Interview with Tere Hyfield from Red Stick Reads


1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?

Without a doubt, my favorite part of our bookshop is our children’s section. Although our shop is teeny tiny, we try hard to make the best, most creative, use of our space and the kids section was created with SO much love. Given that our shop is small, we needed to find a way to make it feel cozy and inviting even to our tiniest of customers and many hours were spent dreaming up how to best host the children that visit our shop.

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?

Unlike the previous question, this one is actually a lot harder to answer. There are SO many beautiful book covers out there, but if I had to narrow it down to one… or two… I’d say my current fiction favorites are Mexican Gothic, by Silvia Moreno-Garcia and Last Year in Havana, by Chanel Cleaton. Both of these covers TOTALLY caught my attention and are a big reason I was drawn to the books to begin with. They are gorgeous! I’m not necessarily proud to admit this, but I totally judge books by their covers, and a lot of times, this does not prove to be a good idea. But fortunately, in the case of these two books the outside cover matched up with what I thought about the inside. Beautiful inside AND out 😉

….And because I can’t help myself, I will mention just one more beauty! I am a HUGE fan of the Little People, Big Dreams children’s series and will always have them front facing in our shop. Their newest, Treasury of 50 Little Dreamers, is a fast favorite we have showcased front facing in the shop.

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?

My husband and I would probably answer this question very differently, but I’ll share my current picks and right now it would be Jodi Picoult’s new release Wish You Were Here. I just finished this one myself and am selfishly recommending it so that I can have someone to discuss it with. It’s the first novel I’ve read set in the pandemic and I have SO many thoughts about it. And she threw in quite the twist to boot. Jodi Picoult, in general, is a great rec. As far as a backlist pick, I love recommending both The Seven Husbands of Eleanor Hugo and Daisy Jones and the Six. They are both written by Taylor Jenkins Reid, and she’s become a new favorite for me that I love sharing because I have enjoyed all of her books so far.

4. Do you have a strange customer story?

I have a great customer story that comes to mind, but it’s not so much strange as it is just awesome. We decided to open on Christmas Eve, but only for a couple of hours. The very first group that walked through the doors proved to be one of the most memorable, and fun, moments we’ve had to date! We hadn’t been open very long, when a group of about 10 people walked in. And because our shop is so small, they basically filled up the whole space. A couple of adults, and LOTS of kids varying in ages from 5ish to young adults walked in and immediately started scurrying around the store in what appeared to us to be some kind of scavenger hunt. One of the adults explained that all of their grandkids had just pulled names of the adults in the family, and they were on a mission to find each one a book from our shop as a Christmas gift, and they were on a time constraint. Immediately we jumped into action and the kids started calling out names, and information to us about each adult. I knew this group would be fun when I asked one of the kids to tell me a little about the person they picked and he looked at me and said: Do you have anything involving a drug cartel? I looked at grandma and she said…. let me explain. Let’s just say, we laughed the ENTIRE time they were in the ship and I’m proud to say we found a book for all of the adults.

I know we’ll always look back on that family and enjoy the gift of joy they gave us. I hope they come back next Christmas Eve

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?

Our first author event comes to mind right away. We hosted a really fun evening at the shop with local author, Stephen Andes, to celebrate his book Zorro’s Shadow. Stephen read from Chapter 1 of his book, while being accompanied by a friend on guitar, and guests sipped on wine, while sitting in comfy chairs. It was such a wonderful way to introduce the book to our readers. Stephen was a great narrator and had such great timing. The guitar accompaniment was the cherry on top. We definitely look forward to more author events like this one, especially highlighting local talent whatever possible.

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?

That you get to read wistfully while in the shop working. I totally pictured myself reading, sipping on coffee, while sitting at the register and occasionally helping someone find their next great read. I giggle thinking of that now. The reality is that since we opened up the book shop I have NO time to read. The irony hasn’t escaped me, but fortunately, being the bookworm I am, I still find a way to squeeze a book in here and there.

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?

