A First Edition of ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons (1974)’ – signed by the author – is being auctioned in aid of BBC Children in Need

Sophie Neville

Sophie Neville author of 'The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons (1974)'

Bidding has begun for a hardback first edition copy of ‘The Secrets of Filming Swallows and Amazons (1974)’, signed for you by the author and brought to your door or PO Box by Royal Mail (UK p&p is paid for).

Bidding started at £5

All money from the winning bid will be sent as a donation direct to BBC Children in Need – under the auspices of ‘Children in Read’ using the Jumblebee auction site where this illustrated book is listed under the category, ‘Autobiography’.

If you wish to place a bid, please click here

To read a free sample of the first section of the current edition – click here – then click on ‘Look inside’.

To read reviews on the 2nd edition of this book, please click here

The bidding currently stands at £51

If it goes any higher, I will include a signed copy of the 2nd…

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Children in Read – Phase 2

The wave of authors coming forward for Children in Read has been fantastic! Well done to all of you, whether you are friends, fellow RNA members, PYA members or just Twitter or Facebook friends -a big thank you, and well done.

The Auction site goes live on September 1st, and Children in Need Day this year is November 13th. Books are accepted right up to the last few days before the 13th.

Apart from soliciting books and donating our own, what happens then? What else needs to e done?

In a word – Publicity!

When it comes to bidding to buy books, we have an advantage – as a lot donor it is very easy to check over all of the other lots and decide whose book we might like to bid on, but we aren’t the main target.

The main target is  “the reading public”.

As authors, we know how hard it is to make contact with readers. Other writers and book bloggers form the largest part of our social media circle of friends, or so it seems. Actually making contact with READERS – i.e. book buyers, is an impenetrable secret.

So a few ideas for publicising the auction.

Goodreads.  As authors I’m sure we’ve all found its just not possible to “monetize” Goodreads. However, I think I’ve found a way of making some decent contacts.

I’ve set up a Goodreads Event for the Auction, with the basic details in, and the start and finish for it. I did something similar for my book launch in Oct 2017. That event allowed me to invite 250 people. This time I was able to invite over 1800 people!


I expanded my Goodreads list of friends by inviting all my Twitter followers.  You can find friends from Twitter, Facebook and Gmail. They all add up!

I went through all my Goodreads friends and sent invites to the event to all those with a UK address. Goodreads shows your friends country-of-residence. Also, rather than just Clicking “Invite” I used the handy box to include a Message.

“Its the annual Children n Read book auction for Children on Need.

For writers, A great cause, and a GREAT chance of exposure in a premier event! All is costs you is 1 book and UK postage for it.

For readers, you are contributing to one of the best-loved charities in the UK., and you are bidding for a unique item – a book specially signed and dedicated to you by an author you have chosen.”

Goodreads is a VERY static site. Very few people check their Goodreads page (as a reader) more than once every few days. Authors may check it much more often, especially when they are expecting reviews. The Auction doesn’t start for 5 weeks, though and runs for 2.5 MONTHS – so there is lots of time for people to look at their pages, and Goodreads DOES HAVE READERS subscribed.


Radio. The best way of getting to people though it via airtime. The BBC has 40 local radio stations, and it should not be beyond the wit of man to talk to the stations and get an interview and mention the auction – after all, its for Children in Need, a BBC event!

I would suggest that any of us who have a radio interview on ANY station, for local book programmes, interviews for new releases, etc. should make a point of mentioning the Auction, ESPECIALLY if we have a book in it. Even if you haven’t put a book of your own in the auction, it would be great to mention it, and keep the momentum going by “spreading the word”.

Social Media.

Children in Read only operates on Twitter at the moment. That’s great, up to a point, but it misses out on the largest amount of Social Media users. Twitter has 400 million users; Facebook has 2400 million! Instagram has 1000 million!

I’m not for a moment suggesting that the campaign needs to go out and set up Facebook Pages or Instagram accounts immediately. That’s a subject for future years, BUT….

Many of US use the other Social Media platforms, including Pinterest, Linkedin, etc. There is nothing to stop ANY of us retweeting/ reposting / sharing onto our own Facebook pages, etc. In fact, the campaign NEEDS us to do just that!

No donating author wants to see their book “left on the shelf” either, so there’s another reason for publicising it.  The site doesn’t go live until September 1st, and we’ve then got 2.5 months until Children in Need Day.


Don’t forget to use hashtags for EVERYTHING! You might not search for them, but the public does, especially the younger public.

I came up with these. Feel free to copy and paste. The first two on almost EVERY type of message, the whole lot if you are posting on Instagram or Pinterest.

