Damaria Senne is one of my closest Blogging Buddies. When I visited South Africa in 2008 she hosted me at her home in Johannesburg and in her home village where I stayed with her family. Her warmth, intelligence, talent, and humor are qualities I cherish in our friendship.
Damaria is a writer based in Johannesburg. She recently co-wrote an e-book with Christelle du Toit “How to get quoted in the media”.Download this useful e-book–even a free sample–at her online store. Learn more about Damaria and the process of publishing an ebook at Storypot.
Riehlife: Damaria, like many creative people you do work that earns you the main portion of your living and other work that is your heart work. Tell our readers how you have found that balance.
Damaria: Found it? I’m still working on it, Janet. But I am taking steps to get to a place where I do more projects I love.
To start with, I decided to be self-employed so my time could be my own. Most days I spend all day working on clients projects. Some of the best-paying assignments can be very tedious, but as a self-employed person in a tough economy, I’m grateful for the work.
I also make time to spend a day or two a week working on projects I love. That can be a short story, a chapter in a novel I’ve been writing for what seems like a 100 years, a children’s story or a poem. I’m under no pressure to submit these works to anyone, though eventually I do look for homes for them or put them in my self-publishing plan.
I also look for paying work that supports causes I believe in. These allow me to contribute positively to society.
Riehlife: What websites and social media campaigns have you done?
Damaria: On Love South Africa, Kwanda, and Shukumisa are three recent organizations I’ve worked with.
OneLove–an HIV-prevention campaign spanning 9 countries in Southern Africa.
Kwanda –a TV program that saw tracked 250 volunteers working in their community across South Africa.
Shukumisa–a national anti-rape campaign in South Africa.
Riehlife: How did you get interested in the topic of getting quoted in the media?
Damaria: Getting the attention of the media means being the person whose attention businesses and organizations want to attract. This is familiar territory for me.
I worked as a journalist and I received press releases, story pitches and invitations to events every day. That have me a perspective of how easy it is for someone seeking publicity to be rejected and most of the time the journalist doesn’t even say “no” or explain the rejection. They wouldn’t get their jobs done if they responded all the pitches they receive!
I also worked as a communications manager for several non-profit organizations and helped some small business owners, artists and craftspeople generate publicity for their causes and products. So I know how good organizations doing excellent work can struggle to generate publicity for their causes.
Riehlife: Why did you decide to do this as an e-book rather than a printed book?
The e-book version is the first step. We’re also planning to release a print version soon. An e-book also gives me as a new publisher, a chance to test the appetite for the topic in our market before making a big investment in printing costs.
Riehlife: Why share the info as an e-book and not a course or podcasts or by doing consulting work?
Sometimes people come to me asking me to help them get publicity. For example, my friend Alison McKay, has a major exhibition in April next year and has asked me to help her generate some publicity on her series.
A colleague in the non-profit sector also recently emailed me to remind me that David Barnard, who is the CEO of the South African NGO Network (SANGONeT), is running a 250 km through the Sahara Desert in support of SANGONeT, Endangered Wildlife Trust, SCORE, Starfish Foundation and CANSA. Could I help them get some publicity on the race?
I would really love to help these friends, and others who have asked me for assistance, but my career and business plans do not center on doing PR for clients. I prefer to work as a writer.
And some of the people who have asked me for media relations assistance don’t have the resources to hire a dedicated professional to do it.
So the e-book allows me to share what I know with people who need the information without my having to change my career plans or do work I cannot afford.
Riehlife: What’s the business end of this like?
Damaria: I began the project knowing that it was not going to make me rich. It’s a starting point for me to build a strong backlist of e-books and if I do it right, then it helps me build my credibility as a writer and publisher.
Managing the business end of a publishing project is rough though! I had to learn to pay more attention to details and to do administrative tasks such as:
–developing a production budget,
–making decisions about whether to POD or not,
–hiring a graphic designer,
–developing a launch plan,
–building an online store.
These are things I’m not naturally inclined to do, but I’ve learned so much!
Riehlife: How has it been for your personally?
Damaria: Completing the project boosted my confidence as a writer and publisher. I now know that I can take a book project:
–from concept to draft,
–through the edits and reviews and rewrites
–to the editorial launch and promotion stages.
People have also been receptive to the book and to me. Friends emailed and phoned to congratulate me on the book. It’s been wonderful.