Meet The Madam

Who gets away with calling herself The Book Madam?

A little background on the moniker.

One day, I was doing my Seen Reading research in a local Indigo—jotting down short passages from the books readers were seen reading—and I was approached by two booksellers who asked me to leave, citing copyright infringement. We had a civil conversation, agreed to disagree, but I left wondering if for years prior I’d be breaking the law. I took to Facebook and Twitter to ask just that, had I done something wrong?

What resulted was a David and Goliath media frenzy pitting the behemoth bookseller against the wee book blogger. I threw up my hands: “Whoa! Wait a minute. That’s not the point.” I had a wonderful follow up chat with Indigo, one of those information exchanges where we both contained the conversation and moved it along.

Then I went back and asked them for money.

The pitch was this: In a show of good will, would you, Indigo, gift me, the wee book blogger, the equivalent of [insert dollar number here] in gift cards? In turn, I promised to run an online contest in which readers were invited to submit a few words to describe themselves. I picked winners at random and, using only their words, attempted to hook each winner up with a book, cost care of Indigo.

I was curious to know a) how well a reader knows themself, and, b) if that knowledge actually translates well into how we match readers to books. Most of the selections were home runs. At the very least, it was a fun gimmick that served to promote reading, and every book selection enjoyed some free (and unexpected) pick up. Win. Win. Winners.

I partnered with McNally Robinson for the next few months, and people started to refer to me as a kind of Madam, the woman who sits back and assesses your needs, pointing you to that door there, or that door there, where all your dreams come true.

Simple as that, The Book Madam was born. It suits my demeanor. I connect people. I introduce people. Most important to the publishing industry, I seem incapable of not giving authors, publishers, and the books they create, unique opportunities in which to play outside the boundaries of traditional promotion.

That’s what you’ll find on this site. Things like the tag “will it stick,” an ongoing exercise in which I attempt to sound out ideas in the hope that the community will sound back with suggestions or support—some of which may take the form of “Good God, no!” I like case studies and rough drafts. I like to throw things against the wall to see what sticks. In retrospect, that’s precisely what Seen Reading was and is, a case study played out in full view before it knew what it was or would become. And lookee there, now it’s a book. (I didn’t see that coming, on my honour. But what a lovely book it is.)

The catch? I’m giving myself (and us) six posts to decide, Will It Stick?

My next case study is an exercise in Missed Connections meets literary voyeurism, and I’d love your help. [INSERT LINK]

And, of course, I like to get paid. So, if you’d like to throw your money on the table and get to business . . . check out the ways in which we can work (and play) together. Hire me.

The Madam

Follow me on Twitter—@bookmadam—where I talk about publishing, my cat, that one time I threw up on a dolphin and, generally, spread the bookish love.

Praise for Julie Wilson

The idea of a professional [publishing] fan may not jibe with notions of how we receive books. But in building a book community that explores the manifold ways people interact with books, Julie Wilson is doing readers and the publishing industry a great service, reinvigorating the lives books have off the shelf . . . filling the gap left as more curated independent bookstores disappear.
this Magazine

Julie Wilson is that rare person who can see the big picture, and also plan and implement all the details that add up to that vision. Her particular strength is her ability to engage and entertain a variety of audiences, inspiring them in turn to champion and develop the projects and causes she herself believes in.
—Ann Jansen (Senior Producer, CBC)

Over the years, I’ve met and befriended a number of people in Canadian publishing, and what I’ve come to find is that Julie Wilson has one of the most innovative minds for book promotion that I’ve ever come across. She has the capability to bring her creativity to fruition on any number of projects—whether it’s a blog, a tweet or an entire company—and build it from the ground up. There’s a level of commitment, not only to finding her voice and using it for the good of the book industry, but also to bringing the right people together. She’s hard-working, dedicated, and never backs down from a challenge.
—Deanna McFadden (Associate Director, Digital Product Development, HarperCollins Canada)

Julie Wilson has definite Wow Factor. If you let her loose on a campaign, Julie is in her element and never ceases to amaze me with her clever, innovative ideas to generate awareness, increase engagement, drive traffic and optimize for conversions. Like most entrepreneurs, she also knows how to timebox, or manage her time so that she gets the greatest outcomes with the lowest amount of effort. A true skill.
—Monique Sherrett (Boxcar Marketing)

Julie is everywhere. Considering that most of those places are of her own creation, we think this is an achievement. Julie is a true catalyst: bringing people together over books and reading in one-of-a-kind ways, in public and behind the scenes.
Open Book Ontario

The present and future of growing organizations will come to rely on people who can build genuine respected relationships over time and who help to cultivate a sense of inclusion and purpose among colleagues and clients. Julie Wilson is such a person. Her virtuosity with purposeful relationship building transcends traditional methods. She is great one-on-one and excels in the virtual spaces as her reputation in the social media channels easily attests.
—Sean Cranbury (BooksontheRadio.ca)

[Julie] fosters connection, her enthusiasm is contagious, she wants you to be part of whatever game she’s playing, and she (and her projects) have sold so many books.”
Kerry Clare (PickleMeThis.com)

Reading in public has become a whole lot sexier thanks to the relaunch of Julie Wilson’s Seen Reading.
Geist Magazine