Take That, COVID-19: Publishing During a Pandemic

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Congratulations, you just published your book. Now what? Publishing under COVID-19 restrictions might seem like the worst time ever to release your book to the world. But in fact, COVID-19 could actually work in your favor. Turn your energy into sweat equity marketing.

Opportunity To Grab Attention

All books are pretty much on equal footing right now. With physical bookstores closed, books are all only accessible online. At the same time, customers are reading books they might not otherwise pick up. Idle time and existential threats translate into people being more adventuresome with their literary appetites. The opportunity is to stir organic interest in your book, by attracting the attention of those customers who are browsing outside their normal search categories.

Five Marketing Activities

Here are five free (or nearly so) marketing activities you can do to capture people’s attention. Let’s call this sweat equity marketing.

  1. Blog early, blog often
    Write and publish blog posts. Litter the posts with excerpts from the book. Create a series, not one-off posts. Tie the posts to current events on people’s minds. Spread the wealth by publishing on different platforms. And link, link, link, so your posts leave breadcrumbs leading back to your own, or the book’s website. LinkedIn and Medium are great places to start.
  2. Go to the videotape
    Create YouTube videos and post them. Videos NOT selling the book are going to be more effective than blatant in-your-face sales pitches. Focus on crafting and sharing a message that connects with viewers. Establish yourself as someone worth listening to, as an authority in your field, or as a great entertainer. Of course, include a buy button for the book in the video, but don’t make that the point.
  3. Hit send
    Build your own e-mail list, or buy vetted e-mail addresses from reputable sources targeting your core audience. Write an e-mail that will get through spam filters and avoid being dumped in the trash can. Make it personal. Get to the point quickly. No room here for literary overreach or pretense. The message is simple: I just published a book that I know you will love. X is our mutual interest and the book says this about that. Check it out at your favorite bookstore.
  4. Paint a picture
    Just like you can write a blog post, create a video, or send an e-mail, you can present the same message in graphic form via InstaGram, TikTok, Pinterest. If a picture is worth a thousand words, replace your words with photos, drawings, and graphics, to convey your message.
  5. Befriend the library
    One of your best partners in publishing can be libraries. So get to know your local library staff. Offer to do a reading at the library (virtually, if COVID-19 restrictions persist). Volunteer your time to help the library with fund raising, contribute copies of your book as fundraiser premium gifts. Librarians have great networks and talk with one another, so your efforts will gain traction for your book via word of mouth.

These marketing efforts take some effort, but they come at little or no cost to you, and there is only an upside in terms of potential sales. Turn “Now what” into “Take that, COVID-19!” by investing a bit of time and sweat equity in your book.

Climbing Yosemite, sweat equity

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