300 Seconds

This is the time to update that media list.

It's been a little while since we've updated our media lists. These lists are not only a great tool for your own use, but also for publicists trying to garner publicity for your bookstore events. It helps save money on postage, duplicate book deliveries, and time if you are able to provide the most current contact information. It should take around 300 seconds to give your media list a once-over. 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 your local 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 04/18/17" footnote, then save it as a PDF. Now the list is 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. If you have a bit more time to devote to marketing today, it's also a good time to look at your own press release email list, which should include the names you just updated on your media list, but also weekly, daily, and specialty newspapers in your area. (Here's an updated list of state, regional and national press associations. Most press association websites have a list of members available to help you build your media list.) If you email media releases, errors can leave a long-lasting digital trail. Be sure to 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.
300 Seconds: April Showers…

300 Seconds: April Showers…

If you've glanced at the national weather radar and forecast lately, chances are you've seen a lot of green. Now that April is upon us, so are the correlated showers. Great for the garden; not so great for bookstore floors. Take 300 Seconds to prepare for your next rainy day. Here are some things to think about and gather:
  • Mops, rugs or towels. You can keep them near your front door or easily accessible to clean up puddles or to offer customers an opportunity to wipe their feet.
  • Umbrella storage. You could offer plastic bags to prevent dripping all over the store, or perhaps hooks or a coat rack in the foyer.
  • Extra umbrellas. Check your "Found Items" box. Are there any spare umbrellas you can offer to customers caught in a downpour?
  • Or do you sell umbrellas? Move them front and center to make sure they are visible to customers.
  • "Caution: Wet Floor" sign. (This is the same sign used during floor cleanings.) Even though you try to keep up with the puddles brought in by wet feet, it's a good idea to prop up this sign during rainy weather. Some spills can't be prevented, but signage might discourage customers from walking with so much purpose.

300 Seconds: Here’s the thing about resolutions.

This is an IndieNext reminder. The deadline for books published in June 2017 and beyond is Tuesday, April 4, for books published in June 2017 and beyond... which is why I want to talk about resolutions. What do the months of April and June have to do with resolutions, you ask? I'll answer your question with one of my own: Why do resolutions need to begin in January? Think about it. The first IndieNext nomination deadline of the year was on January 3. Most booksellers were still recovering from the holidays or up to their eyeballs in inventory at that time. So if your resolution was to submit an IndieNext nomination for each month this year, you were setting yourself up for failure before the year even began. But why not just reset? I've been eating clean for almost a year. Well, I've been trying to eat clean for almost a year. If I have a weak moment and eat something I shouldn't, I don't throw up my hands and say, "Well that's over." I just reset at the next meal. Why should resolutions be different? Do you have 'submit to IndieNext monthly' listed among your resolutions? Here's the list of monthly deadlines provided by the ABA. You can print and post it wherever it does the most good, or transfer the deadlines to your personal calendar. And of you need them, here's an online submission form as well as the instructions and guidelines for how to write a nomination. You have a full week before the June nominations are due, and you really only need to find 300 seconds during that time to submit yours. And while you have that resolution list handy, take another look. What else would you like to begin again? You're allowed more than a few mulligans.

300 Seconds: Mysterious Friends

Have you performed a self-check on your store lately? If you have just 5 minutes to devote to marketing today--and if you have three friends--reach out to them and ask for some help with a little market research. (Maybe you can use a store gift card as an incentive.)
  1. Ask the first friend to call the bookstore for specifics about an upcoming event.
  2. Ask the second friend to call in search of an obscure title.
  3. Ask the third friend to call with a complaint about a product or service.
Then ask each caller to report back on the following:
  • How many times did the phone ring?
  • Did the employee have a pleasant demeanor?
  • Was the employee helpful?
  • Did they respond to your questions in a knowledgeable manner?
  • Did they empathize with you?
  • Did they have the authority to solve your problem, quickly and to your satisfaction?
Use the results from this research to determine any gaps you might have in employee training and if there are any skills lacking that will aid employees in serving your customers. And remember that even though we don't want to find areas that need attention, it's better than being oblivious to them.

It’s ‘Daylight Time’ Again

If you live in an area that observes Daylight Saving Time, you'll want to remember to move an hour ahead this Sunday at 2:00 a.m. This changing of the clock provides a semi-annual reminder to do all of the little things we do when we 'spring' forward. Use your 300 marketing seconds to check the batteries in smoke detectors, check your fire extinguishers to be sure they're serviced and ready, and check the batteries in your emergency flashlights as well. In Kansas, we had a statewide tornado drill earlier this week. And we just had the largest wild fire in our state's history. Aaaaand we've grown accustomed to earthquakes. (Bring on the locusts?) Whatever your potential emergency might be, it's not a bad idea to go over 'drills' with your staff. Do they know where to find the fire extinguishers and emergency flashlights? Do they know what to do in weather emergencies? Are they supposed to lock the doors and take the cash to the basement? Do they know what to do if there are customers in the store? Fire, tornado, flood, earthquake, hurricane... there are so many things that can happen beyond our control. Take a little time to ensure you and your staff are prepared.