Georgina Moore, director of books and publishing at Midas, has said she will continue to use virtual events for book publicity after the present lockdown ends, arguing that they have maintained the profile of books and authors during this period, but are also good for reaching new audiences.
Moore made the comment during the latest Bookseller Twitter interview, #Booksellerchat, which takes place each Tuesday at 4 p.m. She also advised publicists to keep their pitches relevant to the current situation and not to ignore the traditional media, which is still seeking book content.
Moore also spoke about the difficulties authors are facing, especially debut writers who now have huge uncertainty around their books, in many cases after putting years of work into them. She said it was important to keep seeding information about the book, even if it did not lead to sales immediately.
"I would tell authors keep doing things big and small. Sometimes it will feel pointless but small steps. Write that piece for a magazine, start that blog, make connections on social media with other authors, do the virtual events even if you do not see obvious book sales."
For publicists, she added: "I think we need to keep our belief in getting coverage for great authors and great books, and believe that ongoing profile is key, visibility is key, and that the sales will come."
Moore said virtual events were working, citing the virtual tour for Maggie O'Farrell's Hamnet that saw the author make her Twitter debut, but also for literary agent turned author Abbie Greaves' whose first book, The Silent Treatment (Arrow), was published this week.
"The enormous plus side of virtual events is that they attract more people! For our debut panel with @AbbieGreaves1 & @CJessCooke Stay At Home there were 80 people online. We would have been happy with 40 in a bookshop."
She added that she would continue to work on virtual events, even after the lockdown had passed, as they can attract a wider audience. "I will keep virtual events as part of the @Midas PR repetoire. Even when we are out of this period," she said, adding: "Another plus and one that amazing @KitdeWaal expresses so well is that virtual festivals like @bigbookweekend can attract new audiences, more diverse audiences. Readers who would never think of going to a literary festival."
On pitching in the "coronaverse", she cited as an example her Midas colleague Kate Appleton's work on careers coach and author Alexa Shoen's new book #EntryLevelBoss (published by Scribe on 16th April), with a piece in Stylist geared around finding a new job during the coronavirus pandemic.
She warned that the industry needed to keep books in people's minds, even if some are finding it hard to read at the moment. "Yes, there is a lot at the moment about books as escape. Although I do think readers are struggling to read right now because of stress and anxiety. All we can do is make sure we put books on their radar so when we get out of this there is a book buying frenzy."
And she advised publicists to keep trying, and to continue to keep in touch with colleagues over email, telephone or video-conferencing."Regular team calls are really important. We at @midaspr are doing daily team meetings. Trying to keep spirits up."
She added: "It is really hard for young publicists at press officer level. They usually feed off the team atmosphere in the office, learning all the time. Team is so important in publicity for sharing of contacts and so on . . ."
But she stressed: "Tenacity does win out in the end."