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This week on the Writer’s Way podcast, Laurie talks to professional speaker, and award-winning & international bestselling author Charmaine Hammond!
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Find Charmaine HERE on her website!
[00:00:00] Laurie: Hello writers. Welcome back to The Writer’s Way podcast. I’m here with the wonderful, impressive Charmaine Hammond. Welcome.
Charmaine: Thank you. I’m really excited for the conversation today
Laurie: Oh good. Okay, so let me read a little bit about here, about you here. So you are a certified speaker, an award-winning and internationally bestselling author, you do a lot of things. From what I could see, there was a lot of links to social media and groups and things. You also work with authors, help them build their books, businesses, sell more books, and
then fund dreams through the sponsors. Spawn. I don’t know why I can’t say that word. Sponsh. Sponors. Sponsors. SPONSORSHIP TRAINING. We need a new word. I’m excited to talk to you about all the different ways you’ve been published because it sounds like you’ve kind of hit them all. Traditional, self-published, hybrid publisher. Your first work was in Chicken Soup for the Soul. What I learned from the [00:01:00] dog. And then
your children’s books are based on a dog main character as well.
So I guess we’ll have to talk about Toby.
Charmaine: You bet.
Laurie: And at the time you wrote me this, you were having a new book due out the fall. So is that out?
Charmaine: uh, I’ve got one actually, just, it’s not quite out yet. It will be out soon. I actually wanted to do a few more interviews with people, so, that just that delayed me getting it out a bit.
And actually I can talk about why I chose the delay that, because it has to do with sponsorship, so it be great for authors.
Laurie: Awesome. So let’s start at the beginning. How long have you been a writer? How’d you get into it? All that sort of stuff.
Charmaine: Well, probably like many of your listeners. Um, I am an accidental author.
I, I use that because I wasn’t planning on writing a story, but I have a dog named Toby at the time. Uh, and he was an animal-assisted therapy dog. And I was so inspired by how this dog was changing lives every [00:02:00] Wednesday in the hospital that we volunteered at together. So I thought I should just write a story and put it on LinkedIn or put it on social media. Ha!
And then I saw chicken soup for the soul, how to call for authors. So I thought, I have no idea what this is, but I’ll submit. And it got accepted. And then I thought, wow, what does one do now? And on that was 2009 and that’s where my journey, um, to, to become a writer. Happened. I became a writer because of that story and a publisher in California had seen
that I was going to be speaking in California. And of course she noticed in my bio Chicken Soup for the Soul What I Learned from a Dog, and she connected with me and she ended up publishing four books that I wrote. Um, after that chicken soup came out.
Laurie: So children’s books or adult?
Charmaine: One book for adults about Toby.
It’s a [00:03:00] memoir. And then a personal development book that I coauthored with Deborah Caszowski a personal development book for women. And then my publisher, Betty Young’s books, has an imprint. Uh, Kendall has books, which is for children. So she published two children’s books. Through there as well. And then in the middle of all that, I released, a self published book at funny story to that I won at a conference, a thousand books to be published. And I didn’t have a book of my own to be published. So the, the, um. Printer who I got the prize from said well you’d better get writing.
So I wrote a book that I could use in my business with my corporate clients, and that was my first experience self-publishing.
Laurie: Well, it was a really good one. If you got 1000 books printed as a gift!
Charmaine: I know. I know. It was one. Funny what you, what you put out in the world, isn’t it? Because I, at that time [00:04:00] I had been saying, I really need a book for my corporate clients.
I have nothing to give them other than children’s books and, and that just didn’t fit when we’re, I’m in there speaking on, you know, collaboration and conflict, and then all of a sudden I’m at this conference and I win the prize. So I thought, okay. Be careful what you wish for because the wish just came true.
Laurie: Now you got to do it.
Charmaine: Now I’ve got to do it. And you know, I almost lost the prize because I didn’t know how to self publish a book. So I had to learn all that and I dragged my heels, honestly. And then three months before the expiration date of this gift certificate, the printer phoned, the owner of the company, phoned me and he said, we’ve not received a manuscript yet and this would be terrible for you to lose this opportunity, and many other
authors would have gladly taking it. And I thought, wow, that’s so true. Um, so I, that the writing began that night after the phone call.
