10 Tips for Authors in the Midst of COVID-19

Millions of Readers Are Waiting for You!

It’s true: Readers are looking for good books.

Even in the midst of this pandemic, the fundamentals of publishing are solid: Millions of men and women want to read, now more than ever. Our own Ingram-owned system for printing and shipping is working overtime to keep pace with that demand for books. The Ingram-to-online-bookstores supply chain has slowed down a bit, due to the overwhelming demand for shipped products. But, millions are reading more books than .

The question is: Are authors stepping up to connect with waiting readers? Are you reminding readers of the value of your stories? Are you reassuring them that books still are flowing around the world? Are you inspiring them to discover the value they can find in your book? Now is a perfect time to let readers know they should connect with you—through social media and by ordering a book—to make their day just a little brighter, to learn something they can put to good use later and to find fresh stories they will want to share virtually with friends.

Here’s a list of my top 10 ways to reach out to readers. There are plenty more, so if you finish these—just drop me a line and I’ll send you some more.

The 10 tips

  1. Social Media! Social Media! Social Media!

    Everyone is isolated during this pandemic and social media is a great way for us to keep in touch with each other. During this down time I encourage authors to review their social media strategies. Are you reaching lots of potential readers? Should you try a different platform? Are you on the relevant social media for the genre that you write for? Facebook and Twitter are no longer the only games in town. Instagram is a strong platform for readers. It even has its own hashtag—#BOOKSTAGRAM!

    Rodney Curtis in a mask
    Click on Rodney to visit his YouTube channel.

    Readers enjoy getting to know authors more personally and it helps them be more invested in you and your books. Author Rodney Curtis has been reading chapters of his book, Hope’s Diamond on his YouTube channel. This is an excellent way to connect with your readers and to give them a taste of your writing style. Authors with more than one book have found that this is an effective way to get readers to purchase their other books, as well as the book that they share the content from.

    Author Rabbi Bob Alper is using his email subscriber’s list to entertain folks during the pandemic Bob’s Quick Laugh videos appear every day in his subscribers email box. The treat is a minute long bit from one of Bob’s stand-up comedy routines. You can sign up for Bob’s Quick Laugh videos by following the link, no worries, you can cancel at any time, but I doubt that you will. We all need a laugh at least once a day, pandemic or not.

    Other social media platforms to consider are Pinterest and LinkedIn.

  2. Ask Friends, Relatives, Colleagues and Social Media Contacts for Book Reviews

    Book reviews are key to a book’s success in the on-line marketplace. Fresh book reviews seem to help trigger the analytics at Amazon and may get your book some new attention. Like you, your friends, relatives, colleagues and those you are connected with via social media are also quarantined and would most likely be grateful for some fresh reading material. Check out David Crumm’s blog post: How Do You Successfully Get Reviews for Your Books on Amazon? Make sure that you pay special attention to the rules regarding giving away books in exchange for a book review. If you prefer to not leave the house to mail a copy of your book to someone, publishers can order books directly from the various printing facilities, thereby letting them do the mailing for you.

  3. Confirm That Your Book Title Appears Everywhere It Should

    This task is as easy as they come. Do you have an email signature that automatically appears at the end of each email? Does it include the name of your book? Under your name make sure it says, Author of [Title of your book]. That way every email is an advertisement for your book and lets every correspondent know that you are a published author.

  4. Review Your Metadata

    In I wrote a blog post for FEP called, Metadata 101: How to create book metadata that will increase discoverability and enhance your marketing. It’s time to re-read that article and then re-read the description of your book on Amazon.com. Is it up to date? Does it have a hook that will entice readers to purchase your book? Take a look and see if your book’s metadata needs a refresh. Amazon is very busy right now and we are seeing some interruptions in their usual procedures, so our team does not recommend submitting the refresh to them right away, but have it ready and we’ll submit it for you the minute things simmer down a bit at Amazon and the other on-line retailers.

