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Wednesday, April 1

COVID-19 and Authors / IWSG


The Insecure Writer's Support Group is a safe place for insecure writers of all kinds.


I came across a post talking how people were saying this is not the time to promote books (unless they're free). The creator of the post said authors had apparently received direct messages telling them they shouldn't be promoting a product right now.

This is so wrong.

While it's true that sales may tank because people aren't buying as many books right now due to money concerns or stress, authors need to keep promoting. Promoting our books during this time doesn't mean we're being insensitive. Rather, we're doing what we have to do for our careers, our sanity, our happiness. It is more important now than ever to keep doing normal tasks.

Social media feeds are full of posts about the virus, shelter-in-place orders, worries, lay-offs, bare store shelves, and politics. We need to see bright colors and pretty covers in our feeds. We need to share excerpts/quotes that make readers laugh or swoon. When readers see book promotions, they are relieved, happy...it's a bit of normalcy in this stressful time, and reading is an escape for them.

And for people to say that only free eBooks are the ones that should be promoted right now is short-sighted and unrealistic.

A lot goes into planning a book's release. Authors can't just postpone the releases of their new books. They may lose money or their publisher may not allow it, and no one knows when this situation will end. Many authors rely on publishing for income, which is likely not great to begin with, and to have to delay releases for months could hurt them. (If authors are able to delay their releases with ease, they're lucky but...still stressed and worried.)

Also, authors can't give away all of their books for free. It's wrong to claim that authors should be providing free products or nothing at all during a time when everyone is suffering. Even them.

Authors are doing what they can. They are providing happy places and worlds readers can escape to. They are offering 99 cent sales or marking their eBooks as free for a limited time.


Facebook meme.

No one should be telling authors 99 cents sales aren't enough.

Or we're capitalizing on the pandemic when we offer 99 cents sales. (Traditionally published authors can't mark their eBooks as free as easily as others can.)

Or that all of our books should be free.

Or we shouldn't promote our books, unless they're free.

Or we can't celebrate our new releases and post about them.

NO ONE should be ridiculing authors during this difficult time when we're suffering, as well, and trying to do what we can for readers and for ourselves.

Don't forget... we're small businesses being impacted now, too.

(This is a tweet that was shared widely on Facebook.)

Authors:
1) If you want to promote during this time, do it! But treat it like a normal promotion, not related to what's happening in the world. (I do caution against promoting just because people are stuck at home.) If you have a new release, shout it from the rooftops and don't stop.
2) If you want to mark your eBooks as free (or 99 cents) to help others out during this time, definitely say so. That's wonderful and will be appreciated by many readers.

I marked all of my mom's picture books to free for this reason. With all the kids not in school, Sammy the Teddy Bear wanted to make sure parents and children would have stories to read.

TIP: To get Amazon to mark your eBooks to $0.00, you first have to mark them as free elsewhere. Doing this through Smashwords (if you're there) is super easy. When you do this, other retailers are notified. Within hours your price is dropped. The best way for authors to get Amazon to drop a price to free is through this KDP link. Click on the "pricing" and then "price matching" options and follow their directions to send them an email. I never have a problem doing this for my mom's eBooks.

SIDE NOTE: Right now, I’m not offering 99 cents sales on my series because, after seeing a post by another author, I wondered if people would want to read about natural disasters during a pandemic. Would it be too much?? As it is, I don’t promote during real natural disasters. I especially avoid promoting the book in which the disaster appears in. As you can imagine, this is tough, and not something I anticipated before I started this series, so while this situation is new for most authors, this is something I deal with several times a year.


Until next time...

Stay healthy, everyone!


69 comments:

  1. I agree 100% with you about book promotions during this time. As a reader, I look for books especially during this time. Of course, money is tight, but so it is for authors.

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  2. Authors should be able to promote their books online. They are staying safe and providing an alternative to what is happening. A mass of free books hurts everyone.

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    1. A mass of free books does hurt everyone, especially authors since many readers already think our books should be free.

      Delete
  3. I truly agree with this. Authors shouldn't have to stop promoting their work. That's not a lack of compassion or empathy for what's going on in the world. Like you said, authors are small business owners. It's part or all of their livelihood. People may not be able to buy at this time, but maybe in the future. I really feel awful for the debut authors whose books are just coming out. It's a tough time to release, but it's still important and part of who they are.

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    1. Exactly. Readers can add our books to their Wish Lists on Amazon or their TBR lists on Goodreads and buy them in the future when they're capable, and right now, readers are looking for books to read, even if they're tight on cash.

