things I really wanted to do!?

Well, it took me another 18 months to close that business, and it was horrible. But the result is that I’m now happier! I’ve flown a plane (not a helicopter yet), done several sessions of rock climbing, and bought (and sadly sold) a burgundy 1987 Pontiac Fiero. My God, I loved that car. I want to get another one. I will get another one. I own a 1988 Pontiac Fiero – 20th December, 2012. See, I’ve read the book! I’m now a self-help junkie, and your book is one of my top 10 (out of the 150 or so I have read so far).

Anyway, my cover image on my Facebook page came about as follows: I thought long and hard about who best to ask about how to live life well and make the most out of every day. I realized that the dying (those who knew they had 1-4 weeks to live) would be the best people to ask. It’s amazing how that sort of news can suddenly make you very wise and bring incredible clarity to what you think about life. The same week, I found an article about a nurse who had asked the dying their main regrets.

They were:

1. I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me.

2. I wish I hadn’t worked so hard.

3. I wish I’d had the courage to express my feelings.

4. I wish I had stayed in touch with my friends.

5. I wish that I had let myself be happier.

These were so striking, I kept reading them every day, but they weren’t very powerful written in that way. I then read a related article where someone had turned them into commandments, and another had created the image you’ve shared.

It’s not perfect (the don’ts are a problem), so it’s on my list to remake the image with more powerful affirmations. But my feeling is that if you follow these affirmations in life you can’t go too far wrong.

What an amazing story, eh? And I have to say I couldn’t agree more! Thanks for sharing your story Jamie – here’s hoping you get to fly that helicopter soon.

If you have a tale to tell, drop me a line via this blog or on facebook. I’d love to hear from you.


The above image is a lot bigger than seen here and would make a fabulous computer wallpaper. Right click to save to your computer.

Find out more about How To Do Everything and Be Happy here.

How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim

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I’m back! Did you miss me? What d’you mean you hadn’t realised that I’ve been away. Tch! Typical.

The truth is I’ve been working on a number of things – so many things that at times it’s been hard to see the spinning plates for all the broken crockery – but finally, after many weeks, a couple of these projects are coming to fruition, and I’d rather like to tell you about them.

Firstly I’m just finishing up my NEXT book. If you’ve been paying attention you’ll remember that back in February I mentioned that I was negotiating a three book deal. The second edition of How To Do Everything and Be Happy is the first book in that deal, and I’m pleased to announce (officially) that How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim will be the second.

How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim isn’t a diet book. Not in the traditional sense. It’s a book packed full of thought provoking, scientifically-provable, ideas and changes you can make to your life to increase your chances of being slim.

It’s a mixture of hard science (eg. how hunger really works), quick ‘cheats’ (eg. how to make zero fat chips), psychological techniques (eg. why focusing on your food as you eat is really important), ingenious strategies (eg. how to cut down on sugar without going cold turkey), and easy peasy recipes (eg. my roast potato & egg smashup breakfast or my co-author’s apple ginger clafouti) – all wrapped up in an easy-to-digest, humourous read from authors who’ve been where you are now.

Yes that’s right. Authors. Plural.

I’m co-writing the book with author, teacher, editor, dog-whisperer, regular contributor to Writers’ Forum magazine and slimming guru, Della Galton. Della has had about a thousand short stories published in various magazines over the last twenty years (I’m not exaggerating – 1,000 short stories) as well as goodness knows how many books (every time I think I know about all of them she casually mentions another published under a different name, or by a different publisher, or in large print only, or on Mars). It’s a little daunting writing along side a real author. Obviously I’m a real author too, but she’s, well, you know, MORE real.

Good grief. Another book by Della Galton.Actually, whilst we’re talking about Della I might as well mention that today is her twenty eighth birthday (hang on, doesn’t that mean that she was first published when she was… hmmmm..) And, just to prove my earlier point, it coincides with the release of a short story anthology series, ‘Daily Della‘ – bite sized chunks of fiction ideal for your daily coffee break.

But less about Della. She’s got her own blog. Back to me.

How To Eat Loads and Stay Slim will be available in paperback, for all amazon Kindle-reader enabled devices (such as that smart phone you’re reading this on), and – wait for it – audio! (from audible.co.uk) – soon. To be notified exactly when subscribe to this blog.

In the meantime, here’s to completing a few projects.

Fancy more of the same?

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secondedition

Oi! Pay attention!
This post has been ‘archived’  because things have moved on quite a bit since I wrote it.

To read something a tad more current, click here 

So how ya been? Sorry I haven’t been around but life’s been… interesting.

For starters, if you follow me on twitter or you’ve ‘liked’ the facebook page you’ll know that I’m in the process of striking a three book deal. And that’s about as much as I’m prepared to say on the subject right now because – being the superstitious sod that I am – I’m terrified that if I say much more it’ll jinx everything. That probably sounds very paranoid, and maybe it is, but consider this – just because you’re not paranoid doesn’t mean that they’re not out to get you! Hmmmm. Not feeling so smug now are we.

SO ANYWAY… what I will tell you is that one of the titles in the deal is my current book How To Do Everything and Be Happy. Yes, almost a year after it was first released in ebook form, the book that I wrote on a whim is going to be republished. And not just republished, but updated and revised! Since Christmas much of my time has been spent working on a second edition.

I’ve never written a second edition before. Heck, I’m still getting my head around the fact that I wrote the first edition (which, can I just point out, recently celebrated it’s 6,000th sale), I certainly never expected to be updating the thing less than a year after it first came out.

The plan is to release the revised version in ebook form as soon as I can, and follow it up with a print version in June-ish. The dates are a little flexible right now because of other secret reasons which I am bursting to tell you about.. but can’t (see second paragraph). There are also a couple of other ideas I’m toying with – for instance I’d like to be able to give a free electronic copy of the revised version to anyone who shelled out on the first edition (be that electronic or paper), and anyone who’s supported me in any way (my way of saying thank you to all those people who left nice reviews, posted a comment somewhere, came to a workshop or talk, or just told someone about it – the list goes on and on). Quite how I’m going to do that I’ve yet to work out but it might be a good idea to stay subscribed to either this blog (use the box in the top right hand corner), the book’s blog, the facebook page, my facebook profle, or follow me on twitter, to ensure you don’t miss out.

The second edition will contain plenty of new material – some of which has been suggested by readers. If you like to make a suggestion feel free to drop me a line, but there’ll be more about that in a day or two over at the How To Do Everything and be Happy website – but in the meantime here’s to an ‘interesting’ life.