[00:05:00] Laurie: Oh, good. That’s the gentle, gentle kick.
Charmaine: Yeah gentle. Subtle as a sledgehammer.
Laurie: Sometimes. We really need that though. So do you do that? Sorry. Remind me which book was that for?
Charmaine: That was for Bounce Forward. It was called Building Inspired and Resilient Teams. So that book was one that I wrote specifically for the work I do as a trainer and speaker in the corporate world.
Laurie: Okay, so is that what you would do or you would consider yourself doing full time? Is that training in corporate?
Charmaine: Yeah. I have been training and speaking corporately for more than 25 years. That was the business that I opened up originally. And then as I became an author, that inspired another, uh, another business to, to develop. And then now, uh, what we have a company as well called Raise A Dream, where we work with authors to help them get sponsorship and cover some of the costs of their books through collaboration.
Laurie: Okay. Tell us a little bit more about that.
Charmaine: Well, Cola sponsorship is where a [00:06:00] company will provide marketing dollars to an entrepreneur, a project, um, sometimes a nonprofit organization, uh, and an event. And as an author, I started really looking at, I wonder where the opportunity is to get sponsorship for the projects I’m working on. So one of the first types of sponsorship that I got was when my book on Toby’s terms, that’s the memoir for adults that came out in 2010 and as I started tracking all the costs to release the book, and do book events and book signings. I thought, wow, nobody tells you how expensive this is gonna be.
And I really wanted to do it right and big and celebrate this. And so I started reaching out to people that I knew, my hairstylist, my eye doctor, they all became sponsors. So my financial advisor provided me with the room, refreshments, and wine for our big launch. [00:07:00]
Uh, my hairstylist bought like three box books up at a hundred books to give out to everybody at the event.
Then we had other sponsors come in. One of my friends who is a musician came in and performed at the event as a form of sponsorship, and then over the years I’ve also had things like my marketing costs, my retractable banners, my, uh, bookmarks, my postcards, some of my travel, all covered by sponsors, including my Million Acts of Kindness Tour where
we are promoting my two children’s books where we had a motor home covered for six weeks.
Um, a company bought $10,000 worth of our children’s books to put in schools across Canada. So sponsorship is a collaboration. It’s where you and a company, um, who wants access to your audience. You work together. So that they can help you and you can help them with their marketing goals at the same time.
Laurie: Wow. That sounds somewhat magical.
Charmaine: It’s [00:08:00] wonderful and then it is. It’s wonderful. And you know, some authors kind of go, Ooh, I prefer to just kind of work on my own, and I don’t want to be out there and be seen. But the cool thing about collaboration and sponsorship is that then you have these companies who become champions for your book and your message, and they get it out to their audiences. So your message reaches so many more people.
Laurie: Yes, I can see that. And everyone I talked to, it’s so funny because before people publish, that is the hardest part, just getting published and then almost within 24 hours after. It becomes marketing and how do I sell these and how do I promote myself?
And because we’re all learning and, and so many people like you said are accidental writers.
You know,, they don’t have any background in business or marketing or whatnot.
So, um. The marketing becomes so hard. So I know that a lot of people are going to listen to this very closely for any tips you have.
[00:09:00] Charmaine: Yeah. Well, you know, one, one little tip I can share in it. This was so fun. What I’ve realized when I released my first book was that the people in your circle that you deal with, such as your dentist, your eye doctor, your hairstylist, the place that you buy your groceries. When you are involved in your community, even just on doing business in your own community.
They get excited about being a champion for the people that support their business. So when you’re going to that same grocery store all the time, um, they may do what our grocery store did. They bought about 25 books and they sold them at the front of the till,
and then they gave the money to charity in the community.
And my hairstylist did the same thing. She’d buy 10 books at a time and she’d put the books out on all the different stylist little area. And then people would say, Oh, this is a great book.
And she’d say, Oh, well buy one. Charmaine is one of our clients. And of course, they couldn’t say [00:10:00] no to her, so, and then they would donate the money to charity.
So it was a great way to get people that are already in your life supporting your book, because my experience has been 99% of the people that we know want to see us do well,
and they want to be a part of the things we’re doing in our world.
Laurie: It’s so true, but it’s hard for them to know how to help. So if you reach out and ask with a clear, ask. So much easier for people in all situations.