#childreninread #childreninneed 

#bbcchildreninneed #charityauction #bookstagram #bookauction #author #authorsofinstagram #writingcommunity #books #charity #bbc 

The other hashtag to use, if you have room, is the name of your book, i.e. #heartofstone


Pinterest has as many users as Twitter! Many of us use it as a picture repository. Good for sharing, though.

I’ve set up a Children in Read Board, and I’ll update it as necessary. All the pics have live links and hashtags.

Feel free to copy, use, share in any way you wish! Copy or share to your OWN Pinterest page.

As I write, we are up to 250 Authors, and they are STILL coming in!

Remember, too, that the site isn’t live until September 1st, so its only gentle publicity until then. We don’t want to have people wanting to bid before the site is open!

Your thoughts on publicity would be most welcome!

But – Fantastic so far!

Children in Read

Children in Read is a charity book auction which raises funds for the long-established British charity, Children in Need, itself an arm of the BBC. It was founded by Paddy Heron, who continues to organise and drive the event forward from year to year.

Now in its sixth year, it has raised increasingly larger amounts each year. In 2019, it managed to raise almost exactly £8,500, and received over 378 books as donations for the auction.

From Doctor Who to Mary Beard

The auction itself is fully automated using the Jumblebee platform, and, in past years, Children in Read receives sponsorship from Construction Impact Framework, an ethical, award-winning construction framework based in Liverpool, for the cost of running the auction.

How it works.

Paddy “opens the shop” to donations in early July. Authors will contact him, and Paddy himself will approach new and previous donors asking for them to donate a book. Most authors are only too happy to donate a book. Children in Need, and Children in Read are both excellent causes to be associated with and have the highest approval and acceptance of almost any charity in the UK.

You can see the different genres that are donated

For an author to donate a book, there’s nothing easier! Just email Paddy Heron at childreninread@yahoo.com or Tweet to him (and Follow him) at @ChildrenInRead and tell him you would like to donate a book.

All genres are most welcome as are all age-group books.

There is obviously a big rush at the start, but once you have made contact, Paddy will message the authors when he needs the data for their auction lot. This is:

The Author’s name, with a “head shot” photo.

The book title and a “cover shot” photo

The authors bio, and the “book blurb”

And the Author’s web page and Twitter addresses.

My entry for Heart of Stone from last year.

After the Auction, on November 13th, Paddy and the team will contact the authors with the details of the winning bid.  The author then signs a copy of their book and sends it to the winner by post!

Could it be easier, or more worthwhile? I do not think so! 😉

I donated last year, and just got in before they closed the auction to new entries, so they can certainly take donations right up to the wire.

Charity is all very well but…

Yes, Children in Need is a charity, and arguably the best-known charity in the UK. However, as an author with one of the smaller publishing houses (Crooked Cat Books) I also see this as an outstanding promotion for all participating authors. To be there, on display, on an equal footing with the great and the good from ALL levels and genre of authors in the UK, is fantastic for “putting yourself out there”.  The auction website also comes with “share buttons” for Facebook and Twitter, making it very easy indeed to publicise your own generosity, and both the Charity and the Auction.

Sharing on Facebook

The costs for this are derisory – for me that works out at around £10 for the cost of a book, an envelope and UK postage.

You would be mad not to!!!

And for Readers?

Check out the Auction Site when it goes live on September 1st., and keep checking back right up to the auction for “late entries”. You will see the widest choice of books in ALL genres, waiting for YOUR bid!

Many of the books on offer are by the best-selling authors of today. Last year these ranged from Jeffrey Archer and Nigella Lawson to Carole Matthews and Milly Johnson. From Kate Mosse to Lucinda Riley and Tom Kerridge!

If your bid wins, you receive a signed and usually dedicated copy of the book – and ALL the money that you bid at auction goes straight to Children in Need!

‘Gras! (Asparagus)The Food of the Gods!

So the Asparagus Season has drawn to a close. Working it out, between St. Georges Day and now, P and I have eaten about 8 kg of it!

Our favourite ways of eating it?

  1. Steamed, with Hollandaise Sauce.
  2. Wrapped around with a slice of parma ham, and grilled.
  3. Asparagus Tart
  4. Asparagus Fritata
  5. Asparagus Soup
  6. Other uses

Never just “Cut the end off”. Just bend the stalk in two, and it will snap. The harder bit goes for soup, and the tender bit for eating as soon as possible.

Keep it in the fridge and use as soon as possible It WILL keep a few days.

We always get “Thin” stalks, or Sprue. It is sold by the weight, so you don’t lose out. The thin bits, we find tenderer and tastier.

Traditionally, the season starts on St George’s Day, April 18th, and finishes on Midsummer’s Day, 21st. June. If you cut after midsummer, you are “cutting next year’s crop”


Steamed, with Hollandaise Sauce.

