Suzanne Hemmings writes rhyming children’s books with messages of equality and acceptance in them. She also uses her platform to campaign and highlight the need for greater equality.
Listen in to hear Suze share:
- An introduction to her books (1:30)
- How her daughter inspired her to write her own books (2:04)
- Her background in engineering (6:24)
- How and when she started writing (7:00)
- Why you don’t need writing or publishing experience to write and publish a book (10:31)
- The practical steps to go through (13:15)
- The power of using Google to help with research and creating your to-do list and why you don’t need to know it all (15:10)
- The difference between traditional publishing and self publishing (19:11)
- Where she sells her books and (23:05)
- How having a distributor helps (25:30)
- The roles she has to do as a self published author (27:38)
- How she found a distributor (28:30)
- How she markets her books (30:45)
- Save the Children’s Save with Stories (37:48)
- Her number one piece of advice for anyone wanting to write and publish a book (41:54)
- A sneak peek at book number 3! (43:00)
- Thea Chops Books
- Thea Chops Books on Twitter
- Thea Chops Books on Facebook
- Thea Chops Books on Instagram
- Thea Chops Books on You Tube
- Daily Mail Femail article
- Save the Children’s Save with Stories
- Episode 13: Creating a products business by sourcing and curating – with Lynsey Pollard, Little Box of Books
How to write and publish your own books - with Suzanne Hemming, Thea Chops Books
Welcome to the Bring Your Product Ideas to Life podcast, practical advice and inspiration to help you create and sell your own physical products. He is your host Vicki Weinberg
Vicki Weinberg (00:00:22):
Hi. So wherever you listen to this, I hope that your safe and well, so today we're going to talk about Books, which is a physical product. We mentioned in episode 13, where we had an interview with Lynsey Pollard from Little Box of Books and Lynsey is an online book set up. But today we have an interview with Suzanne Hemming.Suzanne is a self published author, and she writes rhyming children's books with messages of a quality and acceptance in them. She also uses her platforms, campaign and highlight the need for greater quality. So Suze is the first author we've had on the show. And I hope you got to find it where she talks about stay really USEFUL. So whenever a book is a product that you're thinking of creating or not, I still think you're going to find this talk from Suzanne absolutely fascinating.
Vicki Weinberg (00:01:07):
She goes into lots of details about self publishing process and what it involved. And they do. You say that all of us have a book inside of us. So perhaps you never know, this might leave you feeling inspired. I have a way, and I hope you enjoy this conversation with Suzanne. All right. Welcome Suzanne thank you so much for being in here. And could you just start by telling everyone a little bit about yourself and what you do please?
Suzanne Hemming (00:01:27):
Yeah, of course. No problem. Thank you for having me I'm so my name is Suzanne Hemming and I, I'm an a, a writer. I'm an author. I write children's books. All right. Rhyming children's books that have messages of equality and acceptance in the way. I want children to believe that they can do anything or be anything, you know, there's no right or wrong way to be a, and so that's why I did. I'm a writer.
Vicki Weinberg (00:02:02):
Thank you. And so what inspired you first of all, to start writing, your own book?
Suzanne Hemming (00:02:08):
my daughter actually is, is my inspiration and it all began with her. I, I had my daughter and when she was little, I want to go to have some fairytale books that I had heard when I was a kid. You know, I was, we were building Her library or a story books to read a bedtime. I mean, this goes back to when she was really, really tiny. You know, reading is so important for children. Reading is really important for children's language development, speech development, cognitive development. So we read her bedtime stories from when she was weeks old, literally. And it was around the time of her first Christmas.
Suzanne Hemming (00:02:49):
And I wanted to get lots of these fairytales I had had when I was less full and then looking at them with the
eyes of an adult in the time that we live. I was just so neat, kind of horrified by all of the messages that are hidden in were not just in the books. I realized that just in everyday life, all around us, you know, pink, passive princesses, just waiting to be rescued by the print's, the princesses of the strong, silent types. They, you know, expect to be loved and to be married instantaneous to me. And if they don't share it and talk about the feelings and I just thought, I need, I need, I want the books that I read with my daughter.
Suzanne Hemming (00:03:31):
I want the world that she grows up in to be different. And so I started to seek out books that had different messages in them, a method, more equal messages in them. And there are some out there, there are a lot more now than they were when my daughter was born seven years ago. But I, yeah, the more I thought about it, the more I thought maybe, maybe this is something that I can do. I'd started writing a blog mostly for my own sanity, really during kind of those early days of motherhood. And so I started dropping things into the blog about writing and the quality and children's books, and occasionally having a go at a rhyming at a piece of like a rhyming story.
Suzanne Hemming (00:04:23):
And I got really lovely feedback from people. And I just thought, yeah, you know what, I've, I've always enjoyed writing. I'm gonna have a go, let's see if I can do this. So, yeah. And again, there really, it began kind of inspired by And for my daughter and he has grown into doing it for, or not just everybody's daughter or son, you know, people's children or my face.
