Guest Speaker: Barb Drozdowich
Social Media and WordPress Consultant Barb Drozdowich has taught in colleges, universities and in the banking industry. More recently, she brings her 15+ years of teaching experience and a deep love of books to help authors develop the social media platform needed to succeed in today’s fast evolving publishing world. She delights in taking technical subjects and making them understandable by the average person. She owns Bakerview Consulting and manages the popular blog, Sugarbeat’s Books, where she talks about Romance novels. She is the author of 16 books, over 48 YouTube videos, an online Goodreads course and an online WordPress course, all focused on helping authors and bloggers. Barb lives in the mountains of British Columbia with her family.
Maria: Ladies and Gentlemen, hello, my name is Maria Dismondy and we are interviewing Barb Drozdowich, and I am a children’s book publisher. The company that I run is called Cardinal Rule Press and we are dedicated to publishing children’s books that empower individual children to have social tools so that when they are adults, they go into the world with a really great set of tools that they can handle different situations. I was in the industry for a decade and I had found that being an author is a fantastic wonderful thing, but in order to sell books as an author, you have to put in the work in marketing. So when I changed hats, when I switched hats over to being a publisher, I decided I was going to be a publisher who really shared my knowledge of marketing in the industry. I was going to share my knowledge, I was going to reach out to different experts and have them share their knowledge because marketing is key to selling books. The reason I say this is because in order for people to know that your book is out there, they have to have heard about your book.
Marketing can be done in a couple of different ways. It can be done in one way which is pretty salesy. One way for marketing is to sell, sell, sell and that to me doesn’t feel authentic. So, I believe in creative marketing and being a giver. I am very dedicated to reaching out and to sharing with creative marketing strategies so if you’re new to the series, I want you to go back. This might be our seventh or eighth interview. We have heard from people across creative marketing who have talked about public speaking, we’ve heard people talk about Instagram last week, it was all things Instagram. We have people talking about like, if you’re an author and you’re really hesitant to getting into marketing, how do begin, how do you start. That was an interview with Ben. We have had other interviews, so go ahead and go back and check out all those interviews.
I want to tell you a little bit about Barb. Barb is an author, she has written several books and her two newest books have just come out two weeks ago. If you’re interested in self publishing, Barb had a book come out on how to self publish. Barb is also dedicated to working with authors on how to manage social media and marketing.
I gave an introduction as to who you are. I talked about your new books that have come out but I would like you to finish up and tell us how you have started in this industry.
Barb: A whole bunch of years ago when I had little kids that napped and I didn’t have anything to do during the nap time, I decided to take my love of books and create a book blog, actually somebody challenged me to do that and I thought, how difficult can it be, I came from a background at teaching science and technical training so, this clearly this had to be an easy thing, and it wasn’t.
Now, technology has changed, this is back in about 2010, it was a bit different but it sort of gave this escape to talk about books and to share my thoughts on the books that I read. I read mostly romance and my husband just … you know, like he looks in the cover and … anyway, what I realized is there is a world out there that is interested in the things that I want to talk about. I started slowly, I gradually figured things out and I grew my book blog and was really interconnected with the book blogging world and people from every country just amazed me to find where my audience was.
Because I was quite technically ended up sort of fixing things, “can you do this, can you do that?”, and things that were quite straightforward to me were challenging for other people and then one day somebody said to me, I’m going to send you an author and you need to fix her website and you need to charge her, and I thought, well okay, I can do that I think. I could fix a website but it never occurred to me to charge people so that sort of started in on the different direction.
I’m quite good at explaining things, taking things that are complicated. I thought science, I can take complicated things, break them down into little pieces that are understandable and I like using non-technical terms, so we talked about the “thingy”. I don’t use technical terms. Most authors from my experience are highly creative. Way more creative than I can ever hope to be but they don’t really grasp the technical and so whereas they can create an awesome that I love to lose myself in, just the idea of dealing the technical sends them into hives.
The reality is, they can if they’re shown how to do things and if it’s broken down into bits and pieces so that it’s not nearly as intimidating anymore. Following along that vein, what I find is that a lot of authors will follow the instruction of somebody else usually somebody who is loud and acts like they know what they know what they’re talking about and do things that make out with no sense from a technical standpoint. If don’t know any better, they’re following instructions that have worked for somebody else yet various different explanations and so by getting hold of those authors and taking the information that they have, breaking it down, helping them understand what they’re doing, the effects of what they’re doing and the directions that they can move towards like, right in the direction of –.
Just on a very basic level the way you talk to a child is not the same way that you will talk to a senior. The way you communicate to different audiences, for different genres, different subject matter and one doesn’t apply to the rest.
