Let’s say you just spent two years hard at work writing a book. Brainstormed, outlined, wrote, edited, re-wrote, re-edited, and finally had a book you were eager to share with the world. At some point in late 2019 or early 2020, you got your hands on an advance copy…and you were beyond excited for your publication date, which was set for March 2020. This book was to be the key to further establishing yourself as an expert in your industry. In addition to earning royalties on book sales, you were excited to have your book be a critical element of your overall platform and content game plan, opening doors for new opportunities such as speaking and consulting arrangements. Everything’s going great until, exactly one week after your launch, the world stops in its tracks because of a global pandemic. Of all the things book launch-related to worry about, contingencies for a global pandemic were likely not on anyone’s radar.
Let’s recap what happened in 2020:
As it became clear the pandemic wasn’t going to reach a speedy resolution, books started trickling out in the summer and the latter half of 2020. Many meticulously scheduled marketing plans were thrown out the window.
-Live events were canceled. This included speaking gigs, conferences, book talks, launch parties, author readings, and book signings.
-Webinars and virtual events became more crucial than ever for author-reader connection, and many occurred in late spring.
-Content accompanying book launches also became more important than ever. Authors competed with the rest of the digital world for attention and needed to deliver unparalleled value.
-Brick-and-mortar bookstores saw already-declining sales for business and thought leadership titles nosedive. Amazon, on a continuous upward trajectory, became even more important. Amazon keywords campaigns increased in importance.
Case study: Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems (March 3, 2020)
Stephen Shapiro, author of Invisible Solutions, is a highly sought-after professional speaker on the topic of business innovation. When the pandemic hit right as his new book hit the market, he pivoted to digital promotion. This meant virtual speaking engagements and releasing more video content. He created a videobook by adapting information from Invisible Solutions into a YouTube format. He also started a podcast, the Invisible Solutions Podcast. Was it ideal? Nope, but he didn’t let a pandemic stop him in his tracks.
“I was already shifting to virtual events and platforms before the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” Shapiro said. “I accelerated my business plan to more than just replicate the live experience, but to improve it while remote.”
Now, let’s look ahead to 2021:
Nobody knows for sure what 2021 will hold for book marketing, though we anticipate live book launches to slowly start returning toward the end of the year. Though there are too many variables to say with certainty, we do anticipate a stronger emphasis on virtual promotion is here to stay.
What does a good 2021 marketing strategy look like?
A good 2021 strategy should incorporate the same qualities any book marketing campaign does: flexibility, creative thinking, and problem-solving. Be sure to add more virtual elements to your marketing plan. Online events that allow you to talk about the book and make connections should be your focus.
Authors with a 2020 or 2021 release shouldn’t stop their efforts after a few months, either. As the average lifespan of a book is one to two years, marketing should continue post-pandemic. Milestones like cover reveals and release date announcements can continue on social media, and award submissions are active as usual. The more you promote your book beyond its first six months, the more likely it is to reach its target audience.
Launching a book in 2020 seemed an impossible mountain to climb, but authors managed to adapt and carry on. 2021 will likely require authors to meet additional unseen challenges. A return to in-person marketing is hopefully on the horizon, but for now, virtual promotion is key to a book’s success.
As the CEO at Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics.
Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.
Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.