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Last Modified: June 2, 2023
Feature image with the messaging: A Day in the Life...of a marketing co-ordinator.
A Day in the Life… of a Marketing Co-ordinator

by Colby Clair Stolson

Before I give you a sense of the daily toil of my occupation (I kid—really, I’m having quite a lot of fun with it), I thought I’d lend a word of encouragement: if you’re aspiring to secure a position in the publishing industry, keep going! We need as many passionate spirits as we can get.

You don’t necessarily need that Masters in Publishing degree, though that would certainly help. I graduated with a BA in English in 2019. During the summer after graduation, I worked at Whyte Avenue’s most charming (and dusty) used bookstore, Wee Book Inn. During quiet periods and while travelling to work, I read Roy MacSkimming’s The Perilous Trade, which is an outstanding survey of the history of Canadian publishing to 2006. If you want a job in publishing in Canada, I recommend you read this book. You will understand how hard-fought any success in the industry really is, whether you’re an author or a professional.

Reading The Perilous Trade started a causal chain in me: The job at Wee Book Inn led to a position as a Publisher’s Representative at Broadview (a glorified term for “travelling salesperson”), which in turn led to my current role as Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator with Freehand Books. And that is how I met… Sorry, wrong plot. And that is why I am about to tell you what a Sales and Marketing Co-ordinator does.

The first thing I do every single morning is, professionally of course, drink coffee, as is common with most occupations in the arts. I fire up the ol’ Nespresso and briefly become George Clooney while the kettle boils. I drink americanos. Totally not-Canadian of me.

Equipped with my americano, I roll up to my designed-in-Sweden desk and check the socials. Yeah, I read social media for a living. Every day, several times a day. Mostly, I’m looking to see how our paid advertisements are performing, but also to engage with our followers. It’s a community, after all. Successful advertising on social platforms requires a lot of observation and, if needed, we pivot to improve the—icky business lingo incoming—conversion rate and cost-per-conversion.

With the first round of social media out of the way, it’s time to package up review copies and send them to influencers and media contacts who have agreed to accept a complimentary copy in exchange for some sort of promotion. It’s one of the best parts of my day—I get to physically handle the books, and can include fun and personalized notes for certain people. I like to imagine it makes them happy to read my eccentric letters.

Social media graphic for Modern Fables by Mikka Jacobsen. The graphic includes a review from Suzette Mayr.Then I like to look at my schedule for the coming weeks to see if there’s anything I need to design. As a marketing co-ordinator, I’m also in charge of all of the creative assets necessary for our social media accounts, and for the print and digital ads we sign up for. We’re a small operation, so we collaborate a lot. I run everything I do by Kelsey, our managing editor and eye-extraordinaire. She usually catches something I’ve missed completely, and also improves every design I send her in ways large and small.

Then I deal with The Inbox.™ We all know The Inbox™ is a mixed bag of horrors and goodies. Some days I want it to be full and flowery and exciting but find instead a barren landscape. Other times I need to focus on other tasks and it denies me this right by challenging me to a jousting match. Ready? Tilt!

Some of the emails I deal with on a daily basis are strategizing with authors about how to market their books most effectively. Our authors are intelligent, and will always know their books and the intuitive spirit behind them better than I. That means they often have marketing ideas and ways to pitch the book that I would not have thought of myself. They also have connections that I may not have, so I often lean on them to provide names of people who may want to review their book in some way. Again, we’re a team!

Other emails are more methodical: Booklists for a promo weekend over at Kobo, or spreadsheets with updated metadata for various online outlets (Amazon, Indigo, Barnes & Noble, Bookmanager, Catalist, etc.).

To define metadata: book marketing is all about metadata—data about data. Metadata is crucial. Have I said that already? Any information a book marketer provides has to be accurate and it has to be good. By good, we mean it has to accurately reflect the selling points of the book so that the book can find its intended reader in our age of information deluge. Each book will have keywords in its metadata, which is how a person can find the book on Google or Amazon by searching for its themes. This is known as a book’s ‘discoverability,’ and we want all of our books to be immensely discoverable. I can talk about metadata all day long, but we’ll leave that for another time! Let’s just say I handle book metadata in one way or another every single day.

In related matters, I also handle our website updates. Each time we confirm an event with an author, that information needs to go up on the website and on social media! Any news about the press, big or small, gets a spot on the site. Friday afternoons are perfect of these updates. I put my favourite record on and click away.

I also get to plan events and book launches. It’s a year-round job, but when our publishing seasons are imminent in May and September, it’s a core focus. Then I spend a much of my day making sure every title on the frontlist gets the attention it deserves. Are the venues booked? Do we have food? Will the books arrive on time? Do we have food? Are there enough chairs? Did anyone tell the author about the event? Finally, do we have wine? Yeah, it’s stressful. But the joy of seeing a group of people celebrate the arrival of a new book is worth it! I can’t claim to do this all on my own. I have to give credit to all of our authors for making event planning a lot easier than it could be by finding venues, suggesting dates, drumming up audiences, and generally just being their own wonderful selves.

I’ve written at length about the “marketing” half of my title. So what about the “sales” half? Well, this involves a lot of pitching: I pitch authors and books to literary festivals; I pitch them to our sales reps (yo, Ampersand Inc.!); I co-ordinate the orders that come in directly to the press; and I set up booths at various conferences and events. I’m already planning my travel for this fall. I’m heading to Denver to set up a booth at the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association’s (MPIBA’s) conference. Denver… what’s that Townes Van Zandt song say? Should I pack my skis? My shades? What do they say about Denver and sunshine? See: important decisions.


About the Author

Colby Clair Stolson grew up somewhere in the in-between, in a town called Ponoka. Every day he asks himself, ‘who knows if the moon’s/a balloon’? And some of those balloons have been published: in Edmonton’s Glass Buffalo and Funicular Magazine, and in Canada’s (via Ottawa) Touch the Donkey and periodicities.