Maria: I love to speak with you truly, you are truly making it so that authors could do what they need to do in a very calming subtle way so that they don’t feel overwhelmed.
Barb: Yes, and I think authors need to decide. My big thing is there’s 24 hours in a day. If there are 28, I could conquer the world but there aren’t 28 so we have to deal with 24. Out of those 24, writers have to write. They have to make meals likely, and get dressed and shower and associate with their family, walk the dog perhaps.
That doesn’t leave a lot of space and so you need to decide what you’re going to do with the time that is left and my big thing is make intelligent decisions and use time as wisely as possible. Don’t fritter away. Let’s say you have an hour a day to spend on marketing (I usually call it communicating with readers), with that hour, how are you going to spend that hour? And looking at the results, is it a logical use of your time? Most of the authors that I worked with or that I have seen trying various different things don’t truly understand how to analyze whether what they’re doing is having any effect whatsoever. They just keep following on what somebody else told them to do.
Maria: Can you give us a solid example? Whatever example you want to share with us but let’s go for a really solid example of what you mean by an author doing something, how can they analyze what they’re doing to then make changes for the better.
Barb: Let’s talk about posting on Twitter, using various tools that have tweets going out on measured space so there’s all these kind of tools that will allow you to do that.
A lot of the comments that I get are, there’s a number of things… “I need tweets to appear every, hour 24 hours a day because my audience will need to see it when log on. “ The second thing I get is… “The more that I tweet, the more likely it is to be found.”
One of the things that I try to help people understand with respect to Twitter is, just because the tweet goes out first of all, it doesn’t mean that it’s going to be seen. Even the people that try to look at the stats, on Facebook it’s called insight and settings on Twitter, there’s various different things that they have access to, they’ll say, I had 20,000 impressions today on my tweets. So an impression is that it just happened to be added to somebody’s timeline and they might have seen it. What I do is I take my phone and I say, picture a teenager, the phone in one hand, hip cocked and they’re doing this (swiping/scrolling the screen).
Maria: So that’s an impression whether they read it or not.
Barb: Yes, it flies by. So, the first clue to get from that is making sure your tweets are visibly attractive. Make sure there’s pin because the tweet there doesn’t necessarily mean that somebody actually saw it and interacted with it. So, we want people on Twitter to click on links, to re-tweet, to respond, to do whatever they can to show some sort of attachment, engagement.
Often, people get impressions mixed up with interaction because they’re both “I” words, so want people to interact with then or we want people to engage with them. The thing with Twitter is that they don’t very easily let us know if a tweet that says buy my book with and attractive picture and a link to Amazon was actually clicked on and if it was clicked on, if they bought the book. We’re not there yet. So what I try to encourage people to do is put it up with attractive information and talk to the readers.
One of the quotes that I really like is by Eli Fennell and it says “The key to social media is being social.” There’s another one by Pat Flynn and many people in the author world don’t know who Pat Flynn is but he’s a major blogger in the blogosphere and he has quote that says “Selling to people through social media is like going to a party, meeting someone for the first time, and then saying, ‘Hey do want to buy this Tupperware?’”
Maria: it’s like old school sales model which is, you don’t approach a cold client. You have to warm the client up, you have to nurture them and part of it on social media is what you’re saying is communicating, connecting, engaging with your audience, which I think is very important.
So, on Twitter, that would be your suggestion, is to go in and to look at not just the impressions but you’re actually looking at the interactions.
Barb: I think that what I often suggest is look at what is happening with all the tweets you send out. What people don’t realize is that Twitter is a giant search engine, so by adding a hashtag, that makes your tweet a searchable item. So, somebody goes on to Twitter and says, ‘I want to find out about historical romance’ which is what I read. So they would search #historicalromance or they could search #historical romance. That’s how a reader would look. Not that I necessarily think that a reader looks for their next read on Twitter, however, they could find more information about historical romance.
Maria: And it’s not hard to add hashtags. There even free tools that you use that will help you generate hashtags. So putting the hashtags on are going to help you.
If your clients are spending maybe once a week taking a look at the insights, the analytics on their Twitter, on their Facebook, on their Instagram, then the following week, what you want them to do is, ‘okay, well, my engagement, my interactions went down’, what changes can I make in the next week so I’m actually connecting with my readers a little bit more?
You might want to look to see on Twitter if you have a post with picture is being engaged with a little bit more than a regular tweet or a tweet within a link is being engaged more than regular tweet, and then replicate what’s working. Correct?