Least favorite: data entry/inventory. For such a tiny shop, we sure can pack in the books ;).
Favorite part: getting to know, and connect with our customers over a shared love of reading, and all things books. Their support has been an incredible gift.

Tere Hyfield is the co-owner of Red Stick Reads in Baton Rouge, La.

How the pandemic transformed publishing

The pandemic has changed everything, including the publishing industry. In our new “State of the Industry” blog series, we’ll be breaking down exactly how the pandemic has changed the game for publishers, booksellers, authors, and readers. By understanding how the publishing industry has rapidly transformed in 2020 and 2021, writers and authors will be better prepared to navigate the new state of the industry in 2022.

Let’s start with a question: How did the pandemic in 2020 change the game for publishers?

Answer: They started out rough and finished strong.
According to a December 2020 article in The New York Times, (“Surprise Ending for Publishers: In 2020, Business Was Good”) book sales dropped sharply in March and April 2020 as panic and closures disrupted daily life. But demand increased beyond pre-pandemic level in June 2020 as buying habits and stores transitioned.

2020 concluded with:
Print sales up by 8% (NPD Bookscan)
Audiobooks up 17% over the same period in 2019 (Association of American Publishers)
Ebooks up more than 16% after a several year decline (NYT)

So, how did the events of 2020 influence book-buying habits and genre trends?
The short answer is that books on race and antiracism, politics, home DIY projects, and escapist literature like YA fantasy had a VERY good year.

Sales were UP in the following categories:

Sales were DOWN in the following categories:

Perhaps one of the most surprising developments in 2020 was a surprise sales boost for backlist titles as well as frontlist titles. Publishers are notorious for investing resources in frontlist titles, but requiring nearly immediate success for the book to be considered “a hit.” But in 2020, the postponement of new releases, coupled with an increased reading demand during lockdown and quarantine, proved that both backlist and frontlist titles could be financial successes. This could very possibly mean that publishers will be more willing to invest more in backlist titles in the future (particularly those tied to culturally momentous events within any given year) than they have in the past.

Where did the publishing market stand at the end of 2020?
Publishers saw a 10% increase in sales in 2020. Despite major issues with supply chains and staff layoffs, buying trends in 2020 that supported backlist as well as frontlist titles helped publishers succeed, and gave them more leeway to delay the release of new titles.

Amazon deprioritized books amid increased demand for medical supplies and household items, giving Barnes & Noble and a previously unforeseen edge.

Against all odds, 2020 was a profitable year for major publishers. The key takeaways here are:

  • Readers don’t necessarily care if a book is a new release, or a backlist title: if the subject is in-demand, they will buy it. Considering that backlist sales helped major publishing houses succeed in 2020, publishers are now more aware than ever of the financial potential of their backlist.
  • Genre trends are driven by reader demand, and what is or isn’t in-demand can change rapidly. Publishers may influence some genre trends intentionally, but at the end of the day readers drive the market, and publishers will work to fulfill reader demand. A savvy author will be paying close attention to the demands and behaviors of their target audience, so they can write to meet the needs of their demographic. A great book is a great book–but a timely book sells.

How else did the pandemic change the publishing industry? Despite major rapid innovations, independent bookstores experienced major struggles and surprising successes. Learn more in next month’s post: How the Pandemic Transformed Bookselling.

Interview with Kate Czyzewski from Thunder Road Books

1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?

My favorite area of the bookstore has to be our children’s section. Though it heavily competes with our movable wooden ladder (so cool!). Nothing makes me happier than when the young children come bursting through the door and run straight back to grab a book they’ve been itching to read. We also have a daily activity table that mirrors our weekly storytime theme. Kids know it is a space just for them and a space where they can be creative. It’s a great feeling to see how much time our families spend there together.

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?

At Thunder Road Books, it’s been important to us to curate books that you may not see in the mainstream everyday. Right now, I love seeing Immortal Axes, Guitars That Rock by Lisa S. Johnson. Our theme is “flicks, books and rock and roll.” Also, during opening weekend, we had a customer special order Booze and Vinyl with us. Now, it’s a staple gift item for the store.  Seeing books that speak so much to the creative vision behind music and art is both aesthetically pleasing and also deep in history!

