Do This Not That: Book Promotion During a Pandemic

by | Apr 6, 2020

By Amy Collins

My inbox and online feeds are filling up with authors asking how to promote themselves and their books during this time of crisis. How do we, as authors, sell and market our work when the noise of current events is drowning out everything else?

The First Thing To Do


There are times when we need to step back from marketing and promotion and plan for a future “do over.” For those of you who had your book’s legs so unfairly cut from underneath you, I am so sorry. My heart aches for all of those plans and events that are foundering now, but there are many things that we CAN do.

The Next Thing To Do

Community and connection has never been more important than it is now. History smiles on us when humans come together and really help each other. Let us, as authors, use these next few months to find, connect, reach out, and help your fellow authors and readers.

When I look back on these weeks and months, I want to know that I spent my time improving the world of books for readers and authors rather than remember how I spent my time trying to sell my book.

A lot of us have more time right now. (A lot of us do not…. Thank you nurses and service professionals!) But those of us who have time, why not look each day for an author in your genre you DO NOT know and read their book? Then, follow them on social media, get to know them, follow their blog, subscribe to their newsletter, befriend some new people in their circle. Expand your circle of friends and help your fellow authors.

Another Thing To Try

Create a list of stories, articles, videos, or recordings you could create and post online. No matter WHAT kind of book you have written, you have experiences and wisdom to share.

Create a daily post helping others by sharing your wisdom, your experiences, your stories….

Post videos on YouTube, create inspirational and helpful messages you can share on social media and write articles.

Share freely of what you have with your readers and encourage them to share what they have with you. This strange time will give you many opportunities to deepen and broaden your community of readers. Don’t waste it!

While We are At It….

Plan for the future. While we do not know when life will “return to normal,” we do know it will return to a “new normal” eventually. Plan for the new normal.

Ebooks and audiobook are already showing their longevity as well as their health and environmental benefits. Paper is the “favorite” format for many people, but please use this break to get your ebook and audio book plan together.

Now is a great time to research and find the best ebook promotion sites and get on their calendar for August and September. Many of them book out several months…. You can have a launch “do over” with your ebook if you plan a strong push campaign in the summer or autumn.

And When All Else Fails – Plan For Tomorrow

Use this time to polish your marketing and sales efforts and clean up your venues online.

  • Is your Author Central bio page as good as it could be?
  • Have you read up on marketing copy writing?
  • Have you taken a class about how to improve your book description?
  • Have you researched the best practices for author websites and implemented those changes?
  • Have you spent time on creating sales and author sheets for when bookstores and libraries open back up for orders?
  • Have you reached out to your publisher and gotten a list from them of the things other authors in your genre have done that worked well?
  • Do you have the time now to create a bank of social media posts and images you can pull from later when you are “busy?”

When we look back on these first months of pandemic and economic crisis, which of our efforts will be most proud? I run every idea I have past that question; and it is what I am using to guide my business decisions.

Please stay safe, stay healthy…. And if your job is essential to our society and you cannot stay home, please accept my gratitude and admiration for the work you do.
Photo: BigStockPhoto

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  1. Jaq D Hawkins

    I find myself with my reader hat on actually resenting the book promotions on my Facebook wall. Do people think of nothing but profit? Some don’t have control to make their books free as many of us have done, but a cutback on the pushy sales is just tasteful. A LOT of readers out there have lost their livelihoods. A sale price is still a burden.

  2. Pete Springer

    I agree with your suggestions. There is something distasteful about promoting yourself too much when others are grieving. It’s like a person complaining about the weather when you’re at a funeral.

  3. J R Tomlin

    I disagree pretty much 100% that we should not sell or promote our books. People need and want books to read right now and there is absolutely nothing wrong with pointing out we have some, often at reduced prices.

    • Ernie Zelinski

      I have to acknowledge you for your comment. Not everyone has the fortitude to say something when the majority will disagree. No doubt there is substance to your comment that “People need and want books to read right now.” Particularly if you have a book that will help readers deal with the financial or emotional problems associated with the pandemic, you will be doing more good than harm in promoting the book. For example, I have a book that is called “The Joy of Not Working.” Although I am not actively promoting my books, I can provide hundreds of letters and emails from readers who found the book extremely helpful to them when they lost their jobs in the recession of the early 1990s and again in the downturn around the credit crunch after 2008.

      Again, thanks for your comment. These words of wisdom apply:

      “Many people, especially ignorant people, want to punish you for speaking the truth, for being correct, for being you. Never apologize for being correct, or for being years ahead of your time. If you’re right and you know it, speak your mind. Speak your mind even if you are a minority of one. The truth is still the truth.”
      — Mohandas Gandhi

      • C

        Uh, yeah. Some people want some escape as well and would be happy to try out a new fictional book. More time on their hands and whatnot.

        Sounds like bum advice, honestly.

    • RD Meyer

      I agree with you(and, thus, disagree with the main thrust of the article). With all of the terrible news out there right now, people often need an escape, even if only for a while. Books provide that. I’m sure we can promote our work as that escape without being crass.

      Life cannot stop. We are meant for more than just not dying; we are meant also to live.


      I agree with everyone who says that it is great that we all have different views on this. I love that this page allows us all to hold discussions without rancor. Your point is very well taken!

  4. Takara Shelor

    Thanks. Great suggestions. It’s amazing all the things one can do when things are in a downturn. I always appreciate the quality of your information.

  5. Jason Temple

    My Book Launches on the 15th and I’ve been so caught up in the Circus of keeping my family safe that I’m sure I have missed many things my publisher wanted me to do before that date.

    it’s crazy to tink that in the fall everything was awesome and we weren’t looking at this different world and place. Plus side? i get to wear Pajama pants to work and my commute is now just down the hall.

    Help people. Be Kind. Stay Safe. Stay Isolated.

    I’ll see you all on the other side.

  6. Robbie Cheadle

    Great ideas, thank you



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