Twitter For Children’s Authors [Ep. 45 of The Writer’s Way Podcast]

Hello Writers!

This week on the Writer’s Way podcast, TWITTER for children’s authors!
Guest Jonathan Gunson shares Twitter tips that every writer needs to know, as well as stories from his own publishing journey. 

Joining me for the first time?  Start at the beginning HERE

Find the episode on YouTube HERE

Would you rather listen on the go? Go HERE

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RESOURCES MENTIONED in the Twitter For Children’s Authors episode

Find Jonathan’s books and website HERE

Follow Jonathan on Facebook HERE

Make a connection with Jonathan on Twitter HERE

Have a conversation with Laurie on Twitter

Find Jonathan’s beautiful book about Goggles the Bear HERE

Get the free ebook Mr. Smudge’s Thirsty Day HERE

Twitter post scheduling websites –>  Buffer.com and Hootsuite.com

Fabulous Facebook group we talk about –> Children’s Book Authors and Illustrators: Publishing, Marketing and Selling

Download the Free PDF  ➡ Twitter Tips



Laurie: Hello everybody, welcome back to this episode of the Writer’s Way podcast. Today I get to talk to the fabulous Jonathan Gunson from around the world. You’re a time traveler because it’s tomorrow, I think, where you are it is. Thank you for doing this with me.

Jonathan: It’s a pleasure. I’m here. You can see the South Pacific down under we say, you know, there’s nothing that’s beneath me.

Laurie: Is that good? That’s bad, isn’t it? That’s a good thing. Why don’t you tell us a bit about your background and your books and how you got started and then we will go into our main topic which today will be Twitter for authors.


Jonathan’s Publishing Beginnings

Jonathan: Oh, yeah, I love Twitter. Well me well, I’ve been in in publishing since about 1827 know I’ve been here for a long time, but I actually because I live in New Zealand the thing is only about five million people live here.

So a long time ago, there’s no internet or anything. How do you sell books? I mean like you can’t make a living with a population that small. It’s just the market is not just isn’t big enough. So I kind of stopped and started and did some books. Get all of the Publishers and I did publish them and distribute them but I really couldn’t get enough scale going to make a living.

So I kind of dropped out.  I flip-flopped between doing books and then working in corporations as an advertising director and then back again working in advertising agencies in the creative departments. All the while I really just wanted to be doing children’s picture books because my boys, you know, I’d done one for each of them and but they didn’t sell too many.One of them in the end, ended up selling about 50,000 copies, but that was over about a 10-year period here in Australia and the UK and a couple other places. That’s a really hard to do.

Amazon Changed Everything!

Then along came the magic internet neat magic Amazon. I thought ‘I’m not going to do that corporate crap any, I’m not going to do that anymore.’ So I jumped out of there and I started, this is really recent, like just two or three years ago.

And so, I’m never going to go back into those places again, it’s like going down the mine. But anyway, so yeah, so that’s generally give you a rough idea. My brother Tim, he lives south of here and we made the – Peter Jackson made the Lord of the Rings movies here. Yeah. Yeah my Tim – brother Tim, he was in the movie. He’s one of the Hobbits.

Laurie: For real?

Jonathan: Yeah. Yeah, and yeah. He used to put on all the whiskers and the big feet and everything else.

Laurie: Awesome! Wow!

Jonathan: It’s hilarious. ‘Cause everybody knows everybody. I mean, I had a brief way to Peter Jackson and I did a really big book called The Merlin Mystery and that sold about 400,000 copies. I had to go all the way to the UK travel and sell it. And they gave me a huge advance of a hundred thousand pounds because the work that I’d done and that you know, the, artist I work with as well, both of us illustrate was so detailed and complex and beautiful. They said we don’t want you to take this anywhere else. We’re going to make this our book. Harper Collins. So there was just an incredible thing so that gave me a big lift.

Dealing with your Doubts

Jonathan: And so from that point on I knew it was possible to do things on a decent scale, you know, and it really would work. It’s actually a passionate matter of confidence for people, you know, do these books. Will they work? And everybody has that issue think ‘I got this book, but will anybody buy it? I’m sure everybody who’s doing books feels that. You know, is this really going to work?

But you know, if they’re really good and your heart is in it, what I firmly believe, if you really like your book, you’ve done it because you love it, it’s going to work. It’s going to show in your voice and your eyes and everything you write. It’s going to Sparkle and people think this must be good. So I think that’s very important surely. That’s about me. Yeah, that’s – can’t think of anything else right now.