Charmaine: Yeah. Yeah. And you raised a really good point. People will probably not offer to do this. Because they’re not thinking about that.
Laurie: No. Well, like before talking to you and reading about this, I never even really thought about sponsorship, and now all of a sudden you’re saying that, and it seems like, of course, when you think about your local community, there’s always things like that going around, but as authors don’t necessarily make that leap for ourselves.
Charmaine: Yeah. Well, here’s a really interesting idea to think about how creative you can be for children’s authors. So my two [00:11:00] children’s books, Toby, The Pet Therapy Dog, and His Hospital Friends, and the other one is Be a Buddy, not a Bully. They’re both based on my dog. And when I was talking to my eye doctor that my annual appointment, and he said,
what do you, what’s new in your life? And I said, Oh, I’m just releasing my second book. And he said, Oh. My second children’s book, he said, I didn’t know you had one. And I said, Oh, I actually have more than that, but this is my second children’s book. And he said, well how did we not know? And I mean you don’t go to your eye doctor and say, Hey, I’ve got a book.
And so anyhow, I happen to have one in my purse. So I showed it to him cause we should always carry our books with us. I showed him my book and he said, you know, we are trying to really work on improving. Um, helping parents protect the eyesight of their children. And I had no idea where I was going with this cause I thought, I have no idea how this connects with a dog book.
And he said, wouldn’t it be cool if I was to buy a bunch of your books? And then what we could [00:12:00] do is to all the families that have children that come in in a certain period of time, we’ll give them a copy of your book as a gift with a little pair of sunglasses and we’ll slip in some reading material about, I care for your children. And I thought, that’s a great idea. And they bought a bunch of books, I think 50 books to start.
Laurie: Oh, that’s fabulous. I love that box thinking.
Charmaine: Yeah, I would never have thought of that. Honestly, Lori, I can take zero credit for that idea, but that’s why we need you to tell other people what we’re doing.
Laurie: It’s so true because who would go to the eye doctor or the dentist or the hairstylist, well, here’s my book, some people are great at it naturally, and I envy that. But you know, mostly it’s, the kids are okay and the weather kind of sucks. But I live in Canada. That is fantastic. Thank you for sharing that. I think that people should definitely try that. Reach out to people. Um, put some thought in it [00:13:00] beforehand, maybe about how they can do that.
Laurie: I love it. I love it. Okay. So when you talk about, um, all of these books that people are buying, so these are the books from your publisher. From Betty Young’s books. So how do you get the copies?
Because a lot of self-published authors struggle with, do I do a bulk print run or they do print on demand, that kind of stuff. So how do you handle your copies? Your stock.
Charmaine: Yeah. So what we did is I wanted the clients to buy the books directly from me. So what I did is, because these books were published by a traditional publisher, I purchase those books in bulk buy from my publisher, and if you’re self-published, you would just print,
purchase them in bulk. Now, I already knew that a certain number of quantity were going to be spoken for. So what I was working on in the background, and I would do this a little differently next time, what I would do is actually get the payment from the client. For the a
hundred bucks or 500 bucks, or 10,000 bucks, or not [00:14:00] 10,000, $10,000 worth. Um, big difference. Um. And, and actually have the payment, then there’s actually no, um, impact to you. But how I did it with that case was I bulk ordered, uh, the, the books from my publisher. Then I had them on hand, and then I was able to set my own pricing for what I
was going to sell them for.
Um, so even though the back of the cover said, I think $12.95 for the children’s book, I said to the sponsors, uh, you know, this is a $13 bill plus taxes. But, um, you know, I’ll sell this to you for $10 a book if you buy this many or $9 a book of you buy this many. And I made the price, um, affordable and, and also just discounted it. So they were inspired to buy a bigger quantity.
Laurie: I love it. And do you feel like, are you just a natural salesperson? Can you walk in and talk about this or do you really have to. Pre-think it all.
[00:15:00] Charmaine: I have to pre-think it all. I, here’s what I do love. I love talking to people. I love meeting new people, so communicated, and that’s what I do in my other world.
