Marketing Advice from the Front Lines (of Bookstores)

No surprise: what’s good for the bookseller is good for the book author.

At this year’s ABA Winter Institute, I attended a conference session called “The New Marketing and Media Strategy” hoping to get caught up on the latest tips and trends. From the panel that featured my friends from last year’s USA Today / The Novel Neighbor collab along with a couple of other independent booksellers, I was  curious to learn what marketing insights they found most useful and effective. 

The New Marketing and Media Strategy panel: (back, left to right) Kassie King, The Novel Neighbor and Cris Siqueira, Lion’s Tooth; (front, left to right) Kalli King, Rediscovered Books and Laura Trujillo, USA Today.

While everyone is always looking for a magic wand and crystal ball when it comes to success in the ever-changing social media environment, it turns out that much of the panel’s guidance for increased visibility and community engagement was quite similar to advice that would work really well for authors and thought leaders too. 

Let’s dive into what they shared…

Be in line with your mission. Be in line with your brand.

Remember why you went into this kind of work in the first place. You don’t need to be all things to all people. Let your purpose and your values guide your marketing and messaging. 

Make it “personal” to you and your readers.

Show and share your passion, enthusiasm, your team and /or your process when you are sharing your content. It’s what distinguishes you from everyone else. 

Working with “partners” is good for community building and sharing.

You don’t have to do everything on your own. Find your key community members, co-collaborators or general fans to help you get the word out. 

It takes a long time to get there.

No one on the panel was an overnight success (or went from zero to thousands of followers) without lots of time, trying, tweaking and constantly re-calibrating. 

Creating the content you want to read makes it shareable and fun!

If you are creating content that you want to see and it’s fun to make, then ideally it’s going to be just what your audience wants to see and share too.

Focus on authenticity; it doesn’t have to be perfect.

Luckily the world of short form video has given us permission to be less than perfect (though many make it still look perfect), but please know it’s OK to get your message out there in a way that is best for you and means the most to you. Your authenticity will come across far more powerful than a perfect picture, image or caption. 

It’s not about the platform! 

This is huge. There is no right place to be. One of the booksellers shared a delightful “mini-zine” that they produced monthly (on one sheet of colored paper, folded into eighths) and handed out as a business card, brochure and bookmark. 

Repurpose your content across platforms.

Focus on your content first, then figure out how to share it across your marketing channels. It’s like the tail wagging the dog (not to mention exhausting and inefficient) if you focus solely on what each platform needs individually. 

Give yourself grace.

Do the best you can. Most of us were not planning on having “chief marketer” as part of our title. If you do have someone who is that person and can help – great! If you don’t, you are not alone! You’re doing great!

I’m curious which of these resonated most (or least) with you – or are there others that you would want to add! As always, I’d love to hear from you and chat about where you are in your “new media strategy” journey – you can set up a call here.