A Coronavirus Game Plan for Indie Authors
The Co-CEOs of hybrid indie publishing house Wise Ink offer advice for authors
Like many organizations across the country, Wise Ink has canceled all events. We’re bummed. But we’re also looking on the bright side. The biggest one being: we all could use a little escapism right now to cope with Covid-19. Authors, here’s a breakdown of how you can help us through this.
If you’re working on your manuscript:
Use this time to focus. If you’re working steadily toward a deadline and are knee-deep in the creative process, keep going. Write often and plan on the world being a little different when your book is released. If you’re writing fiction, how can this time of isolation connect you to your characters? For nonfiction authors, what advice, tips, and resources do your readers need even more after this period is over? Reflect on your path and why your book matters.
Share your journey. Bring us into your creative process. Many of us in the bibliophile world are desperately searching for connection, inspiration, and enlightenment. Tell us where you’re struggling. Share what’s bringing you joy, or confusion, or fatigue. Sharing your journey gives us a preview of what’s to come.
Give us a peek at what you’re writing. Beyond sharing your journey through updates, pics, and posts, offer a sneak peek. Double down on your efforts to gain the trust of a dedicated readership. Assemble your early readers and provide them with access to your first draft. Post your final outline to your blog or website. Record a video of you reading from your manuscript. Put more of your work into the world, and keep your momentum going as you make progress.
Build out your platform. Now is the perfect time to get your ducks in a row. Build that website. Initiate conversations in the communities that will support your book. When you feel you aren’t able to write, switch to working on the machine that will power your efforts six months to a year from now.
If your book is a few months away from its release:
Use this time to plan. Don’t panic if your book is a mere month or two away from release. Yes, there are unknowns, but here’s what we do know: people are buying and reading books right now. Plan virtual alternatives to in-person readings and events. Plan your content strategically, using a platform such as Buffer. Craft quotes or passages into graphics using a platform such as Canva. Create a plan for the first two months after launch, then the next two months, and so on.
Send progress updates to your network. Pull your community of ambassadors, colleagues, and contacts into a spreadsheet (we created a template to help Wise Ink authors with this) and update them on your launch plans. Make the excitement for your book contagious because we all need a little something to look forward to.
Write something inspiring related to your book’s content. Is there a message of triumph, hope, or healing in your book? Can you build on that message? Be a voice of encouragement. What lessons or themes are in your book that are opportunities to infuse our world with more inspiration?
If your book just launched:
Use this time to still celebrate. Don’t delay your party. Your book should still have its day in the sun. Have a virtual event to start, and then plan in-person launch events in the fall or before the holidays. You will still sell books. You will yet have readers immerse themselves in what you have worked long and hard to create. Your job right now is to think outside the “normal” box.
Run a promotion. Think of creative ways to get your book out to more folks through giveaways on social media. Can you run a special for orders sold through your website or offer a discount or coupon code? Consider a donation from your profits to a local food bank or employee relief fund for a struggling business. Or consider running a buy-one, give-one campaign, through which readers can buy books for themselves and then buy books to be donated to an organization of your choice.
Collaborate with other authors. Instead of pulling in right now, reach out to local authors. Tap into the writing community and see where collaboration can take your book and someone else’s.
For authors at every stage:
Keep writing. There’s a reason you write, and there’s value in your voice. Even if you look back at your writing from this time and decide that none of it will see the light of day, you still flexed your writing muscles. Write to the other side of this. Write through the pain of this. Write about the things you’ve questioned for years but never could make space for. Write and consider it a victory whenever words meet the page.
Rest. Resist the urge to do more than necessary right now. When this is over, we can do our part to make this world better for those who couldn’t rest themselves.
Dara Beevas and Amy Quale founded Wise Ink Creative Publishing in 2013.