Vicki Weinberg (00:04:46):
Oh, that's fantastic. Yeah. That's been tough. And I can tell I'm totally with you that I have a daughter and she's just got into the princess stage. And I have to say a lot of the classic source of fairytale Prince and, you know, Cinderella area, all the ones that I watch when I was a kid, I'm horrified now with the message is in there. And obviously when you were a small girl and you just don't pick up on any of that, well, not content with it.
Suzanne Hemming (00:05:08):
And you have all of those messages, don't, you know, and the world around you tells, you, keeps telling you those things keeps telling you that you have to be pretty, that you have to be like that, that you have to look a certain way that you, that you're, you're not as strong as a boy that you can't run as fast as the boy that yeah, those, those messages are all there. And we are, we all absorbed them all the time. And I don't think we were even immune to it when we're adults, you know, we don't realize that it's, it's that thing. Isn't it until you can see it until we open your eyes and you see it, you don't really notice what's what is out there and what's going on.
Suzanne Hemming (00:05:52):
So yeah. Yeah. They do it, they absorbed all of those messages. Yeah. That, yeah. That princess face. Wow.
Yeah. That's tough.
Vicki Weinberg (00:05:59):
And I like you, that was the point that, which I sort of became much more aware of, of all of this, because before that, I don't know. It just, wasn't something that I actively force about, but yeah. And now I'm very conscious of sort of the messages, our children, and like, I've got to have a son as well, and I'm really conscious of the messages that they were getting. So coming back to writing So I saw it when I did a little bit of research into you. I saw that your background is as an engineer. Is, is that correct?
Suzanne Hemming (00:06:26):
Well, no, not quite. So I studied engineering at the university. Yeah. So I, at school, I really loved sciences, maths and physics, and, and the time at du, you know, actually at the time it was considered a really good industry for a girl to consider going into because they definitely weren't. I mean, there still aren't many women in the STEM industries are there, but you know, really there weren't many then. So yeah, I kind of, that's what it is. A university. I very quickly realized that I wasn't practically, I wasn't particularly very good.
Suzanne Hemming (00:07:08):
I kind of enjoy the theory and the Y you know, came up with it, but yeah, by the time I'd finished my degree, I knew that I didn't want to go into any kind of general engineering from a practical point of view, but yeah, I did, I did study on it. That's what I, that's what I, that's what my degree is in. Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:07:28):
Save for, in terms of a lot of the writings. So my right in thinking that your first experience of writing, I want to say professionally, but you know what I mean? It was that your, was that your blog when you first started studying? Yeah.
Suzanne Hemming (00:07:41):
Yeah, because actually what I, what I ended up doing for a living, I kinda took the interest in engineering. And I, I wanted to, I wanted to work in the TV and the film industry. So I started doc trying to break into the technical departments. So like camera and sound. It was actually sound that I was interested in at the time. And I wanted to try and get into the sound department. And again, like I say, practically, you know, I don't, that I'm not great at practically at those things. And, but what I, what I ended up doing was working in the production office, which is much more, you know, the kind of management, the facilitating of, of the chutes that the administration, the legal paperwork, all of that kind of thing.
Suzanne Hemming (00:08:28):
But I never had to write creatively in that, in that way, in that job, you know, I wrote memos and emails and things to the crew and to the cast, but yeah, not nothing creative. So yeah, writing the log actually was probably the first time that I'd ever written anything and like put it out there for public consumption. So, yeah,
that was a very nerve wracking it to me. It is, and, you know, posts on that very first blog post and not wanting to actually press the button, thinking that the world was going to explode or something. If I press the button and then I would be inundated with people reading my words.
Suzanne Hemming (00:09:08):
And of course it doesn't happen like that. It's all, very few people read your words when you first put them out there into the world, but yeah. So it was blogging. And then, and then into the books, that was my first experience. Yeah.
Vicki Weinberg (00:09:21):
Oh, I can really relate to that. I've had the same thing when I started my blog, I look back now and it was terrible and I wonder why I even fretted over it because nobody was reading it. I don't know who I thought I was writing it for the property. My mom and dad,
Suzanne Hemming (00:09:33):
Isn't it. I mean, I didn't eat. Then when I started blogging, I was so nervous and worried about it, but I didn't tell anyone I was doing it. I logged like anonymously. You know, I didn't tell my family, I didn't tell my friends. I was just putting these blog posts out there and I created some social media for it. But even the social media didn't have like my name or my face or anything on there at the time. I was terrified while I was terrified. Actually. Yeah. It didn't tell anyone. So here on earth, these like thousands of people where I thought we are going to read that blog post and suddenly asked questions or something who knows, but, but yeah, it's funny, isn't it? The state's we got ourselves into while we were doing these things in dipping our toes into the waters.
Vicki Weinberg (00:10:15):
Oh, absolutely. And the reason I wanted to bring that up actually is because when I talk to people about creating products, wherever it's a physical product or a book, which is obviously in other kinds of physical products, something that often trips people up, if they haven't got the right background or experience. So I really just wanted to, for everyone listening to know that you didn't come from a publishing background or even a professional writing backgrounds. All right. And I just think it's really important for people to see that, but actually what you've done isn't as necessarily as important as what you are going to go on to do.