  5. Start an Online Book Club

    One bright spot in this pandemic is that it has forced almost all of us to become proficient with online video chat applications like Zoom. We’ve all heard stories about grandparents reading by video chat to their grandchildren, girlfriends sharing glasses of wine and chatting by video chat, and our kids are now being educated via video chat. It’s all the rage, jump in, the water is fine! As an author you can use your social media to reach out and start an on-line video chat book club. You might even start by offering complimentary copies of your own book! After all, you’re an expert on that book! You’ve probably got lots of insights and stories about your book. Once your group has read your book, move on to others in your genre and then you will not only scope out the competition, you’ll gain wisdom about what readers are looking for in books and that will be helpful when you start writing your next book!

  6. Announce Your Book Cover Online

    Has the pandemic postponed your book launch? If so, you can still drum up some excitement while your readers await the publication of your new book. You can host an on-line book cover reveal via social media. Using Facebook, YouTube, or Instagram you can go live and present your new book cover to the public in a grand fashion. Order a backdrop, known in the biz as a step and repeat to coordinate with your book cover. You’ll be able to use it for book signings in the future, so it’s not a one and done thing. While you are live, encourage your viewers to DM (direct message) you their mailing address in exchange for an autographed bookplate. This way you’ve added some very interested potential readers to your address list and you’ve encouraged them to purchase your book once it is available.

    This week, Craig Lemasters—an internationally known business consultant who is preparing to share his lifetime of wisdom in book form—is doing this book cover reveal on his website. Take a look at how he presents this eye-catching cover—along with a request to stay in touch. Please, go on and sign up for his offer of a free update when the book launches. Consider setting up something like that on your author’s website.

    Unstuck book promo banner

  7. Explore Goodreads

    When I first wrote about Goodreads for this blog post in Goodreads had 65 million readers/subscribers. Some of you did not think that was a significant enough amount of people who read to venture onto the site. Now Goodreads is up to 90 million readers/subscribers! That’s a whole lot of people who love to read books!!! This is an excellent time to enroll yourself, become a Goodreads author, and then spend some time reading my second Goodreads blog post, Making the most of Goodreads’ author resources. I’m sure that you’ll find at least one book club who would be interested in your book and hearing from you as that book’s author.

    Susan Stitt on Goodreads
    Click on this snapshot from my Goodreads profile to friend me and share what books you’ve been reading.

  8. Bank Some Social Media Posts

    Social media posting is time consuming, and yet it is vital to staying in touch with your readers. Now is a great time to prepare some social media posts in advance and find software that will make it easy for you to share your posts in an efficient way. I am currently using Buffer scheduling software. They offer a free plan that lets me link 3 social media accounts, which I can access from my phone or laptop. I sit down once or twice a week and schedule a few days out and Buffer takes care of the rest. I still post spontaneously each day as news items or interactions pop up, but the lion’s share of my posts are thoughtfully planned out in advance making them well organized and less time consuming.

  9. Charity Begins at Home

    A great way to raise money for a COVID-related charity is to offer to donate a percentage of your book sales for the upcoming month towards a pandemic related charity. Use your social media to let potential readers know that you are making this offer to help out. There are many great causes to donate to. You can choose something local like a food pantry that is helping during the crisis, or perhaps a restaurant in your area is feeding first responders. Whatever you choose, just make sure you are cautious and don’t fall prey to one of the scammers who are taking advantage of this situation.

  10. It’s Never Too Late to Plan for—the Beginning

    Eventually we are going to return to the outside world. Author appearances and book signings will begin again—albeit with gloves and a mask for a while. Check your supply of books. Do you have enough on hand for upcoming events? Printing facilities are still printing and now is a great time to replenish your own book stock.

Like I mentioned earlier there are many, many things a quarantined author can be doing during the pandemic. Every day I read about more and more clever ways of staying in touch with readers. If you are doing something unique, drop us a line and let us know. Perhaps we can spotlight your efforts in a future blog post. For now. Stay inside and stay well. Happy reading and writing to you all.

About Susan Stitt

Susan Stitt is marketing director of Front Edge Publishing. Over the years, she has guided many authors through the challenging process of launching books and developing strategies that will grow readership. She also has worked widely with nonprofits. Now, she shares her expertise twice each month on our Front Edge Publishing website.

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