By Amy Collins
What I Did
I heard myself say the phrase: “When things return to normal.”
I caught myself saying this very sentence last week. Caught myself forgetting that there is no such thing as normal. There is only now. Months ago, I thought that we just had to ride out this short, drama-filled pandemic and then we could go back to the world of books and publishing that we knew before.
Authors ask me every day if I know when bookstores and libraries are going to open up again. They want to know where they can sell their books in the meantime.
It might be that you, too, are waiting for signs that you can go back to the plans you had in place last January. You may wonder how you can use:
- the classes that you took
- ads you bought
- reviews you planned for
– perhaps none of them are working now. It is not enough to take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. It is time to set aside what was going to be and embrace the idea that we must start our sales and marketing plans from scratch.
We CAN get up and running with a new plan quite quickly.
What We Should Do First
It is time to start asking questions and developing a new plan.
- community organizations
and ask them how you can help them achieve their new 2020 goals. Ask them what they are going through. Ask them what their biggest struggles are. Ask them what they wish for.
Listen to the answers. I found out that:
- some stores are still closed
- some are open for curbside and internet business only
- some are open a few days a week
- some librarians are working to help their patrons full time and others are on furlough
- teachers and community organizers are desperate to find ways to help their students and citizens
- some people I spoke with had no way to pay their employees
- others were working 12-hour days to keep up with internet orders
Every call I made gave me a different situation and a different set of issues. The only thing I could count on is that no two calls gave me similar answers or situations.
If the only sure fact we can depend upon is that everyone we speak with has different goals and needs than the last person we spoke with…
What Do We Do?
The questions I asked allowed me to narrow my plans and create a whole new set of activities that are starting to sell books. But my new book marketing and sales efforts look VASTLY different than the ones I was executing in January.
To begin with, I am focusing almost ALL my efforts on ebook marketing to readers of similar books. I am using my time and ad budget to introduce my books to folks shopping for their next read.
- Kindle screen ads
- Google ads
- Amazon search ads
- online book clubs
- library websites
are wonderful places to introduce my books to readers.
Bookstores that are doing curbside or limited hourly business? They can be highlighted in Facebook and local community online ads for your book.
Why not focus on one city and partner with a store to promote a series of your books? The stores will love the extra business. Then move on to another city and repeat.
Librarians and library staff overwhelmed? Can you help with articles, or content to keep their websites and newsletters going?
Do you have a book that can be of help to employees struggling with working from home or Covid-careful offices?
Perhaps you can offer a company a video teaching or inspiring from the content of your book.
Are you the author of a children’s book? What can you do to help parents and teachers? Take those ideas to the libraries and bookstores you have befriended in your calls.
We can no longer scatter our marketing messages across the land. We must narrow our efforts to a city by city campaign.
It is time to start fresh and take the time to develop a new understanding of how bookstores and libraries are surviving.
Companies, schools, organizations, all need your help. Learn how to help them now and your partnership will become a new marketing program that can carry you through.