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?

New release: I can not recommend Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson enough! Jeff Cook, now an art dealer, runs into a former UCLA classmate at the airport. When their flight is delayed, the two decide to grab drinks and catch up. What starts out as a casual, “What have you been up to since college?” quickly becomes Jeff divulging how a life-changing moment altered his path to this day. Jeff, while at the beach one afternoon, comes to the rescue of a drowning man. Unbeknownst to him, the man he saves is Francis Arsenault, world renowned art dealer and begins to insert himself in the life of the art dealer. Obsession, psychological suspense- this one packed a punch!

Backlist pick: There are so many incredible backlist picks I’d love to share with you, but I’d like to share with you a New Jersey author, Julie Maloney, and her book A Matter of Chance. Julie Maloney’s talent lies not only in her development of suspense and engagement, but in her character development. Here is a novel whose secondary characters drew me in just as much as the protagonist. I also loved all the NJ references! Us Jersey gals stick together! Julie’s author event led me to meet Thunder Road Books’ owner, Basil Iwanyk and now I manage the store. I love how much the book community connects with one another!

4. Do you have a strange customer story? 

Oh yes, that I do!  We were awarded the privilege of selling Sir Paul McCartney’s Lyrics book, the exclusive signed and numbered edition. Our store chose to hold an auction and proceeds were donated to our local fire company. In our planning stage for the auction, we had a customer who called, asking for the manager pretty much daily for almost 2 months straight about this book. The mistake we made was telling him who the manager was because that was it. Voicemails and phone calls each day. At one point,  he felt he was so deserving of the book, he shared with us the “visions” he had that Sir Paul McCartney himself felt this book should be his. He gave us quite the entertainment (and at times, frustration) that can be associated with being a retail store!

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event? 

I have been a long time fan of Fiona Davis. She’s an auto-buy author for me and her works of historical fiction are superb in their research and execution.  I had the pleasure of meeting her in person when she was touring for The Chelsea Girls and again when she toured for The Lions of Fifth Avenue. For her newest release, The Magnolia Palace, Thunder Road Books will be hosting her in February at the Spring Lake Theatre.  We were looking for an author to be her panelist, but some plans changed. I am so honored to be jumping in as her panelist for the evening. To say this is a full circle moment and a dream come true is an understatement. I do not take any of our connections to authors for granted. To be in conversation with an author I have long admired and be able to share the joy of her stories with our readers is something I will forever cherish.

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?

I love this question! So many of my non reader friends say to me all the time, “It must be nice to sit at work and read all day.” Well, I wish that were the case! Actually, I’ve read less this year since I started working at the bookstore. It brings such joy to be here each day, but it’s also working with our owner, Basil, in running the day to day business. A business has jobs that need to be done, phone calls, invoices, website content, social media tasks, booking events, running to the bank for change!  In order to bring our readers the best titles and recommendations, that takes time, curation and proper ordering. We are still learning as both Basil and I were not booksellers in our previous career paths. He still runs the successful Thunder Road Films and I was a special education teacher for some years. Bookselling has been a learning curve for us and we are continuing to soak up all the advice from fellow booksellers!

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?

Oh my gosh, the BOXES! Getting deliveries is great because you get to see what’s coming out to share with readers, however, during our holiday rush, we carried countless boxes down the street and up the stairs to our office/storage space. I definitely get a physical workout working here. Who would have thought? My favorite part of working at the bookstore is our customers and community. Nothing makes me happier than when a customer comes in and says I absolutely loved that book that you and/or your staff recommended to me. It’s great to be reading along with our community. Now, instead of talking my husband’s ear off about what I’m reading, I have people who want to chat about that everyday! I also love our weekly storytime readings. Reading to children is where my heart will always be. Starting their reading habits at a young age is the greatest gift an adult can give.