Suzanne Hemming (00:10:47):
Yeah, definitely. Definitely because yeah. And so it wasn't without, you know, it wasn't without kind of imposter syndrome at the start. I didn't have a background in publishing. I didn't have a background in writing. I wasn't a journalist, I hadn't studied English literature at university. You know, I, I didn't consider myself to be kind of well
read of all of the classics or anything like that. So there was a lot of imposter syndrome there at the start, but there are also was, which I think overrides all of that is a passion to do something, to create something. And, you know, for me, that passion was born out with wanting to kind of be
part of creating change and making the world different for my daughter when she was older, you know, this, this also around all of this time, this was the time of like me to starting as well.
Suzanne Hemming (00:11:44):
And kind of the idea of, you know, the, the idea is if, you know, if men and women viewed each other so much more equally across every aspect of Life society, there, maybe there would just be fewer me too moments in the world because men wouldn't just look at women in a certain way, you know, and act in a certain way. And that's a whole other big conversation to get into isn't it. But, but you know, the passion to be part of like trying to create some kind of change was there. And then that just overrode all of the other or all of the other issues that I thought was there. It was just like, well, yeah, I'm just, I'm going to do this.
Suzanne Hemming (00:12:24):
I'm going to have a go, like, what's the worst that can happen. You know, I ended up with a lot of books in my spare room. I'll give them to school or I'll get to a library or something, you know, but yeah, you don't, I don't think you have to have done it before in all the way to, to do it now.
Vicki Weinberg (00:12:43):
Thank you for that. I think that's really important for people to here and actually the passion that you all set up. I hear that a lot actually. And I agree. I think if you've got the passion, that is what we'll see you for free because presumably it's not easy and it's not simple. And actually the next one I was really like to get onto you, if you don't mind, it's talk about it. Okay. So you have this idea that you are going to write your book say, and what would you mind talking with the Practical staff? So what are the, what are the practical things you have to do between? I like to have a bit, and now I have a book, you know, a physical book in my hands and I was just going to go into as much detail as you think, as you'd like, but I think you could just a really interesting for people to get a sense of what that entails.
Suzanne Hemming (00:13:23):
Okay. So, so yeah, like I've said, I didn't know anything about the publishing industry at all, but I knew what a book looked like. You know, there are lots of books out there. Yeah. And I knew, you know, just, just picking up books in my daughter's bedroom, I knew, well, how books are priced, you know, which is that actually, that's a little bit different for the, the, the products that I created compared to some other products is that, that there are quite fixed prices in a kid's publishing it in publishing in general. There are, there's a certain amount that people pay for a book, you know, so which I know a lot of people who you work with probably are having to really consider what their price point is and where they are in the market.
Suzanne Hemming (00:14:13):
Like a book is a book, you know, but so, but I, I knew what a book looked like, what it felt like I knew what size kids books were. I knew Books that w you know, on your books that felt it's like they were two things on the books that felt like they were quality. I knew where people bought books. I was the person who bought
books. So I knew about online retailers and I knew about chain book stores and all of that kind of thing. So I really just needed to kind of go, okay, how, how do I physically make it and know, this might sound really simple, but I, I think I just Googled, how do you publish a book?
Suzanne Hemming (00:14:57):
Like, how do you self publish a book? You know, and like the power of the internet. Thank goodness. We live in a time when the power of the internet, because there were so many blog, posts, articles, websites, whatever, out there. And I just started reading them and I'd started making a, to do list basically, you know, it was, yeah, it was, it was not to say it was simple, but it was kind of, it was that, you know, it, it, it was a simple as kinda going, I'm gonna do this. Let's, Google how you do this. Right. Let me make my list. I wanted to be illustrated. I can't draw. I need an illustrator, how to find an illustrator, how to work with illustrators, you know, it again, just Google, Google, Google, you know, I'm going to need to print it.
Suzanne Hemming (00:15:47):
Where am I going to print it? Okay. Let's look at where all the books have been printed up. Let's look at it. You know, the printers that publishing houses use, let's look at printers, the other self-published authors, have you used, let's get some quotes. So, yeah, I think I made it to do list. I kind of, I looked at my Product picked up a book and I looked at it and I kind of went, what does it mean what's on the back, there's a barcode. How do we get a barcode? Or, you know, what do this inside of every book I pick up as an ISBM number. There's this international number that every single book on the planet has, so it can be cataloged and the logs and the British library, you know?
Suzanne Hemming (00:16:30):
Okay. How do I get an ISBM number? Let's Google what that is. So Google was my friend. And, and I just, basically, I can't say it any more simply than that really. I just made lists, Googled all the things that would lead to more questions that would, yeah. It was like, well, it's kind of, it goes back to kind of my engineering in my kind of scientific brain of my teenage years and my uni years, you know, you just asked questions and the questions, throw up a few questions, and then you solve those and then they throw it in a new questions. And then you research those.
