Launching a book during a pandemic – an Author’s insight

by Emma Lazell

Launching a book during the pandemic felt very different from releasing my debut picturebook Big Cat in Spring 2019. That Dog!, my second picturebook with Pavilion Children’s Books, was initially due to release in May of this year, and I began the year eagerly and optimistically planning a book launch, responding to book festival invites, and creating new, book related resources. But, with a month to go until release, and with the country in full lockdown, it was decided that release would be postponed to late Summer.

It doesn’t need to be said that it was a strange time, and it was difficult to perceive what might be feasible by August 6th, That Dog’s new release date. Ever the optimist, I continued raising hype for the book on social media, and planning children’s workshops for post release.

I think the main concern was, if the bookshops were still closed, how would we stop the book from drowning on the internet and not being seen. The incredible team at Pavilion were excellent at getting the book into the hands of many book bloggers and reviewers, (I really think book bloggers have been a such lifeline for authors and booksellers during the pandemic) and this is where social media has played such a vital part as a window to share and promote, when other avenues weren’t viable. It was evident from early on, that social media was becoming (temporarily) the sole window through which we all communicated, entertained and educated each other, so my part, as the author-illustrator, was to be as generous as I could with what resources and activities I could make available during lockdown, that would also promote the book.

The important thing was keeping up the hype about the book, and making sure it was really visible. I had to massively amp up promotion and get creative with each platform I used to promote the book (Instagram being the biggest platform for me, because of how visual it is.). I taught myself video editing software and started posting regular draw-along workshops and live drawing videos relating to the book, and closer to release I started posting book launch countdowns with short introductions to characters, and story teasers.

Despite needing to be tireless and organised with promotion, I found that the nature of the pandemic and the ever changing ‘normal’ meant that the whole experience had to be really flexible, which I actually enjoyed. Supported by the Pavilion team I came up with a strategy for launch week only a matter of weeks before release, culminating in live storytelling on the day of release. It wasn’t quite as fun as having a big launch party, and eating book themed cake, but it was great seeing children participate in the draw-alongs and chatting to people about That Dog! on my live event.

That Dog! by Emma Lazell, published by Pavilion Children’s Books, was released on the 6th August 2020.

Any opinions expressed may not truly reflect those of the FCBG.

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