8. Can you recommend an underrated readalike book for one of the store’s top titles? 

One of the most incredible books of 2021 was Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at the End. THIS BOOK. Part drama, part mystery, part family saga. This book took my heart and then broke it and then put it back together again. When friends have asked me to describe my “go-to” book genre, I usually say books that leave me a mess and need to put me back together.  We Begin at the End is one that will stay with me for a long time. I felt that way about Wiley Cash’s This Dark Road to Mercy. Released in 2014, it was one of my book club’s first picks and we still talk about it to this day. The story of two sisters whose mother passed away and the girls end up in the care of a court appointed legal guardian. The story is narrated from the girls’ perspective, the guardian, and the father that signed away his parental rights. A vendetta surfaces as more information about the father’s past is uncovered. This one left me in awe and needs to be read more!

Katherine Czyzewski is a store manager and bookseller at Thunder Roads Books in Spring Lake, NJ.

Tips and tricks for authors using BookBub

Whether you’re a new author or one who’s been around the block, the name BookBub has most likely come across your desk. “Well… what is it? Another website? Another login? Another password to remember?!” Oof, we know. There are a few… but don’t miss out on this one!

We here at Books Forward are big fans of BookBub and all the opportunities their services can provide. BookBub is one of the top tier bargain e-book newsletters, with one of the largest networks reaching millions of email subscribers everyday. Authors can advertise their discounted e-books and reach millions of readers who are willing to download cheaper books and try out new authors. In what BookBub calls their “Featured Deal” service, authors have seen their books hit #1 on Amazon. It also helps build numbers of reviews and rankings, and authors have seen downloads in the thousands.

Now despite all the amazing results and testimonials, BookBub isn’t necessarily your golden ticket to the bestseller lists, but can certainly help you build your readership! Here are a few of our tips to get started.

Create a profile: Having a presence on BookBub can help optimize your search engine results. Make sure to update your display picture, biography and even list some of your recommended reads. This is a great way to connect with your peers and to even see where you could advertise your book. (For example: if an author has a large amount of followers on BookBub and their readers would most likely vibe with your book, think about tapping into that network!) We recommend adding new books to your list, every other week or so.

BookBub Ads: BookBub allows you to target other authors on the platform (which is where the last tip can come in handy!) You can create ads by using the system’s templates or design your own. We recommend exploring your genre and targeting similar authors listed in that category.

Featured Deals: Featured deals are where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. But you do have to be patient! Featured Deals don’t happen right away and can take time and persistence. They can be pricey depending on the genre and the regions — if you get a deal within the U.S., expect to pay more. However, the payoff is worth it. Be considerate of the genre you are submitting in and don’t hesitate to try different genres and price points. Be sure to fill out the comment section with any accolades or awards the book has received! Once your feature deal is live, don’t be shy to advertise on other platforms — you can use this promotion to create some really great momentum.

Overall, the most important lesson to learn with BookBub (and book marketing in general!) is the more you put, in the more you’ll get back. If you decide to apply yourself to the BookBub platform, be sure to use it consistently — optimize your profile, try using ads and submit frequently to Featured Deals, and it will be worth the effort in the end! Every reader counts and BookBub is a great place to meet more.

What happens AFTER my book launches?

Authors jump through countless hoops leading up to their publication day. In fact, a massive part of publicity work is typically done before a book is even available for sale. Authors are encouraged to create a website, grow their social media following, send ARCs out for early reviews, set up pre-order campaigns, and coordinate a launch event, all before their book has hit shelves. So, when publication day finally arrives, many authors breathe a sigh of relief. You can kick back, relax, and celebrate all you’ve accomplished. As you should!

Then, after all the party hats are packed away, confusion — maybe even panic —sets in. No one told you how to continue supporting your book after publication day. What can you do to keep the momentum going?

Below are eight tips for what you can do after your book launch. And, if you are working with a professional publicity or marketing agency, they may be able to take some of these tasks off your plate. Ask them how they can support you post-launch!