Note: I HAVE made Hollandaise Sauce from scratch, but at my time of life it is easier, and pretty well just as good to buy it in jars. Either way, it’s lovely.

  • We use a bamboo steamer, and work on about 25 thin stems a person.
  • Any steamer will do, or even a sieve over a pan of gently boiling water.
  • Steam for between 5 – 8 minutes. Serve and smother the ends with Hollandaise. If no Hollandaise, butter is pretty good too.

Asparagus and Parma Ham / Prosciutto.

  • Wrap 2 or 3 stalks in a slice of ham.
  • When all your stalks are wrapped, place in a grill pan and grill for about 8 minutes, turning frequently. Don’t let them burn.
  • You can also place on a baking tray, and in a hot oven for 8 – 10 minutes.
  • Hollandaise sauce is also wonderful with these.

Asparagus Tart

  • Half a pack of Puff Pastry
  • 4 Portions of Asparagus
  • 3 oz / 70 gm Grated Parmezan
  • 2 Cups Plain Yoghurt
  • 1 Cup Crème Fraiche
  • 3 Eggs
  • Salt & Pepper
  • Set your oven to 180 deg.

Asparagus Frittata

Allow the frozen pastry to soften – about 2 hours at room temperature.

Roll out to fit a small baking tin or flan dish.

Prick the base with a fork.

Sprinkle over two thirds of the parmesan.

Blanch your asparagus for 1 minute in boiling water, or steam for 2-3 minutes.

Arrange your asparagus in your flan dish / tin

Beat the yoghurt, Crème Fraiche and 3 eggs together. Season.

Pour over the asparagus.

Sprinkle top with remaining parmesan.

  • 2 or 3 portions of asparagus
  • 4 or 5 new potatoes (Asparagus season is pretty well the same as Jersey Royal season – a match made in heaven!) Cut into half or quarters if wished.
  • 1 large onion, chopped.
  • 50 gm of grated parmesan or cheddar. (both work well)
  • 4 – 6 eggs.
  • Proportions and quantities are variable depending on what you have available and how hungry you are.

Gently fry the onion in olive oil until transparent. Do not allow to brown.

Boil the new potatoes for about 5 minutes.

Steam or blanch your asparagus over the potatoes for the last minute or so,

Add the potatoes and stir.

Arrange the asparagus over the top.

Season well.

Beat the eggs with half the cheese.

Pour over the asparagus and shake gently to distribute the beaten eggs.

Cook gently on top of the stove until the eggs start to set, then place under a hot grill for 5 minutes to brown the top.

Great with a salad!

Asparagus Soup

We use our collected trimmings of asparagus, plus – sometimes, a few tips to finish.

  • About 1 lb / 450 gm asparagus.(trimmings or whole)
  • 1.5 litres chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 large onion.
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon double cream
  • Salt & pepper

Chop the onion and fly slowly in a small amount of olive oil until transparent. Do not allow to brown.

Cut the asparagus trimmings into short lengths (1 cm).

Add stock to the onion and asparagus trimmings

Cook gently for an hour.

Season as required.

At this point, we use a “Magic Wand” to blend the soup, and then pass it through a sieve.

Return to a gentle heat.

Add a tablespoon of double cream to finish!

And, also..

Blanch any odd spears, and add to a Salad Niçoise, to Scrambled Eggs or an Omelette! All delicious.

And finally, a big thank-you to Rich and Ronnie Morritt, of Sand Hutton Asparagus for growing the stuff to such a great standard!! #sandhuttonasparagus #yorkshireasparagus #britishasparagus #ifcarlsberggrewasparagus

My Latest Book – Launch Date Reveal!

Excellent guidance from Esther!


I’m excited to announce that Publication Guaranteed (well, almost!) will be launched on the 27th June. It’s available for pre-order now:

Amazon UK

Amazon US

It’ll only be available as an ebook to begin with; a paperback will follow soon.

Here’s a reminder of the blurb:

Fed up with rejection after rejection? Not sure how to target the right market, or what to write about?

Writers Bureau tutor, editor and freelance writer, Esther Chilton takes you through the necessary steps to gain publication whether you’re just starting out or have been writing for a while.

Topics include writing:

  • Readers’ letters

  • Fillers

  • Articles

  • Short stories

  • For competitions

You’ll find information on market research, how to set your work out and send it, as well as lots of useful tips, examples and writing exercises to give you ideas and build on your writing skills with the aim of publishing your work.

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John’s Page of Links, for Writing Friends

Some Twitter Lists

John’s Twitter List of RNA Members


NOT an Official RNA List – just my gleanings over the last few years. If you feel you should be on it, let me know or add yourselves. All levels of RNA members welcome.