Suzanne Hemming (00:17:10):
Yeah. I fully answered that
Vicki Weinberg (00:17:11):
You have, and I think I have a sliding and not so much because that was exactly how I started my own products, which I think is great for people to hear that whatever it is, a book of, and I have a kind of product in the process is pretty much same in that there is a process, you know, and I started off the same Googling, making less Googling a bit more making more or less. And now, you know, I have sort of a process. You sort of work through it. It's almost like a checklist. I do this, this, this, and this. And they end up with a Product
and I'm, I'm, I'm, I'm making an assumption here, but perhaps you can let us know w for your second book, because we only have two books now, was that a lot? I'm assuming you can tell us why is that a lot simpler? 'cause you have this down and you knew what you were doing.
Suzanne Hemming (00:17:52):
It was a lot simpler in the sense that the process was there. So I, you know, I already had a lovely illustrator that I'd worked with with, you know, one of the things that I discovered with the first book was actually booked design book, layout, cover design. I had a designer that I'd found, I loved working with. I had a printer that I wanted to work with again, and I was very happy with the product and how the process has gone with them. So there were lots of things that were in place that made it simpler, but you know, not being somebody who does this every single day, I, I still have to go, Oh God, what do I need? What, like what, okay, what else do I do?
Suzanne Hemming (00:18:33):
But I had that, there was a written down I had e-mails I had folder's on the computer. I sew. It was similar in the sense that I had been through it once I wasn't quite as afraid of it, the process was there. And I, I went back to it each time. I kind of thought, God, what's next. What's next on the to-do list. Right? There is my list. Okay. That's it. What's next. So, yeah, I wasn't quite as scary as a second time around and say like, you know, next time around, it will be the same. They'll just go through the process again.
Vicki Weinberg (00:19:05):
Thank you. Okay. So I'm trying to think of the questions that people listening might have. And one thing I would be great. If you could explain is The difference between traditional publishing and self publishing, just for anyone who wasn't entirely clear, what do you mean by self published, but,
Suzanne Hemming (00:19:21):
Okay. So a a, a traditionally published book, you would have a, a publisher. You would have a publishing house, like Your penguins, you random house. You guys have an editor who worked with you. That will be a whole team of people behind you, creating it, creating your book and putting your book out into the world, self publishing. You are doing that yourself. You there isn't anybody else doing that for you or with you, you are having to work out the process, fund the process, do all the marketing, sorta all the sales.
Suzanne Hemming (00:20:14):
I mean, I think that the thing really to it, for people to take away from it, it is with self publishing. You have a lot more control over what happens when it happens, how it happens, what is in your book, actually, physically, what is in your book, but you, you don't have the expertise and the support network that you would have if you were publishing a book traditionally. Yeah. You know, you're, you're just, you're the one woman band. You don't have that big team behind you, you know, if goes wrong, you know, you have to work them out for yourself. But yeah. So I think, yeah, I think I've answered that.
Suzanne Hemming (00:20:57):
Vicki Weinberg (00:20:57):
Okay. And presumably as much as you don't have the identify, this is why it worked, but the clout either you need to get into Books your stores and things like that, I'm assuming if you haven't had that issue, it's easier. Is that correct? Yeah.
Suzanne Hemming (00:21:08):
You really, really don't have that kind of cloud. So that is definitely the words you don't have that presence, people don't know who you are. You know, the book industry is there are so many authors in the book industry, people that we have never, ever heard of them have had super successful careers, but there are just so many names out there. And I'm the children's industry, particularly there is, you know, the top turn of the children's industry is just almost always dominated by the same number of names, but there are hundreds of other children's authors out there.
Suzanne Hemming (00:21:48):
So if you are with one of the big publishing houses, they, that, again, it's the process. It's the system is the context. So they have all of that in place. They will have the funds to market your book, to get you into the various Books stores. You know, when you're, when you were a self publisher, you know, you have to start right from the bottom and do all of that yourself. You have to market it completely yourself. You have to, you have to knock on doors of the, whether it's the online shops or the bricks and mortar shops, you have to do everything yourself and you don't have that same presence.
Suzanne Hemming (00:22:28):
Don't have that presence on the high street. You don't have that same virtual online presence. So you had, yeah. Yeah. I mean, it's tough. Yeah. It is. I'm not going to lie. Yeah. Sorry. A big, And I didn't know where it was getting on with that last sentence, but yeah, you, you, you just, you don't have that. You don't have that expertise behind you in that name behind you.
Vicki Weinberg (00:22:57):
That makes sense. So I had two followup questions from that. So the first two, so I know you sell your books on your own website and on Amazon. Is there anywhere else where your books are sold at the moment? So have you gotten in to any bookstores either online or, yeah.
Suzanne Hemming (00:23:11):
So the big Change for me that happened a just over a year ago, Actually was getting a, a distributor. So the traditional way that, you know, books are sold, a publisher doesn't really sell them directly. I mean, lots of
publishers actually do have an online retail presence, but they have distributors that distribute the Books on their behalf to every other possible retailer, that there is the, the, the, the virtual or a bricks and mortar. Before getting a distributor. I was the person who contacted, you know, the tiny, independent bookstore, the other end of the country.
