300 Seconds

300 Seconds: I’m smiling. Can you tell?

When I answer the phone, my standard greeting is either “Hello?” or “This is Beth.” I cannot recall which one I used this morning when my phone rang, but the caller immediately asked, “What’s wrong?”

Nothing was wrong, but I’m pretty sure I was irritated by a text I had just received from one of my daughters, and that tone came through in my greeting.

You’ve heard me say that it’s just as important to compose yourself with a smile before you greet a customer on the phone as it is in the store. But here’s something else…

Right after I finished the phone conversation–most of it spent convincing the caller that there was indeed nothing ‘wrong’–I wrote an email. The response I received? “What’s wrong?”

I know tone is difficult to detect in emails and texts, but now I’m convinced that if I compose myself, adjust my attitude and smile before I begin typing my message, the person reading it can tell. If I’m smiling when I compose an email, I often find myself adding more exclamation points than I traditionally use. (None.) And even though I hate myself a little when I use them, the reader is not left to wonder about my dry tone.

So today, spend a few seconds conjuring up a smile before you greet a customer–in the store, on the phone, or through correspondence. I think it will make a difference in the way you both behave.

Also, even though this headline claims that I was smiling when I wrote this, I really wasn’t. See? You could you tell, couldn’t you?

300 Seconds: Indie Next Display Contest

Did you read about the Indie Next List Years of Discovery promotion in Bookselling This Week recently?

Basically, if you post a photo of your Indie Next display–a display you probably already feature in the store–on social media or in your store newsletter with the appropriate hashtag, your bookstore will automatically have the opportunity to register an additional bookseller for Winter Institute 12.

And although the contest runs for several months, to be eligible, you need to post a photo of your display each month–June, July, August, and September–along with the appropriate hashtag. The hashtag for June is #INLJune… and you have 4 days to find 300 seconds to snap a photo, post, and tag.

Here’s the thing… if you do not post June, you’re disqualifying yourselves from participating the rest of the summer.

In addition to registering an additional bookseller, participating stores will be entered into a drawing for a chance to win a complimentary registration fee to Wi12. (Ten will be awarded.)

Here are the eligibility and entry requirements from the ABA website:

  • Displays must feature multiple titles from that month’s list and can include Indie Next List Great Reads, Now in Paperback titles, or Revisit & Rediscover backlist titles.
  • Stores will enter the contest by posting a photo of their display each month on Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram with the hashtag for that month (#INLJune, #INLJuly, #INLAugust, or #INLSeptember). A hashtag must be included for the photo to be considered. Photos can also be shared in e-newsletters, which can be forwarded to ABA Social Media Manager Catherine Cusick for consideration.
  • The words “Indie Next” must appear in the posted copy or tweet.
  • Posting on more than one social media platform or in more than one newsletter each month will increase a store’s chances of being chosen for one complimentary registration fee.

So remember, #INLJune #ItOnlyTakesFiveMinutes #NoBrainer

300 Seconds: Visual Reminders for INL Deadlines

300 Seconds: Visual Reminders for INL Deadlines

If you’d like to provide a visual reminder for IndieNext Deadlines for your staff, here’s an updated shelf-talker, now covering dates through mid-2017. It’s perfect for the ARC shelf in your store, for each employee mailbox, and perhaps as wall art in the employee restroom.

Even if you download the PDF to print and distribute to all of the aforementioned locations, this task will probably take less than 300 seconds. With the extra time, compare the release dates of books on your reading stack with dates on the shelf-talker and attach some deadline post-it notes.

Or here’s a DIY bookmark you can make for yourself.

  1. Take an 8.5 x 11″ piece of paper and fold it in thirds, as though you’re inserting it into a letter.
  2. Look at the release date of the book you want to read/blurb, and find the corresponding Indie Next deadline. Write that date at the top of your bookmark. Now your deadline is staring at you.
  3. Next, write any information you might need about the book, including title, author, ISBN, pub date, publisher, publicist, sales rep, and social media handles for the publisher and author.
  4. Now you have a bookmark that contains information you need, plus 5 1/2 blank panels for note taking to have at the ready when it’s time to pen your blurb.

Now you’re ready for the next deadline, and you’ve completed a DIY project.

300 Seconds: Got Something On Your Mind?

This little tip is for those more likely to have a screen than a piece of note-taking paper in front of them. It’s a Chrome extension called Papier.

Once installed, you basically open a new tab and start typing. Whatever you type is backed up directly to Chrome and will appear each time you open a new tab, and it will stay there until you get rid of it. Because it backs up directly to Chrome, there’s no need for an account or for syncing.

Your notes do not have to stay in Chrome. You can print directly from the screen, or you can copy and paste your notes if you need them elsewhere. And you can format your text directly on the screen (bold, italics, underline, strikethrough) using commands or the hand menu in the lower left corner. Shift your eyes to the lower right corner and you’ll see a character count… for those who like to keep track. You can even choose between day and night mode.

I admit that this is more a productivity tip than a 300 Seconds task. But it takes less than 300 seconds to watch the video below, find it in the Chrome web store, and install the extension on your computer. (Or you can do all three here.) And it takes less than 300 seconds to open a tab and start typing.

You can spend the rest of the time contemplating what to do with all of those gathered thoughts.

300 Seconds: Plan Your Day

Do you ever have days where you spend 8+ hours working, yet you feel like you’ve accomplished nothing? The reality is that you probably spent those 8+ hours handselling, putting out fires and serving customers; it’s not likely that those items were on your to-do list, so you accomplished nothing, right?

The first thing I recommend that you do is add handselling, customer service, and even putting out fires to your to-do list as recurring tasks. Then you’ll have the satisfaction of crossing off those items at the end of the day.

And while you’re at the end of the day, take 300 seconds to plan your next day. What do you want to accomplish tomorrow? Don’t just call your goals to mind–write them down. Write them on your to-do list (or teux-deux list), in your notebook, on your calendar, in the corner of the newspaper you read on the bus… wherever. Not only are you starting your morning with a plan of attack, you’re going to bed with these items no longer lingering in your head. They now exist far away from your REM cycle.

Now that you’ve spent 300 seconds unloading your mind, I’m going to change things up. I need another 300 seconds from you in the morning. Here’s what I need you to do: