I Love My
Independent Bookstore Contest
by Fern Reiss, CEO, PublishingGame.com
“To really get bookstore attention, you need to
do a fancy PR campaign,” someone advised me. “It
can cost $10,000 a month!” But I got attention—and
every bookstore in the country. My monthly expenditure?
I announced the first, national, “I Love My Independent
Bookstore” contest. The idea was to give a prize (that’s
the $50) every month for the best customer answer to the
phrase, “I love my independent bookstore because…”
Because it’s warm and squishy. Because the chains
all look the same. Because you can’t get a feel for
books on Amazon. Because my local bookstore lets me curl
up and read in peace and quiet.
Booksellers hung up simple posters announcing the contest.
Each month they picked the best entry from their store
and emailed it to me. And I picked the best response out
of the national finalists. Each monthly winner got a $50
gift certificate from his local bookstore.
Customers loved it. For 15 words
or fewer, they had a whack at winning $50. Every month.
Independent bookstores really loved it. It branded
them in exactly the way they needed to be positioned. And
reminded their clientele why, exactly, the independents
have to be supported—and why it was worth supporting
them. (Also, the winning stores sold an extra $50 in books.)
It was the best money I’ve ever spent. For $50 a
month we achieved national visibility. We were mentioned
in all the review journals, from Publishers Weekly to the
American Bookseller Association newsletter. We got press
coverage in every single independent bookstore regional
Even today, when I go to a book
trade show and booksellers meet me, they say, “Peanut
Butter and Jelly Press? Oh, you’re the ‘I Love
My Independent Bookstore contest!’”
That contest was four years ago, and it’s still providing
me with effective PR. So much for fancy, expensive publicity.
So here’s my suggestion. Let the rich hobby publishers
go for the fancy PR firms. Instead, think guerrilla PR.
Think out of the box. Think small and wiry and cheap.
I hate to retire a good idea,
so I’m gonna
run this one again. Watch the PublishingGame.com website
(it’ll be in the section for booksellers.) And then
go check out your local neighborhood independent bookstore.
You, too, can win $50 this month.
Fern Reiss is CEO of PublishingGame.com (www.PublishingGame.com) and Expertizing.com (www.Expertizing.com) and the author of the books, The Publishing Game: Find an Agent in 30 Days, The Publishing Game: Bestseller in 30 Days, and The Publishing Game: Publish a Book in 30 Days as well as several other award-winning books. She is also the Director of the International Association of Writers (www.AssociationofWriters.com) providing publicity vehicles to writers worldwide. She also runs The Expertizing® Publicity Forum where you can pitch your book or business directly to journalists; more information at www.Expertizing.com/forum.htm. Sign up for her complimentary newsletter at www.PublishingGame.com/signup.htm.
Copyright © 2011 Fern Reiss