A Twitter List of Book Bloggers (UK Based (mainly))


Collected from various sources. Book Bloggers and Vloggers are a VITAL part of the industry – we NEED them! (and the ones I know are delightful people!)

If you want adding to the list, just let me know!


John’s Friday #ff Twitter List


This is a list of Writers, reviewers, bloggers, editors, cover designers, etc. In short, its people who are part of this mad world of writing and publishing.

There is NO distinction between conventional or indie authors. Everyone on this list is worth following, and everyone here also follows me.

It is MAINLY limited to UK based writers, etc. An #ff tweet with the new additions to the list goes out every Friday.

Direct Links to the Authors Profiles on the RNA Website

Author’s Profiles on the RNA Website: The latest batch.


Some important organisations. You should DEFINITLY belong to at least one!

The Romantic Novelists Association




The Society of Authors




The Alliance of Independent Authors




The Crime Writers Association




The Historical Novel Society




Some Children’s Stories for my Granddaughter (and yours!)

These are links to a series of readings, by me, of some popular children’s stories, including Beatrix Potter, Winnie the Pooh, and The Wind in the Willows.

They are all stored in my Youtube Library, and are on my Facebook Author Page.

If YOU have appropriately aged children or grandchildren, and think they will be amused – especially during the pain that is lock-down, then please go ahead and use them. Personal use only, of course.

The Tale of Peter Rabbit


The Tale of Benjamin Bunny


The Tale of Mrs Tiggiwinkle


The Tale of Jemima Puddleduck


The Tale of Jeremy Fisher


The Tailor of Gloucester


Winnie-the-Pooh – The Wrong Bees!


The Wind in the Willows – Chapter 1 – The Riverbank.


I’m open to suggestions, should you have a child or grandchild who might need occupying for a few moments

Enjoy!!! I’ve enjoyed making these recordings.

Social Media 101 – Updated

Social Media 101 – A starter session: Particularly for Writers who are NOT too sure about Social Media This first session is for those people who are new to Social Media. We will look at the different types of Social Media, and what they do.We will also look at the pleasures and pitfalls of the different types. What is best for you? You don’t HAVE to use any one over another, but Twitter and Facebook are the market leaders for a reason. This is part 1 of 3. All packed with – I hope – useful info. I would, however, recommend going on a Course if you can. My friend Anita Chapman (@neetswriter) runs excellent courses in various locations. Highly worthwhile.

There are SIX main social media platforms.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest
  • Goodreads
  • Youtube

There are other platforms which you CAN use to gather followers and exchange information. I’m not going to cover them in this session.These are:

  • LinkedIn,
  • Reddit,
  • Google+ (now defunct),
  • Tumblr and
  • MeWe

Facebook is the giant of the bunch, with over 2 BILLION users worldwide.

Twitter is for sharing shorter messages (up to 280 characters). It is very “transient.”

Instagram is a picture-sharing app designed for use with your mobile phone and its camera. It is ridiculously popular for the younger market and their predilection for “selfies”

Pinterest is a “picture collecting” site. I find it useful for research, and it can give you a nice shop-window for your books – WITHOUT you having to update it all the time.

Goodreads is a site you should ALL be on, as authors. It’s a shop window for your books, and, like Pinterest, doesn’t require you to update it all the time.

Youtube is a video sharing site. If you are happy in front of the cameras, this may be for you. It CAN be very effective.

Before you start, pick a “Headshot” for your profile pic. Pick a good one that is unmistakably you. Use this pic for ALL your profiles at this stage.

We want consistency. This is your business! This is your “Brand”

Similarly, write a short bio you can use on all your Social Media sites. You can cut-and-paste it from one to another.

Also, equally important, what name do you want to use?

The choices are

  1. Your name.
  2. A Nom-de-plume
  3. Both.

You may use your “real” name on your personal Facebook page, and restricting your “Friends” to people who are friends or family in the real world.

You can then use a Nom-de-plume for another Personal Page. Set up a simple Gmail account under your nom-de-plume.

You can then use your “Nom-de-plume Page” to set up an Author Page.

For women writers, or teachers and others, there can be a need to keep a degree of separation between your writing life and your home life. This is NOT as complicated as it may sound.


I thought we would deal with Goodreads first. EVERY author needs a Goodreads page. It is FREE and doesn’t take too much to set up.

Goodreads is a site where you can collect reviews, and also where you can leave reviews of other authors books. The site is owned by Amazon, but there is no direct link between reviews on Amazon and reviews on Goodreads.

Go to https://www.goodreads.com/. Follow the simple instructions. Check out books you have read, or are reading. Add reviews where you can – even if its only a number of stars.

