Thursday 8 December 2016

The Wheelchair Adventure: a story by non-verbal kids with a lot to say

The Wheelchair Adventure by Emma, Lachlan, Michael & Sam. "One perfectly ordinary day, four friends arrive at school and are transported on an amazing, extra-ordinary trip to all their favourite places, doing what they love to do best. Where will they turn up next on their wheelchair adventure?" A picture book created by the non-verbal, visually impaired students themselves by using auditory partner assisted scanning with their communication books during a series of interactive lessons with me. Working with Sam, Lachlan, Michael and Emma on this book has truly been one of the most rewarding experiences of my publishing career. To see how generous and patient they were with me and how much fun they had being listened to, as well as having Wally Lewis come to the book was the highlight of their school year.

Narbethong State Special School most graciously allowed me to be the author in residence in 2016. I got the opportunity to work with all the students in the school, with various levels of visual, mental and communicative impairment and design an author program that would most suit their needs and be of the most benefit to their current curriculum. Not to mention, it was so much fun. Copies of The Wheelchair Adventure are now available by request from me in Braille and all proceeds go back to the school to assist with their fundraising.

You can see what fun we had at the book launch by following this link:
I would like to offer my services for 2017 to do any author visits to your special school with storytelling to the younger grades and possibly work with the older students on making their own published picture book. If the students write and create a picture book, it can be used for fundraising for the school with all proceeds of sales forwarded directly to them. The kids have a great time too and are able to call themselves published authors.

A huge thanks to my team who make it all possible. Giuseppe Poli for the illustrations and Julieann Wallace from Lilly Pilly Publishing for making the magic happen of turning words and pictures into a published book. Can't wait to give more children a chance to have their voices heard in 2017.

The Wheelchair Adventure is available now.

Tuesday 22 November 2016

Social Media Marketing and Purpose

This resonates with me on so many levels. First of all, as an author, you have to work. Nothing comes easy in this life and your passion must be proportionate to the size of your goal. I am not afraid of hard work. Secondly, keep working until you make it happen. It might be a long hard slog and there will be times you want to give up, but your tenacity must be stronger than your self-doubt.

Social media helps me reach people who I can't personally share my stories with. I am extremely grateful for the opportunity to reach people all over the world and inspire  kids of all abilities with my passion for books and the power of words. Social media is very much like all other types of technological advancements. Used the right way, it can bring great benefit and happiness to people but when taken advantage of for self serving purposes, it can be damaging on so many levels. Users need to take personal responsibility for how they use social media. Authors need to be aware of the ways to use it correctly to send their message globally.

Finally, to be known as an expert in your field. Some people may mistake my goal of brand recognition as vanity or showmanship but I can't help people if they don't know who I am. I can't share my story with them, inspire them or make a difference in this world. I can promise you that as long as I see a need, I will try and fill it. It is my duty, not only to myself, but to my children and my community to increase the greater good. This year, I will work hard so that when people hear my name, they will smile

Monday 21 November 2016

Goal Setting for Authors

Where are you now in your career as an author?
Outline your top 3 strengths and areas to determine where you are now.
Top 3 strengths:
Top 3 areas for development:
What drives you?

What are you passionate about?

What gives you that ‘whoo hoo’ moment during the day?
On the flip side, what do you want to avoid?

What’s the part about what you do that makes you not want to get out of bed in the morning?
Focus on ensuring:
  • Development goals are aligned to organisational strategy and needs; whilst supporting career aspirations; that they are clear and measurable.
  • Development goals should build skills that directly impact your capability to enable increased performance.
  •  Learning experiences and formal learning activities (if appropriate) are explored to support the achievement of goals.
  • A timetable for completion of activities and milestones during the development year

A good author development plan:
  • Focuses on the development of a few skills, balances the need to develop both strengths and development areas that are tied to performance goals
  • Has concrete action steps
  • Sets gradual, realistic, and achievable success measures.

Join us for the Share your Story Goal Setting for Authors workshop in March 2017. Join our MeetUp Group to be notified of the next workshop in your area.

Friday 18 November 2016

Making the Most of an Author Facebook Fan Page

Creating a Facebook fan page is an amazing way to promote your book, build awareness for your message, gather support for your book launch, or to advertise in a number of other ways. Creating a Facebook Fan page helps in building a following in no time at all. 