Goggles the Bear

Laurie: So you did, you hit the big time with the Merlin Mysteries and then it reignited that ‘I want to do kids books…’

Jonathan: Yeah still took a while again.

Laurie: And it took a while?

Jonathan: Oh, yeah took a while to get back to because you know, I have a 10-year period but here I am. We finally got back to it. Yeah.

Laurie: And the book is called?

Jonathan:  Well, the books called Goggles: The Bear Who Dreamed of Flying.

Laurie: Okay, and we will link that book in the show notes because it’s gorgeous. And since this is audio only, people can’t see it, but you need to see it people, it is gorgeous.


How Jonathan Became a Tweeter

Laurie: Okay, so that’s your background, Jonathan. And then how did you get? How did you become a Twitter, Twitterer, a Tweeter?

Jonathan: Well, yeah, I just kind of I never thought I’d be interested in doing things like chat on the internet. Yeah talking to people.

Laurie: Okay.

Jonathan: But and then so you, so you got to join Twitter, Jonathan because you know, you could promote your books on there.

So I started and I was really excited because I got 17 people in a few days to follow me and I thought that’s fantastic. I felt really important. You know. All this feedback from 17 people, I don’t know who the hell they were. But … But anyway, now I have a hundred and thirty-four thousand people.

Laurie: Whoa!

Jonathan: Yeah that took that took a few years to build up but a large tract of them are authors, mothers, parents, people interested in books. Because there is a lot of probably a lot of, you know, weirdos and robots on there as well. I don’t know but at that the percentage of sort of rubbish followers, it’s not very high. It’s pretty good …

Laurie: Well that’s good.

Jonathan: No…

Laurie: It’s not like it. It’s not like Instagram.

Jonathan: No, well, oh probably. But I just weeded them all out as I went along. Kick people out, block people for years to start So eventually ends up people gave up trying to follow.

Laurie: Okay.

Twitter Tip #1 Don’t Always Be Selling

Jonathan: Anyway, yeah, they come from all over the world these people. Large tracts of them in the United States followed me on Twitter. The key thing about Twitter.

I guess it should sort of talk about it and how people can use it. How can promote your books with it? The best ways of using it to greatest effect for the least amount of work and effort.

My particular name is twitter.com/Jonathangunson. Okay, so then you can go and look and see what I’ve done. Now right now I’m not using it a vast amount. I’m just setting up to use it. So there’s a few things on there related to picture books and so on. But probably I will, I will be using it shortly. Now here’s the thing, most people they sort of start in on social media, make this – they get it wrong. They do this one big thing wrong. And that is to constantly shout ‘buy my book.’

The Radio Station Analogy

Jonathan: See, if you picture it like a radio station, like you listen to a radio station and you’ve got this gorgeous content on, like you might love classical music. So you’re listening to the talk back or it could be Pop.

Bruno Mars – you know I like to listen to that. I love Bruno Mars, especially watching him. Of course, everybody understands the radio station for it to stay on air, they have to run advertising. So I promise I’ll get back to Twitter, but this is directly related to it. It is, people will run advertising on their stations. And you don’t mind. You’re driving along in your car, there comes an ad, you go aw it’s an ad. Sometimes you listen to it, sometimes you won’t and then the program comes back. But if that radio station ran ads non-stop and nothing else, mmm, you pretty quickly tune out. You’d stop listening.

Twitter Tip #2: Share Interesting Things!

But on Twitter, for example, or Facebook or Instagram or Pinterest or LinkedIn or any other social media platforms if you just stick the stuff up there say ‘buy this valuable now,’ you know, people will very quickly tune out, switch off, just like a radio station. So the key is to get into conversation, put up interesting stuff. Whatever it is, quotes, tips, tricks, links, the really other interesting things that you found. That’s the first thing and here on there, once you’ve built the audience, they get to find that you are interesting.

Then you can say, actually I’m doing something secret like tomorrow. I’m going to release my new book, but I’m not going to tell you today. I’m going to tell you tomorrow. Then you put it up on Twitter the following day. Here’s my book, I told you I’d release it, is a picture of the cover. By that time people are very interested.

Twitter Tip #3: Interact with people

Jonathan: So, I mean that’s that’s what you do on Twitter. That’s the content strategy. The thing is to ask people questions. That’s the third thing.

Laurie: Yeah.

Jonathan: You can find people so easily on Twitter and some of these people are very high profile. But if you ask them a question in which they would be interested, that would appeal to them most the time they’ll answer it, as long as they’re not just swamped.

Laurie: Yeah.

