Physical distancing, self-isolation and quarantines during the coronavirus pandemic have completely altered our lives. We’ve all had to reimagine the ways we connect and engage with each other. With so much fear and uncertainty circulating during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is a great need for breaks from the news cycle. We are also spending more time at home now than, perhaps, ever in our lifetime. Indulging in a good story is one of the oldest and most enjoyable forms of escapism. Hopeful, cheerful, funny or just straight-up weird and quirky content can lighten our mood and make us feel so much better.
For authors, it’s a great time to promote and market your book. While holding book launches, book tours, book signings and school visits are not possible in a physical setting, you can take these activities online. Authors are using social media, and platforms like Zoom, to hold live events, digital book tours, and Q&As. They are partnering with other authors, book bloggers, booktubers and influencers in their space to share their stories and engage with their audiences.
Here are some ideas and strategies to consider on how to market and promote your book during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Book launch → Digital book launch
Considering using Facebook live to launch your book. It’s free and relatively easy to setup. Almost everyone has a Facebook account together and it’s likely the people you would invite to a physical book launch event will already be your Facebook friend. Facebook Live can also accommodate another person which is great if you would like a co-host, emcee or someone to introduce you.
- Test run. Test your computer video or phone ahead of time as well as your microphone to minimize potential technical issues. If you have a co-host, make sure you do a run-through ahead of time.
- Setup. Consider your lighting, background, and audio. A bookshelf behind you or a stack of books, or perhaps a banner (if you have one) would be appropriate backgrounds as would a cozy fireplace. Use natural light to your advantage or position lights in the room to make sure you don’t appear in the dark. Audio is extremely important. You don’t want any background noise.
- Practice. Plan what you are going to say and open with a bang! You want to grab people’s attention right off the bat. This is a virtual space which means people can leave at any time. Holding someone’s attention throughout the live event may be the biggest challenge here.
- Have fun! This is a way to come together with your community and supporters. People are wanting social interactions and are looking for ways to support one another online.
Book tour → Social media tour
Approach authors in your region, in your niche or even Tellwell authors to see if they would be willing to partner up with you in a virtual book tour. This would involve interviewing each other on a social media platform such as Instagram.
Approach book bloggers and booktubers and pitch your book and yourself as a guest! Take a look at the Instagram page of book blogger and influencer @belletrist who is regularly interviewing authors on IGTV with a new virtual book tour segment.
If this seems intimidating, then start out small asking your family and friends with active social media accounts to host you on IGTV, YouTube or their Facebook page. You can also open up the Instagram floor to questions from your followers. Ask for people to send you their questions and answer them using the stories feature on Instagram. Here is some more information on how to run a Q&A using Instagram stories.
Many people are using video conferencing applications such as Zoom, Whereby, Google Hangouts and Skype. This involves sending out a video conferencing link to your “virtual room” where people can join you for your online event or hangout!
Book tour → Online blog tour.
Online blog tours are a great alternative to physical book tours. Here you would be appearing on other book blogs over the course of several days or several weeks. Typically, each online blog tour stop would showcase the book’s synopsis, author bio, book purchase links, and an excerpt. There may also be the option to submit original content such as an author Q&A or guest post from the author. Online blog tours are a good way to leverage the niche audience each blogger has cultivated and hopefully get them interested in your book! Online blog tours work especially well for genre fiction books such as fantasy, sci-fi, crime, romance, YA, etc.
Book clubs → Online book clubs.
There already are plenty of online book clubs with big names behind them (Oprah, Reese Witherspoon, Emma Watson), but now small book clubs of friends are taking their meetings online. This is a great way to connect with your local community, talk about your book and answer questions, all without leaving your home. Here are a few lists of online book clubs for you to check out!
The best way to find book clubs in your community is to simply search your city or region and “book club” on various platforms such as Facebook, Goodreads and Reddit. For example, “Victoria book club” on Facebook will give you a number of listings. Once you request to join the group, you can message the admin and pitch your book to the club and offer to appear as a guest author to join in on the discussion and answer the group’s questions!
Here are a few other book club lists you could look into:
Book signings and consignment → Influencer collaborations.
While you can’t hold physical book signings or get your book stocked on physical bookshelves, there is plenty you can do online to get your book in front of new readers. This is where contacting high profile Instagram book accounts (bookstagram) in your niche, can really go a long way towards getting your book in front of your target audience.
Contacting them involves following the account and direct messaging them with a pitch. High profile accounts with large followers may only offer paid options for a feature, and others may request a physical copy of the book for consideration. Either way, these are options worth considering as usually bookstagram accounts have a niche audience which may align well with your book.
Here are a few bookstagram accounts to check out:
Bookstores and libraries → Shelf isolation readathons and subscription boxes.
Check out the Calgary Library’s reading challenge – the Shelf Isolation Read-a-thon. There is an option to not only share what you are reading, but raise money for your local library too! See what your local library is doing in light of COVID-19. It’s possible they have taken their events online or have come up with new ideas on how to promote local authors and reading in general!
Subscription boxes are really popular right now. There are all types of subscription boxes and certainly a lot of really great book-related ones! They are usually genre specific. Here is a list from Crate Joy for you to browse through. Consider pitching your book to them, or if you are looking for new reads – signing up for one!
Events → Forum Marketing.
For authors who really love the one-on-one engagement you can have with readers at events, a great way to connect with a like-minded community is to join an online forum that deals with the subject matter of your book. This strategy is especially effective for non-fiction books. For example, if you have a self-help book or memoir about overcoming grief, depression, or a health condition, there are many forums where people are exchanging stories, ideas and solutions to their problems. People visit forums to find people who are going through the same experiences as them to see how they can learn from each other but also support each other. Often they are sharing advice and resources such as books. Check out Inspire, Reddit, Canadian Forums, and Australian Forums.
If this all seems a little overwhelming, it’s okay! A lot of authors feel that way too. The great news is if you’ve been a tad shy about using social media to promote your book, now is a great time to connect with people online:) Take the advice of our author Tommy Schnrumarcher – do five things to promote your book each day for five days out of the week. That can be to contact a book blogger, post something on social media, engage in a forum, or make a connection on Goodreads. It all adds up!
If you would like help and guidance on how to market and promote your book, especially during the COVID-19 crisis, please reach out to your publishing consultant at 1.888.415.1541 or email your project manager at [email protected]