300 Seconds

301 Seconds: Media Lists

We just received our first leap second in three years. At midnight an extra second was added to the official time set by atomic clocks, so I’m taking full advantage of it.

If you have only 301 Seconds to devote to marketing today, it’s time to update your media lists for publicists, including radio and television stations, and all of the weekly, daily, and specialty newspapers in your area. Give your list a quick glance to see if anyone retired or moved on to a different market. Then take just a few minutes to call those on your list to verify that the contacts you have are still appropriate. If the newspaper is large enough to have a book page and a children/family writer, be sure to include names for these individual specialties. And news directors at radio and television stations tend to change often, so be sure to call them. For each individual listed, include the name, title, e-mail address, phone and fax numbers, and mailing address.

Once you’re finished, add an “Updated 07/01/15″ footnote, then save it as a PDF. Now the list ready to send to any publicist who might be sending an author your way. When you send it to the publicist, remind them that this is to replace the previous list. Otherwise multiple books might be sent to one media outlet.

This is also a good time to look at your own press release email list. Errors can leave a long-lasting digital trail, so look at the reports from the latest releases you’ve sent, especially the bounce report. Some emails bounce because a mailbox might be full, or the recipient’s email service might have some other temporary glitch. But if an email address consistently shows up in the bounced field, the media person has probably moved on or you have a bad address. A quick web search or a phone call will yield the correct address for press releases.

If you haven’t created a press release email list, it’s not difficult to do. Consider the “reach” of your store and determine daily and weekly newspapers that fall in that area. Press associations often provide a list of newspapers with contact information on their websites. Here is a directory of state, regional and national press associations from the Newspaper Associations of America.

300 Seconds: Sidewalk

Since we’re out on the sidewalk, let’s take 300 Seconds and look around from the customer’s perspective.

Is the entrance to your store clearly marked? Would a planter of flowers make it more welcoming? Store hours should be visible and the use of an open/closed sign is always appreciated.

Now make note of any debris that should be disposed of, leaves swept, and windows cleaned. Are the posters on the door outdated and the window display tired?

How does the entrance look at night? Are the lights functioning properly?

Finally, ask yourself if there’s anything you can do to make your store more welcoming. Ideas could be outdoor seating, a bicycle rack, or perhaps a bowl of water for any four-legged customers in the neighborhood.

Impressing potential customers on the sidewalk is the first step to wowing them in the store.

300 Seconds: The Best-Kept Secrets

If I were to visit your website right now, would I be able to find information about all of the services offered through your store?

Sometimes we think our store sites contain plenty of information, but we can always add more. Consumers expect to spend as much or as little time as they want on websites. They want access to quick answers (store location, hours, phone number, etc.), but they also want to be able to get lost in a wealth of information.

There are a couple of ways you can make sure your site contains the information your customers seek (as well as information they didn’t even know they wanted) in 300 second increments:

  1. Walk around the store. Did you just walk through your audio book rental section? Is it listed as a service on your site? Did you just walk by your Book Club display? Do customers know you can order books for their group at a discount? You’re wrapping a book for a customer. Do your web visitors know they can have books gift-wrapped and shipped?
  2. Listen. As you visit with customers, if you hear, “I didn’t know you offer that,” make a note to check if this service is listed on your website.

Think about some of the services you offer. B2B? Book Club Skype with Author? Educator Discount? Monthly Book Subscription? In-store Book Fairs? You can combine the explanation of each of these services in one place… perhaps a page titled Here’s Something You Probably Didn’t Know or Obscure Services. A listing on this page might read, “Did you know educators receive a 20% discount and special offers through Extra Credit, our newsletter just for teachers?” Then you can link to your teacher page or email sign-up form.

This might seem like a lot to do for a 5 minute task, but really, the first step is making the list. Then if you tackle that list 300 seconds at a time, you’ll have a complete site before you know it.

Trailer: “Austin, Lost in America”

Austin, Lost in America is a new geography picture book by Jef Czekaj scheduled to be released this fall. Growing up in a pet store, Austin dreamed of finding a new home. So one night the dog takes off with a map in his backpack to find it, discovering geography and fascinating facts in all fifty states along the way. This title is good for fans of The Scrambled States of America. 

Jef Czekaj is on Twitter @JefCzekaj, and in the “about” section on his website it says, “BTW, Czekaj is pronounced ‘check-eye’!”

IndieNext Nominations

Have you read any books lately that you’re excited to recommend? Do any of them have release dates of August or beyond?

We’re approaching the nomination deadline for the August 2015 IndieNext List. Take 5 minutes today and make a list of books you want to nominate to the list. Choose your favorite, and then take a few minutes between now and Tuesday to write a little blurb about why you love the book. (If you have time to nominate more than one book, do so.)

You do not have to be the store owner, the book buyer, or the floor manager to submit nominations to the list. Any bookseller can do it.

The ABA makes it easy. You can either complete this online form, or send an email to indienextlist@bookweb.org. If the book you’re nominating will be published months from now, they’ll hang onto your submission until the appropriate time. The ABA recommends that you write conversationally, as though you’re handselling to a customer in the store. And they’ll even fix any spelling or grammatical errors.

If you’ve never nominated a book to the list, this is a good time to start.