Creative Inspiration For Book Selling During Quarantine

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Excerpted from our guide, Book Marketing In The Age of COVID-19, we have creative ideas for marketing and selling your books as we approach the holidays.

book distributionFor all the lifestyle changes thrust upon us by the pandemic, book marketing opportunities still exist during this quarantine. Thousands of authors sold hundreds of thousands of books during the worldwide lockdown last spring. I think the best ideas to promote yourself and your books start with this premise: Book marketing is about more than selling books.

The most effective author marketing is about establishing relationships with readers. It’s a principle that has helped over 2,000 independent bookstores thrive in this Amazon-dominated marketplace and it’s an approach that authors need to have in mind as we move forward.

Marketing your book during COVID-19

Before COVID-19, stores and authors took advantage of many face-to-face promotional events. It’s still possible to forge these same bonds with buyers during quarantine. It’s just going to take some imagination and energy. BookBaby author Casey Bell is a case in point.

“During the pandemic, I decided now is the time to find new ways to market my books,” explains Bell. Bell started a YouTube channel last spring and created a unique kind of program. “I call it the ‘Writer to Writer Interviews.’ Two authors ask each other five questions about their journey into writing, as well as questions pertaining to a work they are featuring.”

Bell credits fellow author Nancy Christie for helping him with the idea. “I didn’t initially think to use YouTube. I was looking for ways to market myself by doing podcasts and interviews. Nancy was one of the people I contacted and asked for an interview. She came up with the idea of each of us asking the other five questions and I took it from there.”

Use technology to your book-selling advantage

The Old Bridge, NJ author didn’t let technical issues get in the way. “Sometimes, the Zoom connection would freeze but, for the most part, I was able to figure out how to use it and edit the videos. I chose YouTube because I thought video would be better than audio alone.”

Bell says one of the most rewarding aspects of this new marketing endeavor was learning about the different experiences authors have on their journey. “No two writers have been the same. They have all answered some of the same questions completely different from one another,” he says. “It’s also given me knowledge about the different ways of publishing as the writers each published their books differently.”

Technology is a key component to almost all the unique and interesting ways authors and independent stores are selling books. Book tours have gone digital — instead of a bookstore packed wall-to-wall with folding chairs, a standard literary event in the time of COVID-19 consists of the featured author and a moderator Zoom-ing in from their respective homes, with audience members free to come and go from the video chat as they please.

For some authors, the modified format has worked surprisingly well, with many new readers tuning in from the comfort of homes thousands of miles away from where a traditional event might take place. The flip-side is that myriad technical issues may disrupt the process, including accessibility for those who lack good devices, access to broadband, or accommodations for disabilities. Simple is best, which means using, learning, and mastering ubiquitous platforms, including Zoom and Facebook Live.

reading habitsFor more about publishing this holiday, including ideas about how to market in the face of this challenging pandemic, book sale tactics you can use today, and inspiration for the quarantined creative mind, download your free copy of our special edition, Book Marketing in the Age of COVID-19.


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Steven Spatz is a writer, marketer, and the President of BookBaby, the nation’s leading self publishing services company. Spatz’s professional writing career began at age 13, paid by the word to bang out little league baseball game stories on an ancient manual typewriter for southern Oregon weekly newspapers. His journalism career continued after graduation from the University of Oregon at several daily newspapers in Oregon. When his family took over a direct marketing food business, Spatz redirected his writing and design skills into producing catalogs. The Pinnacle Orchards catalog was named "Best Food Catalog," received dozens of other national awards, and the business grew into one of the nation’s largest gourmet fruit gift businesses. After the company was sold, Spatz continued his direct marketing career with Fortune 500 companies including Mattel and Hasbro. He joined AVL Digital in 2004 to lead the direct-to-consumer marketing teams for music industry-leading brands Disc Makers, Oasis, and CD Baby. After serving as Chief Marketing Officer, Spatz was tapped to lead the company’s new publishing division in late 2014. In 2019, the AVL Digital Management team purchased the New Jersey brands, including BookBaby. The company is headquartered in Pennsauken, NJ (just outside Philadelphia, PA) and meets the printed book and eBook needs of thousands of self-publishing authors around the globe. Spatz lives in Glenside, PA with his two children, a demented cat, and some well-used bicycles. Steven loves to hear from authors, editors, and publishers in the BookBaby community with tales of publishing trials and triumphs. To tell him your story, write to steven@bookbaby.com.

2 COMMENTS

  1. Thank you, Casey, for setting up this innovative show. I really enjoyed the interview last night with Robert P. Ottone. Thank you for giving back to the writing community:)

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