Jonathan: I mean, in trying to talk to Leonardo DiCaprio you might have a bit of a problem because he’s just swamped you know. But he might. I sent a tweet to William Shatner, right and he replied, ‘Hey Jonathan in the South Pacific. How are you? Yeah. Hey, I’m doing a new show soon like this.’ He replied, and he replied more than once.

It was amazing that really William Shatner… So I thought I said ‘hey guess what? What? Hey, guess what? William Shatner said hi!’

Laurie: Oh yeah, that’s huge in my world.

Jonathan: Yeah. Well people will talk to you on Twitter.

Laurie: Do you find they talk to you more on Twitter than they would like if you found William on Facebook…

Jonathan: No…

Laurie: Or on Instagram, you feel like they’re more accessible On Twitter?

Twitter is Different than Facebook or Instagram

Jonathan:  It’s an immediate conversation on Twitter.

Laurie: Yeah.

Jonathan: Very immediate or can be if they’re there. Because you only have to type is limited amount of stuff. On Facebook, it’s kind of like you’re in a comment area under a post Etc. As Twitter’s right upfront, person to person, is Twitter.

Laurie: Okay

Jonathan: Not person to corporation. What Twitter is not is a broadcast media. People like to think I’ve got these followers. ‘Jonathan you must stick stuff up all the time and broadcast to all these people.’ No I do not.

I just talk to people and conversations if I can. And how do you get a conversation going? Put something up there intriguing and people make a comment. You say, ‘yeah, I agree.’ And 3/10 of that and they say yeah and I found another example and it goes on and sometimes you get this great big string of tweets with people passing it to and fro. That’s what you want because what happens is other people see that and they begin to join the conversation.

Twitter Tip #4: Use a scheduling app 

Jonathan: You’re becoming known by having a conversation that can go a little bit viral. This is not very specific but these are the best things to do. One of the things I did put up on Twitter a lot was… This is a bit corny. It’s almost hokey. I made these really nice motivational quotes with a picture that fit the twitter space perfectly and I put up two or three of those a day.

And every single day and I put them on an automated system, Buffer.com. Okay, and there’s another one called HootSuite. And they will send them out automatically. Now what I did was, I made nearly a hundred of these quotes and I put them up in HootSuite. And they will send them out about once an hour or once a day or once every minute. Depends what you do. About every two or three hours is best. Otherwise you just annoy people.

Laurie: Okay.

Jonathan: Maybe two three hours. You put those out and they will send them up, even when you’re asleep. Those are going up and the amount of attention you get  is all in proportion to the work you do. Commenting on them, seeing them, recycling them, and passing them on and you’re not doing anything at all.

So when you get live on Twitter in the in-between times, you can see your quotes have gone out. You start saying other things like stop to ask someone a question. Make a statement about someone interesting, like Margaret Atwood just released her new book. I don’t read Margaret Atwood, but I know she did and I know she’s important so I thought I’d better say so. Yeah. Yes. It doesn’t matter as long as the communication’s there.

Twitter Tip #5: Showcase your book(s) at the top of your profile

And right across the top of Twitter, you can put anything you like. Your books, a picture of you, a great big advertisement for your latest book is probably the best thing. You can change it anytime you like you just stick your name right across the top and of course, it works perfectly on a smartphone or right across an iPad or even bigger on laptop.

Twitter Tip #6: Use info from your book to build an email list

So Twitter has always been a very good medium. Now, that’s what I also did was I build a list, an email list of about 7,000 people, which is a good list the email list. Simply by putting tweets up there and I rotated this twice a day with three times a day. That’s right. I had three different pictures from my picture book.

‘Mr. Smudge’s Thirsty Day and it’s a lovely little picture book. Oh by the way, if anybody wants that you go get it. It’s at freebook.fun. Freebook.fun.’ And they go there you’ll see Mr. Smudge looking at you waiting for you to download and he’s a Siamese cat. He was the family cat I made a picture book about but it’s free. But anyway, I will put…

Laurie: Sorry. I interrupted you. I was gonna ask you this. How long did you do that for to get the 7000 subscribers?

Jonathan: About 18 months.

Laurie: Okay. Long haul.

Jonathan: About that long. The second time I did it I got more efficient and it took about six months to add another 7,000. Yeah, it’s just boom.

The more people you have on there. Of course, the more followers here, you know, the more effective it’s going to be so I was cycling an ad which says free download. Mr. Smudge’s Thirsty day. Mr. Smudge is waiting to talk to you. Mr. Smudge wants you to give him a drink. I say all these interesting quirky things that a cat might say. You can go and get him here.

So if people click on it, they were taken straight over to the Opt-in page.

