Today’s guest post is by Samuel Moore-Sobel.
The coronavirus has brought much of what used to constitute daily life to a screeching halt. The affects have reached many careers—including those of writers. Bookstores across the country have reduced customer capacity, limited their hours, or closed. Opportunities for authors to share their work has diminished, almost overnight.
Earlier this spring, I found myself with an important decision to make. Just as the pandemic was getting worse, I was nearing publication of my book. I had spent more than a decade writing my story.
My book is about an accident I experienced at fifteen years old. I was hired for a day to move boxes and furniture, but by the end of that day, I had suffered second- and third-degree burns as a result of an accidental encounter with sulfuric acid. I spent the next several years in recovery, both physically and emotionally. I wrote my book because I wanted to share my experience with others.
When I talked to my publisher in early April, I expressed doubts over moving forward with the publication date due to the pandemic. My editor recommended that we “keep moving as normal.” Moving forward with publication plans would ensure that my book would be available in the fall—which, we anticipated, might be the end of the pandemic. “You’ll be ready to go once places are ready to open again,” she told me.
Several months later, this has not come to fruition. Despite the pandemic, my book has been officially published for four weeks now, and it’s done better than I expected. Within the first twelve hours of publication, it made it to the top 77 in my category on Amazon.
So how can you be successful in publishing during a pandemic? Here’s what I learned:
I started contacting nonprofit organizations that might be interested in partnering with me. I also identified other influencers within the burn survivor and mental health communities. I kept my request focused on three main goals:
Asking for the organization/influencer to share about my book on social media
Asking for the organization/influencer to read a copy of my book and provide a review
Asking for speaking opportunities (whether virtual or in the future) to share my story with others
This outreach strategy proved to be successful and bore fruit as I enlisted others to share on social media in preparation for my book launch. Surprisingly, I received many supportive messages and was able to meet many fascinating and inspiring people along the way.
Additionally, I contacted newspapers to publish my story. I started out with local outlets, then branched out to other papers with whom I had a personal connection to that specific community. For example, I contacted one outlet because my great-grandfather had run a shoe store for many years in that community. I kept my message short, and they responded quickly, agreeing to feature my book in an upcoming edition of the paper.
Send Emails to Supporters
As I prepared for my book launch, I drafted an email message to my friends, family, and supporters, asking them to support my book by buying it and sharing on social media. On the day of the launch, I sent the email. I saw the shares on social media by friends, family, supporters and organizations.
I was humbled by the support and grateful to finally see my work in print. The day held even more special significance for me—it marked the eleventh anniversary of the accident. Rather than feeling sad or burdened as I had in years past, I was encouraged at the thought of my story helping others, especially in the midst of this pandemic. After all, doesn’t everyone need a bit of inspiration and hope during these uncertain times?
Don’t Lose Heart after Launch Day
Many writers are well-acquainted with the challenges of writing and marketing a book. As with anything, it takes much effort, and those efforts aren’t always realized right away. It’s important to remember that the true success of a book is not fully measured by its performance in the first few weeks of publication.
Having a successful book launch is important, but ideally your book will continue to sell long after the publication date. To make this happen, an author has to be committed to repeatedly testing the waters, finding out what works and what doesn’t. All while handling a whole lot of rejection.
Inevitably, your book will fall in the Amazon rankings. Just as your blog will fall in readership. You can’t stay on top forever. Just as any business endeavor, there will be ebbs and flows in the pace of your success.
Selling and marketing a book takes time. To deal with the frustrations of being a writer, I believe you have to revisit the reasons you chose to write in the first place in order to get through the challenges.
For me, writing my book was a cathartic endeavor. It was an opportunity for me to tell my unvarnished story. I wanted others to be inspired by my story. To read my book and identify with my journey. Not just in the challenges but also in the victories, even the small ones. So that, hopefully, a reader could lay down my book with a renewed sense of determination to face whatever comes next.
To Release or Not Release?
So to those of you wondering whether or not to release your book, take heart. While the pandemic presents challenges, there are still opportunities to share the news of your work. Whether that be through newspapers, podcasts, blogs, and of course, social media, you can successfully launch your book.
While much work remains to be done to reach my selling goal, I’m buoyed by the support I’ve received even in the midst of this pandemic. As a writer, there is nothing more satisfying than having others read your work.
Words, whether spoken or written, have the power to inspire, encourage, illuminate, and enlighten. We are all in need of a bit of inspiration right now. It’s important for all of us to collectively join together in order to move through these challenging circumstances.
Consider joining the chorus of hopeful voices, fellow writer, by releasing your story today. Whether that be through a book, blog post, social media, or with a friend. We need to hear your tale.
Eventually, the pandemic will pass. There will be opportunities to once again meet physically, which will provide the chance for authors to sell books in person, hold book signings, and take part in speaking engagements. In the meantime, I’ll keep doing all I can to spread words of inspiration and hope. I hope you’ll join me in doing the same.
Samuel Moore-Sobel is an author, speaker and columnist. His debut memoir Can You See My Scars? is the story of a harrowing encounter with sulfuric acid, trauma and severe burns. Connect with Samuel at his website and on Twitter.
Great ideas for you