Keep Posting on Social Media

  • Stay active! It’s important to keep up a consistent posting schedule so that your name stays on reader’s radars, especially when in-between book releases. If you’re worried about time-management, or feel as though you don’t have enough content ideas to fill out 3 posts per week, you can certainly post less frequently, as long as you stay consistent.
  • Share the positive reviews you’ve received. Remember to thank the bloggers and influencers who reviewed your book and posted about it on social media. This group is the backbone of book publicity, and most of the work they do is for free!
  • Host a post-pub day giveaway! Perhaps you have extra swag, bookplates, or signed copies sitting around? Time to clean up, and draw attention back to your new release.
  • Keep celebrating! Your book is in its infancy, and many good things are still to come. Did you hit number one in your category on Amazon? Has your book won a literary award? Will there be a limited-time sale? Is your publisher planning to release the book in new formats, such as paperback or audiobook? Keep sharing the good news!

Advance Your Skills on Your Social Accounts Website, and Newsletter

  • Branch out and learn new skills! The digital realm is complex and always evolving. Each year, there are brand new resources that authors can use to their advantage. Keep abreast of trends, and get inspired by how other authors are adapting and promoting their work online. Here are a few tools that are popular now:
  • Create a content calendar. This will allow you to schedule your social media posts in advance, saving you time and effort throughout the week.
  • Learn how to use Pinned Tweets on Twitter. A Pinned Tweet stays at the top of your page, so it should contain the most important information you’re trying to communicate — i.e. all the key information about your book and where/how to order a copy!
  • Learn how to use LinkTree and add it to your social media profiles. LinkTree helps you keep all your links in one place. You can add purchase links for your book to reduce the number of clicks it takes for a follower to buy your book. The fewer steps involved, the more likely it is that a reader will complete their purchase!
  • Create a TikTok account. TikTok hosts a vibrant community of readers — largely young adults — who are looking to connect over new books. If you are in the YA genre, this is definitely something you should explore!
  • Update your website and social media headers. After publication day, be sure to update your banners with language such as “on sale now” or “available everywhere!”
  • Set up an email newsletter for fans to subscribe to. You should incentivize sign-ups by giving away something for free. A sample of the book (a few chapters long) often works well.

Mobilize Your Personal Network

  • Ask friends, family, and fans to share reviews on Amazon and Goodreads.
  • Ask your network to request a copy of your book from their local library or indie bookstore. The higher the demand is for your book, the more likely it is that these professsionals will order copies in bulk.

Set Up Meet and Greets with Tastemakers

  • Approach booksellers about stocking your book. Bring your book and a copy of your press kit with you, and ask the bookseller for just a few minutes of their time. Give them your quick elevator pitch, and let them know why their customers would be interested in your book. If the store doesn’t agree to order copies right away, that’s OK. Continue supporting their store, and show them that you are serious about a mutual partnership.
  • Get in touch with libraries too! If you are stopping by in person, bring your book and a copy of your press kit. If you are not able to visit, consider mailing out postcards with information on your new release. Let the library know that you are interested in partnering with them, and helping them get more patrons through their doors.

Connect with Other Authors for Dual Promos

  • Partner up with another author for a dual event or panel. Having two authors for an event essentially doubles the audience size, which can make dual events very appealing to bookstores and libraries!
  • Set up a double giveaway. Offer your book along with a friend’s book for a dual giveaway on social media to increase awareness and participation!
  • Set up an IG or FB Live where you two chat, or agree to an interview hosted by a third party.
  • Try a newsletter feature swap! If you both have email newsletters, you can each promote the other’s book to help grow your audience and readership.

Pitch Yourself as an Expert

  • Author-focused media — online, print, radio or TV opportunities that may require you to speak on your expertise — can be set up months or even years after your book’s release. Especially if you are a nonfiction author, or an expert in your field, the media will be interested in what you have to say. So, consider pitching yourself as an expert to journalists and local TV programs!
  • Keep up to date with conferences and festivals, and apply to the ones that interest you. Many events are always looking for expert speakers!

