5 things the solar eclipse taught us about book marketing

Today was the first coast-to-coast total solar eclipse in about a century. Across social media and coffee shops nationwide, there has been chatter leading up to the 2017 Solar Eclipse that has garnered worldwide attention. In fact, there were multiple hashtags trending for the occasion.

People took off work, attended viewing parties, and connected online today. Tons of organizations, individuals, and groups got involved.

But there’s so much more that went on behind the scenes. And there are few takeaways that we can apply directly to book marketing. Let’s talk about 5 things the Solar Eclipse taught us about book marketing.

1. start early

There’s a reason those Solar Eclipse glasses were sold out everywhere. NASA and approved outlets were selling them or giving them away for free weeks ahead of time. In the days leading up, as glasses were selling out, those same organizations provided guides on where to buy and how to make your own DIY glasses, and they got press for it. It’s just like they planned it!

How to do it with books: If you’re ready to choose your publication date, take a moment to think about the preparation of your marketing campaign. You might be excited to get your book out into the world asap, but time is your best friend. At minimum, you’ll want 3 months to create and implement your marketing campaign. In an ideal world, 6-9 months lead time will give you the most flexibility and to be creative with your marketing approach.

2. make it an event

NASA, museums, astronomy clubs, and news outlets create an event with major hype out of this day. They created special websites, held viewing parties, published articles on the science behind the eclipse, live streamed the eclipse from space, and even created simulators to get people excited.

How to do it with books: Whether or not you hold a physical launch party or tour in bookstores, you can create an event out of the release of your book. Create a website and write blog posts about your writing experience. Record behind the scenes videos, give interviews, and make bonus material to support your book. Work with your local bookstore about doing a reading or signing. This can be in-person event or even a live webinar. Connect your characters, your plot, and your personal story with current events to get more attention on your book.

3. partner up

I’ve mentioned a few different organizations that got involved in promoting Solar Eclipse Day, and many of these were collaborations. Time worked with NASA to create a simulator so their readers could see what the eclipse would look like from anywhere in the U.S. National Geographic teamed up with Astronomers Without Borders to send eclipse glasses to kids in Africa. These were mutually beneficially, sharing information, publicity and audiences.

How to do it with books: First, think about the themes, characters, and message of your book (this works for fiction and non-fiction). What fictional plot points connect with real life? What story in your non-fiction tale resonates with those furthering your purpose? This may mean that you’re stepping outside of the ‘book bubble’ to connect with other groups, organizations, media and brands.

4. take advantage of opportunities

Stephanie Meyer, Mitsubishi, Wrigley and Bonnie Tyler got a lot of ‘air time’ on social media today. Neither Stephanie Meyer nor Wrigley/Eclipse gum have social media accounts, so they missed that opportunity entirely. Mitsubishi, however, took full advantage. Mitsubishi posted eclipse facts about both the science eclipse and the car eclipse from their twitter account. They also created countdown graphics on their Instagram and live steamed the solar eclipse with an Eclipse vehicle on Facebook. Bonnie Tyler organized a live interview with CNN where she shared a mini performance of her hit song ‘Total Eclipse of the Heart’ on CNN.

How to do it with books: When a tie-in with your book pops up, especially when you have advance notice, jump on it! Utilize the platforms that have the biggest cross-section of your readers/potential readers and folks talking about the tie-in. Get creative with your marketing ideas, collaborate with others, and focus on one message you want to share. It can be a promotional message to encourage people to buy your book or an informational message to share your story with more people. Just say yes.

5. use hashtags that trend

There were a slew of great tweets, articles, and posts that got a lot of attention from using the #SolarEclipse2017 hashtag. Many were just wonderful jokes that used the eclipse to bring attention to their product or another idea. Both The Novl and Tennessee got creative with some play on words. Spotify and PopSugar also made a Solar Eclipse Playlist that they promoted on social media. By tapping into a trending topic, these brands were able to grow their audience.

How to do it with books: You might already be using a hashtag for your book’s title, series title, or for one of your characters. Now, you can pair it with trending hashtags. You really only want to do this when it is actually applicable. You should not spam the internet with promotional posts. Instead, choose the hashtags that are timely and connect with your book. You may need to get creative on making those connections and spell it out in your post. Pro tip: use images and gifs!

If you had a perfect tie in for today’s Solar Eclipse but missed it, don’t worry. You can start preparing for the next one in 2024.

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