Suzanne Hemming (00:23:53):
I was a person looking for those book stores, you know, following them on social media, trying to engage with them, you know, sending them emails, sending them sometimes sending them actual physical Books to have a look at that kind of thing. And that was a, a really long process doing it on my own
Vicki Weinberg (00:24:13):
And like that, Oh, I was so sweet. I'm sorry to interrupt this before we talk about the distributors. How about how I'm really interested if you don't mind telling me, so that sounds like so much work does that pay off Or, or not,
Suzanne Hemming (00:24:26):
Well, it can do it, but it would pay off kind of, it would pay off slowly. Yeah. You know, in order to make a living from anything you need to really scale up. So if you found a local book store and they kind of went, Oh yeah. We'll take five and see how it goes. That's a bit different to like, you know, I don't know if this was, Smith's saying we will put a handful of books in every branch of Why Smith are a handful of Books and every bunch of Waterstones or something. So obviously you need to be able to scale in a business to be viable. Were there any, any Product right. So a, you know, did it pay off yes.
Suzanne Hemming (00:25:08):
In the sense that I was able to make contacts, you know, start some relationships with some retailers, but the, yeah, the really big change came when I was finally able to get the distributor because then they, Well, so They distribute on my behalf now. So I am listed on their website and a retailer from anywhere when they are ordering Books for their book store or the lifestyle store or whatever shop that they have when they're on their website, they can find me.
Suzanne Hemming (00:25:53):
So it's kind of easy now for any seller, any retailer to go, yeah. We'll have a couple of those and see how they go because they get in the order in any way of all the other books that they're all doing. And so it, and it also means as well, it kind of gives, it gives you a what's the phrase, it, it gives me as a small publisher. What's the phrase, is it a cache? You know, its kind of like when I speak to the retailers and they can do they say, well, how do we get your books? I'd just say, Oh, well you just speak to Bertrams in a Bertrams is a, one of the biggest distributors in the country.
Suzanne Hemming (00:26:35):
Every book say that every retailer will have heard from them. So to be able to say, Oh yeah, you know, you just get it from Bertrams is when you're getting your, all the stuff you are the Books it gives you that
Vicki Weinberg (00:26:46):
Suzanne Hemming (00:26:48):
Yeah. That is completely to the right word. Yeah. Because they, you know, with any thing that can be a bit of, I guess like a bit of snobbery, you know, kind of, Oh, it's a self published book or you know, did she knocked out on the printer at home and staple it together? And it's like, no, I set up a company and I, you know, I want
this to be a really quality product. So, so yeah, its one of those kind of, it was that it was that next step of, well yeah, of course the distributor now. So I can, I can reach more people I can start to scale up. Yeah. So I still need to market the books. I still need to do all my own marketing again. I don't have a marketing team behind me that would come from the publisher, you know, and I am the publisher, so I still have to do that.
Suzanne Hemming (00:27:36):
But yeah. Let me think. Sorry. I, I tend to waffle, I think maybe this is why I'm good at writing is that I'm just like, yeah, just put it all down and then edit it. I would just do it afterwards. But you ask me about where we can get my books. And so like most Books Chops basically they don't have it or they could really easily border it. It was, it was come up on the system. If somebody's went into a bookstore, asked for it and then any online book retailer or if a customer messages to them and said, I'm, you know, you get this book, they'll be able to order It of Amazon, which is the first place. Lots of people go to my book, obviously they're on there.
Suzanne Hemming (00:28:16):
And actually, yeah, interestingly, I don't really sell that many from my own direct website anymore. Yeah. It's very, very few. Or just come in directly like that. Any more people tend to come and buy them in other places or from Amazon.
Vicki Weinberg (00:28:32):
Okay. Thank you. And so how did you go about and get to the distributor? That's something that just occurred to me that you'd be talking about it. I mean, I, I don't know if most people, myself included are actually sort of aware that they're there. I guess if you're not in the industry, you just wouldn't know that.
Suzanne Hemming (00:28:48):
No, I guess that was something that came up in one of my very early Google searches. You, you know, like how do you, how do you publish your book? Will you need to distribute? So honestly I, I got, I finally got a distributor through kind of perseverance. So I, I sent lots of emails. I tried to find lots of names of people who
worked at distribution companies, whether they're a big, one of the small I sent copies of books, I sent letters, it's that kind of classic. Like just keep going, keep going. And eventually, you know, I kept thinking of, you know, not that I'm trying to compare myself to JK Rowling here, but I, I kept thinking of her saying she sent out the first manuscript of Harry Potter to so many publishers and got so many rejection.
Suzanne Hemming (00:29:40):
That is, I think all of which she has, she kept them all because they were, they, they made Her keep going, you know, but it, eventually it lands on the desk of somebody who picks it up and who takes a look and goes, Oh, I think, I think we can do something with this. So I just kept going with lots of emails. And then one day somebody opened up the email and replied and said, Oh, can we find out more about your company please? And your books? And I was like, yes, you can. Yes. You can't find out well I'm so yeah, it was perseverance I guess. No.