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  4. The people who say writers shouldn't promote their books now seem to be implying, "Well, I'm incapable of thinking or caring about more than one thing at a time, so everyone else should feel the same way!" I don't understand people who think it's impossible to have multiple priorities or concerns at once.

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    1. That's true. Authors can be concerned and still do what they need to do for their careers.

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  5. I'm seeing many authors are promoting their books nowadays and also doing online reading sessions and storytelling sessions. Though I personally am focusing on my writing.

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    1. Focusing on writing right now is a wonderful idea and great thing to do.

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  6. I love that tweet from Mark Edwards! I was already a fan of his books and now I can be a fan of his tweets, too. :)

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  7. I was telling hubby yesterday that the usual pirating books argument had broken out again during this pandemic and the usual people saying there was really nothing wrong with pirating books right now. Then someone called authors idea landlords and hubby's brain broke at that.

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    1. I hadn't heard anything about pirating lately and hadn't even thought of that. Gosh, I can only imagine how many books are being pirated and downloaded illegally right now.

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  8. I was going to mention the pirating books argument that Patricia references above. And interestingly enough, I'm pretty sure my significant other's brain broke when I got to the idea landlord part, too. :)

    Authors have a job to do, too. They shouldn't feel bad for doing it.

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    1. Idea landlords. Jeez who came up with that? SMH

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  9. Yes, everyone panic and rush out to buy books!
    No one else works for free. We aren't volunteers, we're workers, and we like to get paid.

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  10. Thanks for this! I don’t make a living from my books (thank heavens I’m not trying to—I would get very hungry indeed in my cardboard box under the bridge... :D ), but I do want to continue selling them. I also wanted to do a sale to celebrate my return home, which is related to the crisis (my return home was delayed), but isn’t saying “you’re stuck at home so buy my books.” Though of course that is an excellent plan for anyone :D

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    1. I wish you the best of luck on your sale and home you can return home soon. :)

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  11. I understand if people can't afford to buy books right now, but how could they think authors can afford to make all their books free?? It's like they don't actually understand how it works, that authors need to make a living, too.

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  12. I totally agree! It hurts me to see authors putting their books for free. In my normal day job, the profession is fighting against cheapening our services, which makes people expect things for free. I don't want to see authors doing this and hurting their small businesses!

    www.alliebock.com

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    1. Agreed. Sometimes a free story is good (I offer a free eBook and will add a couple more for free this year, although one will only be for newsletter subscribers) and a free campaign can lead to new sales/reviews/readers, but all books? Forever? That will cause a lot of harm for authors.

      Delete
  13. I can't imagine a better time than now to stock up on books! It stands to reason that authors should absolutely continue promos. Sheesh, where do these silly suggestions come from, right? Great topic to address, Chrys. Thanks for sharing!

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  14. As usual, giving us your insight through your superpower of common sense. Thanks, Chrys. :-)

    Anna from elements of emaginette

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  15. Many people have more time to read now than before. Perfect time to promote books. Free is nice, but I think it works better as a loss leader to get people to try new series.

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    1. Yes, the first book in a series as free is an excellent strategy.

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  16. I think it's a personal decision for authors on how to promote their books or release them during this time if they self-publish and with their publishing co. if they have one. I know a lot of publishers are delaying new releases. On the side of this, many of us are reading more and looking for deals. So that could benefit authors.

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    1. It is a very personal decision, and if they decide to promote, they shouldn't get flak for it.

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  17. I've seen those sentiments expressed also, and was equally perplexed. Authors still have rent to pay and food to purchase. Perhaps instead of finding yet another way to bash each other through social media, we try to understand that people have different needs and ways of coping with this crisis. Stay well.<3

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    1. Absolutely! We shouldn't be putting anyone down, especially people who are working hard to provide or keep their businesses afloat. Stay well, Lee!

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  18. I agree. Great Post! Hoping by our next IWSG post, this virus is totally weakened. I'm spending my time working on edits. 100 pages to go....

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    1. Editing is a great thing to do during self-isolation.

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  19. I think it is absurd that anyone would think you shouldn't market you book, anytime. And we may need more books because we have little else to do. Hang in there!

    www.thepulpitandthepen.com

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  20. I cheer for everything you said. And I have been buying more books lately, knowing what it feels like to struggle to promote your book just out when the times are tough, like now. But we can't give up. Thanks for a great post.

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    1. That's great that you've been able to buy more books lately. I hope you enjoy reading them all. Take care, Beverly!

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  21. Why would anyone be against promoting non-free books? Do they somehow find it distasteful? Do these people want to see all commercials stopped too? It makes no sense.

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    1. I think they do find it distasteful because people are being hit hard financially and losing their jobs.

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  22. Great post! Every word resonates. Yes, we need books now more than ever, especially because the libraries are closed.