Write Guest Articles

  • Guest articles are beneficial for author branding and are an effective way to keep your name in front of potential readers, especially while in between book releases. For a full list of tips on writing guest articles, check out our previous article here.

Consider an Ad Campaign

  • Digital marketing campaigns can start anytime and do not need to be tied to your publication date. Here are a few options you might consider:
  • Run ads in reader newsletters surrounding a special price drop on your ebook. If you’re going to be running a sale, you’ll want lots of readers to know about it. These ads help to boost exposure to tens of thousands of dedicated readers and tend to be very effective at increasing sales!
  • Plan seasonal ads. Are the holidays coming up? Run an ad campaign surrounding the season in order to take advantage of the festive gift giving. Or, if your book is addressing a serious topic such as Breast Cancer Awareness, consider running ads surrounding the related awareness month to boost exposure and draw attention to a good cause.
  • Check out marketing opportunities with your local bookseller association. If you want to reach booksellers directly, you can purchase an ad in a newsletter that will reach hundreds of indie booksellers in your local region.

As you can see, there are plenty of strategies for building your author brand and growing your readership while you’re in between book releases. Take stock of which strategies play to your strengths and pair well with your book’s genre, and follow that path!


Links used:

Interview with Christine Bollow from Loyalty Bookstore

  1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?
    I love all the sections but I find myself gravitating towards the speculative section the most, especially when it comes to browsing for myself. I also love that we have a whole section dedicated to the romance genre. It’s really lovely working somewhere that celebrates genre fiction just as much as literary fiction!
  2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?
    Okay this is hard because there’s so many awesome book covers and Loyalty always does a great job of having a lot of books facing out on the shelves! It always makes me happy when we have books by Filipinx authors facing out, such as Fairest by Meredith Talusan or Insurrecto by Gina Apostol. Sabrina and Corina by Kali Fajardo-Anstine is one of my favorite books and book covers, so I always like to have that one facing out or on a table display.
  3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?
    Things I Have Withheld by Kei Miller is an incredible essay collection that came out last summer. It’s an exploration of the silences held within the body and in conversations, those things left unsaid, family secrets, and more, from the perspective of a queer Black man from Jamaica. It was one of my favorite books of the year and deserves way more attention! I also love Barb the Last Berserker by Dan Abdo and Jason Patterson, a graphic novel for middle grade readers. It’s funny and full of adventure and friendship and bravery – perfect for fans of Adventure Time. A backlist book? Hmm…I’ve been recommending Miracle Creek by Angie Kim a lot lately and of course anything by Octavia Butler!
  4. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?
    I was so starstruck getting to meet Min Jin Lee virtually! She is one of my all-time favorite authors and I aimed high and decided to shoot my shot asking her to participate in the Stop AAPI Hate fundraiser event I organized at Loyalty last spring. She generously agreed to be part of the event and I got to meet her briefly in the green room before the event started and legit lost my ability for words for a moment there. I might have cried from joy after she left the green room because I was so overwhelmed but like, in a good way! I’ve been able to host so many fun virtual events with Loyalty – seriously, I love getting to host authors and support them and their work and it’s my favorite part of my job. A few memorable events are getting to host Yaa Gyasi and Brit Bennett, Ocean Vuong and Alok Vaid-Menon, Thien-Kim Lam and Lyssa Kay Adams, and any time we get to do an event with Kwame Mbalia, I know it will be a blast!
  5. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?
    That you just get to read all day. Sadly, that is not the case. I of course still read a ton but it’s all done outside of working hours.
  6. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?
    Lifting or moving boxes! My favorite part about working in a bookstore and at Loyalty specifically is that we center books by BIPOC, queer, disabled, and other marginalized authors and that everything we do supports that mission. I love that the work I do for Loyalty’s events and marketing contributes to the store being an inclusive and intersectional space for our community.

Christine Bollow is the Programs & Marketing Manager at Loyalty Bookstores in Silver Spring, MD.