Twitter Tip #7: Following begets Followers

Jonathan: Now, how do you get those followers? Well, that is not very difficult. If you follow someone about one in three, something like that, will follow you back. 

Laurie: Okay.

Jonathan: So you go and find people. Though I actually went around finding authors mostly.

Laurie: Yeah?

Jonathan: On Twitter. Well because they will buy books. We all buy books. So they’re actually a really good bunch of people that follow and they’re generally all women mothers the authors for picture books, really, and the buyers of course the most. And so I went looking for moms who write picture books or just picture book writers or authors, even other authors who write Thrillers and everything. All of those kinds of people.

Use hashtags to find relevant people to follow

Jonathan: Now, how do you find them?

Well, there’s a number of hashtags that you can type into the little search box the top that says #kid lit, #amwriting, #author, #picturebook, you know. There’s a number of these, there’s quite a lot a number of them. Once you start finding going search people with those, you’ll find their use other hashtags as well, which they use in their tweets, which you can note down to find even more people. And all the people you come across there will be exactly the right kind of people and you just go and follow them.

Within a day or two, they’ll follow you back mostly. So slowly, but surely the numbers increase. Now when you get up to say the magical number of a thousand followers, but it will say yeah, that’s good because normally what happens if you try and follow too many people they shut you down. I don’t – I don’t mean they shut your account.

They just block it they say right that’s all you can follow today, sorry. A notice comes up.

Laurie: Okay.

Jonathan: It’s not many to start with but it – the more people you have the more you can follow.

Laurie: Okay

Twitter Tip #8: Weed out people with this simple trick

Jonathan: It increases. So I can follow a very large number of people each day now, if I want to. But I get kind of picky, you know. I just don’t follow idiots or anybody.

I’m just very careful and choose all these people. You’ll find on a Twitter account that all sorts of strange people follow you like and you can tell when they’re just robots because it’s got a name like George27rp2t like this and it says ‘hi, I’m George I Love Christian,’ you know or something. Bad English with no pics with no picture, you know, so you get yeah I, yeah, I just block that person.

Now, here’s a trick…

Laurie:  You just block them right away?

Jonathan: Yeah. Now here’s a trick. Here’s the thing. If you want to block someone but you don’t want to offend them because you’ll see they have blocked you. Yeah. Yes some person who’s actually someone you know, You really just don’t want this idiot following you because they’re a nuisance. Might be a mother-in-law. My mother-in-law is a nice person.

She followed me and I didn’t love it. But what you do is this you block the person and then you unblock them and Twitter has removed them from following you but they can’t see it. They never know. What happens is they no longer see your tweets in the timeline, but they never knew that you blocked and unblock them.

You’d think you just basically causing them to unfollow you.

Laurie: But they won’t know.

Jonathan: By doing that. So that’s a trick. Yeah. So anyway, so this hashtags.

Twitter Tip #9: Retweet your own Tweet

Jonathan: Now you can actually – one really fantastic thing to do is if you tweet something now that’s really interesting, and a lot of people retweet it, that means it goes out further and further and further.

One of the tweets I did … ah 67 years ago, was retweeted a hundred thousand times. Somebody got hold of it. Some celebrity got hold of it, sent it out. It was recycled far and wide and I gained about a thousand followers in a day who came along as a result. If you do get a tweet that’s worked really well like that and you will get them, you tweet something enough and somebody will say ‘actually that’s great’ and you say even something about your book that’s funny.

There’s a little picture from it. In the picture book business we’re just sitting in a perfect place to put pictures on Twitter. Just pull something out of your book and put it up there and write something underneath it. If you do have a successful one, you can actually then retweet your own tweet.

You can tweet it again, you go down the bottom and click the little thing that says retweet. And it puts it right back up the top again and then more people will follow it and more people cycling in a week will retweet it again. And what’s happening is underneath it, the number of times it’s  being seen because you can see the number go up and up and up, people think look at that number go, “oh that must be important. I’ll retweet that.” You keep on going up and up and up. So that’s retweets.

Laurie: It’s awesome. So it just increases the social proof.

Jonathan: It does it does. Yes, that’s it exactly.

A Little More about Tweeting

Laurie: Do pictures work better than … Like do you recommend to put a picture or an image in your Tweet?

Jonathan: When you can’t do that all the time. Otherwise, you just end up exhausted having to constantly come up with pictures.

Laurie: Yes.

Jonathan: You can say quite pithy little things.

Laurie: Okay.

Jonathan: Yeah one line, not much. And they’re fantastic as well.

Laurie: If you’re clever.