Suzanne Hemming (00:30:19):
Yeah, it is. It comes back to that passion of wanting to do it's, you know, I knew I needed a distributor if the book was going to reach more people. So then that was my next thing on my, to do with this. I have to make, I had to find a distributor. That's fine.
Vicki Weinberg (00:30:37):
Perseverance is definitely the key thing you had taken away. So definitely. Yeah. Okay. Okay. So you mentioned marketing or a moment ago in that was actually the other thing that I wanted to touch about that. So many things I want to ask you. So I have to tell me if you run out of time and say, how did you go about, or how did you, and do you go about sort of telling the world about your books? So you had an idea for a bit of, to create a bit, or do you have a physical things in your hands or presumably boxes of these in your house somewhere? Is that, how did you get the word out about it? Yeah.
Suzanne Hemming (00:31:19):
Social media is such an amazingly powerful tool for businesses, big and small to use, to reach the customers. I I think, I, I don't think I would have attempted this 10 years ago or 15 years ago, but you know, sort of six or seven years ago, social media just has the power to reach so many people right. In the Palm of their hands. And so creating a social media presence was really important. Creating a website was also really important at the time.
Suzanne Hemming (00:31:52):
I felt like both of those Where shop windows as if it were to the, the Product social media as the first shop windows that people C and then if they're click through to buy something, your website is the next bit of the shop. And then it was,
Vicki Weinberg (00:32:11):
Suzanne Hemming (00:32:12):
It was connecting with people. So trying to find, trying to find my customer, I guess, trying to find the person who is going to buy that children's books. So because my books have messages of the quality and acceptance in them, I guess I was trying to find just like minded people. And Find sorry, I'm stumbling on like my response to you here. I'm trying to let my brain is my brain kind of got too fast ahead of itself because then it was like, I dunno, which I'm about to say next year, or do you ever get that? Like when you bring it to us, it wasn't worries.
Suzanne Hemming (00:32:54):
And then you go, Oh, I've gone blank. All of a sudden I'll just keep going and you're doing great. Okay. So yeah, social media was a really, really big one trying to find your customers, trying to connect with people. Also trying to connect with people who might be able to influence other people. So trying to build up relationships with influences or people who big or small, or like you don't have to have an influencer with 2 million followers. You know, you can have somebody with 5,000 followers, but if the problem was a really engaged with them, then it's, you know, that it's really beneficial as well.
Suzanne Hemming (00:33:35):
I did some, I learned about identity. It's a bit about, you know, email marketing, like direct marketing through email. So anybody who bought a book on the site in the early days, I would then follow up with some news and some information not as, not in any kind of, I think when you do it yourself, there's so many things that you can do that if you had departments that would do in all of these things, that would be a, you know, where the minute anybody buys a product. So we get an email about ax. Then a week later, we get an email about why, and then a month later they'll get an email about said, you know, there's like a real process and routine and a marketing process.
Suzanne Hemming (00:34:15):
And all of these things, when you do it yourself, it's, it could be a little bit more haphazard than that. But, but anyway, yeah, you know, some marketing by email, I contacted lots of schools to offer it, to go in and do a book readings I'm in the hope that then I would be able to reach the parents that way. I, I just reached out to lots of retailers again, through social media or just through emails. And then I did a bit of a traditional kind of marketing as well. I, I met somebody who introduced me to a PR person and she got me a really great piece that was in the mail online about my first book.
Suzanne Hemming (00:35:05):
And then I worked with her again for the second book and she got me another piece and the mail online, you know, you know, pre press traditional press marketing is still really, really important and really valid when you're marketing a product. So I actually had a great articles that I think it's yeah, yeah. They were, they
were, you know, not without elements of controversy, I guess, given the subject matter, that's probably going to sound way more intriguing for people. Then I really intended to be where People could go and have you read it off and they can, you can have a read to some of the comments.
Suzanne Hemming (00:35:49):
Yeah. I got quite upset. You know, if you've read the comments, I got a bit upset read in the comments with the first article when it went out. And so when the second article came out, I decided not to read the comments to the article, but yeah, that will intrigue people in off hopefully to go and have a read of them and then decide you decide whether they want to be a person who buys this book or not. So there we go.
Vicki Weinberg (00:36:08):
All right. Thank you. So why are we talking about getting your book out there? Do you want to talk a little bit about the Save the Children Save Books campaign?
Suzanne Hemming (00:36:16):
Yes, that will be great. That was such an amazing campaign, which is still happening actually. So I was introduced to the campaign by the really wonderful Lynsey who runs a company called Little Box of Books and Lynsey runs a subscription Books services for individuals, but also for schools or nurseries to try and diversify the books that people read. So the children of all color can see themselves in Books. And so that Children the children's books. I have been predominantly white or not particularly diverse And Lynsey wanted her song to be able to read books that showed a well, that reflected society reflected the society that we live in.