I teach people to communicate. So um ever around business, not around marketing, but around conflict and solving workplace issues. That’s my area of work. But what I found is that when you just have a conversation with someone. You don’t have to worry about being salesy because that isn’t my strength and I get nervous if I have to sort of do a sales pitch, I
clam up, I get nervous.
Um, I, I don’t know what to say then I don’t sound very knowledgeable about my own book and my coach and mentor said, you’re making this really difficult, Charmaine. All you need to do is talk to people and if they feel inspired to learn more or buy your book, they’ll ask,
because I was saying, I’m trying really hard to sell books, and he said, [00:16:00] that’s the problem.
You’re trying really hard to sell books. He said, just talk about the book. And as soon as I made that shift, and I’ll tell you, it felt so good inside. Because it just felt natural. So I just started talking to people about my book when they’d say, hi, what’s new? Instead of saying,
oh, I just got back from holidays, I would say, Oh, I’m just creating some new ways to get my book out to schools.
And I’m really excited about that. And they’re like, a book what book? And then the conversation happens. And, and so it’s about thinking about how you can have a dialogue different with people.
Laurie: That is such an important shift. I love that. Um, you talked, you talked about somebody sponsoring $10,000 worth of your books. Can you tell us how that happened?
Charmaine: Yeah, so that was when I did my Million Acts of Kindness Tour, which was a six week at 10,000 kilometer or 10,000 miles, which is 14,000 kilometers across [00:17:00] North America. And one of our partners, um, Petland Canada, who was one of our key partners on the tour. They had a fundraising campaign in their store. This was one of my, if
not my favorite activity, we did so Petland Canada, we got those little paw prints, you know how you see them in McDonald’s, like the running shoe or a different, so it was a die cut paw print and it said Million Acts of Kindness Tour, and what we did is, because my dog is called Tobe, his name is Toby. And because in Canada we have the $2 coin called a tooney, we call it this little campaign Toony for Team Toby. And so Petland Canada, each of their stores sold the cutout paw prints. And their customers contributed to the Million Acts of Kindness Tour and then Petland Canada also contributed from their, from their stores and together that raised over $10,000 to [00:18:00] buy my books to go right across Canada.
Laurie: And so did you drive across handing them out to people or did they go to specific schools or?
Charmaine: We, yeah, we had specific schools that we looked at the Petland Canada stores that were along our route in the Canadian side and said, you know what schools can we drop these off at? Some of the schools, we also did presentations. So it was great to say to a school principal that, you know, we’ve got a hundred books that we can give your school.
Let me come in and do a little presentation or reading. And so it was. So fun. And just to what, what was really special was that because this was promoting the book about a bully prevention, the staff of Petland Canada were able to engage in conversations with their customers. And I happen to be in the store one day, and the young person at the till didn’t
know that I was Toby’s mom and, and the author of the book.
And I heard him. And he said, yeah, did you want to support Toonie for Team Toby? And the person said, what is that? And [00:19:00] he said, Oh, it’s a dog that’s on a global mission, to stop bully prevention. And the lady who was buying dog food or whatever, said I was bullied as a child and he said, no way. I was too. This is a 15-year-old boy.
Charmaine: And he said, I was too in elementary school. And so she said, I’d like to contribute $50 and all I see is him going Yes, yes! And he says I’ll give you a 25 little paw prints. And she said, no, just give me one and you can write the amount. But it was so fun watching the staff get into the conversation of making a difference in the world. And that was what was so special for me to witness that.
Laurie: Oh gosh, what a feeling you probably melted behind him.
Charmaine: I did I bawled.
Laurie: It’s me!
Charmaine: I did the ugly cry. And I said that’s my dog!
Laurie: My dog’s on a mission!
Charmaine: I know, exactly!
Laurie: So how did that start? [00:20:00] Did you just like, are you just filled with ideas and you had the idea, I’m going to do this tour or?
Charmaine: Yeah, well, I knew that I wanted to do something big to make a difference around kindness.
And I’ve got this book that’s around bully prevention and this animated dog that, um, we learned actually, uh, didn’t really love doing school presentations. He loved doing school appearances. Where he can come in and, you know, connect with kids and then leave and go play outside on the playground with his ball.
So that created this opportunity for me to do a reading. And then as I was doing these local school presentations, I thought, what would happen. If we took this on the road and what would it take to take this on the road, it’ll take money, um, that I wasn’t willing to contribute in that amount.