Jonathan: Yeah, you just say something. You can steal it from somewhere else. One of the wonderful things to do is choose a topic or something that’s happening at the moment.

Twitter Tip #10: Using emotion and opinion are highly effective

Jonathan: And the only tiresome thing I see on Twitter is that people who don’t like Donald Trump. It doesn’t matter what you put up there. They’ll bend it to say something negative about him, even though it’s got nothing to do with him. I’m just using him as an example. You know he’s probably one of the most successful people Twitter.

I’ve had a look at what he does and he just sets these things up there with a make any sense or not doesn’t really matter because he tacks a word on the end of it. He says ‘sad’ or so and so did this awful awful decision, you know, he’s really brilliant and come out with his crisp little statements and tacks an emotional word on the end.

‘Silly thing to do’ or ‘very successful’ or ‘I’m so proud’ or whatever, but it’s very emotionally striking, you see so he’s got it sussed. I’m not suggesting go and follow Donald Trump and get into a discussion with him because a lot of people, half of the population, won’t like you anymore, but he’s just an example.

Twitter is about Building Relationships and Having Conversations

Jonathan: Now, the main thing is on Twitter is all about the relationships you build and having a conversation with people. Because it’s just like on Facebook you get to know people that you would never have possibly known otherwise. Yeah, but the thing about Twitter is it happens a lot faster a lot more quickly.

Like really quick, you can contact someone who you hope will talk to you. They generally will if they’re just in a position of influence, but they don’t – they’re not necessarily famous. They’re just very influential like who’s an… Arianna huffpo… Huffington Post. Huffington Post, Ariana Huffington. Put that together.

Laurie: I thought you were back to talking about Ariana Grande. I was like…

Jonathan: Oh no, I’m not gonna talk to her I’m not interested. I’m more important than she is.

Laurie: I agree.

Jonathan: So anyway…

Laurie: Much like all the other social media platforms, what we’re all coming to realize is it’s not screaming about your product or your service. It’s about making relationships. Just having conversation.

Jonathan: Yeah, and if you do that, they will spread the word for you.

Laurie: It sounds very fast-moving.

Twitter Tip #11: Immediately Comment on People’s Important Posts

Jonathan:  It is. Then if you put tweet up, it’s like a leaf in a stream. It just drifts away really quickly never to be seen again. So you got to keep making statements and asking questions and interacting. I wouldn’t suggest spending more than you know, 15, 20 minutes a day interacting on Twitter.

One of the other big tips. If another author or writer or anybody you admire puts something up on Twitter, they say they’re very proud of it or they they… You know that they want people to see it, immediately comment on it! They will reply. They love to ah they’re waiting to say ‘ah took me a year. Yeah, hey listen.’ They’ll go on about it. You say ‘Okay. there must have been a bit of a strain. But what did your family – do you have any family time?’

They say ‘well that did suffer a bit’, you know, and you suddenly within minutes formed a relationship and they will remember you and you do that a few times with lots of people. You get to know some really useful people so later on like for example, book reviewers. You can find them on Twitter.

How to Interact with Book Reviewers

Jonathan:  And so you contact about 10 to 15 book reviewers and start doing exactly that with them. What are they saying? Do not ask them to review your book!

Laurie: Right.

Jonathan: Just say ‘I love that book you recommended yesterday. I got it. It’s just beautiful. I love it. I don’t know why the author uses a pseudonym or a name like that. Nuts. But hey, the book is glorious.

Thank you for revealing revealing it. I’m very pleased.’ Let’s say ‘glad that my recommendation worked’. Yeah do that a few times, they will remember you. So once you’ve built up a little relationship with them at some point some months down the track, not two hours down the track, you can say ‘look, I’ve got my own book coming out.’ Not – ‘would you review it?’

‘I’m just going to send you a because I know you’re going to like it because remember we said about sound so you like that is it like that? I’ll send it to you. See if you like it you can tell.’ They are hard to review at that point and ‘that’s actually this is really good. I might review it’. So I thought that’d be great.

It’s a kind of stepped process and I cannot go to this famous stepped process for contacting people and getting them to do things to help you.


The Ship 

Jonathan:  It goes like this – I used the radio station allegory before. There’s another one and that’s the ship. The great big cruise liner and it’s coming into the harbor and a big crowd waiting on the dock.

People cheering on the ship waving to their friends because they’re arriving and the [horn sound] makes the big announcement toots. And the ship pulls alongside. How the heck did they move that ship? How’s it going to tie to the dock? Well, they open a big docking door in the back on the side of the ship.

