Talking About Books to a Global Audience


This is a guest post by Rob Chilver. Rob is a Social Media assistant for Waterstones, working on a number of mediums from blogging to Twitter and Instagram. He also writes about books at and hosts a fortnightly books podcast. He can be found on Twitter and on Instagram: @robchilver

I wouldn’t have guessed when I began working as a Christmas temp at a small town Waterstones that I’d end up in Head Office with a view of the London skyline. Yet, from talking to customers on the shop floor to interacting with them on social media and blogs, the core concepts have remained the same. Here’s what I learnt along the way.

Share the passion

As a bookseller I enjoyed daily book discussions with customers and it didn’t take long for that passion to spill over into outside-work hours. Shortly after I launched AdventuresWithWords, and it meant sharing my books suggestions and discussing them with others, ultimately helping with the day job. Today I work for Waterstones on their blog and social channels but the lesson is still the same – If you can keep conveying the passion then your readers will share in it.

Adapt to the medium…

Soon the blog became a weekly podcast, one that I still do today with my partner Kate Neilan. It’s the perfect format for two people with a passion for books and far easier for conversations to take place. YouTube videos followed later, enabling us to discuss visual books, such as graphic novels, in a easier manner. Find the right medium for your message and you’ll find the right audience.

… But Choose the appropriate medium for your message

On Adventures With Words we signed up for Snapchat after noticing there was a spike in brands joining. However we found that there was little difference in what we were doing on Instagram to what Snapchat offered. We learnt not to jump to new mediums just because you can.

Be aware of your audience online

What started as a small blog in a bedroom now has a bigger audience in the U.S. than it does in the UK.  We didn’t plan for this but in our connected age if it’s online and of interest to them then people will find you. This can be both a blessing and a curse as now you need to make sure your content is relevant to everyone.

Don’t be afraid to make it personal

With a regular blog and podcast, Kate and I soon realised that we were just as much a part of our content as what we were discussing. People began to feel like they know us and seek our opinions on topics or issues. Adding a familiar name or face to a book review or article helps people to relate to it and ultimately invest more in it.

And finally keep it regular

Keeping up your momentum once you’ve begun is crucial. We devised a podcast schedule and then announced it to our readers and listeners – it made us keep the promise we made and stick to it. Deadlines are a handy motivator!

You can follow Rob on Twitter and on Instagram: @robchilver

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