A Writer’s Guide to Goodreads

Readers and authors alike flock to Goodreads to find new books, enter giveaways, rate books, write reviews, and monitor stats of the unending sea of books that can be found online. So, what are the key things to keep in mind as a writer who wants their book to gain traction on Goodreads? We’ve put together a list of tips that can be helpful for first time authors breaking into this site.

  1. Use The Site
    This may seem obvious, but the most important part of entering a new digital space is understanding how it works. Participate as a reader and look at other author pages to build an idea of what your page might look like. Rate and review books, enter some giveaways to see how they work, check out the array of lists readers can vote books onto, and join the community. Integrating yourself first allows you to not only understand the site, but also understand the kinds of people who use it.
  2. Build Your Author Profile
    Create an author profile page that gives all the information you want to share with your readers to make finding you and your book easier. Include a short bio, a professional headshot, the genres you write in, and links to any website or social media accounts you have. You want them to be able to follow you easily across the web for updated book information so be sure to use links that are updated.
  3. Optimize and Claim Your Book Page
    In order for people to find your book, you will need to input its information. Be sure to include a good quality cover photo, an optimized description, and updated metadata like ISBN, publishing information, and price. Then you will need to claim the book as your own from your author profile so that it is connected to your account. If you are interested in what we can help with on the Goodreads optimization side, let us know, and we can tell you what we’ve done for our previous authors.
  4. Set Up a Giveaway
    One of the best ways to get your book in front of more readers on Goodreads is to offer a giveaway. You are able to list both print and online giveaways and you can set the number of copies you are willing to give. The great thing about giveaways is that whoever enters the giveaway keeps the book in their “want to read” list whether they win or not. This means that your book will be on their mind for future book purchases they will make, and it shows up in their friends’ feeds. It’s great exposure and can really help you gain interest.
  5. Add Your Book to Lists
    Goodreads has hundreds of lists that you can vote your book onto. Some fairly generic like “100 Must Read Books” and others that are hyper specific like “Fictitious Shipwrecks.” The more people that vote for the book on these lists, the higher they move and the more visibility your book has. Doing a mix of both broader and more specific lists is the best way to approach this aspect of Goodreads. Get your friends and family to help you raise your ranking and post about them on your socials to get readers involved.
  6. Engage with Readers
    Goodreads is a social platform so don’t forget to be social! Respond to positive reviews or post them on your other socials. Host Author Q&As on your Goodreads profile to answer questions about your writing process or your characters. Continue to use the site as a reader as well to stay current on what books and authors are popular at the moment. Social channels are always changing so staying up to date is your best chance for success!


Interview with Angie Sanchez from Old Town Books

1. What’s your favorite area of your bookstore?
Anywhere that the white ladder is. I’m short, so it always comes in handy and I can have my own Beauty and the Beast moment on the daily.

2. What’s the coolest book cover that you like to have facing out on the shelves?
I’m a sucker for shiny foil on covers, so Piranesi by Susanna Clark is one of my favorites. The paperback is still pretty, but I especially love the hardcover because when you take off the (also beautiful) dust jacket, you see that the title is etched into the book in gold. I also love the cover of Elatsoe by Little Darcie Badger, with the teal blue foil on the title and the movement of all of the pups in the background. Both of these books are also fantastic reads.

3. If you had a staff pick for a recent new release, what would it be? Backlist pick?
New release: Fault Lines by Emily Itami. It has a fabulous Sex and the City vibe, but it’s set in Tokyo with a Sally Rooney-ish narration – I LOVED it.
Back list: Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. I would call this dystopian fiction, but it’s more accurately a way too scary look at the direction that our world is going in with one of the strongest protagonists in fiction. This should be considered essential reading at this point.

4. Do you have a strange customer story?
Ha, so many. Book people are weird people, ya know? Myself included. But I think one of the more recent ones is a customer who seemed just a little *too* excited to find the book Dark Archives by Megan Rosenbloom and started talking to us about how his girlfriend, who’s a mortician, should get into this. The book is about the history of using human skin for bookbinding.

