Thinking Outside the Bookstore—Launching and Promoting Your Book in the Era of COVID-19
You’ve spent years thinking about writing a book, and put hour upon hour into crafting the content. You’ve worked with a design team to compose the perfect cover. And after carefully evaluating versions on your computer screen or endless sheets of printer paper, you’ve got a perfect bound copy in your hands. Dozens of them, actually. It’s difficult to imagine a smell as sweet as those fresh pages, inked with your hard-won lessoned and compelling insights. But now what?
Up until just a few months ago, the next step for that beautiful time would be in-person promotion in the form of a book tour. Many publishers and authors consider a book tour key to a book’s success; they generate a lot of sales. But today, the typical reading and meet-and-greet—free of distance and full of handshakes—is off limits. So, what is an author with a new book to promote to do? Actually, quite a lot.
In the age of coronavirus, professionals across every industry find themselves reinventing the way they work—and authors and publishers are no different. We’ve seen books promoted in brilliant and creative ways, many of which will probably endure once real-life face time—rather than Apple’s version—with those who aren’t permanent members of our household is reinstated. We’re exploring a whole new frontier, and while the circumstances that make it so are certainly challenging, it’s exciting to see new solutions evolve in real time.
And bonus: the strategies arising aren’t limited to new publications; they have numerous applications. Whether you’ve got a fresh-off-the-presses book in hand and nowhere to go, evergreen material to share or you’re just looking for ways to promote your business in the current climate, these ideas have the potential to help you launch something big. Here are just a few:
Digital Launches: With the possibility of in-person launches having gone out the window, authors are taking to ever more useful video conferencing platforms like Zoom for their events. “Live” options on Facebook and Instagram provide other options, each with the opportunity to host a Q&A after the reading or conversation.
Digital launches bring the conversation directly to potential readers’ living rooms. In the comfort of their homes, participants can reach for the drinks and snacks they would have grabbed on site—and most likely find a better seat. And with the potential to reach so many people in so many places at once, authors don’t have to struggle through the travel and corresponding exhaustion a multi-city tour entails.
Podcasts and Radio Interviews: There’s something magical about a live book event—the buoyant energy of the crowd beforehand, the hush that falls over it as author and interviewer take their seats or step up to the mic. In essence, though, all those people are gathering to hear a conversation: they want the unique insights that come when two great thinkers come together to have a chat.
That powerful interaction can still be captured in a podcast or radio interview. And with more people looking for ways to spend evenings or weekends, there’s the potential to draw a bigger audience from all corners of the globe—not just those in driving distance.
Virtual Book Clubs: With publishers, libraries and media companies pitching in to make more content available online, it’s easy to host an online book club, bringing together readers for a lively digital conversation. With the potential for a virtual visit from the author, this is a great way to pump up the buzz and network with a community that has demonstrated interest and investment in your work.
Contests: Everyone loves the chance to win—and book contests are no exception. Some authors and media sites are promoting authors’ work and reader engagement with social media contests. Participation in the form of likes, shares and/or online conversations earn individuals the opportunity to win a free copy of the book, relevant products or services, a chance to chat with the thought leader behind the words him- or herself and so much more.
Of course, you don’t need a book to engage and grow your community in these ways. All of them provide an opportunity to start new conversations, find new ears and spur business from near and far. And if you do have a book that’s newly out—or one that’s soon to arrive, fresh scent and all—know that you can still make an impact with the resources you have right now. If you need help, we’re here too.