10 CREATIVE BOOK LAUNCH IDEAS DURING COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how booksellers operate and consumers shop, but for every change there’s an opportunity to reach readers in new and creative ways. Independent booksellers are seeing unprecedented community support, readers are seeking out books offering expert advice and entertainment, and authors and publishers continue to release their big ideas into the world. There’s no need to change your publication date or halt your book launch and marketing plans; you can still engage your audience, build excitement, and drive book sales with these 10 tactics that make the most of our "new normal."
- Take your author event digital with your local bookstore! Reach out to your local bookstore’s community manager to see if they are hosting virtual author events. Many bookstores are offering curbside pickup and delivery as well as mail order, so there is sales potential and a chance to support independent bookstores--and build a relationship with a key potential ally for the future if you're planning on writing more books.
- Amplify the impact of outreach to your network. Seeding books with your network is a great way to generate early reviews, increase social media shares, create buzz, and solicit bulk orders, speaking engagements, and consulting opportunities. When reaching out to offer a book, ask your contact if they would like you to send a second book to someone who they think would enjoy the read or benefit from the information. Also be open to providing your book digitally to select, trusted people in your network.
- Make your book easily accessible with multiple formats. Not only does having your book available in multiple formats appeal to readers with different reading preferences and command more Amazon real estate, ebooks and audiobooks offer instant access and purchase gratification (no shipping delays!). Digital formats are even available to readers through their local library! Talk to your publisher about releasing an ebook and audiobook at the same time as your print book.
- Funnel advertising budgets online. For as little as $5 a day, you can target readers most likely to buy your book and drive traffic to your book page on your retailer of choice. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google, and Amazon all offer cost-per-click advertising that is effective and affordable.
- Focus on email marketing. Whether you’re building your email list or nurturing an existing newsletter community, now’s the time to be communicative, helpful, and consistent with your email marketing efforts. Like everyone, audiences’ needs have changed in ways both big and small--let them know how you can help them in new or different ways. Email marketing takes more time than money, so it’s a great way to engage with readers and keep your promotional budget in check.
- Offer a personalized product in spite of the barriers to meeting in person. You could partner with your local independent bookstore to offer signed books for sale or run a giveaway and promote the opportunity on social media. Author Jeff VanderMeer recently executed this kind of promotion.
- Get creative with how you spend more time with your audience online. Social media platforms offer a plethora of opportunities to interact with your followers. Instagram Story Takeovers have grown in popularity and offer a chance to team up with a friend, colleague, or fellow influencer who has a complimentary message and cross-promote on each other’s stories. You can also move your book launch party online by hosting it on Facebook or Instagram Live. To increase engagement and interest for an online launch party, offer an incentive such as announcing the results for a giveaway you were hosting. Here are also more tips on how to promote yourself and your work during a crisis.
- “Leak” details about your book on social media to gain followers and increase interest and excitement. Create simple graphics to announce your book’s title once it’s been confirmed or count down to a big cover art reveal. Some authors even post their cover options to social media and allow their followers to vote on their favorite by sharing it with a custom book hashtag. Character profiles and descriptions are popular posts for fiction books. Even a few teaser quotes can pique interest amongst your readers and garner attention for the book before publication. Don’t forget to include a link to pre-order whenever possible!
- Create new content. The best way to keep people engaged and coming back to your blog, newsletter and social media is to continue to create new content. Content creation builds a discoverable archive of your expertise, ensures a steady stream of traffic to your website, and offers you the opportunity to expose readers to your book.
- Host a webinar or book club exclusively for those who pre-order your book. You can make this pre-sales funnel as sophisticated as you like, but the simplest way is to create a dedicated email address, have those who pre-order forward a copy of their receipt, and reply with the Zoom details of the event. You can host an educational webinar giving people a sneak peek of what they’re going to learn by reading your book, facilitate a book club discussion a week or two after publication, or if you’re a children’s book author, even do storytime!
- BONUS: Increase awareness through earned media opportunities. Create a list of niche websites and bloggers you personally keep up with that align with your target audience. Reach out to each site a few months ahead of your launch and offer to write a guest post or partner to do an advanced reader's copy giveaway.
There’s no question that we are living through an enormous crisis that has impacted virtually every aspect of our lives. But the timeless saying that “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” still applies. Take advantage of these ways to adapt to our uniquely challenging times and you can successfully launch your new book.