Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Business in the Year of Covid

Business: How have you changed the way you promote and support your work, and generally go about the business of being an author, since “Lockdown Life” began a year ago? Anything you’ve learned that will remain in place as we move forward? 

From Frank

This week's answer is simple:  No, not really to the first question. And to the second, I guess but probably not.

Covid-19's impact on my writing life has been minimal. The biggest thing was that I had a crowded house for much of 2020, so my writing output was less. And I usually did that writing with headphones on. But that has little to do with marketing; rather, the creative side of things.

So what was different, marketing-wise? Well, obviously, I didn't appear at any bookstores. This had become a trend long before Covid, though. I did the occasional bookstore bit, but it wasn't like I was doing tours before the lockdown happened.

We did try to do one online event hosted by Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane to promote the second season of A Grifter's Song. Asa Maria Bradley, who wrote episode #8 (Upgrade) spearheaded the arrangements. I joined in as the creator/editor, as well as Colin Conway (episode #5, Lost in Middle America) and Scott Eubanks (episode #11, Still Life with Suitcase). All of us lived in or are from Spokane.

The event started out wonderfully and was almost immediately zoom-bombed. Things went from someone asking me about the creation of this series to demands to "show us your boobs" (to which Scott promptly asked, "Who, me?").

Total disaster. But fun. No Scott-boobs, though.

So instead of bookstore events (or actual bookstore appearances), I've been on a number of podcasts. I even got to drink wine during one interview, so that rocked. I think that's something I'll continue doing, for sure. And maybe the podcast thing, too.

Speaking of podcasts, my own show (Wrong Place, Write Crime) has been my primary social outlet for the last year. I've enjoyed interviewing other authors and sometimes chatting after the recording stops. It's been even more important since my other major social event (LCC and Bouchercon) were canceled.

I'll keep doing the podcast for at least one more season. And it looks like conferences may be coming back, so there's that.

But how much are those things "marketing"? Some, I suppose. But most of it's social, right? (can you hear Judd Hirsch saying it now - "demented and sad, but social"?).

I've started doing promos and advertising more but that isn't really in response to Covid. It's more a response to trying to move some books.

So anything I've learned that I'll apply moving forward?

Yeah. Don't ask Scott Eubanks to show his boobs. He won't. 

But on the marketing front? Not really. But that might be more an indicator of what a piss-poor marketer I am or being unable to learn something new than anything else.

Just to prove that final point, I'm skipping blatant self-promoting this week. Unless you click on the links in my post, of course. Or go to my website.


Catriona McPherson said...

Not to be cynical or anything, but am I the only one who assumed before 2020 that the world of amateur internet porn would have mopped up all the "show us your boobs" energy? What is WRONG with people?

Susan C Shea said...

Is zoom bombing today's teenage version of yesteryear's calling landlines 10 times a night and laughing hysterically at the old people, i.e. older than 14, ire?

Frank Zafiro said...

@CATRIONA ... You'd think so. Obnoxious little twerps.

@SUSAN ... I know that your question was likely rhetorical, but I think you're bang on.

In all seriousness, it was disappointing, because not only did Asa (and the bookstore) do a lot of work to make it happen, there was a reasonable sized "crowd" of attendees, and we had four authors, all Spokane natives, and all having taken part in this same anthology, so the conversation (and the audience questions) had the potential to be fun. But the fun ruiners took care of that.

Ah, well. 2020, you know?