5. What author have you been starstruck to meet, or have you gotten to host a fun virtual event?
I virtually got to meet Mira Jacob at an event that the bookstore hosted and the wonderful Lupita Aquino moderated. I was a nervous mess but Mira was as cool as a cucumber and so kind.

6. What are some misconceptions people have about working in a bookstore?
It’s still a retail job and comes with all of the physical and emotional labor as other retail jobs. Some people think all I do is sit behind a counter and read all day, when in reality I’m lugging around boxes of books, receiving new inventory, processing orders, and doing a lot of other behind-the-scenes work. Bookselling has fun aspects to it, but at the end of the day it’s still a job that shouldn’t be romanticized 🙂

7. What is your least favorite bookstore task? Favorite part about working in a bookstore?
My least favorite part is running boxes of books up and down the stairs haha, books are HEAVY. Also dealing with rude customers in a pandemic who won’t comply with face mask policies.
My favorite part is giving out book recommendations and then having the customers come back and tell me how much they enjoyed said recommendations.

Angie Sanchez is the assistant manager at Old Town Books in Alexandria, VA.

Books Forward BFFs January Influencer Newsletter

Check out the latest newsletter for our Books Forward Friends. This issue features highlights of our BFFs, fun titles available for review, and special opportunities for our friends.

Download the January 2021 newsletter here!

Tips for building mood boards and create brand aesthetics

A big part of author branding is making sure your personal social media and blogging efforts follow a particular theme, or have a certain aesthetic that associates your book with something that readers will notice and in turn, associate with you!

As a blogger myself, my aesthetic has often been described as colorful and coffee-obsessed. I almost always include a coffee mug and some sort of hot beverage in my photos, and I allow my photos to be bright, often including plants and greenery. I’ve had so many readers send me coffee-related posts and gifs from other bloggers, which warms my heart, knowing that they have gleaned something about me and thought of me in context with something I love.

Below, you’ll find tips and tricks for creating your own aesthetic, and opportunities to work on your brand!

Express Yourself

This sounds like it should be obvious, but I have a lot of authors that ask about sharing too much of their personality on social media, wondering if their platform should be book-specific. To that I say, sort of. Of course, we want the book to be present, you are an author! But if there are other things you enjoy, hobbies, professions, etc. – post those things too! They make you unique, and they might attract non-traditional readers who connect with something other than books, and that can open you up to a completely different audience! Don’t be afraid to show YOU without the pen in hand!

Be Consistent

Consistency is KEY, especially in a visual sense. It’s important for readers to see recurring patterns in your posts. For me, it’s the greenery. When friends come over, they always remark that they’ve seen my plants in all of my photos, and are often so excited to see “where the magic happens”. I’ve had friends gift me plants because they know that’s something I really enjoy from how often they appear in my photos. You want your readers to get to know you in that way, and also to create that association for them, so that when they see something that reminds them of you, they are reminded of your books and have the desire to continue reading throughout your career!

Add in a Pop of Color

One of the easiest and most essential pieces of author branding comes down to color, and ensuring that you are using the same colors across your multiple platforms. It comes back to the idea of consistency, but it can be helpful when readers are seeing you in different places that they have an association with! Select colors that resonate with you or are featured on your book cover, and be sure to use those same shades and colors for your website and social media alike!


In the world of Instagram, presets are quite popular. Presets are essentially filters that you can add to each and every photo you take to ensure that they have a similar aesthetic and appear related and consistent. This can be a simple way to ensure your photos are consistent and appear clean to viewers. The only downside to presets is that you often have to pay for them. They aren’t entirely too expensive, but it is something to consider!

Have Fun

None of this matters if you can’t have a bit of fun with it! Social media and branding, while a great way to connect with your audience, are still personal platforms where you are meant to be yourself. If your creative outlet looks different, allow for it to look different! You know yourself and your brand better than anyone! Don’t be afraid to try something outside of the box, especially if that means you’re going to find enjoyment!