I originally shared this information about book marketing and COVID-19 in a newsletter I sent to my subscribers last Wednesday. I received so many positive comments that I am sharing it here too (with some additional information). To receive my newsletters, which has information I don’t typically include on my blog, click here. When you subscribe, you’ll automatically receive my 64-page ebook Twitter Just for Writers for free.
This past week I messaged several clients about how, in the face of COVID-19, they might consider adjusting their messaging.
You see, while other book marketing experts advise you to “stay the course,” I’m swimming upstream.
Why? These are unusual times.
With twenty states, as of this writing, under “shelter-in-place” orders, as authors, we need to think about what our readers need to hear from us – not what we want them to know about us and our books.
And with a record number of cases of COVID-19 in New York State where the number of Coronavirus infections double every four days (as of March 28).
Given this reality, how can we stay the course without looking foolish?
We can’t. As authors we need to reach out and be a resource for our readers in whatever capacity we can.
Domestic Violence Author
I work with an accomplished domestic violence therapist. Typically, we tweet about a range of issues related to coercive control and physical abuse.
But what happens to those women who are stuck at home with abusive spouses during stay-at-home orders?
The messaging needed to change to reach and help these women during these unusual times.
Now we have a plan in place.
I also work with a child psychiatrist. Under normal circumstances, she’s concerned about the dangers of vaping, youth mental health, and day-to-day parenting issues.
Everything has changed.
So for her, our messaging will switch to how parents can ease their kids’ anxieties during this time.
I also work with an author who focuses on depression, PTSD, and people who have suffered from traumatic brain injuries, mainly due to car accidents.
We will switch his messaging to helping his followers remain hopeful and encouraging them to seek help when they need it.
Poet and Novelist
I’m fortunate to be working with a poet and novelist who has been on the New York Times bestseller list.
Typically, we post her poetry, excerpts from her books, and quotes from authors and poets she admires.
We are adding to her editorial calendar things that people can do at home with their kids, such as the Smithsonian webcam tours.
Instead of the typical quotes from authors, we make sure that those quotes include messaging about hope.
Book Marketing and COVID-19 for Fiction Writers
If you write fiction, here are some things you can do:
1. Reduce the prices of your ebooks. People are stuck at home, and there’s only so much Netflix they can watch. If you sell your ebooks for $4.99 or more, reduce the price. I’m serious. A lot of people are out of work and want to read. Make reading affordable for them.
2. Emphasize the benefit of escaping into a romance novel. Romance readers are voracious readers. If you write romance, you already know that. Give away your earlier books for free, then discount your ebooks wherever you sell them. Then promote your colleagues’ books.
3. Reach out to your young adult readers on Tumblr or Snapchat. Provide them with free PDFs of some of your novels.
4. If you write children’s books, write new stories and have them available for download on your website for parents. Ask your illustrator to create some pages to accompany your stories that parents can download for their kids to color.
5. Communicate with your readers via a new Facebook group or Zoom. Better yet, organize a Zoom meeting with other authors in your genre. Let your readers discuss their reactions to your books. Also, let them air whatever issues your readers want to talk about right now, even if it’s not about your stories. Also, try scheduling a Facebook Live or Instagram Live session. They can be fun. You have time to learn new skills so test the waters and see what works. You can also organize a Twitter chat with other authors in your genre or by yourself. Note: The links in this section are to how-to articles to help you get started.
Focus on Hope and Help
Really focus on how you can bring hope and assistance to your readers.
Unlike some marketers, I don’t think this is a time to push book sales as much as to make your writing available to your readers and new readers.
Offer opportunities for escape, imagination, and help.
Your readers need you and want to hear from you. Give them the messages they most need to hear from you.
Get your writing out there as much as you can. You will benefit from the exposure of free books over time, and your readers will develop more loyalty toward you.
Think about your readers first. That is always the first rule of book marketing, and that will never change.
To receive my 64-page ebook, Twitter Just for Writers, for free click here.
Frances Caballo is an author and social media consultant. Her focus is on helping authors surmount the barriers that keep them from flourishing online and building their platform. She also provides content writing and email marketing services. Find out how you’re doing on social media.