And at the front the guy’s holding a line with a big weight about the size of a baseball on it, with the thin line attached to it. He swings it around and hurls it. It goes across from the ship and lands on the dock and the dock is waiting there. Grab it, they pick it up and pull it in. That thin little line is attached to a line that’s about as at least as big as your thumb, much thicker and they pull that in and that’s attached to the hawser which is as thick as your arm.

You pull that in and that’s the thing they put around the big steel ball out on the edge of the dock. And on the ship, they then turn the winch on and it pulls it tight. They do that at both ends of the ship and it’s docked. The thing is if you want to get someone’s attention, you don’t go straight to try and move the ship with a big hawser. You throw something out there very light to begin with and then when the person’s got a little bit closer, then you give them a little bit more substantial.


The Cocktail Party

Jonathan: And then once they’re right on both then you can ask them say for example, the buy something. It’s the same step step step. Give give give. Ask. Every single time. So I come back to it. You know, don’t shout buy my book out front. Just get some notice out first.

I got this comical example of walking into a cocktail party. Yeah, you got your book and you can see this group of people talking. You hear them talk about something really interesting. So you walk straight and say ‘hi buy my book!’ To look at everybody’s faces and they will just move quietly away from you.

Laurie: Avoid eye contact for the rest of …

Jonathan: Yes. Whereas if you went in there and they say what do you do?

You say I write picture books. They’ll alternate you’re an author? Yeah. ‘What did you write and where and can I find it?’ Well, I mean, I don’t mean to be a sales guy, but I actually brought one along. So ah I here it is. Ah hey! And then you step by step by step and produce the subject and they said they said where can we get it?

I said ‘Well, if you really want to buy it, you can go here. See it’s on the book this go to Amazon.com. You can go get it. There that’d be great. Here I’ll give you one of these little cards with the address on there you go.’ Suddenly, you’ve got six people who are gonna look for it. But then you didn’t shout it out front.


Main Takeaway: Don’t hit people in the face with “Buy my book!” 

Jonathan: I could go on and on about not hitting people in the face with “please buy my book.”

Laurie: And that’s great advice for everywhere. For a real-life cocktail parties, for Facebook, for all of the social media platforms.

Jonathan: Oh, yes give out first for quite a long time. I see it in the Facebook group.

New arrivals, the first thing that they do ‘Buy my book. It’s out on Amazon. Please click it.’ If it’s the first time they arrived you go, “Okay. Well, they haven’t realized this is not is what they’re supposed to do.” I don’t kick them out. But after little bit, they do it more than once or twice. You’re out!

Laurie: Yeah. I feel like if you have the etiquette in real life, nobody would go to a party and do that. Why doesn’t it transfer over to social media? Too often it doesn’t?

The Builder 

Jonathan:  Every day you got the radio on in the background if you say for example, you’re a builder. The builders and construction guys with radios on in the background.

Because they’re not using their minds and so they need something to fill that space. They have the radio on and it works beautifully. Got rock music, the chat show keeps you occupied while you’re using your hands doing something. That is something that people listen to all day. I hear a person’s advertising stuff.

They just view social media as it must be the same thing. Oh,  I’ll just stick my stuff there and say ‘buy now’. That’s simply because people are not educated in marketing. They think that’s what you do. You kind of can. You can put it everywhere, join 15 different Facebook groups, Pinterest, all these different things and put stuff there all the time and it will actually work to a certain extent.


Interact with Everyone Who Interacts with You

Jonathan: But nothing like what it would work if you build some relationships instead, and you got it out there. I mean I was absolutely staggered yesterday; I put up Goggles: The Bear Who Dreamed of Flying. I put the cover up the first time and said, ‘Hey, listen, it’s live. I used this tactic as if you want me to notify you when it’s going to be free put ‘me’ underneath.

Well 300 people later, I was trying to answer every single one because I think it’s really important that somebody’s gone to the trouble to say ‘me. I’d like to get a free copy.’ I got a reply to them. I’m not just going to let them all string out there and say ‘ah suckers you know, you can just stick your name there.’

No, they was just some sort of reply. Seriously each and every single person. I look like that and they say I’m going to read this to my grand daughter. I say, ah, I wish I could do that. It’s a bit far away. But that people absolutely love it. Now, I’ve been doing that for a year interacting with people on that platform.

Laurie: You have.

Jonathan: Giving up like that and I think that’s why I suddenly 300 people came back. I’m not trying to be egotistical. I’m just saying, giving you an example. It just plain works.


