While the current circumstances are nothing to make light of, the truth is, being isolated and trapped indoors is not a huge shift for many writers. Writing is a solitary endeavor and fewer distractions and a diminished social agenda could actually help you finish that book or be more productive.
But there are plenty of other things you can do to build your writing career that might not have made the short list in your previous life. Here are a few ideas for you to put your time to good use and add a little variety to your scheduled writing time.
1. Launch a virtual book tour
A virtual book tour is a way to promote your book to an online audience without ever leaving town — or your office, for that matter. Instead of traveling to promote your book at in-person events (libraries, bookstores, school assemblies, etc.), you make virtual appearances on a number of blogs, websites, podcasts, and Internet radio stations over the course of one-to-four weeks — going for a critical mass of online media coverage in hopes of boosting your sales, your name recognition, and Amazon rankings! Read more: Booking Your Own Virtual Book Tour
2. Grow your email list and engage your current subscribers
As an author, you might wonder why you’d need to build an email list. Short answer: email lists make things happen. But you need to engineer that by engaging, creating a platform for interaction, and amassing your tribe. An email list of interested readers is a database that can kick off book launches (or virtual books tours), tease new content, promote appearances, and keep your readers engaged. They’re an incredible asset — especially as you prepare to publish new works — but authors frequently get frustrated trying to “build the perfect list.” Read more: Is Your Email List Your Greatest Asset As An Author?
3. Print exclusive merchandise leveraging your book cover, characters, or essential quotes
Customized merch isn’t just for bands and corporate giveaways. Why not turn your literary output into ancillary products your fans and readers will show off to prove they’re devoted while promoting your work? It’s common practice for musicians to sell non-music-related merchandise at shows or on their websites, and companies toss out swag at trade shows and events by the truckload. But author merch isn’t something you see a lot of, and there’s really no good reason why. Read more: Promote Your Writing With Author Merch
4. Start a blog documenting your writing process, character ideas, sneak peeks, and more
Blogs have been around since 1994. By 2006, there were more than 50 million blogs online, including major hubs of international interest like Gizmodo, Gawker, and The Huffington Post. And while it’s true that the prominence of blogs has decreased somewhat — due to things like the rise of social media, podcasts, and platforms like YouTube, which ushered in the age of “vlogging” — blog are still hugely influential for anyone attempting to build an online platform. Some PR people insist authors should blog for the simple reason that it helps you write more consistently while building connections and experience. But curating a blog also takes time away from other activities — like writing your next book. Read more: I’m An Author… Do I Need A Blog?
5. Create a book trailer and promote it online
Creating videos can be as satisfying as writing books, so don’t be afraid to extend your communication outreach to new dimensions by producing an inexpensive, but compelling, book trailer. To get noticed as a writer, you need to work every angle you can think of to get recognized and attract readers. Most authors have absorbed the basic truism that you need an author platform as a central hub for your marketing efforts, but beyond having a platform, what marketing strategies should you employ and what tactics are most effective for book promotion? Read more: Creating A Low-Cost Book Trailer
6. Write a variety of book descriptions
Think of any of your favorite books. You can likely explain the gist in a few words. It’s the “story of an orphan.” It’s a hero story. It’s a story of “man against nature.” Given a bit more time, you can add more details. The point is, any good book is easily describable in brief. Can you describe your book’s story in a few words? If you can’t, you have work to do to find your true book idea. Often it is in there, it’s just mixed in with lots of others. Take time to sift it out. That can just be part of the natural progression of refining your idea. You might start out thinking you are writing “Book A,” but once the characters start talking to you, you realize you are writing “Book B.” Read more: Six Essential Book Descriptions
7. Write a new author bio
If your book is riveting, but your author bio is a snooze, don’t be too hard on yourself: plenty of brilliant authors freeze up when it comes to writing about themselves in sound bites. They’re more comfortable creating lush fictions, not highlighting their own career achievements and conjuring personal anecdotes. You need to create a brief and compelling author bio for use on your website, book jacket, and press releases. But do you know how to write an author bio? We take a look at the key elements of an interesting bio (and which details should be omitted). Read more: How To Write A Great Author Bio That Will Connect With Readers
8. Conduct a competitive title analysis
Staring your competition in the face might not be your favorite part of the writing process, but a competitive title analysis can help sharpen your focus and help you articulate your book’s strengths. When you set out to draft a book proposal, you might find the “market competition” section to be the most confounding. It can be daunting to sort through all the books that exist in the same subject area as yours, and the authors who have found the success you aspire to. Read more: The Dreaded Competitive Title Analysis
9. Start a podcast, or be a guest on someone else’s
Hosting a podcast is an excellent way to build a brand and audience, but it doesn’t just happen by itself. The adage, “build it and they will come,” just isn’t true when it comes to building an audience online. As far as podcasts are concerned, the technical side of setting up all your equipment, recording the audio and doing the post-production editing is just the start. You also need to know how to give your listeners what they want and how to market and promote your content. Thinking of producing a podcast to promote a book or build your author platform? This advice can help you think through some of the basics of creation and promotion. Read more: Creating And Promoting A Podcast
10. Launch a crowdfunding campaign to support your new book project
Like thousands of other self-published authors, BookBaby author Chuck Miller decided to try crowdfunding to defray his publishing costs. Miller chose Kickstarter as his platform and joined the 48,000 publishing projects that have been launched on the service. “I looked at all of the different platforms,” says Miller, “and Kickstarter’s user interface seemed the easiest to navigate. I had donated to a successful campaign in the past, so I had more familiarity with it as a donor.” Read more: How Crowdfunding Helped Tell The Story Of Little Roo
11. Take a new headshot
We all know that people judge a book by its cover, but it’s also true that they judge a book by its author’s photo. That photo gives readers a clue as to what kind of tone one might expect from the book. Does the author convey a sense of humor? Does he/she look like a master of horror or mystery? Is the face staring out at you one of competence, friendliness, and/or compassion, as in someone you might want to take financial, lifestyle, or spiritual advice from? In other words, readers are looking at your headshot and asking themselves: Who is this author and do I want to buy a book from them? The goal of your author headshot is to cement your brand. At all times you should be asking yourself, “What kind of image am I trying to project to the world?” Read more: People Judge Your Book By Your Headshot
12. Breathe new life into your back catalog with metadata optimization.
Metadata tells booksellers, libraries, and your potential readers everything they need to know about your book. Do you know how to market a book with metadata? You’re a writer, and you probably hate all those geeky computer terms that people toss around when they’re trying to point out something you haven’t done and don’t want to do. But the term metadata is important if you want your book to be searchable from far and wide. So what is metadata, and why do you want to take advantage of it? Read more: Tell Your Book’s Story With Metadata