It’s not ideal to release a book during a global pandemic with quarantines, social distancing, and limits on group gatherings.
It’s especially not ideal to release my current book about the many unintended and unforeseen consequences of smartphones and social media at a time when we are especially dependent on social media and digital devices to stay connected!
Authors throughout my networks are cancelling appearances at conferences, bookstores, and other events. As a small-time author in a small Kentucky town, working with a relatively small press, even I have had to dramatically change the marketing plan for my latest book Reconnect: Spiritual Restoration from Digital Distraction.
Reconnect talks about the ways social media manipulates us, how our digital activities shape us, and how spiritual practices can lead us to greater freedom and health. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, I was working hard to avoid a dependence on social media for my book’s marketing.
That all changed with the many lockdowns and “healthy at home” policies.
Nevertheless, when local friends asked how they could buy a book from me in person, I decided to figure out a simple way to safely host an event in our small western Kentucky town. Sitting in our local coffee shop with my mask on and a healthy distance separating myself from other customers, I hatched an idea.
What Went Wrong with a Socially Distanced Book Event
1. At best, half of the folks wore a mask. While a mask is not a guarantee of safety, studies have shown that widespread mask usage makes transmission of COVID-19 far less likely. For whatever reason, many folks didn’t wear a mask even though the event posters and invites asked everyone to wear a mask.
What Went Right with a Socially Distanced Book Event
1. A good mix of foot traffic and book event guests bought a book. Having the event at a public place like a cafe made up for the people who didn’t show up.
If I did this again, I would try to host the event a little closer to the farmer’s market on a Saturday in order to increase foot traffic. It helped that a number of people had heard of me or my books through my press release in the local paper or through word of mouth, and they took the opportunity to buy one when they saw my table set up.
Since I write spiritual nonfiction books, I myself wouldn’t get a spot right at the market since I don’t fit into the more general audience of a farmer’s market. But that same audience may be more receptive to a novel with a wider appeal.