The Facebook Group

Laurie: It absolutely does. People know your name and not as an advertiser and not as somebody who’s pushy. They know your name is as an encourager, motivator, somebody who gives great feedback you are. Yeah, very active in there and not and not in a bad way. Right?

Jonathan: Right, right, but it’s all there for emotional reasons, but it’s also something else which is quite genuine and that is community because community is incredibly supportive. It’s very valuable. That particular group’s a very valuable community because you can actually ask for feedback that. You can put things up there with actually no expectations of getting anything back useful and people do.

It’s just a community. So that’s almost family. It is good. It is incredibly important.

Laurie: That’s one of the best Facebook groups I’m in for sure. There’s a lot of not great ones. A great community and you’re a big part of that. So, thank you.

Jonathan: Oh, well, that’s it’s a good thing. I mean I see what you do with your books really interesting thing. I learned I’m not talking about – I think I covered Twitter do automated tweets. And if you’re looking for people go and use hashtags. Okay, if you want to build your list follow people and they will follow you back. Use pictures, contact big influencers or people who aren’t necessarily in the media, but who are important because those people don’t expect. They don’t get a lot of communications but their important. You can talk to them and they will reply.

Bonus Tip: The Types of People Authors Should Find on Twitter

Laurie: Like what kinds of people?

Jonathan:  Heads of corporations. There are publishers or something, you know, they might look for PR people. Hardly, you know people don’t pick public relations people radio station announcers what television announcers.

Laurie: Okay.

Jonathan: People don’t really talk to them that much. And say ‘I saw your program last night. Oh you aced it that guy had talking to you left them in the dust!’ I say ‘oh, yeah, it was a bit embarrassing.’ That says it’s not you.

It’s, you’re, that’s another relationship you’re building. People who are high profile, but don’t necessarily get the massive communications that are Rockstar well, you know. Yeah, Beyonce, I’m don’t think I’ll try and contact her because she’s kind of like a bit busy.


But What if You’re an Introvert?

Laurie: Maybe just a bit. You are a really natural extrovert and really good at conversation.

Jonathan: I tell you what, the weird thing is. I’ve always seen myself as this real extrovert. Go out there, mix it up. When I go to a party, I’m go out there to break the ice. Always pull people together, break the ice, crack the jokes. After five minutes, nobody’s talking to me. I’ve done my job. Now that used to upset me for a while.

I realized it wasn’t a problem because I’d done what I needed to do. After about 15, 20 minutes, people start to talk to me again. But I put all these people together. There’s an author name is Joanna Penn. Joanna is the CreativePenn.Com. I’ve  known Joanna for a decade and we swap …

Laurie: You have a famous brother and you know Joanna Penn!

Jonathan: Joanna Penn doesn’t ever come across with a big ego. Like she’s famous or anything. She’s a thoroughly nice person.

Laurie: I was just listening to her today in my car.

Jonathan: Oh were you?

Laurie: I love her podcast and I love it.

Jonathan: She laughs and giggles and jokes all the way through it. Well Joanna has lived in New Zealand for a long time. When she comes here we go and have a Starbucks down at the wharf front at the beach.

We chat. I ask her what she’s doing. She asks me what I’m doing. And I was ahead of her for a long time. Now she’s way ahead of me because I went out of the business for such a long time, but she said, ‘You know something?’

I said, ‘I’m an extrovert’. 

Jonathan Is an Introvert!

Jonathan: She said, ‘No you’re not.’ You’re an introvert. It’s just that you can put on this mask and be out there, loud. What would you rather be doing each day?

 I said, ‘I’d rather be in my house having a coffee behind a closed door, tinkering around with my pictures’. She said, ‘Yeah, that’s really you. You can do this thing.’

Laurie: I wanted to bring it up because I’m in a Facebook group with you. I know how active you are. You’re much more active than I am. When you’re talking about Twitter and connecting with people you’re saying 15 minutes a day or less. I am very serious introvert. I know that people listening will think ‘but he is different than I am, and he can do it because he’s like that’. I brought it up because I feel like people will worry that it’s not for them, that they won’t be able to do it because they’re not like you. They’re not the conversation starters. It’s harder to start this conversation.

Even Introverts Can Do All This Successfully!

Jonathan: Look you can actually do it because you’re not meeting people face-to-face. You’re putting stuff out there at arm’s length with Twitter. It’s over there. You could put stuff on it. I am NOT an extrovert. I had to fight my way into this and just do stuff and I found that people didn’t hit me when I did that.

They didn’t shout at me. I didn’t get embarrassed. You say you’re an introvert. You don’t come across that way either. I don’t really like being out there at all. But I just go out there carefully. And like if I go for a walk at night to get some exercise, I’ll go at night so I don’t have to see anybody. I don’t want to bump into people.

