Sunday, June 7, 2020

Marketing in the Time of Covid

With thousands of new titles being published every day, what do you do to try to raise your new book above the fray and catch the eye of readers?  We may have had a similar question before but things change so fast these days that what worked yesterday may not work today. So any new thoughts on this?

Brenda Chapman here.

If I had a good answer to this question, I’d bottle and sell it for millions of dollars! 

Having your book stand out from the thousands of others published every year was always difficult but it’s even more so in this time of social isolation. I’m not sure that I have anything earth-shattering to add that other authors haven't already tried. Closing Time was released at the end of March as our country shut down and everything I had lined up was cancelled or postponed. It took some major shifts in marketing to get any buzz going and I'm not convinced we were that successful. (My publicist started working from home part time and pretty much shut down her work on the book after six weeks.) 

Here are a few marketing techniques that have worked for me in the past and that I've adapted for our new reality. However, my belief is that without the aid of a creative, dedicated publicist as well as a financial investment in marketing the book from your publisher, it will be difficult to get your book into the hands of a great number of new readers.

1. Make yourself available to book clubs (can still be done virtually) and maintain relationships. I've made some wonderful friendships this way and book clubs speak to each other so news of your book can spread. I was also in a nearby city for a week about four years ago and my publicist arranged for me to attend a book club at a local independent bookstore. About forty people came out and most bought books. The store owner also contacted local media and they ran an article in the local paper. The owner asked me to return for a signing with my latest book but the pandemic meant I haven't been able to as of yet - perhaps when we're able to travel within the province again.

2.  Line up store signings for when things ease up. Store signings were good not just for finding new readers to try your books but also for making connections with staff. Staying in touch now is still helpful. Readers are still ordering books even if they can't go into the stores and they're asking for staff recommendations. I had two store signings lined up that had to be postponed but we're in touch and arranging the signings for later. One of the stores placed a post about my book on social media in the meantime.

3. Have people do some marketing/publicity for you. This works particularly well if you know somebody with a large social media following. Third party endorsements are a wonderful way to go, especially when freely offered by readers who love your book. My older daughter is an Olympic curler and she posted on Instagram the day my Closing Time launch was cancelled in May. The post got several hundred likes with some going out to buy the book that day. My younger daughter made a short Youtube video of her planned opening remarks for the cancelled launch and this received nearly 300 views.

4. Keep your own social media presence strong. Blogs, sharing reviews, tweets, whatever keeps your name and book out there is all good. Live Instagram or Facebook chats can also work if properly marketed beforehand.

5. Join other writers for online events. (I haven't done this yet but think it's a fine idea.) Cross promote as much as possible by sharing information and posts about each other's books on social media.

So in the spirit of all this marketing chat, here is a link to my website which has all of my books listed with review quotes and blurbs about the books. And here is the cover of the latest:

You can also find me on: 

Twitter: brendaAchapman and

Facebook: BrendaChapmanAuthor


Dietrich Kalteis said...

Some good advice, Brenda. I like the virtual book club idea.

Brenda Chapman said...

Thanks Dietrich - I'm looking forrward to your ideas later this week :-)