Oh, I know–turning what’s possibly the most abnormal “vacation” (or slowdown, or full-speed nightmare, depending on whether you work and in what essential or nonessential industry you work in) into a working vacation isn’t necessarily what you had in mind for your summer, but the fact remains: books aren’t going to sell themselves, and when it comes to being an indie author, there’s not a moment to be wasted. Even if it feels like COVID-19 has completely derailed everything else, there’s one thing that hasn’t changed:
Marketing takes a lot of time.
Luckily for everyone, there are some easy ways to boost your sales and make your summer weirdness work for you rather than against your book sales!
Vacations and the reunions that go with them can be the absolutely most ideal time to market your book and gather some new readers. Or maybe old readers. Age doesn’t matter. Everybody reads, especially when they have a personal connection to the author–you! Reunions are a fantastic place to tell family members, friends, and other personal connections about your book and where they can buy it. Obviously we now live in a time of #SocialDistancing, which means most of these reunions (and birthday parties, graduation parties, memorials, holiday get-togethers, and family check-ins) are taking place over Zoom or FaceTime UnHangOut or one of the many other digital video call platforms available. And by golly, everyone’s probably ready at this point to have something to talk about other than the virus and all of its inconveniences. (I know I sure am.) Even though you may not be in the same room, your book may just be the kind of news your family and friends need to distract themselves with, and then share with their friends … and their friends ….
Don’t underestimate the power of your personal network.
Then there’s the most magical of all summer vacation destinations: the gift shop, the ultimate place to display and present your book for shoppers and readers on their various road trips. And while you travel, too–any stranger you meet on a trip is only a stranger until you break the ice by sharing your book. Buuuuut … the virus is here, right? So unless you live in one of those few states where reopening is moving into Phase II right now, what we thought we were going to go and do this summer is turning out to be very different from what we can go out and do. That said, you’re leaving a digital footprint every bit as large as you would have left a physical one during a normal summer. Don’t hesitate to use every platform to launch your book. You just want to make sure you don’t violate that platform’s version of digital etiquette.
Of course, if you’re going to make the most of your, ahem, vacation (whatever this season looks like for you), there are some things to keep in mind. You’ll need to:
Keep up with your social media.
Before you take off for the beach or the mountains or the hazy land of Netflix binges, schedule. Schedule, schedule, schedule. Facebook has a lovely, easy tool built-in to make this possible–simply put your posts together, and click the drop-down arrow next to the ‘post’ button and input the date and time of your intended schedule.
But what about the others? There are quite a few tools out there to manage all of your media at once. Hootsuite is one, Later.com another, Buffer yet a third. Do your due diligence and pick a service that fits your needs, and be aware that there are free options, so you should theoretically be able to take care of your scheduling needs affordably. Once you have an account, all you have to do is preload your tweets, your posts to Google+ and Instagram and so on.
And of course, be safe! If you’re actually traveling, play up your travels as much as you like as a kind of promotion, but don’t make a point of mentioning how long you’ll be away from home, or other personal details that the disingenuous might exploit. Take pictures and make plenty of memories to share later! Those of us who can’t go anywhere are living vicariously through you. Congratulations. Give me all your photos!!
Take full advantage of your summer to plan for the future. Is there a writing conference taking place in one of your destination cities that’s still on, or going digital? Get on the list. Are there book readings? Could you plan a book reading through one of the libraries near your beach or mountain idyll or thoroughly fortified house? Local writing groups are another great option. Plenty of people might be interested in having you speak about the process of self-publishing, and libraries, writing groups, and other businesses and organizations are in desperate need of new partners willing to learn how to use Zoom (or whichever digital space) and keep their programming alive.
And of course, come prepared. Keep a bundle of digital promo pictures or a pack of business cards, bookmarks, postcards, posters, and a couple of promotional copies of your book on hand, and practice your elevator pitch thoroughly beforehand. If you haven’t yet invested in some merch or beautifully designed graphics, go ahead and start down that glorious road. Think outside the box, too: is there a way to promote your book while traveling, even if it’s only traveling the many varied landscapes of the Internet?
Make it a GRAND tour!
Some of the items on your agenda are a given, no matter what kind of summer we’re talking about. Marketing your self-published book shouldn’t take up all of your precious vacation time, but spending even just a handful of minutes each day checking Twitter or arranging a couple of book readings will help support the marketing and sales momentum you’ve worked so hard to build–not to mention pay for an even better (and hopefully actual) vacation next year!
You are not alone. ♣︎