An Interview with Andrew Hood: Creative Marketing

[from Books ‘N Pieces Magazine, July 2017]

Creative Marketing
I met Andrew Hood (@andrewhoodtwtp) on Twitter. He’s from Sydney, Australia. As a publisher, I always try to find clever ways of reaching people. It is common to receive an auto-Tweet after you follow someone. Most are benign messages, some plug book links, others ask question to try and get you to respond. In Andrew’s case, as you will read below, the message was somewhat more compelling. And the results… I’ll let Andrew explain:
The Anatomy of An Awesome Direct Message
        by Andrew Hood
First, My Twitter Auto Direct Message 
Hey, thanks for the follow.
You have arrived just in time! The very lives of some of my greatest characters from my upcoming book are on the line. We need your vote for their stories to be told.
Simply click on the link below and vote to save them from obscurity. Their stories deserve to be told.
And if there is anything that I can do for you in return just say it and I will do my best.
Go ahead and vote. You can tell your friends that you saved a life today!
Warmest regards new Twitter friend,
The Direct Message Backstory
Three hours before this DM was written I walked into a local doctor complaining of chest pains, and left thirty minutes later in an ambulance!
Don’t get me wrong I’m in great shape, but when a slightly younger than middle age man – okay, I’m 43 years old – complains of chest pains, doctors take note. Sometimes they even panic. On this occasion that’s exactly what the staff did, but hey, I’m not complaining; better to overreact than suffer a heart attack through neglect.
I arrived at the emergency department, and my bed was wheeled right in to my assigned waiting dock within minutes. I am lucky enough to live in a country with great healthcare, and have just enough money to afford a visit to test it out every ten years or so, when something goes wrong.
I was hooked up to ECG machines which took all my readings. 
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” the first nurse told me before visibly gulping and quickly moving away.
I had a chest X-ray. 
“I’m sure it’s nothing,” the next nurse told me before turning away just a little too quickly for comfort.
I had a blood sample taken – twice. 
“I’m sure you’ll be fine in no time,” the third nurse told me. I applaud the variety.
It’s funny but when one nurse tells you, “I’m sure it’s nothing,” it doesn’t have a lot of impact. But, when eight different nurses tell you, “I’m sure it’s nothing,” you start to panic. What are they not telling me, you ask yourself?
Approximately two hours later, without having had a heart attack, things started to get a little boring, and the nurses were losing interest in me. 
“We need to free up the space, so we are going to move you out of emergency and up into one of the wards.” 
“You pretender,” I imagine them saying under their breath.
Once there, I needed to relieve my oldest friend who had dropped everything to meet me at hospital.  My wife had been unable to get there in time. It would only be another thirty minutes before she would arrive, and he had already been with me for hours. I thanked him and sent him on his way.
By myself now,  I started to consider what might have happened if I really had a heart attack or stroke. It’s frightening to think that way. I have a beautiful wife and three children to think about. How could I take care of them if I wasn’t around?
And then, there’s that dammed book which is still not finished.
This is supposed to be my breakout book. The Man Who Corrupted Heaven – I had written the title first, then took it one word at a time from there. It’s actually my second novel, but the first was never meant to be released to the public.
In the hospital ward, I consider that this book needs to be amazing; imagine if I never get a chance to write another. And then I realize I need to build an audience like a life depended on it. My life.
I had only just discovered Twitter and had not yet created a automated welcome message so I thought I would give it a try from my hospital bed. I had given so much blood for testing that I was exhausted, but I was too scared to sleep. I needed to work on something to take my mind off that.
The Anatomy of a Great Twitter Direct Message
I took out my phone.
1. Hook them into a story before they get distracted
“Hey, thanks for the follow. You arrived just in time.”
2. Now to raise the stakes.
“The lives of some of my greatest characters from an upcoming book are on the line.”
3. Next the call to action
“We need your vote for their stories to be told”.
4.What’s in it for them?
“And if there is anything that I can do for you in return, just say it and I will do my best.”  By the way,  I’m usually just asked to re-tweet their pinned tweets or like their Facebook page.
5.A final call to action with a feel good takeaway
“Go ahead and vote. You can tell your friends that you saved a life today!”
When I started using this message I only had 13 followers. I now have over 5,400 followers, and every one of those new followers from the last 6 months, has seen this message. The overall feedback has been extremely positive, and with each new vote I collect, a new email address where I can market my upcoming book on launch day. Even if they don’t vote it gets our relationship off to a great start, and many people are liking or re-tweeting my tweets.
The platform I use to collect these votes is through a publisher called (Something Or Other Publishing). However you could use this same technique to collect emails on your own site if you wish. The  compelling structure of the message is still the same.
Go forth fellow writers, and if you have found this article helpful perhaps you might like to give my book a vote also. 
Go ahead and vote. You can tell your friends that you saved a life today!
Warmest regards, new friend.
Andrew Hood


P.S. It took the doctors 3 days to find out what was wrong with me. They called it Pneumonia (with complications). I hadn’t been sick before but I sure was for a few days after!