Releasing New Books into a Socially Distant World Promotion Tips from Author Nancy Viau
Recently, promoting new books has gotten tricky. Thankfully, Nancy Viau will share how she's promoting her new picture book, Today Is a Beach Day!, in the midst of a pandemic.
On April Fools’ Day, my tenth book made its way into the world (no foolin’) and what a scary world it is! I remember my first book launch over a decade ago. I celebrated with a book-themed cake and champagne, and 60 fans (a.k.a friends and family) claimed their autographed titles. In the months that followed, I appeared on panels, spoke at SCBWI conferences, and signed at bookstores, festivals, literacy associations, ALA, BEA, and NCTE.
My subsequent launches were held at indie bookstores, and I continued to promote each title, showing up wherever I was invited and sharing my love of books with the enthusiasm of a sugar-fueled toddler.
Fast forward to last fall. Beginning in September, I reached out to indie and chain bookstores to do signings. I completed proposals to present programs and applied to conferences and festivals. I set up story time events at public libraries. The school visit requests rolled in, and I was looking forward to springing into spring with my summer book, Today Is a Beach Day!.
And then—BOOM! Hello, Coronavirus. The cancellations flooded my inbox as early as February. Soon, I’d have a new book and nowhere to go.
Publishers and authors are all navigating promotion in these uncertain times. How could I get the word out about my book without a single personal appearance? How could I keep a book buzz going during a pandemic and afterward?
Plan of action:
1. Update my website regularly.
2. Respond to every cancellation. Gently push to reschedule an event. Send reminders of availability as the pandemic continues.
3. Offer to replace an in-person visit with a Skype one.
4. Do online interviews or write for popular blogs, like this one!
5. Set up three social media giveaways (signed book, swag, fun beach stuff). The first: on Twitter, two weeks before April 1; the second: on Instagram later in the month; a third on Facebook during the summer. Note: Get comfortable with these platforms and friend teachers, librarians, reviewers, bloggers, and parents.
6. Share, retweet, and like other promotional efforts by authors with spring releases.
7. Post about teacher guides I have on my site, including the new one for Today Is a Beach Day! (https://www.nancyviau.com/teacher-guides/)
8. Pair the theme of my book—a great beach day—to daily photos featuring relaxing beaches. While this will not lead to sales, I wanted to replace the bad news on social media with something to calm the nerves. A serene beach scene is a good start, right?
9. Create a marketing postcard using Vistaprint.com. On the front, the cover, my name, the illustrator’s name, publisher’s name, ISBN, and release date. On the back, contact info, a blurb, an excerpt, and a bit about my availability in the future.
10. Send that postcard to 1000 independent bookstores using a list and labels purchased from NewPages.com. I had planned to send these out in March, but I’ve decided to wait until June. I’m hoping that when stores reopen, they’ll want to restock their shelves and a reminder of a cheery, summer book couldn’t hurt.
11. Send postcard to seashore gift shops that carry books.
12. Send press releases to seashore newspapers.
13. Request more bookmarks from my publisher.
14. Design (Vistaprint.com) a larger bookmark, one specifically for Today Is a Beach Day! (Prep for future events.) Note: Can’t wait to hand these out in person!
15. Research schools who have hosted authors. (Prep for fall 2020.)
NOT in My Plan of Action:
1. A book launch.
2. An email blast with a link to buy my book. I feel that everyone has more personal priorities right now.
3. Read via Facebook Live, YouTube, or Zoom. Kudos to those that do, but I’m honestly struggling to be my normal exuberant, energized self, so nope.
4. DO. NOT. STRESS. Much of how well my book will do is out of my control, with or without extra promotion, with or without a pandemic.
Bottom line: We’ve got this. We’ll get through it by supporting each other.
Thank Nancy by reading one of her books, then review it on GoodReads or Amazon.
Pruett and Soo (Two Lions, 2021)
Today Is a Beach Day! (Albert Whitman & Co., 2020)
First Snow (Albert Whitman & Co. & Scholastic, 2018)
City Street Beat (Albert Whitman & Co., 2014)
Storm Song (Two Lions & Scholastic, 2013)
Look What I Can Do! (Abrams Books, 2013)
Something is Bugging Samantha Hansen (Schiffer Publishing, 2019)
Samantha Hansen Has Rocks in Her Head (Abrams Books, 2008 & Schiffer Publishing, 2019)
Beauty and Bernice (Schiffer Publishing, 2018)
Just One Thing! (Schiffer Publishing, 2016)
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