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Right now, the world is a little crazy but your book marketing and promotion doesn’t have to be.

Yes, coronavirus fears have caused hundreds of events to cancel or postpone, and when the big kahuna of them all, The London Book Fair canceled last week, the gasp in the publishing industry was evident.

But our work as authors, when it comes to book marketing and promotion, can’t come to a halt just because events have been canceled.

So, what to do? Well now it’s time to explore online networking.

We’ve been in business for 20 years, and that entire time we’ve worked virtually. My book marketing team is all over the US – and we use systems like ZOOM, Skype, and Facetime to stay in touch.

Yes, in-person time is valuable, but once you get a hang of these virtual systems, you’ll soon learn how easy it is to stay in touch, regardless of where you are and what’s going on.

Virtual Events are Great for Book Marketing and Promotion

While you may rather attend writer’s conferences in person, sometimes virtual is an easier way to go. I just finished teaching a class for the Alliance of Independent Authors, who often teaches events virtually. They have two conferences a year, all online – so it’s a great way to get information, stay up to date, and avoid travel.

Add Value Before You Pitch Them

We call it social networking, but there isn’t a lot of “networking” being done, not really anyway. Most of us are posting updates, and pictures of things we’re doing, or places we’ve been, but beyond that we may not do much.

Now is the time to bring you’re a-game to your social presence by adding value before you hit them with the “ask.”

Follow people you admire online and comment on their posts, share their information via Facebook or Twitter, actively network with them by stepping up and communicating with them online. I don’t like direct messages, unless there’s a solid reason for the contact.

For example, I have folks who will DM via Facebook or Twitter to tell me they loved my book – that’s great, but why not share that as a comment on their page, or retweet one of their posts with a shout out that you loved their book.

Wait for the Right Time

Networking takes time, I have folks who follow me and share my information and, overtime I feel like I’ve really gotten to know them. But it’s not happened right away.

So, give this online networking some time to take hold, don’t follow someone and a week later hit them up with the ask. Book marketing and promotion is a marathon, not a sprint, so don’t only focus on the end game, the sale, because it will get you nowhere fast.

Make a Personal Connection

It’s happened to all of us, right? Someone pops out of nowhere into our inbox and asks for a few minutes of our time, or our input on something – or some other favor.

There’s little context to what they’re asking for – and no real connection to that person at all. Spending some time networking will greatly help alleviate this, because you’ll get to know that person.

You’ll know if they just went on a trip, or if they have a pet – or if their son or daughter is graduating college. This personal connection is helpful, especially when emailing them, it gives a bit of context to your note – it lets the person on the other end know you’re paying attention.

Be Clear on Your Goals

If you were looking forward to an event that’s now been canceled because you were hoping to connect with a particular publisher, literary agent, or media person as part of your book marketing and promotion plan – be clear on why you’re now networking with them online and what you want.

If the agent is someone you want to pitch your manuscript to, he or she probably has pitching guidelines on their website. You can check these out, follow them and certainly let the agent know that you were disappointed that XYZ conference got canceled.

The point being, be clear on what you’re seeking. Networking is great, getting to know some of the folks who might be able to positively influence your book is always a win, but if you move in for an “ask” be clear on what that ask is.

What do you want/need? Most publishing folks would be open to setting up a call or a ZOOM video conference if you’re clear on what you need – sometimes there might be a consulting fee as part of this, but you won’t know till you ask.

I’m a huge fan of networking both in person and online, but for most of the year, my efforts are online only. That’s the case for most of us, so make it count.

One final tip: if the person you’re wanting to network with has a blog, visit it and comment on it – even if it’s just once a week. Posting a thoughtful comment on a person’s blog is a great way to get to know them – and for them to get to know you.

I hope all of this clears up soon and conferences get back on track – but whether it’s the coronavirus that’s kept you home, or your travel budget – online networking is always a good thing to include in your book marketing and promotion!

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