To get your own Author page, go to https://www.goodreads.com/author/program

To apply for the Author Program, you can follow these steps when visiting the desktop version of Goodreads:

  • 1. Sign in or create an account, and then search for your most popular book via ISBN, ASIN, or title.
  • 2. On the book, click on your author name. Scroll to the bottom of your author profile page.
  • 3. Click “Is this you? Let us know!” to complete and submit the application.

They will send you an email when you’re approved within 2 business days. Your login and password will stay the same.

Follow the (fairly) simple instructions.

Once you have added your personal details, pic and bio, add details of any other books.

Basically, that is it. You can follow other authors at your leisure.

If you have a blog, then you can connect it to Goodreads, so that when you update your blog, it will also show, on your Goodreads page.

If you are having a Launch party or event, you can invite your Goodreads friends to attend or join in.When you read a book, please, please review it! Review it on Amazon and then copy that review to Goodreads. Then, hopefully, your friends and readers will review YOUR books. What goes around, comes around!


Facebook is the giant of Social Media, with nearly 3 BILLION pages out there. This is YOUR market!

Everyone starts with a “Personal Page” (Their Profile). I imagine everyone here has a personal Facebook page.

This is – as it says – a Personal page. This is where you post pics of your cats, your grandchildren, your holidays and your friends, or in my case, hedgehogs.

Do NOT post your home address or your home phone number on Facebook! You CAN post the town or area. i.e. York, North London, Cornwall, etc.

You SHOULD enter a mobile number. This is NOT shown on your page. It is there so Facebook can send you a Code to reset your password, should you need to.

1. Click on Edit Profile

2. Click on About, and add as much detail as you are comfortable with.

3. Under contacts, you will see: Mobile phones 07123 456789 · Texts Activated · Remove and a small icon.

4. Click on the icon and select “Only Me” illustrated by a padlock.

5. Put your birthday in. Ladies may not want to put their year of birth in. That’s fine.

Also, add details of ALL your social media and authors links.



Social links

Also, if the site allows, your Profile Page. The Romantic Novelists Association, the Crime Writers Association, and Promoting Yorkshire Authors ALL have Profile Pages. https://romanticnovelistsassociation.org/rna_author/john-jackson/

Remember – this is FREE ADVERTISING for you. Make it as easy as possible for potential readers to find you.

You should now have a working Personal Page. You will start to acquire Friends immediately. You can acquire your own Friends as well. Don’t go off and send 200 Friend requests at once though. Do it steadily.

You NEED an Author Personal Page. You can’t join or be added to some Groups just as an Author Page. Again, remember – you need to connect with people. This is business!

A good place to find Friends is to look at those who belong to your “Peer Groups,” i.e. the Facebook Group “Promoting Yorkshire Authors.” or also, in my case, The Romantic Novelists Association

Click on “Members” and look down the list and send Friend Requests to as many as you feel happy with – especially if you know them in real life.

At the start, if you get Friend requests, feel free to decline any you are not happy with. If you get any spam requests, i.e. from US Generals, or sundry Sheiks, just click on “Mark as Spam”.

In the next session, I will cover having your own Author Page, Facebook Groups, and setting up your OWN Authors Facebook Group.


Twitter is probably the most popular social media among writers. Twitter posts are for immediate short-term announcements. You are limited to 280 characters, which forces you to concentrate on the substance of your message.Also, because Twitter handles a lot of traffic, you will find your messages scroll up the screen rather quickly. How to get a Twitter account.

  • 1. Choose a profile name. This is the name you’ll be known as on Twitter (also known as your @name or twitter handle). Be consistent; have it recognisable as your writing name.
  • 2. Add a photo of you, not your logo. The same photo as your Facebook account. Again, its consistency, and becoming your “brand.”
  • 3. Complete your bio. Be guided by your Facebook bio.
  • 4. Add your website address.
  • 5. Follow some people. Celebrities, news media, friends, etc.
  • 6. Get tweeting! Cat pictures are allowed.
  • 7. Check your mentions regularly.

I recommend you use Tweetdeck. This is a good way of displaying your Twitter feed on your laptop. Tweetdeck is owned by Twitter! It’s at https://tweetdeck.twitter.com/

As you can see, it organises traffic into columns. Types of Tweetdeck columns and what they display

  • 1. Home: Home timeline for any specific account.
  • 2. User: Tweets from a specific account.
  • 3. Notifications: Notifications for a specific account, including when the account’s Tweets are Retweeted, liked, or mentioned, and when someone follows the account.
  • 4. Search: A specific search term.
  • 5. Lists: Create or connect a list you already follow.
  • 6. Collection: A timeline of curated Tweets, hand-selected by you, to share with others.
  • 7. Activity: What’s happening with the accounts you follow.
  • 8. Likes: Tweets marked as likes from a specific account.
  • 9. Messages (one account): Direct Messages for a specific account.
  • 10. Mentions (one account): When someone mentions a specific account.
  • 11. Followers: Follow activity for a specific account.
  • 12. Scheduled: Your scheduled Tweets.
  • 13. Messages (all accounts): Direct Messages from all your authorized accounts in aggregate.
  • 14. Mentions (all accounts): Mentions from all accounts.
  • 15. Trending: Specific worldwide trends.

Just click on the “+” sign in the left-hand column to set up a new column. You will start to build up a collection of Followers quite quickly.

If you post your new Twitter handle on the RNA group page, or any other group you belong to, on FACEBOOK, then your friends and co-authors will follow you.


Instagram is VERY popular. It is a photo-sharing site and is particularly oriented towards Smartphone cameras. When you see people taking “selfies” of themselves, you can be pretty sure they will be posting it to Instagram.

Again, for YOU, as an author, it is Free Advertising.

Why is it so popular? Instagram is Social: People are social creatures. We like to tell others what we are doing, eating, buying, and seeing.

Instagram is Free: Though it is downloadable from the iTunes store, all the photo-editing bells and whistles of Instagram are completely free to users. Another big benefit to users is the lack of advertisements cluttering up the screen, a common complaint of Facebook users

Instagram is Easy and Fun: Instagram doesn’t need a complicated help page to get it up and running. Snap a picture, edit, caption, comment, like and share are simple tasks to accomplish, so the learning curve is easily manageable.

Through the use of filters, borders and other special effects, people with little artistic ability can drastically change the look of any picture they snap. That is just plain fun.

Instagram is Instant: Clumsy user interface and long loading times were criticisms of other photo-sharing applications, and even of Instagram’s early versions. The current version loads quickly, and in this age of “instant gratification”, this feature alone gets points with users.

Instagram is Creative: While a status update on Facebook or Twitter of “Bought a pair of red shoes” can be boring to read, illustrating the purchase with a snappy photo including a border and a retro filter effect is visually appealing and allows the user to show some creativity.

Anyone and everyone can show their artistic sides with Instagram. Ordinary, everyday objects can be transformed into works of art in a few moments, then shared with the Instagram world and other social media friends to admire your previously unknown artistic ability.

To actually get on to Instagram:

1. Download the app. Instagram is different from other social networks in that it is primarily a mobile phone platform. Once your account is set up, you will have a page that can be viewed on a desktop, but the majority of your activity will take place within the mobile app. Click here to download the app.

2. Choose a recognisable username.You can sign up for Instagram with an email address or a personal Facebook account.

3. Once you sign up, you’ll be asked to choose a username.Your username will display publicly and will be what people see when they find you on Instagram. Make sure the username you choose is recognisable and is as close to your business or organisation’s name as possible.

4. When signing up, Instagram will also ask for your full name. Here, you can put your business name or pen name which will make it easier for people to find you through Instagram’s search function.

5. Update your profileInstagram lets you fill out a 150 character bio about your business. Use your standard Author bio. You can also add your business’s website, which users will be able to click to visit right from their mobile device.

6. Add your profile picture. Your profile photo can only be updated on a mobile device. If you don’t have your logo saved to your smartphone or tablet, Instagram has the option to import it from Facebook or Twitter. You can also take a new photo with Instagram.

7. Research. Otherwise known as poking around and looking at what other people have posted. It might not sound fun, but without having a good understanding of the type of pictures others are posting, you won’t know what content tends to do well. Happily, for you, Instagram research is less staring-at-piles-of-data-wearing-a-lab-coat kind of research and more look-at-pretty-pictures kind of research. Start by finding a writer in your genre who has a hefty Instagram following and high levels of engagement. What do they tend to send, and when do they tend to send it?

8. Even if you want to differentiate yourself from the competition, it’s essential that you know what others are doing.

9. Post your first photo

Okay, now that your profile is set up, it’s time to take your first photo.

Here’s a quick run-through of how Instagram works:

  • 1. Take a picture.
  • 2. Click on “Share”
  • 3. Select Instagram
  • 4. Decide whether to Crop it.
  • 5. Decide if you want to use a “filter” (but its OK to skip this)
  • 6. Click NEXT in the top right of the screen. Add a caption or description, if you want.
  • 7. You can also tag people and name the location.

Setting up your location. When you click” Add Location” you will see a list of previously used locations in your general area. Give a “general location”, i.e. York, rather than a precise address.

After your photo is posted, you will see the location name in blue. When you click on your location name, you’ll be able to see every picture that has been tagged there.

Tell people you’re on Instagram. Tell your Facebook Friends and Twitter Followers. This goes for EVERY new account you set up.