It’ll take partners and sponsors, it’ll take school involvement. So I kind of sat down and mapped out a plan. And so when I called Petland Canada, um, I was actually calling them not to be a [00:21:00] big sponsor. At the time I was, I was doing the dog jog-a-thon as a
fundraiser for our tours. So we had dogs on the doggy treadmill and then humans on the adult treadmill, and it was whoever could get the most steps, and it was like a little amount of money for a step.
So we wanted to have a way to track steps. So I phoned Petland Canada to see if they would donate 10 dog pedometers. And she said, well, what do you need these for? And when I told her what we were doing and she said, well what are you raising money for? And I said, Oh, I’ve got this big dream Million Acts of Kindness and I want to promote me children’s books.
And she said, I think we’re more interested in that than we are just in giving you 10 as, so I never got the pedometers.
Laurie: I never knew that was a thing!
Charmaine: I didn’t either. and we’d been on these, um, you know, this tour together. We did all these events in their store and then Fraser Way RV sponsored the motor home for us for six weeks.
And it all back to your [00:22:00] question, Lori, it all came from two things. A conversation and building a relationship because I didn’t have a relationship before that phone call.
Laurie: Right? So you just took a chance and called them up.
Charmaine: Absolutely. And when you’re excited about your book and the difference you want to make with the message of your book, it’s that passion and excitement that you have as an author that gets people really interested in hearing what you say.
Because companies have said things to me and my clients like, I don’t know how we’re going to work together, but I love the passion. I love the energy. I love the difference you want to make, and that’s what we’re saying yes to. We’ll figure out the details as we go.
Laurie: Wow. I love that. You’re so inspiring.
Charmaine: Awe so my, my tip for authors is share your story. Let people don’t hold back.
Let people see, um, how important your book is and your message. Let them see that. Let them [00:23:00] experience it.
Laurie: Yes, I agree. Don’t keep it to yourself. I wrote a book while I was teaching kindergarten and then I, it was such a vulnerable feeling.
I didn’t tell anybody for 10 years, you know, I didn’t know what to do and I was just so nervous. And then when I finally, you know, I was talking about it kind of so scared and nervous and so many other authors that I work with now, it’s the same thing. Like. I wrote a book. Loud and proud, right?
Charmaine: Yes. And use the relationships you have because people, you know what we talk about gossip. My friend, Dr Sean D Perrin is actually an expert in gossip, and she talks about the fact that most gossip is actually not bad gossip. It’s the good gossip, but we tend to focus on negative gossip. So she’s, she always talks about let people tell your story, let people good gossip about you.
So that’s where you say to your friend, I say, Oh my gosh, I got to tell you about this book that my friend Laurie wrote. You’ve got to check it out. [00:24:00] Ask your friends and colleagues to good gossip. As dr Sean would say about your book. That’s where things really take off.
Laurie: Yeah. It’s just the classic word of mouth is the best.
Charmaine: Yeah. And it’s hard to be our own champion.
Laurie: It is hard, especially as Canadians. Don’t you find?
Charmaine: Well, it’s hard for us to say, my book is awesome. You must read it. I mean, we,
we hold back. But the other thing is that some people will go into immediate judgy mode, so they’ll be like, Oh, who are, you know, who is she to say that about her book?
Whereas, when you have other people saying it. People don’t go into judgy mode. They want to get on board with that excitement and celebration.
Laurie: Oh, that’s so true. If she likes it, then I might like it. I’m going to give it a chance. But if she’s bragging about herself….
Laurie: Yeah. That’s how we feel anyway, sometimes.
Right. I love it. Thank you so much for talking to me today. You’re so inspiring. How can people, like, if people are interested in working with you to help [00:25:00] with the sponsorship and their books, is there a way that they can get in touch with you or what should they do?
Charmaine: For sure. Um on social media our handle is Raise A Dream, so Raise A Dream,
and our website is the same RaiseADream.com
Laurie: Okay. And you can work with children’s authors?
Charmaine: Yes, we can. We love working with children’s authors.
Laurie: Awesome. Well, thank you so much, Charmaine.
Charmaine: Thank you. Thank you.
Laurie: Bye bye.
Charmaine: Bye bye.