Kelly, Kelly, Kelly…

It’s no secret that I am always looking for email subject lines that are clever and compelling. Why are subject lines so important?

If they’re not opening your email, you’re not delivering your content.

Well, Fountain Bookstore owner Kelly Justice stopped me mid-sentence today. No kidding. I was in the middle of a conversation and left three people staring at me while I stopped everything to open the email I’d just received from Kelly. This was the subject line:

Kevin. Kevin. Kevin. Kevin. Kevin.

Then I made those three wait even longer while I opened the email to read this note from Kelly:

So…I’ve got a problem.

No matter who I’m talking to, no matter how often I repeat it, I keep calling our feature author for Tuesday’s event Brian.

His name is Kevin.

I am certain I am going to do this in his introduction.  

My brother’s name is Kevin. (Yo, Bro!) You’d think I could remember this guy’s name, but you can ask my staff, my sales reps, his fans that have called…for whatever reason, I can’t get “Brian” out of my head or stop it from coming out of my mouth. This is not normally an issue with me. But for whatever reason, I can’t seem to shake it. So if you see me around the store for the next few days muttering “kevin, kevin, kevin, kevin, kevin” under my breath, just ignore me.

There are several reasons I love this. One, it was a great stop-in-your-tracks subject line. I had to open it immediately to find out more. Two, the message was personal. Kelly felt comfortable enough to share her ‘problem’ with me. Three, she tied her message to an event in the store. Even though I will not be near Richmond on Tuesday, I still wanted to learn more about Kevin and his upcoming event.

Even though I already mentioned it once, it bears repeating. Why are subject lines important? If they’re not opening, you’re not delivering.

Instagramming ‘Out in the Open’

Here are some images for Out in the Open by Jesús Carrasco from our Books & Whatnot Instagram feed.

All of our original content is intended for use by independent booksellers. Feel free to use these images in your own feed.

300 Seconds: Choose Just One

This week I had a top-of-the-refrigerator moment. And I’m not even talking about the dust.

It seems that since the refrigerator top is actually a surface, well… it must be filled. Old party trays. Empty muffin baskets. A dishwashing drip pan. A jar of peanut butter. [Sigh.] These items had been collecting for months, yet I didn’t notice them until I was in the middle of giving a tour. [Heavier sigh.]

Today, your 5 minute marketing task is to choose an area in your store you tend to ignore. Here are a few ideas:

  • Light bulbs. We haven’t done this one in a while! Take 300 seconds and look up. Have any of the bulbs expired? It’s time to change them. Try to get this task on your weekly teux-deux list. I know. I know. Your customers do not notice that you keep the store well-lit. But they’ll sure notice when you don’t.
  • Lower shelves. Customers also tend to see the dust build-up on unused and lower shelves. Why do they see it while we don’t? Well, they don’t know not to look in those spaces for books or merchandise.
  • Baseboards. These tend to collect dust and bugs, seemingly overnight. A quick vacuum with one of those fancy attachments should take care of both for a while.
  • Restrooms. If you have a public restroom, you should probably look around the base of the toilet. Is it gross? You’re probably not the only one who feels that way.

We all have areas that are overlooked because we see them daily. You could probably come up with your own list. But why are these labeled as marketing? Perspective and perception follow customers out of your store. We can’t stop it, but we can control it.

It’s just 300 seconds. So choose just one. (You can assign the rest.)

Review (Plus): ‘You May Already Be a Winner’

Bookshelf Blurb: If only hitting ‘send’ on a virtual contest would mean winning, but in a world of ‘Walter Mitty’ type daydreams this is the only hope Olivia Hales has while living in Sunny Pines Trailer Park with an MIA dad and a mother who works yet can’t afford daycare, making Olivia hide her sister in a janitor’s closet in the middle school–totally embarrassing.

Ms. America’s Review:

Olivia Hales’ Merry-Maids-uniform-wearing mother is screaming at her to get out of the pool and help her find her sister, but Olivia is lost in a daydream. She can escape all of her loser moments because She May Already Be a Winner. Ann Dee Ellis has created a realistic world of middle school angst in her debut middle grade novel.

Olivia is stuck in the Sunny Pines Trailer Park watching her youngest sister, doing the laundry, making dinner, and trying to keep up with school while her mother goes to work every day. Her father has left the family and is living in Bryce Canyon working as some type of forest ranger, or so we conclude from daily emails Olivia sends him. Olivia wants to go back to school as she fondly watches her neighbor leave for school every day, but she knows she must be responsible for her sister and even her mom.

One morning Olivia is told by her mother that she must return to school. The truancy office has sent a notice. Olivia has missed half of the year and is behind in all of her class work. Her teachers try to reach out to her, but she is used to being independent, and she fears they are merely judging her and her family. Making matters worse her five year old sister who adores her manages to get kicked out of daycare, and Olivia is forced to offer her mother help again. She will take her sister to middle school and hide her in a janitor’s closet. When one afternoon during passing period she goes to check on her sister and give her a snack to her horror she discovers her sister is gone.

Olivia tries to maintain hope and dignity throughout the book. She is unaware of her mother’s choices, but refuses to let her mom shoulder them by herself. Her unfailing devotion to her family made me want so much more for Olivia than her parents were providing. I want to foster every Olivia out there. Olivia is a strong person and one who I kept hoping would finally become a winner. You May Already Be a Winner is a powerful book for those of us who have Olivias in our lives and want to help both the child and the parent.

In the classroom:

Like many students I have encountered through my years in the classroom, Olivia is a person I admire. Her undying hope is a mystery to me, even as my heart was breaking for this lovely young lady. She is the silent student in the classroom who has too many burdens to bear at home to do her homework. Students like Olivia have hope because sometimes that is all they have to hold on to.

As a teaching tool I would take an excerpt from this book, making students read it and decipher its “deeper meaning.” I especially liked when Olivia’s male teacher tried to relate to her and she became rude and mouthy to him. She even goes so far as to comment on his hair. She wasn’t like this throughout the book. Why is she lashing out at this teacher who is trying to help her and offer an escape?


You May Already Be a Winner by Ann Dee Ellis (Dial Books | 9781101993859 | July 11, 2017)

#WhatBeachWhatBook: Margaritaville Margaritas

Simon & Schuster is continuing their #WhatBeachWhatBook series with this recipe for a Margaritaville Margarita paired with Jimmy Buffett: A Good Life All The Way by Ryan White.

I love these videos for sharing. With all of the ‘recipe’ videos that make their way across my Facebook feed, it’s nice to see a book included on the screen.

If you’d like to share the video with your customers, I’ve included the embed code below. And when you share, remember to engage your customers. Ask them to share their favorite summer spots and upcoming beach reads on social with hashtag #WhatBeachWhatBook.

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