TELL YOUR FRIENDS AND COLLEAGUES! If you have an email list, you can send out an announcement and ask readers to follow you.

Follow others. Instagram’s search function makes it easy to find people and brands to follow. You can search by username, or choose a hashtag that may be relevant to your business. Following more people and businesses is a great way to make new connections and can also provide inspiration for your Instagram account.

Get social. You’ve set up your account, learned the basics, and found the right people to follow; now you’re ready to start building a presence for you and your books on Instagram.

The key is engaging with the people who follow you. When someone likes or comments on your photo, you will receive a notification.

You can respond within the comments of a photo by including the “@” symbol, followed by their username.

You will also receive notifications when someone tags you in a photo.

You can view all of the photos you’ve been tagged in, on your Instagram profile.


Pinterest is another picture-sharing site. You can Pin and keep almost any picture you see on-line – and your own pictures.

I find it VERY useful for research. When writing Heart of Stone, I used it extensively for pictures of costume from the 18th Century.

It’s also very useful for pics of the site where your book is set (or where you imagine it to be)

You can log into Pinterest with both Twitter or Facebook, or by setting up a User name and password of your own.

1. Choose Your Topics of Interest

Once you’ve signed in using Twitter or Facebook, you’ll be presented with a visual grid of 28 topics. You’ll be asked to choose your topics of interest so that Pinterest can make better suggestions of who you should follow.

Pick some topics, then click the blue “Follow People” button at the bottom of the page. You’ll see some images of people and Boards based on the selection of topics you just made.

2. Create Boards

Next, you’ll be given a default selection of pinboards (or “Boards”) to choose from, such as “Products I love,” “For the Home,” and many more.

You can also click the “Add” button at the bottom of the screen to add your own Board with a custom name of your choosing. These Boards represent topics that you can “pin” pictures to.

You can create as few or as many boards as you like. You can also edit the titles of Boards you’ve created or delete them altogether.

Allow other people to contribute to your boards by clicking the “Edit” button at the bottom of your Board.

Next, find the option “Who can pin?” and change the setting from “Just Me” to “Me + Contributors.” You have to follow at least one Board belonging to a Pinterest member in order to add him or her as a contributor to your boards.

3. Install the “Pin It” Button and Start Pinning

Once you’ve created some Boards, you’ll be directed to a page where you can install a bookmarklet, called “Pin It” in your browser.

The Pin It button gets installed on your browser’s bookmarks bar so that when you find images on a website that you’d like to pin to one your Boards, you simply click the button.

The Pinterest application will open, showing you a grid of thumbnails of all the images available on the website. When you scroll your mouse over any image, click the “Pin This” button to pin the image to your Board.

A pop-up window will open and you can choose the Board you’d like to pin the image to from a drop-down menu of the Boards you’ve created in Pinterest.

Select the appropriate Board, give the image a description (this is mandatory) and click the red “Pin It” button.

Another pop-up window will open, confirming your successful pin and providing you the options to “See your Pin,” “Tweet your Pin,” or “Share on Facebook.”

Pinterest takes care of attributing the sources of the images, and every pinned image contains an embedded, clickable link back to the original website from which it came.

4. Get Social

Once you’ve created some Boards and you’ve pinned a bunch of images to them, you can begin the process of finding, connecting, and sharing with other Pinterest members.

You’ll find a search bar in the top left-hand corner of the Pinterest home page. Type a keyword that you’re interested in finding and click the Enter key.

You can refine your searches by selecting “Pins,” “Boards,” or “People.” Once you’ve found some interesting matches you can follow individual Boards, or follow all Boards from any Pinterest member you’re interested in.

Following a Board places it on your Pinterest homepage so that you can visit the Board any time to see and interact with any updates made to it.

You can “Like” an individual image (or “Pin”) using Pinterest’s own Like button, or you can Like it with the Facebook Like button at the side of the Pin’s page.

You can tweet the Pin to your followers, email a link to your friends, and even “Repin” an image to one of your own Boards.

Anyone familiar with other social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Google+ should have no problem finding their way around, and making the most out of Pinterest, in no time at all.


Youtube is a video-sharing site. Some authors find it very useful and can use it with ease and comfort.

It has a VAST number of subscribers. One of the best Vloggers is RNA member Nikki Moore. Nikki produces some very good and very useful Youtube Vlogs for writers. If you’ve got the knack, you could do it too.

My local writing Group, Promoting Yorkshire Authors has its own Youtube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VdN2-Dl1qM

It’s easy to do this on either the desktop or mobile versions of YouTube.

YouTube and Google accounts share logins, so if you have Gmail or another Google account, then you already have a YouTube account as well.

You can create a new YouTube account with any email address on the desktop YouTube website, or by creating a new Gmail account on the YouTube mobile app.