Suzanne Hemming (00:37:09):
So she set up this amazing company and she had previously done some work with save the children and something that was happening with save the children in America was when it all came about. She was a result of a Corona virus and going into lockdown And the campaign was started by Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams, because for a lot of children, a lot of children, particularly who live in poverty, going to school is not just about their education for some children. It is a, a safe place to be for some children.
Suzanne Hemming (00:37:52):
It provides them with the only main main meal that they might get that day. And so going into lockdown, I was going to create a lot of difficulty for a lot of children and what Jennifer Garner and Amy Adams and to the children decided to do was this wonderful campaign called Save with Books, where they would ask celebrity friends well-known faces to read children's books, which in itself was just a really lovely thing to do, to see a book being red. So I have a book, read it to you by somebody is just a really, really lovely thing, but to use their celebrity, to ask people, to donate to the charity, and then obviously the charity would say, the children will do what they normally do, which is go out and help children in communities where children need help.
Suzanne Hemming (00:38:47):
So it was started in the States and save the children. UK decided that they wanted to do it over here as well. They knew Lynsey Pollard, as I say, because she had done some work with them previously, and sorry, I should have said at the start, Lynsey is a massive champion of my books. There is a diverse element to my Stories and the, the things that I write about. And so she has always been a fabulous champion of the books. And so when Save the Children UK got in contact with her and asked her for recommendations for Books, that they could pass on to the celebrity's to read, she very, very kindly said, you have to have a look at those books written by Suze.
Suzanne Hemming (00:39:38):
And I think you'd love them. I think you'd like to include them. Umm, and thankfully they, they did, they liked both of the books. I thought they were great and they gave the queen engineer to Cara Delivgine and they gave, she's not good for girls. She's just good to Annabel Wallace. Umm. And both of them loved the books. And so both of them were recorded themselves, reading the stories and they've been out as part of the campaign. And then like I say, the campaign is still going, they've still got people who are reading books and asking people to make donations. So yeah, just a really amazing campaign to have been part of Actually yeah.
Suzanne Hemming (00:40:20):
It felt very I'm privileged to have been a part of it.
Vicki Weinberg (00:40:23):
Oh that's fantastic. Well done.
Suzanne Hemming (00:40:26):
Yeah. Well I have to thank you. Lynsey I have that Lynsey for eight being the champion of the books and be yeah. Any of my books off to them and saying, please consider these, sorry.
Vicki Weinberg (00:40:34):
Lynsey has also been a pop-up cost gas and actually buy at the time at this is released to her podcast will already have gone live and I we'll link to that in as well. So people can hear more about Lynsey and also you can Listen hear what she says about you. Oh yeah, we do a nice bit. Maybe go back in here where she had to say, Oh, okay. So I have kept me here longer than I said. I would say apologies for that. Or have you got time for us? One or two, one or two, one or two questions? And I promise, I promise you I'm wrapping things up, but just so many things to always ask you. So I am a fan, so okay. Penultimate question. What is your number one piece of advice for anyone else wanting to publish their own book?
Suzanne Hemming (00:41:20):
Just do it, just do it just to have a go. I don't know whether somebody said this to me or whether I read it somewhere, but right back in the early days, I can remember one of the things that I kept hold off was that the only thing that you will regret is not having had a go. So that's the only regret that you will have. Like again, what is the worst that can happen? You end up with boxes of books in the spare bedroom for, in the garage or you know that you have to donate to a library or a hospital or schools or like just have a go and just do it.
Suzanne Hemming (00:42:03):
It it's, it's a bit odd kind of ceiling, a ceiling, a catch phrase there from a well known sporting company all the time, but just do it like, yeah, that's the best bit of advice I can, I can give to people. We'll have a guy that I have a go.
Vicki Weinberg (00:42:18):
Thank you. And the final thing is I know that that can have a freeze on the way 'cause, I've been following you on Instagram. So what can you tell us about that? Can you tell us anything about that now get this done.
Suzanne Hemming (00:42:28):
I can't get you a title. Don't have a title yet. That's I guess that's something that will come later. That's alway comea bit later with, with, with the previous two books and I can tell you that. So there is a character in the first book called Frank the main character and the book's is Florence. But in the first book as a character, that is a friend of Florence is called Frank And. I'm bringing Frank back. I thought Frank was a really lovely little character. So he's coming back as the main character and this book. And that's not to say that Florence might not make an appearance, but the thing that I'm trying to tackle, the issue that I'm trying to tackle in this book is something called toxic masculinity, which people may, probably will probably have read about it.
Suzanne Hemming (00:43:19):
But for anybody who hadn't read anything about it, toxic masculinity is the idea that in order to be Mail in order to be a man, you have to behave in a certain way that there is a certain, a societal view on how men should behave. So again, it kinda comes back to those strong, silent princes that, you know, only viewed the princess for her down at the ball or wherever, you know, I, you know, it was kind of a joke and say, you know, Prince charming didn't even recognize Cinderella the next day when she was in a day where he only felt in love with her once she was in a fancy crown and dress, you know?
