Physical distancing is imperative to contain the spread of COVID-19, and as such, book conferences, festivals, launch parties, and book tours have been canceled for the next few months. We’ve found that many authors are turning to Instagram to bridge the gap caused by these cancellations and connect with their readers in new ways. From hosting virtual book launches via Instagram Live videos to sharing personal goings-on of isolated life, these authors are finding ways to overcome physical distancing challenges through the popular social media platform. In today’s post, we’re highlighting some examples of what these authors are doing to inspire you as you’re thinking of new ways to reach readers in this evolving landscape.
1. They’re hosting Q&As via Instagram Live
Authors have been making themselves more accessible to readers by inviting them to scheduled or impromptu Q&As via Instagram Live. Brigid Kemmerer has been regularly doing this, sometimes chatting with fans on her own, and other times with fellow authors (like in this example below with Sophie Gonzales).
Sandhya Menon took to Instagram Live to chat with fans about everything from her decor to her writing inspiration. She also fielded some questions from readers.
2. They’re sharing appreciation for the comfort provided by books
One of the most consistent ways authors are reaching readers is by highlighting the importance of books as a form of comfort in their own lives. On her Instagram, Debbie Macomber shared a heartfelt message: “Keeping a safe distance away is a good idea, but don’t let it distance you from the joy of reading, of opening the pages of a story…”
3. They’re recommending quarantine reads
Many authors are sharing book recommendations with their readers. While practicing physical distancing, Victoria Aveyard shared her current reading list
Teaming up with Barnes & Noble, Chris Bohjalian created a new Instagram Highlight labeled “Comfort Books.”
Readers can scroll through this Highlight to watch short videos of Chris recommending books he considers comforting.
Clarissa Goenawan told her followers she’s using this time to catch up on her reading, sharing an article she wrote highlighting eight of her favorite contemporary novels by Japanese women writers to give her fans some ideas for what to read next.
4. They’re bringing book launches to readers virtually
For many authors, coronavirus has disrupted their much-anticipated book releases and launch events. So many are using Instagram to celebrate their launches virtually instead. After Victoria Lee canceled her launch party for The Electric Heir, she invited readers to tune in to an Instagram Live session where she’d answer readers’ questions.
Undeterred by being homebound, Melissa Foster animatedly celebrated the release day of Bayside Fantasies, sharing a fun video in her main feed chatting about the book.
5. They’re sharing personal updates
Some authors have been opening up about their own physical distancing experiences. Julie Murphy shared a photo celebrating her anniversary with her husband, writing, “If we have to practice social distancing, at least we get to do it together!”
Nnedi Okorafor shared her lockdown buddies — her daughter and her very photogenic cat, Periwinkle!
6. They’re offering special book deals
Many authors are offering free books or steep discounts to help readers more affordably distract themselves while stuck inside. Daniel Arenson decided to make a different one of his books free for each day of the week.
When Melissa Ferguson’s publisher, HarperCollins, dropped the price of her novel for a reading-at-home sale, she posted about it on her Instagram page, writing, “If you’re looking for a little escape and some laughs, check out my romantic comedy!”
7. They’re going the extra mile
Many authors have done charitable deeds in this time of crisis, and some have offered support to their readers via Instagram. Emily Giffin (and her adorable dog) offered to deliver her books to Atlanta residents who were in the market for something to read.
8. They’re supporting their local bookstores
As bookstores navigate new ways to reach customers, authors are using their own platforms to help them out. Claire Lombardo shared a picture of her local bookstore, Madison Street Books. In the post she emphasized that they are continuing to take book orders, encouraging her followers to show their support.
9. They’re sharing their physical distancing menus
Poet Hanif Abdurraqib shared how he’s making the most of his time at home — with homemade pizzas! He’s started an “At The Counter With Things I’ve Baked Self-Isolation Photo Series” where he shares his daily food creations.
10. They’re offering ways to help fellow writers
Some authors are providing writing guidance as a way to help fellow writers during this stressful time! Katie Bayerl invited her Instagram followers, teens and adults alike, to join her free weekly writing seminars hosted on Zoom.
11. They’re running giveaways to support fellow authors
Many authors’ new release launches were disrupted by COVID-19. So established authors have been facilitating giveaways to their own readerships to boost these impacted authors. Rebecca Hanover ran an Instagram giveaway of Diana Urban’s new book, All Your Twisted Secrets, while simultaneously supporting her favorite indie bookstore, Books Inc. Editor’s note: Diana Urban is a current BookBub employee.
12. They’re recommending books released during the COVID-19 crisis
Many authors have been helping fellow authors with books launching during this challenging time. Rebecca Solnit released Recollections of My Nonexistence a few weeks prior to widespread physical distancing and had to cancel her book tour. Fellow author Alexander Chee recommended her book on his Instagram to help her out.
Many authors have been sharing what they’re up to while physical distancing. Chloe Benjamin asked her followers, “How are you coping right now?” while sharing her own project — a lovely hand-knitted sweater.
Maureen Johnson has used this time to get into TikTok, and is making her readers smile with the results.
14. They’re giving readers a look at their writing space
Many authors are offering a behind-the-scenes look at their writing process while social distancing. Beth O’Leary gave her readers a peek at her at-home writing space, and shared what she was working on that week.
Hanna C. Howard shared her at-home writing space — which was taken over by her cat.
15. They’re trying to lighten the mood
With humorous videos, pictures, and memes, many authors have been sharing lighthearted moments with their followers. Taylor Jenkins Reid shared a heartwarming Instagram Story of her husband chatting with their neighbors… through walkie-talkies.
Karin Slaughter shared this funny meme on “how to party like an introvert.”
And finally, Kiley Reid gave her followers a timely reminder: “lol don’t TOUCH me.”
Authors, are you using Instagram to connect with readers while physical distancing? What have you been sharing?
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