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  23. I've heard this as well, that authors shouldn't be promoting. But the writing business isn't being "shutdown" like others. Writing and marketing books can be done from the comfort of our homes, so that can continue and it should. We have bills to pay just like everyone else. Some writers may need sales now more than ever if their day jobs have shutdown.

    Concerning your books, I thought readers would be looking for feel-good stories at the moment to escape the stress of the real world. Instead, I've seen people seeking apocalyptic fiction. I would have never imagined.

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    1. Exactly. You said it perfect.

      That is interesting, but I think I'll wait to do a sale for when Frozen Crimes comes out.

      Delete
  24. I would much rather see a post about books, than a post about the virus. I want to see more positive things in my news feeds than all the negative things I see. I'm not trying to bury my head in the sand, just trying to avoid being overloaded. Great post!

    Stay healthy and safe,
    Elsie

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  25. I think people reactions to promotions right now are personal and no one should dictate how others should feel about it. If promotions bother you, don't read them or buy right now. It's not fair to say it's a good idea to support restaurants by buying take-out, but authors should not be compensated for their work.

    You never know what might be appealing to an audience. When things got crazy, I started reading Station Eleven, about a flu pandemic. I'm a bit nuts.

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    1. I agree.

      Hey, I want to read Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson again. I'm a bit nuts, too. lol

      Delete
  26. Authors received direct messages to not promote their books? ... I must have missed the memo! Like you said, self publishing is small business, and I'm sure ebooks are virus free (biologically, anyway). Fully behind everything you've said here. :)

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    1. Some in certain circles on Facebook did.

      Traditional publishing is a small business, too. I'm traditionally published, I do a lot by myself. My sales depend on what I do. :)

      Delete
  27. Like David said, I agree with you! This is hard enough as it is!

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  28. I agree with you. We are small business owners and artists. Plus, our work is entertainment and people are flocking to Netflix and Amazon Prime for more and more entertainment. Our book ads are really just like show commercials - that's all. If you don't want any, then don't buy any. Really, that's as simple as it's always been. I agree that we can't really promote based on COVID, that's wrong, but we can keep letting people know they can entertain themselves with a good book, and what's wrong with reading a book we've written?

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    1. Exactly! Well said. Thanks for commenting, Tyrean. Stay safe!

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  29. I felt weird about promoting my books during this crisis. But that's me. Everybody needs to do what feels right for them. Meantime, I'm struggling to finish my WIP and binge-watching TV and reading. I hope the crisis will be over soon. Stay safe, Chrys.

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    1. Absolutely. It's up to each individual author what they decide to do at this time.

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  30. I don't understand why people would think authors should give their books away for free just because of the situation. Other businesses aren't giving away their services for free. Everyone still has to pay for grocery store and drug store items, and if you have a plumbing or car repair issue, you still have to pay to get them fixed. Publishers are small businesses, too, and promoting our books is no different than any other promotion for any other product. And people can definitely use books right now as entertainment to keep them sane. Stay well!

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    1. My sentiments exactly. Thanks for commenting, Lori!

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  31. It's great that some authors have the financial safety to offer free books. Like Neil Gaiman. But yeah, some authors have lost their usual day-job income and are hoping book sales will buy meals. There's a fun bit of sort-of promotion, but more game, on Instagram where people rewrite the opening lines of their book to include the pandemic. It doesn't sound like it should be fun, and maybe we've all gone mad, but yeah, that's there.

    Great post. Stay strong and keep healthy.

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    1. I have seen that on Instagram. :)

      Thanks, J Lenni! Stay safe!

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  32. I agree that was such a wrong statement. Truth is though a lot of author have been before the worst hit and after been offering free books here and there all long. I get tons of email and almost all have promotion of giveaways and free books while promoting their latest release... And guess what, authors have always done that. It is not new because of Covid19 and it is not JUST well-known authors either. If they are complain they are looking far enough or really looking at all because the free offers have always been there. I get three or more a day in email. Belated IWSG.

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  33. Thanks so much for stopping by my blog and for your kind words.
    I agree, promotion is important right now, but I think some people may need to tweak the way they promote.
    Oddly enough, I've seen lots of promotions for books about outbreaks and pandemics. I think you should go for it, Chrys. Your books just might help someone get through this tough time.

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    1. You're welcome, Toi!

      Yes, a tweak may be necessary.

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  34. What a great post! I agree- that authors are small businesses and have to go on continuing to write and get the word out about their books. Lots of important to think about during this time and I appreciate you pointing out so many good points. Also- I didn't know how to get Amazon to sell a book for free- so thanks for that bit of info.

    Stay safe!
    ~Jess

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