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  • Vince Font

Book Marketing and Publicity in the Era of COVID-19

We’re only a few weeks into 2021, but already it’s looking like a really bad sequel we'd all just as soon skip. Unfortunately, someone broke the fast-forward button, and there are but two options before us: We can either hunker down and wait out the Coronavirus storm, or we can adapt. I'm choosing the latter. And if you're a writer who has historically relied on bookstore traffic and event booths to find readers, it’s probably time you also adapt.

The great news is that just because COVID-19 is still around, that doesn’t mean you can’t still effectively generate publicity for your book. In fact, there are a lot of things you can do without so much as walking out the front door that can earn you some significant publicity and increased book sales. Here are just a handful of ideas.

1. Get social. So many authors I know don’t even have a website, let alone professional social media profiles. And yet many of those same authors spend hours on Facebook and Instagram, staying connected with friends and family. With just a little effort (and practically zero know-how), you can create compelling posts for social media that’ll drive people to your book. The trick is to post regularly, which can be something of a full-time job. But it pays off.

2. Reach out to podcasts and local radio shows for interviews. You don’t have to get on a national radio show to sell a lot of books. And you don’t have to be J.K. Rowling or Stephen King for someone to want to interview you about it. All you need is a good angle to position your book as newsworthy. If that’s not possible, pitch yourself to a podcast or radio show with a niche audience that might find your book of value. It’s all in the spin.

3. Host virtual Q&A sessions. If you have a hard time finding any podcasts or radio shows interested in interviewing you, flip the script—interview yourself! If any good has come from the COVID-19 quarantine, it’s the fact more people are using their phones to video chat with others. Many celebrities and musical artists have identified the immeasurable value of live Instagram, YouTube, and Zoom videos to remain connected with their fanbases. You can do the same by turning your smartphone camera into front-facing mode and “going live.” Just make sure you let people know when and where you’ll be online to maximize your audience.

4. Hold a virtual book signing. If your local bookstore is closed for the duration or operating in a limited capacity, that doesn’t mean you can’t hold a book signing event. All it means is that you have to get creative. Following the advice from number three above, consider getting a bit more ambitious with your live video session by having a stack of books at your disposal and autographing it live while your recipient chats with you online. Instagram currently has the ability to allow two-way conversations, and Zoom chat can accommodate many people all at the same time. Zoom might be a little more challenging if you’re not up on your virtual crowd control skills, but it can work.

5. Write a press release. Press releases are something of a lost art, especially when it comes to creative pursuits like writing. These days, publicity companies spam the world with announcements about new books, new albums, and new movies. Rarely do they ever really offer any reason why the recipients of those press releases should really care. That’s where writing a press release gets hard. So you’ve written and published a new book. So what? It’s all in the answer to that question—"So what?"—that will make your press release something a news agency or reporter or book blogger will sit up and take notice of. That’s not easy, but it can be done.

The book industry is busier than ever right now. With the world on lockdown, authors have never had a more captive audience. If you’ve been waiting for the right time to launch a book marketing and publicity campaign, that time is now. Contact us today to find out how we can help, and subscribe to our no-spam newsletter for updates on self-publishing best practices.


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