With the widespread cancellation of events, school tours and book launches in the current climate, the world can feel like a dark place for authors, especially debuts. Instead of focusing on things we can’t change though, we need to change our perspective to things we can influence. Book tours, events and launches can come later, but if your book is publishing in the coming months, what can you do to help make it a success now?
Publishers will be looking at new ways to get their books into the hands of readers but given the number of books published in Ireland and the UK each year, these will be blanket efforts. So, what can you – as an author – do? Authors should now be thinking about a contingency plan that they can put in place to maximise exposure and increase their sales potential.
Before you draft that plan, you need to ask yourself three questions:
- What are other authors doing?
- What can I do differently?
- What resources or connections do I have?
With that in mind, here are some ideas to help you put together your own marketing plan:
- Online launch
Physical launches are not an option right now but why not try an online launch? This is something you can coordinate with your publisher for greater reach. Harriet at Scholastic did this best with Amber Lee Dodd’s The Thirteenth Home of Noah Bradley virtual launch. As well as a competition launch, there was a live Q&A, a video from Amber on her inspirations for the book and a quiz on historical curses (connecting to one of the book’s central themes). This was launched to coincide with a blog tour consisting of thirteen bloggers to tie back to the book. Harriet says that the daytime session went down well with readers and engagement was high.
- Blog tour
I’d recommend having a week-long blog tour across five days (with two bloggers each day). Get creative with the type of content so it feels fresh and new. Reviews are great but some other ideas might include:
- Writing playlists
- Book inspiration
- Writing advice
- Favourite songs, musicians, books and TV programmes
- Favourite book heroes, villains or romances
- Twitter chats
There are lots of Twitter chats online for different genres. It’s worth tuning in, chatting with other authors and readers, and making connections. Some MG/YA Twitter chats to look out for include:
- Live activities
Why not run a live Q&A or read an excerpt from your book? To maximise your audience, speak to your publisher and see if it’s possible to do this from their account. Look at what other publishers and authors are doing and think about what you can do differently, and if you can emulate some of their ideas for your book.
- Downloadable resources
Think about your book and what marketing collateral might work well with this. For my debut – Fall Out – my publisher and I put together a list of key LGBTQ+ celebratory and anniversary days as a calendar style. We also added some key LGBTQ+ figures and activists. The poster design style was adapted from the book cover and the book information is located on the poster. It’s becoming more and more difficult to post items in the current climate, but downloadable resources can be embedded on a website to help you stand out from the crowd. It’s worth opening a dialogue with your publisher about this. Maybe you have a designer friend that can help. Maybe you have some design experience. Check out Adobe InDesign or for the novice, Canva. (Note that a watermark will show on Canva with the free version)
Can you write for any publications or media outlets? What experience do you have? What do you have to say? Make a list of media outlets (online and traditional) and see what their criteria for pitching are. Show them what you have to offer and maximise your exposure.
Reviews are key to getting traction online, particularly for Amazon. Amazon displays titles using an algorithm and you need about twenty reviews on Amazon to gain greater visibility on their site. When bloggers review your book for their blog, politely ask if they can copy their review onto Amazon.
- Forward plan
When things eventually return to normal, there will be a multitude of authors fighting for a small number of spaces in bookshops and schools. When you do events in schools, you have a far greater chance of selling a higher volume of books than you would with any other kind of marketing or publicity channel. Speak with your publicist and put a plan in place for school events in the autumn so you can boost your sales potential.
- Author/influencer quotes
Quotes from authors and influencers are great. If you have these, add them to your blurb on Goodreads, Amazon, Hive, Waterstones and anywhere else your book is listed to give added credibility. If you’re design-savvy, make some great graphics from each quote so you have digital assets you can post in the build up to your launch.
- Update your Goodreads page
Goodreads gives you a big opportunity to connect with readers globally. Authors can answer reader questions, post quotes and add information about themselves. It’s the perfect way to build an audience around your book. Network and get your book added to reading lists so you can really make waves.
- Enter competitions or write for journals
It may seem a silly idea but if you have some free time, why not enter a competition. I’m not talking about a competition to get published but rather, one of the many opportunities available at the BBC Writers Room and the Irish Writers Centre. There are some great competitions here that, if successful, could give you some additional exposure to an audience who might not have discovered your book. The key here is to think about your strengths and which opportunities are most valuable to you and your book.
- Contact local media and radio
More people are likely to read and tune into the radio now more than ever. Think about local radio stations or newspapers you might be able to contact for some exposure. Have a strong pitch ready that you can approach them with. Consider podcasts. Some podcasters may look to do phone podcasts where you can phone in from home.
(c) C.G. Moore
Christopher (otherwise known as C.G. Moore) is a freelance editor and marketer. He has previously lectured on the MA in Publishing course at the University of Central Lancashire. He is also an author. His debut book – Fall Out – publishes on the 18th June 2020. You connect with him and chat at @YAfictionados on Twitter.
About Fall Out:
I am Cal Adams – what does that mean?
Sixteen years old.
For Cal, coming out is explosive, but that is nothing compared to the fallout from his family, friends and foes. When events in Cal’s life reach critical, he is shaken to his core. Can he rely on his loved ones to help avoid meltdown?
‘C. G. Moore has written an unflinching coming-out story with heart. You feel for Cal as he makes mistakes, endures bullying & falls out with his family and brilliant best friend Em. This book has stand-out dialogue and refreshing bounce.’ – Sue Wallman (author of Dead Popular and Lying About Last Summer)
‘The definition of gritty, so hard-hitting at times it was hard to read, but a beautiful, hopeful, honest and tearful ending.’ – Kathryn Evans (author of More of Me and Beauty Sleep)
Fall Out is published on June 18th 2020. Pre-order your copy here.