1. Ask fans to post their reviews of your book on your Facebook page

When fans post on a Facebook fan page, they do it in the same way they would post on your personal profile, commenting by typing in the text boxes and pressing "Enter" to display their comment. You can then engage with fans by commenting on their posts, so they are seen by more than the people within your own following.

2. Target who sees your posts

The truly amazing thing about Facebook advertising is that you can target your demographic. This will impact the number of people who will see the advert and also how much it will cost you. You need to decide on country, city, gender, age range, likes and dislikes and you can go down into further splits. As you change the demographics, you’ll see how many people the advert could be shown too. The more specific you can be, the better your chances an ad will have an impact.

3. Engage with your fans

The key to a successful Facebook page is to consistently update your page. You can decide on the frequency – at a minimum you want to post something new once a week. Your posts can be simple: something that inspired you (a picture, a quote, an interaction); an upcoming event you are holding; an update on the new book you are writing; a news article that you found interesting. Being consistent is more important than posting for the sake of posting. Think about what you are trying to achieve with each post.

Thursday 17 November 2016

My Brother Tom a finalist in the International Book Excellence Awards

So proud that My Brother Tom by Michelle Worthington and Ann-Marie Finn was a finalist in the Book Excellence Awards

My Brother Tom is a picture book for older siblings of a baby born prematurely and who is in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit to facilitate discussion with caregivers and help them understand what is going on. Royalties from the sale of My Brother Tom go to Life's Little Treasures Foundation with helps families in Australia who are affected by premature birth.

Copies of My Brother Tom are available through their website

Wednesday 16 November 2016

Blogging for Authors

Marketing your own book, whether traditionally or self-published is a necessary evil of being an author in the 21st century. For those of us who are most at home behind a computer, in our PJs, drinking coffee by the bucket load, this can be a mile outside our comfort zone, but if you look at your writing career as a business, and tackle the marketing of your books in small, bite size pieces, it doesn't have to be something that takes the fun out of publishing your story. Blogging is a great way to achieve the goal of getting your message out to people you can't personally share your story with.

Tip 1: Book Appeal

Unfortunately, some genres of books seem to be better received than others. Commercial fiction is always easier to market. If you are writing non-fiction, make sure you develop a strong reputation in the field you are writing in so that you can vouch for the integrity of the information, as well as using your credentials as a marketing tool in its own right. When blogging about your books, it must reflect current learning and development and be relevant to your target audience. For example, with books for children, your audience are the readers but your target market is the people who buy the books for them. You must appeal to both.

Tip 2: Networking via Blogging

No modern marketing tool can compete with collaborating with your fellow authors to help each other break through the white noise and give your book a personal recommendation. Constantly connect with your peers to keep you grounded in the current climate of the publishing industry, learn from their experiences and share your own knowledge for the greater good. This can be online or face to face, but never underestimate the marketing power of networking.

Tip 3: Attend Blogging Events

Whether you attend as a guest speaker or an audience member, attending book events is a great way to engage readers, expand your network and learn, learn, learn from those in the know. Although they can be quite expensive, they are a tax deduction and in most cases, if you volunteer, you can attend at a reduced price or for free. Work the ones that have the most intrinsic value to what you write and what level you are at with your writing into your business budget and plan ahead  with babysitters/catching up with friends/ transport to make the experience as rewarding as possible.

Tip 4: Embrace Technology

We are the first generation of authors who have unlimited worldwide access to our readers via social media and blogging. Like it or not, you must have a website and an online presence. Get comfortable using the types of technology your readers and target market use, not only to be confident sharing your work to build your online platform, but also to make use of the tools that give an insight into analytics that will let you know which ways are connecting more efficiently than others, in order to cut down on spamming and focus on what works.

Tip 5: Find a balance

Not only do you need to find a balance between spending time blogging and spending time writing, you need to find a balance with what you are putting on your social platforms that gives your audience an opportunity to hear about your work without them getting sick to death of seeing your posts constantly plugging your books. There is a 30/70 rule that states 30% of the content should be marketing your book, 70% should be general content letting them know a little more about you, your likes and dislikes and giving them the opportunity to connect with you as a person. It's not called "social" media for nothing. Don't shout about your books, build a community of people who will support your success and shout about it for you.

As authors, we need to continually adapt our online marketing strategies to a dynamic publishing industry, not only if we want to stay viable as authors that large publishing companies would like to invest in, but so we can stay on our readers radars. Break it down into small steps and don't let it overwhelm you.