My son James says to me ‘What you could do instead, you can listen to a podcast, put headphones on and wear sunglasses. And they can’t tell if you’re looking at them and you can’t hear them. But honestly anybody can do this on Twitter. It might not come across that way, but if I can, you can.


A Little Bit About Publishing and Illustrations

Jonathan: So yeah, I mean as far as types of books goes, the one thing I have learned is this. It’s not to be too judgmental about people’s books because people put up this rubbish-y looking book, you think ‘Ah, that’s not very good’ and they actually have quite a good story.

Laurie: Yeah.

Jonathan: Guess what happens if I put it up on Amazon, it goes crazy and sells tons and tons of copies. So I’m never judgmental because the most simple things can, can work.

And they can work really well. So I no longer say ‘oh God, you got to have beautiful illustrations like I used for Goggles, which took us, you know, like for centuries to do each one. But it is not necessary. So people ask who how much does illustration cost? Well that depends. If you do an illustration like the ones we do in Goggles or a brand new world and seas and trees, that’s going to cost you about $15, $20,000 for the book.

Make Sure Your Illustrations Look Professional!

Jonathan: If you do something like Laurie Wright’s books, which are very simple but highly effective pictures that convey an idea in an instant. I Can Handle It, go to the boy in the cover, just done with careful line work. But the person who drew that is an experienced artist, a professional. You can tell by the quality of the line work. It doesn’t take them long, but they do it.

So they’re just as effective as a complex illustration. It just depends what you’re trying to achieve. If you don’t write a fantasy book that’s with a rich tapestry of story. Lots of interesting faraway exotic places. You can meet some pretty fantastic illustration. But if you just put a simple message to put across, you don’t need them.

Now two kinds of books. One is the storybook. The lovely Rich storybook. Then the other one is the message book, which says like Jay Maletsky makes jokes about this. He says I’ll bury the bullies, learns to be nice. I’ve always wondered sorts of on in your face type titles don’t work. You know like ah, look, let’s go for diversity!

Well, yes sure. But don’t stick that the title! Just show it in the story message books do work in your face. I don’t know. They do. They just like ‘I can handle it’, those are messages folks. But the way they’re done is to deliberately like that and all very cheerful and very clear. So all of your books, worked like a charm and they’re not sort of obnoxious titles. They’re just sweet, helpful titles, you know. And they don’t say, they’re not wagging their finger at anybody.

Jonathan’s Style of Writing

Jonathan: But for me, I like to write stories what I won’t do that. I like to weave the message through a story if I had one to say.

I won’t come out front and say it. In the time of the pick up the kids pick it up on the way here because then they want to read the story and now take it in the bed at night with a flashlight and they’re sneak reading because they can’t get enough of it. That’s what you want.

I mean, I believe that the imagination is the greatest gift we have. If we can encourage that in our children. They kind of, once it has expanded, it never goes back. It stays expanded and they begin to see all the possibilities of the world. Yeah, and then later on they can solve problems and see the way through things and make decisions and come up with fantastic ideas. That’s the power of that. That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about children’s books and reading. Getting them reading.

So that’s why we’re interested in story and fantastic story line. Yeah.

Laurie: A world with our books right? Help people learn and change it.

Jonathan: Yes.


How to Find Jonathan Gunson

Laurie: Thank you so much for sharing all of your information. What’s your website? I don’t think we said that.

Jonathan: You can see my website. It’s live. Yeah, it is Jonathangunson.com.

Laurie: Perfect. Okay, so we will include all of that information in the show notes for people. You had tons to share. Thank you so much for joining me from around the world.

Jonathan: I’m really glad to have done this. It’s such a treat. I love talking and podcasts and audio. Because nobody can see me.

Laurie: You don’t even have to wear pants!

Jonathan: No, I just like that thing. All right. Well, thank you very much Laurie. It’s a great pleasure to be on your podcast. It’s a wonderful podcast and wonderful books.

Laurie: Thank you.

Jonathan: Thank you so much.

Laurie: Thank you. I can’t wait to get yours.

Jonathan: All right.

Laurie: Okay, bye.

Jonathan: Bye for now. Bye bye


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Laurie Wright

Laurie Wright

Teacher turned author, turned children's mental health advocate. Laurie has given a TEDx talk, gives workshops for parents, teachers, and children, and has published five books in the Mindful Mantras series, all to help combat the crisis kids are currently facing. Teachers can't stop the urge to teach! A course for creatives who want to write for kids is coming soon!
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