I intended to write about new marketing communications strategies I’ve seen in the book world these days, but given the current pandemic and it’s impact on our industry, I’m going to pivot slightly and go back to a topic I’ve written about before: community.
I write now having just come from picking up books from my children’s public school, a school of 1,300 in the borough of Queens, NY. The parents lingered a little longer to see a friend, to stand in the sunlight, to just be around a place that gives our children encouragement, knowledge, friendship.
In the PR world, (hopefully) most of us are doing what we’ve been trained to do—(I’ll use the word again) pivot, monitor, heed with caution, give back, educate and jump when the moment is right. Author tours have been cancelled as have appearances, signings, speaking engagements, and festivals. Bookstores have closed their doors to browsing. Media has shifted focus. Social media messaging plans are being retooled and new messaging crafted with considerable care.
With all this in mind, I’ve been monitoring people’s actions—not so much their use of hand sanitizer, toilet paper hoarding and social distancing, but 1) how are they changing gears, giving back, and jumping in to mobilize, educate and protect.
Here’s a round up of all the light and love I’ve seen:
- A Mighty Blaze. Founded by powerhouses Jenna Blum and Caroline Leavitt, readers can visit this Facebook page every Tuesday from 3/17 – 6/2 to learn about the new books coming out and meet their favorite authors.
- Great Thoughts’, Great Readers. Because so many book festivals were cancelled, the behemoth group for readers and authors started the Great Thoughts’ Festival of Books from March through May featuring live author interviews, takeovers and chats. See here on Facebook.
- Reading with Robin’s Authorpalooza. Our favorite books hostess has been interviewing reader favorite authors.
- The Write Review is giving away books, holding nightly interviews, plugging new releases. Check out the Facebook page.
- Writer Unboxed, too, is offering to showcase authors whose book tours have been cancelled via short videos made by those authors. See this post for more.
Journal writing prompts
- One of the hardest working journalists in the business, Lindsay Tigar has started a daily journal writing prompt. You can sign up here to receive a daily email from her.
Cool writerly kid stuff
- Eileen Moskowitz-Palma, educator and author of the forthcoming middle-grade book Camp Clique is offering virtual creative writing classes to children grades 3-12. Visit her Facebook page for more info.
- In one of the local Astoria, Queens Facebook groups that I frequent, Maria Smilios author of the forthcoming book Black Angels: The Untold Story of the Nurses Who Helped Cure Tuberculosis (an Oprah pick!) announced that she would use different literary mediums to teach ELA (non-fiction, fiction, poetry) every few days as a gateway to explore Art, Music, Geography, History, Food, Culture, Math. Check out the ELA Projects section on her website.
- I’m sure by now you’ve heard that famed children’s author Mo Willems is doing Lunch Doodles via The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
- All the free online videos from children’s book authors.
Virtual book clubbing and tours
- Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books is hosting virtual book clubs via Bookclubz.
- Modern Mrs. Darcy’s Stay At Home Book Tour ‘cause everything is cancelled.
General good book juju
- Barbara Bos, founder of the influential female focused website Women Writers, Women’s Books, sent me an email saying asking if she could help amplify communications for my clients since so many events have been cancelled. Her generosity will not be forgotten.
- Publisher’s Weekly is offering its assets for free. Access your digital copy each week here; the reviews database here; and the archive here.
- Bookstores across the country are currently offering free and discounted shipping. My local bookstore—-is doing curbside pickup. Read more in this Bookstr article (the site is also slashing its author marketing pricing so inquire with my buddy Scott.)
So cool, don’t miss it:
- Debut author and President of frog design studios Andrew Zimmerman’s Instagram world to coincide with his book Journey. It’s beautiful and mystical and we need more. (More on this later below.)
- NYT Bestselling author Chevy Stevens’s post discussing “Canadian Quarantine Chic” will make you howl.
- Authors David Bell and Molly McCaffrey are sharing videos as the Corona Couple. Two writers discuss what it’s like to be two writers during a pandemic. What’s different?