Suzanne Hemming (00:44:01):
So the idea that boys have to, we always have to manage up boys shouldn't cry or we shouldn't show their feelings. Boy, you shouldn't talk about their feelings is damaging to the health of men generally and not to get kind of too sort of a serious on this matter for the moment. But I read it was a couple of years ago and I read this terrifying statistic that I think I'll get the numbers wrong. I think it was 64. I think it was something like 64 men in a week take their lives, take their own lives. And that just seems like a shocking number of people.
Suzanne Hemming (00:44:43):
You know, it's one of the biggest killer suicides is one of the biggest killers in men under the age of 45, its one of the things that you are most likely to die off. If you are a man in this country under the age of 45 and it's obviously a huge complex issue, but so much of it is wrapped up in this idea of toxic masculinity and this idea of men not showing the feelings, not talking about things, feeling the need to man up. And the more I started to look into it, the more I realized what a massive disservice it does to women as well as men, because one of the things, things go hand in hand with Manning up and you know, not crying is quite often the phrase don't cry like a girl, you are running like a girl, you are throwing like a girl.
Suzanne Hemming (00:45:34):
You are you're behaving like a girl, which really makes young boys think that that something about girls is really bad. It's really awful to be viewed as doing something like girls. So that, that kind of inequality really begins early on. You know? And, and it's no wonder that, you know, people don't view each other as far as equals, you know, it internalizes the messages for girls that are being a boys' is better than being a girl because we keep telling them not to do things like girls, the girls grow up thinking that boys are better. The boys grow up thinking that girls the worst, you know, and the absolute worst case scenario, it can lead to a, as an adult who doesn't share their feelings and talk about things and might think the only way out if something is to take their own life one day all sounds incredibly serious.
Suzanne Hemming (00:46:22):
And I don't mean to put like a really big downer on the end of the chat, but it is really serious and it is really, really important. And I just started to think of, wonder if I can write about that in a way that children will understand and you know, Books, Books a great conversation starters as you read a book to a child or children have lots of questions Children on a naturally inquisitive and, and the, the, the, the other thing is as well as the, if you have a subject that you didn't quite know how to talk to your kids about reading a book, it helps you, it, it helps the ad to help the parent or the grandparent or whoever is, is reading the teachers start that conversation.
Suzanne Hemming (00:47:10):
So I read these terrible statistics and we still need to read about toxic masculinity more. And I just thought, I wonder if that's a subject or a such a big, such an important subject that affects boys and girls, men and women. I wonder if we could write about that and making it accessible for children In rhyme. Oh, why not? I like to give myself a, a difficult challenge. So yeah. So that's what I'm attempting to do. I'm attempting to write about toxic masculinity in rhyme with our amazing Mail character called Frank to teach kids that.
Suzanne Hemming (00:47:51):
Yeah, it was just, again, to further the idea that kids should be themselves. The kids should be anything they want to be. There can be any way they want to be. They can do anything they want to do without these
societal expectations on top of them. So whether it's a girl that has to be a firefighter or a boy that just wants to have the good old cry cause you hurt his knee and it lets, you know, the knee really hurts. You, you know, that's quiet hour. If you want to, you know, whatever it is, just let kids be themselves to do what they want to do and need to do so. Yeah. So fingers crossed that is book three was, that was the basis of book three.
Suzanne Hemming (00:48:32):
Oh, thank you. I'm going to, sorry. I didn't mean to get so involved with all of that then, but it, again, it's about it comes back to when it comes to something that you really, really want to do to make a difference. And yeah, and then I, you know, I discovered these things. I, I read about these things and I just think, Oh God, I want it to be different. So for our children and our children's children, you know, I don't want those statistics, whether they are male suicide rates or the lack of women working in STEM or the amount of, you know, women who, you know, who can write hashtag me too. I just really want those things to be different for our children, for our children's children.
Suzanne Hemming (00:49:14):
So yeah, it comes, it always comes back to passion
Vicki Weinberg (00:49:17):
And you do something about it, which is amazing.
Suzanne Hemming (00:49:20):
Thank you. Yeah, I'm trying. I have to go. Okay.
Vicki Weinberg (00:49:24):
Okay. So your website is Theachopsbooks.com and I'll link to that in the show notes as well for anyone who didn't quite get it. They're so great. Thank you so much. It's been a fantastic guest that you've been so generous of your time. You've been so generous with what you've shared with everyone. And I really feel like for anyone who's had, or even just a, I don't know the tiniest idea of about a book that they might want to write. I really hope and believe that you would have given people a bit of confidence to say, actually, yeah, I can, I can do this.
Suzanne Hemming (00:49:51):
Thank you. Yeah. I hope you have. Yeah, just do it, just do it just to have a go. And
Vicki Weinberg (00:49:56):
That was a great way to end on. Thank you so much.
Suzanne Hemming (00:49:59):
I have problem. Thank you.
Vicki Weinberg (00:50:02):
So I really hope you enjoyed that interview with Suzanne and you found it useful as always. I would love to hear from you. So please do email me at Vicki@tinychipmunk.com and if you have a moment, please do rate them a few of the show. It's really appreciated. Thank you so much. Take care and speak to you soon.