Susan Finch is a superwoman. It appears there’s nothing she can’t do and nothing she can’t do well. She is an established web developer, a member of The Power MOB (mom-owned business), Women Entrepreneurs of Oregon, Sales Lead Management Association and the Mobile Marketing Association. In addition, she’s the author of Dino Manners, a children’s book, a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers & Illustrators and is the proud Founder of Binky Patrol Comforting Covers for Kids which provides homemade blankets to children.
If that were not enough, she’s a wife to the love of her life and mother of two.
I connected with Susan via LinkedIn where we hit it off. I was taken by her fluid communication style, quick wit and her way with words. She can air her strong opinions without shutting others up or down. I tracked her down and forced her to carve out some of the precious free time she has to spare.
When we first spoke about this interview you said to me, “I have truly used social media and networking to push it out there,” referring to Dino Manners. What strategies did you use and which did you find least and most beneficial?
Plan B is something I’ve learned to embrace warmly and with enthusiasm. After deciding to go the self-published route there were some backlashes from my lack of patience to go through the publishing process. The original event that had been planned prior to my finishing the book was to take place a large Barnes & Noble in California. Not realizing that they no longer carried self-published books, I was informed that I was no longer eligible to participate in the event. This was a severe blow since plane tickets for four had been purchased and the excitement had been building to have a signing at a B&N. Briefly allowing myself an hour or two of panic on Facebook brought Plan B to me. If you can call this a strategy, it was accidentally successful.
After coming up with a much larger alternative event, social media was used through Facebook, Twitter, my blogs, Yelp, YouNews on KATU’s website and other free venues to get the word out. A successful whirlwind book tour was born with seven stops and 15 readings.
I saturated my personal address book, network of long-time friends, family members and even former clients. They were so thrilled about the book, they each served as my media venue to their social networks. I learned that your core group of friends, family, associates and clients (former and current) are your best advocates. When they recommend you, it comes with credibility so their networks are more likely to listen and follow through by attending and event or ordering a book. It helps that there are a lot of people who like me and want me to be successful.
I’m sure many believe that once you’ve hit a milestone or completed a successful venture, opportunities just come to you and networking has little to do with continued success. Is that the case for you?
Oh, yes, I’m sitting here wondering which of the dozens of invitations to accept each week to expound on my expertise, and they’ll pay me to show up and nanner on about whatever I know. Wow! Sorry, I was dreaming for a minute. I learned many years ago in PR that you have to keep striking. The momentum will build upon past successes, but the past is forgotten and you have to move forward to the next opportunity. What have you done LATELY?
In 1996 I began my non-profit, Binky Patrol Comforting Covers for Kids. It began with four volunteers that signed up in front of my business. I had written a small press release for the local papers and used some buzz words at the time, “helping children with AIDS” and other terms. This was before the Internet was in full-swing, so Oprah’s staff had been scouring papers for stories involving groups helping children with AIDS. They found my two paragraphs in my local Laguna Beach paper and called to ask me to send in a photo and information to be included in an upcoming special show where children with AIDS would be interviewed.
Are you tearing up yet? You are, look at you. Yes, so did all of America that day. Then Oprah told them to call Binky Patrol to help make blankets for these special children. Binky Patrol went national that day during the over 800 phone calls that came through. I know the amount because I kept phone sheets. Many were barely audible because they were all crying on the phone after watching the show. How do you follow that? You just have to by using that success to give credibility to the next push. These gems build your success resume for whatever you are striving toward. Each additional push adds a step in the path.
What I also have learned is that it isn’t just the end goal, it’s the entire journey. If I only looked at the end goal, I would miss the gifts and opportunities that each step provides.
These days, everyone seems to be participating in social media whether it’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or others. As an author, do you consider these good resources for making business connections and building a fanbase?
As an author I think this is mandatory. Who better to tell more and more people about you than people who know you and want to be a part of your success? It’s silly, I wrote just one picture book, published it myself and yet I’m introduced in some of my friend circles as, “my author friend, Susan.” If people cannot achieve their own successes, they want to be a part of the success of someone. It would be great if that someone was a friend or family member. Look at dopey sports teams. The way people take it so personally when “their team” wins or loses, trades players, etc. They don’t know any of the players personally. They may have gone to the same school, live in the same city or know someone who knows someone on the team – but it’s really not their team – or is it?
People like to take up the cause to help. I think it’s human nature to belong to something and protect it. My dad taught me long ago how to ask for help with the slightest air of damsel. He assured me that if I were sincere, people would help. They want to be part of your success in anything whether it is finding some obscure item in the grocery store, the bra that fits just right or people to buy your book and like you as they do.
When others are attempting to get your attention whether for collaboration or other ventures, what’s more likely to get it? The hard sell? A great personality? Something unique that you see in them?
First would be my relationship and past with them. That can be good and bad. Sometimes I know too much about someone and would never consider any type of collaboration with them. Other times I would be immediately set at ease because I’ve seen their past performances. This is where that path building comes into play. If I don’t know someone, I want to know their history and see how they’ve done before this idea.
Next would be communication style; personality comes into play during this. Can I play with them and have fun or will they take everything the wrong way and require detailed emoticons with every sentence to tell them what I meant to say? Do they make everything difficult, complicated and a downer? Can they write in complete sentences without typos, misplaced modifiers and misused homonyms?
Finally, it is the idea. Seems like a long way to get there, but it actually only takes a few minutes to get to this step. I’m not a fan of ego. I prefer ideas that have multiple facets to benefit many groups, people – potential to cross market to unrelated groups. I do think this is a key to a successful idea and campaign.
I am a firm believer that you have to put what you want out into the universe. I’m always vocalizing what I want and then testifying when it comes to be. If you don’t mind saying so, is there anyone in particular you would like to collaborate with in the future on a book or upcoming project?
I think it would be fun to collaborate with a songwriter – a real songwriter. Reba McEntire, Cyndi Lauper, Bjork, Tracy Chapman, Lyle Lovett. People who have a command of the language with rhythm, sincere heart and humor. Rhythm and honesty are keys to a successful children’s books. They won’t read it over and over if it isn’t fun and flows. If they stumble on the poetry they’ll get frustrated, as will the adults reading to them.
Any new books or upcoming projects on the horizon we can get the scoop on before you’re famous?
I have several in the works but two in particular that are more for older children ages 7 to 11. One is about a brother and sister who get to spend a week with their bohemian aunt in her cabin in the woods and the treasures they discover while exploring her property. This story is 80% outlined with rough drafts sitting in a drawer resting for a fresh read and edit. Follow up already being outlined for the following summer at Auntie May’s.
The other is another chapter book that is sillier. It’s about a lonely outcast girl in school who meets another girl like her that just moves into a house with a lovely garden. They both believe in fairies, which is what sets them apart from the other children and brings them together. It’s also the story of a fairy who has ADD which causes a problem for one of the girls. The girls have to find her and undo what she’s done. I’m already working on the photography for this book and have the outline and skeleton draft of at least 20 chapters.
I can only hope I’ll be able to read my midnight scrawls in my journals. It’s where all of my stories, outlines and ideas begin. It’s so much more intimate than a keyboard.
To learn more about Susan Finch’s web development services visit Susan Finch Web Solutions Provider. You can purchase Susan’s book Dino Manners at DinoManners.com and show support for Binky Patrol by visiting the website.
I welcome your comments! No part of this article may be reproduced in any manner without permission and attribution.