On Sunday the 18th of August 2019, the Peter Cowan Writers Centre hosted the ‘Social Media and Branding’ workshop as part of the Four Centres Emerging Writers Program at the Edith Cowan House on the ECU Joondalup campus. Running the workshop was Natasha Lester, USA Today’s bestselling author of The Paris Seamstress, The Mother’s Secret and A Kiss from Mr Fitzgerald as well as her most recently published novel in Australia, The French Photographer. Not only is Natasha a bestselling author, she has also completed a degree in Marketing and Public Relations having worked for such companies as L’Oréal and Maybelline for the past decade. Gracing, the Peter Cowan Writers Centre with her presence, Natasha was to educate members of the Emerging Writers Program on all things regarding social media and branding for an author.
The morning of the workshop started out like any other, members arrived and dug into the assortment of cakes, biscuits, tea and coffee and discussed the events of their week before migrating into the meeting room to begin the next three invigorating hours of learning.
Natasha opened with an introduction, essentially teaching us branding from the get-go before beginning the workshop and covering all things from what a brand is and is not, to how an emerging writer can create a strong author brand and the activities they can do to build this up for readers to connect to. She stressed how a brand is an extension of an author’s voice and while it couldn’t be controlled, it was malleable and could be shaped to the author’s liking.
Members were then given the opportunity to discuss and identify which author’s had good brands as well as how to define their audience and develop their brand’s voice before breaking for morning tea. It was intriguing to watch these emerging writers breakaway from their time of learning and fall back into their everyday realities of parenthood and livelihood. Even now, in the midst of the craziness that was daily life, they were still passionate and driven by their dreams of being published authors.
Following the break where all (including myself) filled up on Cadbury’s cake bars, the workshop resumed as Natasha dove back in and discussed the importance of creating and maintaining a website and what details could be used to optimise the readers viewing of it. Members gained knowledge of the importance of newsletters and maintaining a social media presence as well as how social media should be used for the author’s gain. Writers were then given the opportunity to ask questions regarding any information they desired that Natasha happily and helpfully answered to the best of her ability.
The workshop was highly successful, as the aim of the Emerging Writers Program is to develop each writer’s understanding of publishing expectations and the industries standards, while also gaining knowledge in the areas of proofreading, copy editing and manuscript finalisations. Natasha’s workshop assisted members in developing their social media presence and brand for present and future readers of their novels. Not only did members (and myself) walk away having learned a lot, but also having the desire to revisit their webpage and implement Natasha’s strategies. It was a rewarding and fun experience for everyone, all-round.