Wendy H Jones is a prolific award-winning author with titles ranging from crime and mystery novels, through to kids’ books and more recently non-fiction. She’s also an international speaker writing coach and book marketing trainer.
Recently I had the opportunity to talk to Wendy about her career, how digital technology has changed the publishing landscape and how she uses social media to grow and connect with her readers.
You’ve only been writing for six years but, you’ve been writing a lot, haven’t you?
That’s right. I’ve got 12 books out that are fiction and non-fiction. I’ve also on top of that edited two anthologies, so that’s fourteen books.
How has digital technology helped you to publish your works?
Well, digital technology was a game changer really for everybody, whether you’re traditionally published or independently published. My first book I brought out as an ebook on all the platforms and I also brought it out as a print-on-demand book.
Not that I would do this, but with ebooks, Kindle, Nook and Kobo means that you can write your book the morning and publish it in the afternoon.
You’ve got a passion and a reputation for good marketing. Was that something you had to develop to be able to promote your books, or is it something that you’ve always had?
I’ve always been a marketer. When I worked in the Services you had to meet with anybody and be able to say what the Services were about and be able to promote them. But then I (this is going to sound odd) became a Slimming World consultant (very briefly) and Slimming World gives you fantastic marketing advice. When I became an author, I used a lot of that training to market and promote my own books.
But I’m actually a really social person, so I already had a massive platform. Platform is something that every publisher will want, you hear “what is your platform?” and your platform is basically how many people do you know and how many people are going to buy your book.
Now I’ve got a huge platform because I was already over social media like a rash just being me. It’s social, it’s called social media for a reason, not marketing media. So, I was already a very social person and marketing ties in with that.
One of the things with marketing, is they say that somebody needs to see a product six or seven times before they buy into it. That’s what it’s about being social, getting people to see things without hammering them.
You had the community already, how did you transition that community from “friends of Wendy” to “readers of Wendy’s books”?
The very first thing I did was to write a blog post on the day I started to write my first word of my book. I basically said, “I’m going to write a book, it’s going to be a crime book set in Dundee” and the world went wild.
They all went “oh my goodness when is it going to be available?” or “can I buy a copy?” and I’m like well I’m not ready yet. I was using social media to say, “here’s where I’m at”, but not all the time. I was just being me and every now and again I’d say, “oh I’ve written 20,000 words”, “I’ve written 50,000 words, “I’m getting the book edited”.
Then I used it to tell people about the area, so about Dundee and what it is like. I built a website and put up pictures up of Dundee, of areas where things that would be happening in the book, so people got a flavour of it. They were just gradually turning into readers.
What you’ve just described there is you’re taking your skill as a storyteller into storytelling on social media. As well as your audience being on social media have you found other authors going on social media for support, advice and help?
The author community is phenomenal and especially in Scotland. Everybody supports everybody else. Nobody thinks that they’re better than anyone and everybody is there for you if you need anything.
Thinking about your readership, how have you managed to tie in what you’re doing on say Facebook with what you’re doing in public and with other forms of marketing as well?
I’m everywhere, I do a lot of online activity, but I also do a lot of offline activity. Just to give you an example, this morning I was launching the Dundee library’s summer reading challenge for the children. What I did was I took some photos while I was there, and I got them to take photos of me and I will put that all over social media. But the school was also putting it out social media and so was the library.
It’s just pictures, it’s not “saying buy my book”. I was reading books about space this morning; I haven’t written any books about space, but I will say what I was doing.
Because of the variety of what you’re writing, do you ever think about segmenting your audience by different hosts or by different marketing activities?
Well in my newsletter I’m starting to segment. Although saying that it’s really difficult because you get people that read the DI Shona McKenzie books who want Bertie the Buffalo for their daughter, grandson or nephew. So, they all tie in together in some ways, but I am starting to segment my newsletter between fiction and nonfiction because that makes life a lot easier. A lot of the people are reading my fiction are not interested in the non-fiction because in order to read the nonfiction you need to be an author.
How can people get hold of you, what’s your web address and where are you on social media if people want to connect with you?
My website is wendyhjones.com and social media and you’ll find me everywhere under Wendy H Jones.
Fantastic Wendy just a huge thanks for spending time with us today just to talk about your journey and your journey into social media as well. Every success with the future, thank you.
It’s been an absolute pleasure thank you for inviting me.