The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting authors and publishers in numerous ways. Events have been canceled, bookstores across the globe are shutting their doors, and the media needs to focus on the virus. Especially for authors launching new or debut books during this time, these changes have meant their promotional plans are being dramatically and quickly upended.
We hope it goes without saying that this crisis is bigger than book launches. It can feel hard to talk about book sales and bestseller lists amid peoples’ concerns and fears about health, safety, and more. But we believe your stories continue to be important to readers during these turbulent times, providing ways for them to escape from and cope with this moment. So we’re focused on helping our author and publisher partners navigate this landscape by providing a space for the exchange of ideas.
We’ve seen people around the world helping others in ways big and small over the past few weeks, including the writing community, where there’s been a groundswell of support coming in many forms. In today’s post we want to highlight various ways authors are helping their fellow authors whose book launches have been impacted by COVID-19. As an author who finds myself in this situation (my debut novel released last week), I’m so grateful to other authors for this support.
Below are examples of what some authors have been doing to help their peers who have books releasing right now:
1. They’re running giveaways for other authors
Some authors are running giveaways for fellow authors with new releases, lending their platforms to boost these books. Bestselling author Christina McDonald has a Facebook page with over 10,000 likes. She started a “New Releases Spotlight” on this page to feature new books impacted by the coronavirus outbreak, and as part of each spotlight, she hosts a giveaway of that book. Each participating author needs to provide the image and delivery of the book(s), and Christina takes care of the rest.
Here is the message Christina’s sending to authors she’d like to feature (screenshotted and shared here with her permission):
Here is an example New Releases Spotlight post featuring Darling Rose Gold by Stephanie Wrobel.
2. They’re hosting Twitter chats for other authors
Since authors with new releases are scrambling to adjust their promotions in this new landscape, fellow authors are easing the burden by hosting Q&As for them. Bestselling author Amie Kaufman decided to host a weekly #KidLitGoesViral Twitter chat on Monday evenings for Young Adult and Middle Grade authors launching new books the following day. Each week, she poses questions to the authors using the hashtag, and anyone else can jump in with questions, too — in fact, anyone who participates is entered to win a copy of one of the books.
3. They’re producing joint Instagram Live videos
Book launch parties, panels, and other book events scheduled for the next couple of months have been canceled — and the cancellations may extend even further into the future. So some authors are live-streaming interviews to replace these missed promotional opportunities. Bestselling author Brigid Kemmerer and recent debut author Phil Stamper were supposed to be the keynote speakers at the NoVa Teen Book Festival. When the IRL event got canceled, they moved their Q&A over to Instagram Live — and Brigid has been offering to host Instagram Live videos for other authors with upcoming launches and debuts as well.
4. They’re offering to signal boost authors who need help
Many veteran authors are now offering to signal boost authors with new or upcoming releases impacted by COVID-19. Bestselling author Sabaa Tahir sent out this generous tweet offering to signal boost authors, debut or otherwise, who need help spreading the word about their new releases. Not only did Sabaa retweet so many of the replies, but readers could then also peruse the replies to see all the upcoming releases they might be interested in.
Many times they’ll signal boost unprompted as well. Here, Alyssa Cole retweeted this giveaway from Adiba Jaigirdar (offering an ARC of her upcoming release for people stuck indoors) to her 19,000 followers.
5. They’re plugging fellow authors in newsletters
Some authors are giving fellow authors exposure to their own audience by plugging them in their newsletters. Bestselling author Lisa Unger sent a newsletter to her subscribers with the subject line “Staying Centered During a Strange Time.” In it, she included a section to promote fellow authors, giving them a helpful shoutout in the form of a belated blurb.
My own friend Dan Koboldt mentioned my debut novel, All Your Twisted Secrets, in his newsletter (and I’m so grateful). This entire edition served to provide his readers with reading material during their isolation.
6. They’re providing emotional support and solidarity
Many authors have been posting messages of support and solidarity to fellow authors with new releases. Author Erin Bowman offered solidarity and words of sympathy for spring debut authors. She also then highlighted some of these debut authors’ books via her Instagram Stories.
Debut authors from this season are also offering their solidarity and advice. Patrice Caldwell mentioned the importance of self-care over productivity both on Twitter and via her newsletter.
7. They’re launching digital book festivals
Many of the season’s biggest conferences and festivals have been canceled, and many authors with launches this season had planned to attend these to promote their new books to a wide audience. But thanks to video conferencing technology, virtual conferences have already started sprouting up. Authors Ellen Oh, Christina Soontornvat, and Melanie Conklin collaborated to create Everywhere Book Fest, a virtual children’s book festival. They quickly spun up a dedicated website where both readers and authors could learn more, and where authors could submit applications for panels. With priority given to authors affected by cancellations and to authors with spring releases, more than 50 authors and illustrators are already on the packed agenda, which will be held May 1-2.
And they promoted the virtual festival on social media to spread awareness and recruit more than 100 volunteers to help.
Read more details about this festival in Publishers Weekly.
8. They’re organizing virtual author visits for schools
With schools shut down, virtual education and Skype visits are one way authors are connecting with students and teachers. And authors with established connections to schools and teachers have been helping authors with new releases navigate these relationships. Bestselling author Joelle Charbonneau put out a call on Twitter for any authors interested in doing virtual author visits so that she could compile a list for schools who’d like to host. She then put the list on her website with instructions for teachers on how to schedule these virtual visits.
We’re so inspired by the support we’re seeing in our community of book lovers. How else are you seeing authors helping fellow authors during this time? Share what you’re seeing with us and fellow readers in the comments below.
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Click to tweet: Many writers’ new releases have been disrupted by COVID-19. See how fellow authors are stepping up to help. https://bit.ly/2WImJ8F