- Don’t get mad at me for doing this, Marilyn, but can everyone please friend request author Marilyn Simon Rothstein? Her posts usually make me hit the floor with laughter and so will her books like Husbands and Other Sharp Objects.
- Everyday author Hannah Mary McKinnon reads the first chapter of an impressive array of thrillers.
- Did you know people are putting up their Christmas lights again to spread cheer? Read the article in House Beautiful.
- Suzy Approved Book Reviews always has the scoop on discounts and Goodreads giveaways. Make her page a daily destination.
- Bestselling thriller authors Cristina Alger, David Bell and Kaira Rouda host weekly #fridayreads giveaways based on a different monthly theme. Check out their Pages, which will also begin including gift card giveaways to their favorite local bookshops.
- Many of your favorite authors have books on sale or are doing giveaways via Facebook and Instagram. Head on over to their pages and sign-up for their newsletters.
Before I end this post, I must go back to what I intended with this article and that’s to discuss new marketing communications strategies in the book world.
Text Message Marketing. Philippe Boussiou, Ph.D., co-founder of Palo-Alto based Blue Dot Partners and author of the recently released Aligning the Dots: The New Paradigm to Grow Any Business. He used text message marketing to announce his new book. This text included a link to Amazon. Later that day when I went to buy my copy, I noticed that the book had hit number one in a category.
Marketing Your Book on Instagram. I mentioned Andrew Zimmerman’s Instagram account above. Andy’s a client with big, beautiful ideas that have left me curious and excited—everything I want in my workday. When he said that he wanted to build out his book Journey’s world on Instagram using the photos from his various trips to Glastonbury, I was lured right in. Here’s some insight into Andy’s why and how.
- Your debut novel journey tackles a pretty heavy topic in today’s day and age – work/life balance, the drive to be successful, and the implications of career success on your personal life. What’s one thing you’d like a reader to take away from all of this? It can sound trite, but it is about self-love which opens oneself up to loving others and embracing what life offers us. Just opening your eyes, a little bit, you can see a world in color versus black and white.
- Your book takes place in New York City and Glastonbury, most people know it for the musical festival, but it’s also a very spiritual and mystical place. What do you want people to know about Glastonbury? Glastonbury has always been in myth and in history a place where things begin, whether the Druids on the Tor doing ceremonies millennia ago, to the Isle of Avalon to one of the first and then largest Abbies in Europe, it has always touch humanity with its heart. It is called the heart chakra of the world. I find it is a safe place to explore one’s beliefs and willingness to take chances. To believe in everything, and the feel the release that belief enables. Yes, in a town full of witches and druids and fairies and every type of belief system in the world, Glastonbury can be overwhelming. But it also gives you breathing space to connect with yourself and you are surrounded by sacred space, centuries of mystical energy and healers of every kind. It is what I tried to convey in my storytelling.
- To have readers get a more intimate feel of Glastonbury and your book, you worked with Rodrigo Corral Studio to create an Instagram campaign based on your photos from there. How did you come up with this idea as someone who doesn’t personally spend a lot of time on the platform? I wanted the reader to feel the hauntingly beautiful spaces of Glastonbury. I’m the most amateur of photographers; in fact, I hate the way everyone takes pictures of things as opposed to experiencing them. But over a ten-year period, I did take some photographs in Glastonbury—nothing special. Rodrigo was inspired by the story and Glastonbury and asked to see some of my photographs. He suggested taking advantage of the Instagram visual medium and did an amazing mashup of the visual look and feel of the Journey cover and my somewhat pedestrian photographs. The result was an amazing walking tour of Glastonbury with excerpts from my novel. Rodrigo picked most of the excerpts and curated this amazing Instagram experience. It is probably appropriate that the President of frog, one of the leading design firms in the world, use Instagram to share his story using one of the world’s leading designers. Thank you, Rodrigo!
I will FINALLY end this post.
Please, if you could, share the love and light you’ve seen or are offering in the comments below. And, please, stay safe.