Barb: Exactly and my attitude towards social media is to engage with readers to inform to them, to share information with them. You can do that in a variety of different ways. You can do things like cut quote from a review on a graphic with the cover of your book and share it without a link. Because one of the things that we ran into on Twitter, not really Facebook, but Twitter is there are rules that we have to abide by so if you put all of your Tweets out with links then you’re breaking one of Twitter’s rules and they’ll object to that.
The other thing that I suggest is that you encourage people to go platforms you have more control over. For example, if you want to share information about a book that’s on sale, people are capable of buying books. We’ve all done it.So if a person sees a book that they’re interested in, you don’t necessarily have to offer them a direct link to the book. You can put in the graphic that it’s available on Amazon. They’ll figure it out, we write books everyday.
You want to send people in the direction of platforms you have more control over. To give an example, if I would look at statistics, let’s take for example, a friend of mine that has a really, really solid social media platform, she’s very active on Twitter, very active on Facebook, very active on Instagram. If I’d look at the engagement across various things that have been put in place over the space of a week, and I actually did this since she had 67 engagements over a week. There is a lot of information that went out and there are a lot of impressions but that was the engagement. When I look at the stats on her blog, she had over 800 hits on her blog. So, if we go back to that hour, if all you have to spend is an hour, why are you spending it on Twitter? Why not take that hour and spend a little bit of time on Twitter and focus more on platforms where the numbers tell you that there is more engagement or more traffic?
If we look at another example, if you send out a newsletter, you should have an open rate somewhere in the range of about 50 to 60%. If you send out a newsletter to a hundred people and 60 opened, that’s60 results. That’s 60 engagements or interactions, that’s more than you’re getting on Twitter, that’s more than you’re getting on Facebook, and that’s more than you’re getting on Instagram. Not that you should not be on the various social media but perhaps look at tools and automate your time on social media so that the amount of time that you’re spending on social media is perhaps 10 minutes and the amount of time you’re spending on perhaps a blog or a newsletter is 50 minutes, so that you’re making your time more proportional. You’re not spending large amounts of time on stuff that gets you nothing. You’re automating the stuff that for the most part gets you nothing and you’re spending your time on something that gets you something. Does that make sense?
Maria: Fantastic. I like how you brought in numbers because I like the numbers that really compare things. So Barb, do you take on clients currently, do you take on authors now?
Barb: Yes, I do, in bits and pieces. Often, I focus on two ends. I focus on the beginners to get them started and help them understand where an audience is, how they interact with an audience, how to automate various things, how to set up and move forward.
I also like working with the experienced authors on strategy, sort of manipulating an Amazon for lack of a better description. How do you take what you have and apply it to Amazon ads, how do you change the blurb, how do add categories, those sorts of thing, because there’s different levels of challenge for myself.
Maria: Fantastic. I know a lot of people who we get a lot on the replays so a lot of people will be tuning in thinking, ‘I want her to do that for me.’
Barb: One of the things that I don’t do is I don’t do the social media; what I do is I teach a lot of the tools. I blogged about a lot of the various tools. There are huge amount of tools that better, quite straightforward to use. How people understand why you want subscribers to a newsletter, why you want subscribers to a blog, how to grow the blog audience.
And also, my big thing is understand what genre you’re writing, where your audience is, where it is or isn’t on social media. I mean, as you said, you had somebody on talking about Instagram and Instagram is huge with the younger set. I have a 15-year old that has surgically implanted Instagram into her hip, I think. Her life would cease and she’s very, very responsive to anything that comes across Instagram. Contests, giveaways, all these sorts of information, but, that is not the audience of everyone.
Maria: For my other platform, for my writing platform, I write children’s books, write it in a pass before publishing and I spend a lot of time in Instagram because that’s where educators are and that’s who I’m connecting with.
Barb, this has been amazing. I want to try to keep to our time to respect everyone’s time but you are wealth of knowledge and I actually want to send people over to your blog as well because it sounds like you have a lot of content there that would be helpful to others. If you wouldn’t mind, after we sign off, maybe putting a link to your blog in the comments below. That would be super helpful.
I thank you for being a supporter of authors and for being a voice of reasons so that we’re not wasting our time because like you said, there are 24 hours in a day and if you have 1 to spend, let’s do it wisely, where should you be, what should you be doing.
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My name is Maria Dismondy. I am a children’s book author who also founded the publishing company, Cardinal Rule Press.
Finding ways to market my messages is a passion of mine. I want to help you gain greater recognition of your brand, to generate new readers and improve your sales. Why? Because I love to GIVE and CONNECT and I truly believe we are all in this together!