How I used “Plan B” and “Plan Z” to Sell Books During the Lockdown – by Kathryn Haueisen

How I used “Plan B” and “Plan Z” to Sell Books During the Lockdown – by Kathryn Haueisen

I worked hard to release Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures in 2020 in order to catch the wave of special events planned around the famous voyage’s 400th anniversary. As the book was going to press, the world was going into lockdown to mitigate the worse pandemic in a century. All my initial book launch plans crashed on the shores of COVID-19.

After a bit of teeth gnashing, I put together Plan B and Plan Z.

B is for local bookstore. I called my closest Indie bookstore to confirm that, if readers ordered books through them, they’d call me to come over to sign them, with staff only in the store. It worked! Locals pick them up in bags set outside the store and the staff mails books to out-of-town buyers. This arrangement generated an invitation from the owner to participate in a Zoom “Meet the Author” event. She told me, my book “is selling like hot cakes.”

Plan Z consists of turning to Zoom as my main marketing tool. By sending out e-mail information about the book, and following up with phone calls, I’ve lined up book-based presentations from California to Boston, and from Texas to Ohio, including:

  • An adult forum discussion group
  • Three libraries so far
  • A retired teacher’s group
  • A women’s philanthropy group
  • Two book clubs
  • A church women’s group
  • A Rotary Club

An October virtual “Book Birth Bash” was the center piece of my new book launch plan. I hired Sarah, a young, out-of-work-due-to-COVID theatre tech gal, to handle the technical details for a virtual book launch party. She’s an expert at managing sound and lighting. Thanks to COVID, she’s also gained considerable experience doing virtual events. I put together a guest list of people to appear at the event. At Sarah’s recommendation, we pre-recorded seven interviews. She edited them for consistent length, and incorporated them into a Power Point Presentation.

I paid for a one-month subscription for the webinar version of Zoom, which gave the event a more professional appearance than the usual “Brady Bunch” appearance of most Zoom events. After I welcomed everyone, and gave a brief overview of why I wrote the book, participants saw a combination of images from places covered in the book and the interviews.

I narrated while Sarah handled all the tech details and my daughter monitored incoming comments on a separate computer across the room. She texted Sarah with any comments requiring a response. A co-host, participating from the safety of her own home, ran three quiz breaks to determine who won the E-book, print copy, and audio book. She announced the correct answer to each question and the winners at the end of the hour.

I originally intended to invite several people for a pre-event happy hour, and stay to watch the webinar on a large TV screen. However, during the weeks leading up to the event, COVID numbers in our area spiked, so we cancelled that part of the evening. Those attending the “Book Birth Bash” in person, in addition to me, consisted of techie Sarah and my local immediate family. We celebrated after the event with take-out Chinese food and wine.

I wanted to launch my book in Cape Cod while attending a series of 400th anniversary events in the area. Instead, I traveled around the country via Zoom from my home office in Houston. I’ve probably sold as many books as I would have with the original plan. I know I’ve spent less money. From sales reports on Amazon Author Central, I see books are selling where I’ve visited via Zoom.

I miss the in-person interaction but I am grateful that Plans B and Z allowed me to successfully launch my new book during a pandemic.

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Kathryn Haueisen worked in public relations before launching a freelance writing career and becoming a Lutheran pastor. Her first retirement project was researching and writing a historical fiction, Mayflower Chronicles: The Tale of Two Cultures, which was published by Green Writers Press in October 2020. She writes weekly about good people doing great things for our global village at www.HowWiseThen.com.

 

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