If you have already got a Google account:

1. Open YouTube. Go to https://www.youtube.com/ in your computer’s web browser. This will take you to the YouTube home page.

2. Click SIGN IN. If you aren’t signed into a Google Account in your web browser, this option is in the top-right corner of the YouTube home page.

3. If you’re already signed in to a Google account in your web browser, then you are also logged in to your YouTube account. There’s nothing more you need to do – you can get started using YouTube right away

If you DON’T have a Google account:

1. Click Create account. It’s a link near the bottom-left side of the sign-in page. Doing so opens an account creation form.

2. Fill out the Google Account form. Type your information into the following fields:· First name and Last name — Enter your first and last name, respectively.· Your email address — Type in a working email address to which you have access. This cannot be a Gmail account.· Password — Type in the password you want to use to log in.· Confirm password — Re-enter the password you just typed in.

3. Click NEXT. It’s at the bottom of the page.

4. Retrieve your email address verification code. To do so:· Open your email address inbox and sign in if necessary.· Click the “Verify your email address” email from Google.· Note the six-digit code in the middle of the email’s body.· Enter the verification code. Type the six-digit verification code from the email into the text box in the middle of the Google Account creation page.

5. Click VERIFY. It’s below the text box.

6. Enter your date of birth and your gender. Select your birthday’s month, day, and year, then click the “Gender” drop-down box and select a gender.

7. You can also enter your phone number here, but doing so is optional.

8. Click NEXT. This option is at the bottom of the page.

9. Scroll down and click I AGREE. You’ll find it at the bottom of the list of terms. Doing so will create your Google Account, log you into YouTube, and take you back to the YouTube page

On Mobile

1. Open YouTube. Tap the YouTube app icon, which resembles a white triangle on a red background.

2. Tap the “Profile” icon. It’s in the top-right corner of the screen. A drop-down menu will appear.

3. Tap SIGN IN. This option is in the drop-down menu. Doing so opens a new menu.

4. If you’re already signed into a YouTube account, you’ll tap Switch account here instead.

5. Tap Add account. It’s near the bottom of the menu.

6. On Android, tap + in the top-right corner of the menu.

7. Tap the Create account link. This option is near the bottom of the screen.

8. Enter your first and last name. Type your first name into the “First name” text box, then type your last name into the “Last name” text box.

9. Tap NEXT. It’s a blue button at the bottom of the page.

10. Enter your date of birth and your gender. Select the month, day, and year of your birthday, then tap the “Gender” box and select your gender.

11. Tap NEXT.

12. Create a Gmail username. You can’t use an existing, non-Gmail address to create a Google Account through the YouTube app, so you’ll need to create a new Gmail address by typing whatever you want to use for your Gmail address’ username into the “Username” text box.· For example, typing in “iamabanana” here will set your Gmail address to “iamabanana@gmail.com”.· When creating a YouTube account on your mobile, you’ll have to create a Gmail account rather than using a separate email address. If you want to use a non-Gmail address, use the YouTube website to create your YouTube account.

13. Tap NEXT.

14. Enter a password twice. Type your preferred password into the “Create password” text box, then repeat the password in the “Confirm password” text box.

15. Tap NEXT.

16. Scroll down and tap SKIP. It’s at the bottom of the page.

17. Scroll down and tap I AGREE. This option is at the bottom of the list of YouTube terms.

You can post any videos you take on your smartphone or with any other camera. Some people find this very easy, and review books on video.

If you want to see other people’s videos, just search in the box for Book Reviews, to give you an idea of what is out these.

What is the quickest way to increase Friends and Followers for ALL Social Media? There are lots of FREE ways to do this.

1. Do Follow/Unfollow

2. Find people who like similar things. Follow them or send them a Friend request.

3. Comment, Like and Share / Retweet / Repost.· Find interesting or amusing content on your platforms. Comment on it, then like them and share, retweet or repost.

4. Build friendships

5. This is Social Media so BE social! Make friends and follow people.· There is a real buzz when you get a tap on the shoulder, and turn to meet someone new, who says “Hi, John. We’re friends on Facebook*” (*insert Social Media platform of choice.)

6. Hashtag research· Use #hashtags! Use #hashtags on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. # A good hashtag can bring in thousands of new people a post, and ALWAYS include #yourbooktitle. i.e. for me, I always include #heartofstone.

7. Post it everywhere

8. Self explanatory. Post on one platform, and share it to others.

Don’t let your life be dominated by Social Media. It is a tool for us to use, not an end product on its own, and DON’T try to read EVERY message or Tweet that crosses your feed. You will soon get used to picking out the info that is interesting for you.

The key to ALL Social Media is “Engagement”