It is difficult to promote a book in the best of times. A great many authors have found that marketing to readers and selling to the marketplace is the hardest part of launching a book. If it is such a struggle when things are “normal,” how are we supposed to begin to navigate marketing a book when the world is falling apart? It is hard enough to compete with the thousands of other books coming out each week, but how can we compete with a pandemic?
I have the answer: We can’t.
There are times when we need to step back from marketing and promotion and plan for a future “do over.” For those of you who had your book’s legs so unfairly cut from underneath you, I am so sorry. My heart aches for all of those plans and events that are foundering now. But I have a list of things we CAN do to save your book.
ONE: Reach Out
Community and connection has never been more important than it is now. History smiles on us when humans come together and really help each other. Let us, as authors, use these next few months to find, connect, reach out, and help your fellow authors and readers. When I look back on these weeks and months, I want to know that I spent my time improving the world of books for readers and authors rather than remember how I spent my time trying to sell my book.
A lot of us have more time right now. (A lot of us do not…. Thank you nurses and service professionals!) But those of us who have time, why not look each day for an author in your genre you DO NOT know and read their book? Then, follow them on social media, get to know them, follow their blog, subscribe to their newsletter, befriend some new people in their circle. Expand your circle of friends and help your fellow authors.
TWO: Give Back
Create a list of stories, articles, videos, or recordings you could create and post online. No matter WHAT kind of book you have written, you have experiences and wisdom to share. Create a daily post helping others by sharing your wisdom, your experiences, your stories…. Post videos on YouTube, create inspirational and helpful messages you can share on social media and write articles. Share freely of what you have with your readers and encourage them to share what they have with you. This strange time will give you many opportunities to deepen and broaden your community of readers. Don’t waste it!
THREE: Work Your Ebook and Audiobook Plan
Plan for the future. While we do not know when life will “return to normal,” we do know it will return to a “new normal” eventually. Plan for the new normal. Ebooks and audiobooks are already showing their longevity as well as their health and environmental benefits. Paper is the “favorite” format for many people, but please use this break to get your ebook and audiobook plan together. Now is a great time to research and find the best ebook promotion sites and get on their calendar for August and September. Many of them book out several months…. You can have a launch “do over” with your ebook if you plan a strong push campaign in the summer or autumn.
FOUR: Polish Your Online Look
Use this time to polish your marketing and sales efforts and clean up your venues online. Is your Author Central bio page as good as it could be? Have you read up on marketing copy writing? Have you taken a class about how to improve your book description? Have you researched the best practices for author websites and implemented those changes? Have you spent time on Canva.com creating sales and author sheets for when bookstores and libraries open back up for orders? Have you reached out to your publisher and gotten a list from them of the things other authors in your genre have done that worked well? Do you have the time now to create a bank of social media posts and images you can pull from later when you are “busy?”
PREP FOR THE NEW NORMAL
I know how heartbreaking it is right now. No one would blame you for giving up. You have every right to spend this time in a futile fetal position and be in the exact same place when the future arrives. Or you can be ready and prepped for success when it arrives. It is up to you.
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Amy Collins is the founder of Bestseller Builders and president of New Shelves Books. Collins is a trusted expert, speaker, and recommended sales consultant for some of the largest book and library retailers and wholesalers in the publishing industry.
She is a USA TODAY and WALL STREET JOURNAL bestselling author and in the last 20 years, Amy and her team have sold over 40 Million books into the bookstore, library, and Chain store market for small and midsized publishers.
She is a columnist for and a board member of several publishing organizations and a trusted teacher in the world of independent publishers.