Meet the Team

Tellwell marketing consultant Chelsea Rutherford on the biggest mistake authors make when it comes to book marketing

1. Tell us about your role at Tellwell.

As a book marketing consultant, I work with authors to show them how they can connect with their audience through various marketing activities. It’s my goal to give authors a better understanding of all the tools they have available to them when it comes to marketing their book, and teach them how to effectively use those tools.

2. What does a typical day or week look like?

A typical day includes a mix of meetings and consultations, creating marketing strategies, designing social media graphics and promotional materials, and pitching to bloggers, media outlets or bookstores. I love that my work week always contains a mix of writing, strategizing, phone calls with unique authors, and creative work.

3. What did you do before joining Tellwell?

I was the marketing manager for a California based start-up. I worked remotely from Victoria with a lean-team based in Ottawa, Oakland, and Los Angeles. We all came together to launch our company in early 2017. What a whirlwind that was! I wouldn’t trade that time for anything though. Not only did I hone my time management and communication skills, and learn just how adaptable I really can be, but I was also able to experiment with all kinds of marketing activities. My responsibilities included social media management, blogging, B2B and B2C email marketing, media outreach, partnership marketing with California-based event planners, as well as managing and executing brand awareness campaigns, mostly through influencer marketing on Instagram.    

4. How would you describe your personality? What inspires you?

I thrive when I’m able to socialize with others – friends, family, even strangers at events or concerts. I love getting into good conversations with people. Learning through sharing ideas with others charges me up like nothing else. With events and social gatherings on hold though, I’ve been turning to other sources of inspiration. I consume books, blogs and podcasts on the regular, but my consumption rate has increased tenfold since social distancing came into effect. I’m still getting outside and spending time near the ocean or on a remote trail – there’s nothing like nature to keep me feeling whole. 

5. What do you enjoy most about working with authors?

I love hearing why authors wrote their book, why they want to share this particular message with the world. Starting with why is a driving force behind just about everything I do when it comes to business and marketing – thank you, Simon Sinek.

Understanding an author’s why helps me better understand who we’re trying to reach, which determines my recommendations and strategies for how to connect with them.

6. What marketing advice do you have for authors?

I know that marketing can feel like an overwhelming process. When I coach the authors I work with about promotional activities such as web and email marketing, social media, events, pitching to journalists or partnering with bloggers or bookstores, for example, I know that it can seem like a lot to take on. But here’s the key: you don’t have to do it all at once! It’s actually much more enjoyable if you focus on one or two marketing activities at time. This allows you to connect with your audience more meaningfully. When you aren’t rushing through and managing too many things at once, you can be more intentional and effective in how you spread your message.

7. What is the most common misconception when it comes to book marketing?

“I’ll market my book for a couple months and then just let the readers and sales come to me.”

Like anything in life, you get what you give. If you dedicate time and effort consistently, you’ll be more likely to build up a loyal following from your audience and convert them to paying customers. Moreover, you have to seek your audience out; you have to go to them before they start coming to you.

8. If an author only has time to focus on one marketing activity, what would you suggest?

Choose the platform that makes you excited and enthusiastic to share your message, your story. If you like long-form writing on a consistent schedule, go with blogging. If sharing fun visuals with concise captions gets you jazzed, go with Instagram or Facebook. If you thrive when talking to others, seek out events or podcasts. Whatever it is, you want to be excited about it because that enthusiasm will come through when you’re delivering the message. Your audience will pick up on it and be more inclined to listen to what you’re saying. 

9. Where can authors focus their book marketing efforts in light of Covid-19?

With social gatherings on hold, people are looking for new ways to fill that need for human connection. People are online looking for stories that they can connect with and words to inspire them. Building a presence on social media is ideal for these times. Authors have a unique advantage because, as storytellers and writers, they have so many platforms to choose from to effectively share their story! Instagram, Facebook, Medium, Goodreads, YouTube – they all offer unique ways to share visual, oral, written, or video content. Read up on them and choose one or two that you’d like to experiment with. Pick the one that fits with your communication style. You don’t have to be an expert, just start. Try  different content ideas – images, long videos, short blog posts – with lots of hashtags and emojis in the captions. Evaluate what works best and do more of it as you build your presence online. 

10.  What are your favourite books to read? Any recommendations?

I usually have two books on the go at a time. Something in business, critical theory, culture, or social studies, and a fiction novel. I just finished Shoe Dog by Phil Knight (great read), and I think I’m going to start The World is Flat by Thomas Friedman. I also have Toni Morrison’s Beloved on the go. I like discovering new ideas and ways of seeing the world just as much as I like escaping into a story that breaks your heart, takes you on an adventure, or gives you faith in humanity.

11.   Do you have any content recommendations (e.g. podcasts, tv shows, movies, music) that you are really into right now?

Lately, I’ve been enjoying Sugar Calling, the podcast from author Cheryl Strayed. She interviews other authors with the intent of sharing words of wisdom to help us navigate these uncertain times.

And please, do yourself a favour and go listen to the new album from Tom Misch and Yussuf Dayes: What Kinda Music. It’s the perfect mix of rhythm, funk and soul.

12.  What do you enjoy doing outside of work? And do you have any secret – or not-so-secret – talents?

These days, I’ve been into knitting and reading in most of my down time. I’ve been enjoying this slower pace of life. My partner is home too, and he and I have been experimenting with some fun new recipes in both baking and cooking! We’re starting to hike again now that B.C. has eased some of the social distancing rules. We’ll all get through this! Let’s keep our heads high and our words kind, folks.

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