If you are a self-published author, you probably realize that also the publishing industry will see a bitter downfall due to the coronavirus crisis. You don’t need a master’s degree in economics to draw such conclusions, right?
So, what should you do and how should you promote your books when the eyes of the world are set on an invisible enemy called COVID-19? Well, you’ll probably call me a cold-blooded marketer for this, but I do think that this is your time to shine!
The majority of the world’s population is isolated, with most of them being self-isolated, meaning – they stay at home. And we all should! Not to read books, but to fight effectively against coronavirus. My self-isolation will be a combination of online work, movie nights and READING. That’s probably what most of us are going to do during this worldwide crisis – we’ll stay at home with our families and watch movies, read books, play games and follow the news.
Having said that, it’s safe to say that in the coronavirus-season we’ll have more readers than ever before. That’s your golden opportunity, but this opportunity will not wait for you. Netflix and Amazon Prime are already increasingly active with their marketing campaigns. It’s simple math for them – more people will demand the products they sell. The same is with books.
Is it right to be excited about this opportunity? It’s undoubtedly much more important to defeat coronavirus and keep our world safe. We should all support the #stayhome initiative because it can save lives. That’s what’s important and there is no doubt about what the priorities of mankind are today, but whether you want to sell more books to people who stay at home shouldn’t be a moral dilemma. You should be a business-savvy publisher who is trying to make a living from writing. Opportunities like this one are extremely rare. It’s not that people are stuck at home because of something you did; they need to stay home to stay safe and keep others safe. We shouldn’t be happy about the situation, but yes, this is your time to shine!
How should you shape your marketing plan that fits the coronavirus era?
More people watching movies and more people searching for books. It’s kind of late to invest your money in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) which is arguably the most powerful marketing tool today because SEO techniques usually take 3 to 5 months to deliver results. You have 8 or 12 weeks. Your focus should be on advertising your special offers and using book promotion services to expand your readership base during the crisis. However, BEFORE you engage in such activities, you have to understand that lowering your book prices and boxing your books in sets won’t be enough! There are already thousands of free books and best-selling boxed sets priced at $2.99 or even lower, so the competition is still fierce. Make no mistake, big publishers have their own marketing experts and they are adjusting their marketing plans as we speak. To be competitive in publishing during the coronavirus outbreak, you need to consider some of the following points, if not all:
- Stay focused on your brand values
The world bleeds. In the last 24 hours, thousands have died due to coronavirus. Now, perhaps more than ever, we need encouraging messages that keep are united. Keep your social tone positive, add up to hopes that this crisis will end soon. Deliver strong messages, it’s not a shame to use quotes from famous people or movies. “You Shall Not Pass” now draws an entirely different picture in our mind if we are the fellowship and our unity is Gandalf himself?
Take a look at what I came up with on Tolkienology:
2. Provide great values for money
This doesn’t necessarily mean that your books should be either free or priced at 99 cents. There are so many ways how you can attach more values to your existing offerings:
- give a bonus book to each purchase with the proof of purchase e-mailed to you
- offer your short story free to download (and get subscribers!)
- launch a creative giveaway with prizes that offer top products from the publishing industry (forget about gift cards, everyone is doing that – think outside the box!)
This is an example of my latest giveaway at Tolkienology.net:
To stay at home people this wonderful 60th anniversary boxed set by Harper Collins comes handy, right? The giveaway attracted 750+ participants with no ads, just through the power of social shares.
3. Accelerate your blogging
Your readers are not just reading books. They are following news and spending a great deal of their #stayhome time online. So, write for them! Here are a couple of blog ideas:
- come up with TOP15 titles of all-time in your genre
- do a literary portrait of a famous author that you are a fan of
- write about how coronavirus affects your writing
- if you are a mystery writer, come up with TOP10 detectives of all time
- if you are a fantasy writer, come up with best fictional characters of all time
The point is to blog about well-known topics that are easy to provoke comments and increase engagements. You always write from your point of view, giving your readers an insight into your reading interests. If they accept you as a reader, you are the part of the herd. Your brand grows, your popularity increases and your books smile a lot more.
Since I blog about marketing, I’ve increased the frequency of my articles with social media how-to’s being the most frequent articles:
- Social Media Activities that can Hurt Your Voice (and thus Your Brand)
- How Authors Can Use Twitter Effectively
- 10 Reasons Why Authors Should Use Pinterest
4. USE IMAGES!
You don’t have to be a designer to deliver such messages. If you browse Google images, you’ll always find images that fit your message. Use simple tools like Canva to edit your images, or online meme generator like ImgFlip to create your memes in a split second. I do most of my graphics by myself using Canva templates with imported fonts and clipart.
Here’s an example of how I delivered a message about my latest project GainReads.com where readers can enjoy free and 99 cents books during #stayathome:
5. Use helpful tools and websites
Personally, I use a wide array of marketing tools and I enjoy exploring them. The right tool in combination with the right marketing messages can give you the edge in these competitive times.
My tool #1 is MailerLite. According to a survey by Gigaom, marketers believe email is still the strongest tool in their arsenal, outranking both social media and SEO when it comes to raising awareness, increasing acquisition, starting the conversion, and supporting customer retention.
If you are new to e-mail, I suggest that you read Neil Patel’s Begginer’s Guide to E-mail Marketing.
Why I prefer MailerLite?
- Easy to use dashboard
- Great reporting
- Free accounts + affordable upgrades
- Amazing customer support
There are many mailing list services out there, with MailChimp being popular over the years. You can have up to 2000 subscribers for free, which is 1000 more than with MailerLite. However, MailerLite Premium for up to 2500 subscribers is just $10 and their pricing structure is based on the size of your list. Even if MailChimp offers 10x more free services, I would still prefer MailerLite because of its amazing chat support.
The second tool I use most frequently is SocialPilot. If you want to run your social media accounts on autopilot, this easy-to-use social media marketing tool comes handy. The Professional license is just $30/month and you can handle 25 social media accounts with it, with full reporting, bulk scheduling, content curation, and many other useful features.
If you think that $30/month is a big investment, try writing down hours spent on posting to various social media platforms. SocialPilot saves you a lot of time that you can allocate to other marketing efforts. It’s also a very insightful tool that will most definitely improve your social media management skills.
When it comes to websites, there are numerous book promotion services available out there.
Let me mention some that I use frequently for my clients:
Dave Chesson at Kindlepreneur has a more comprehensive list of the top 120+ free and paid book promotion services, so you might want to check this out. Dave is also a resourceful guy, so reading articles on Kindlepreneur is certainly not a waste of your time.
Wait, that’s not it, we have a new kid on the block! Ladies and gentlemen, make sure you don’t just #stayathome when you can #gainreads too at GainReads.com! Obviously this is me shamelessly promoting my own project, but since we have FREE book promos available during coronavirus crisis, this should be the moment when you simply CLICK HERE and apply!
This is your time to shine! That doesn’t mean that you are not part of this world that suffers deeply due to coronavirus casualties. Actually, this is everyone’s time to shine. Now more than ever before we need people who are there for the people. We need optimistic energy-generators. We need encouragement, hope, and magic. We need things that are already in your books. You just have to bring them out to the world.
Now it’s the best time to drop the “help a struggling author” line! You are not a beggar. You are a published author and it’s a huge achievement. Now go out there and SHINE!