For starters, what is a book launch, and why should we care? Of all the events being cancelled or delayed due to the coronavirus, why does a book launch matter?
Book launches are primarily aimed at getting early sales, which, if there are enough, could land the book on a bestseller’s list, generating even more attention and sales. Essentially, book launches are about getting a book the acceleration it needs to succeed. At a book launch, the author can mingle with guests, connect with their audience, sign books, sell books then and there, and build networking relationships. All in all, a successful book launch could seriously help the author’s career and sales.
However, the coronavirus has limited in-person gatherings, making book launches untenable. That is, unless you get creative.
One option is, of course, delaying the book release and the launch until it’s safe again to gather in large groups, whenever that may be. But to authors who have worked on their books for years and have already scheduled/have done part of their book tours and launches, that’s difficult to do. Here are some of the ways authors have managed to overcome the obstacles and promote their books while staying safe and social distancing:
Melanie Conroy-Goldman planned to release her new debut novel, The Likely World, on August 4, 2020. Instead of letting the coronavirus push back her launch, Conroy-Goldman got creative and started what is probably the first of its kind but should also probably be a new trend—a drive-through book launch. On August 4, Conroy-Goldman will be treating fans to a free (advanced tickets required) drive-in movie screening of Say Anything, popcorn, soda, and swag bag while selling her book at Fingerlakes Drive In in Auburn, New York.
Image Via Melanie Conroy-Goldman
Readers will still be safe and social distanced within their cars, but they will be able to gather and celebrate The Likely World, even in this highly unlikely world we find ourselves in. Conroy-Goldman said:
I’ve spent 48 years writing The Likely World and COVID-19 devastated my launch plans. There are 10 virtual stops on my tour, for which I’m grateful, but I wanted to celebrate the book’s birthday with the many people who helped me bring it into the world, and it wouldn’t be the same without safe in-person interactions. This is an incredible opportunity to do that. Fiction is always about alternate realities, the might-have-beens and the it-could-possibly-bes. Here we are, in a summer we never foresaw. Shall we make a little joy in it?
Yes, we shall. And for those of you who can, attending The Likely World’s innovative drive-through book launch should be an excellent way to do that.
Other authors have turned to social media to launch their book. Author Claribel A. Ortega streamed the launch party live on YouTube for her debut novel, Ghost Squad. Ortega, Ryan La Sala (author of the young adult fantasy novel Reverie), and Zoraida Córdova (fantasy author of many, many books, including the award-winning Brooklyn Brujas series) celebrated the release of Ghost Squad with prizes, Q&As, and more.
Image Via Claribel Ortega
They also included another clever way to get readers interacting with the book live by creating a menu of snacks and food inspired by Ghost Squad for fans to make and eat during the launch party and beyond. Fans could follow the recipes at home and re-create what would have been a fun and exciting in-person book launch the best way they can in these circumstances.
So many authors are doing similar live sessions on YouTube, Instagram, etc. It’s truly inspiring to see how people are adapting to these strange times we find ourselves in, and authors are no exception. From Q&As to book launches to drive-through movies to social media posts, authors are working hard to make sure their books get out there and into your hands. So, if you’re someone who’s an avid fan of connecting in-person through book launches, readings, and events but can’t do that anymore because of COVID-19, check out social media and YouTube for the online versions of these. While it may not be the same, it works. And not only that, fans who still wouldn’t be able to attend a live event even if there was one can be a part of these online launches and readings too.