Millions of people around the world are isolated and practicing social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. As a result, many are stuck at home looking for ways to fill their time. Indie authors are uniquely positioned to be of service right now. The flexibility and control inherent in the independent publishing model means we can turn on a dime to quickly and creatively respond to the time-sensitive needs emerging all around us.
Today, I’m sharing tips to help you identify those needs and tap into your creativity to develop new content that meets them.
People are hungry for information and entertainment. To gain a better understanding of where you can add the most value, take time to listen—to yourself and socially. What’s the first thought on your mind in the morning? What fears are keeping you up at night? What concerns is your partner expressing? What questions are your kids or parents asking? What are your friends talking about online? Make a list of the topics and themes you’re hearing and brainstorm how you can apply your expertise or creative touch to transform them into valuable content.
For example, hand washing is a hot topic right now. At first glance, it might seem like there’s nothing to say about this straightforward topic. But a little creative brainstorming might reveal some interesting possibilities. Take indie author Katie Taylor. A certified child life specialist, she drew inspiration from her experience working with children with medical conditions to create The Super Silly Wash Your Hands Dance  to help make the life-saving act of washing your hands more enjoyable for kids. Chemical analyst Jane Roberts released Homemade Hand Sanitizer , full of easy DIY recipes for making hand sanitizer at home since it can be hard to find at stores.
How can your expertise and ideas be helpful right now?
Think outside your box.
These are unprecedented times, so allow yourself to create in unprecedented ways. Give yourself permission to experiment beyond the confines of your normal genre or format. If you’re a romance novelist, hand washing might not seem like a sexy topic to tackle. But when you consider the implications of dating and falling in love in the age of COVID-19, when intimacy could be deadly, new possibilities emerge.
Since novels can take years to write, consider how these possibilities might work in a shorter form, like a blog post, article, short story, or poem. You might find yourself writing a prescriptive blog post about dating from a distance or a humorous essay about a couple’s experience in quarantine. Creative experimentation can help you connect with new readers in a meaningful way.
What kinds of creative possibilities exist for you?
Meet people where they are.
Daily routines have gone out the window as people shelter in place and adapt to a solitary virtual existence. To be of service, try to understand what their “new normal” looks like so you can meet them where they are.
For example, I’ve noticed that parents of young children are stretched thin right now as they try to oversee their kiddos’ online education and provide round-the-clock entertainment while also performing their full-time jobs remotely. As the author of High Flyers , an illustrated chapter book series about an elite team of racing pigeons for elementary-aged readers, I see an opportunity to help by sharing the many free educational resources I’ve developed over the years, like the Team High Flyers YouTube channel , a blog about my team of racing pigeons , and activity sheets  that use the fun sport of pigeon racing to teach kids about math, science, and language arts.
If you write novels that appeal to book clubs, you’ve likely noticed that many groups are now meeting online. Authors can be of service to these groups by reaching out to their organizers to arrange a virtual author visit and attend their discussions remotely using a free video conferencing tool.
If you typically rely on speaking engagements to share your message and connect with readers, now might be the time to try your hand at live streaming by organizing a Facebook Live or YouTube Live event.
In what new and exciting ways can you connect with readers right now?
Do What You Do Best
While the COVID-19 pandemic is scary and full of unknowns, one thing is certain: as an indie author, you are in control of your creative destiny. You can be of service to others by simply doing what you do best: creating.
What is your creative response to the COVID-19 crisis? How are you being of service?