From the time I read Stephen King’s ‘Salem’s Lot in 1977, I’ve dreamed of penning a horror novel of my own. That goal stayed with me through years of writing news articles, survived thousands of hours spent composing reference works, and waited patiently as I authored short stories and children’s books. Now, more than four decades after first falling in love with the dark genre, the long-anticipated day has finally come: my debut horror novel Bandun Gate is hitting the shelves.
Right in the middle of the “sorry, the world’s closed for now!” pandemic.
So my excitement comes with a hefty dose of disappointment, too. There will be no launch party at a local bookstore or signing at an artsy coffee shop, no media event where I present a copy to my neighborhood library as the cameras roll, not even a table at the Farmer’s Market where I sell autographed paperbacks. Bandun Gate’s status switched from ‘Pre-Order’ to ‘Available Now’ on Amazon, and that’s about it.
Of course the ‘Covid circumstances’ offer unique opportunities to create fanfare, and that’s what I’m focusing on. Here are some of the things I’ll be doing to mark Bandun Gate's publication:
1) Creating videos – I’ve written, filmed and produced several short clips that introduce the characters and plot, offering readers a peek at the horrors within my book’s pages. The trailers are on YouTube, helping me reach an audience via 'visuals.'
2) Virtual launch online – On the ‘day of,’ I’m plastering my social media with announcements, photos, links and teasers about Bandun Gate to whet readers’ appetites. I even did a 'baby announcement' for my new arrival complete with a black-draped bassinette and 'voodoo doll' that I'd used in one of my YouTube videos.
3) Offering an online Q & A – I will also be inviting anyone interested to submit questions about the book, the publication process, my marketing strategy or anything else they’d like to know about.
4) Giving away free swag – I have all kinds of freebies to help Bandun Gate attract some attention! Bookmarks, keychains, promo pins, creepy tchotchkes galore (all being done via online contests and shipped to winners, of course!)
5) Encouraging readers to subscribe to my newsletter – Signing up will mean entry into drawings for swag, but it will allow subscribers to keep up to date on future promotions (which will hopefully be conducted in-person soon!)
6) Setting up a gallery for readers to send photos – Readers are invited (and encouraged!) to send pictures of themselves reading Bandun Gate, posing their cat with the book, using it as a placemat, etc. I’m looking forward to seeing what people come up with, and of course there will be prizes for the best compositions!
7) Preparing for the return of live events – As I conduct my promo efforts, it will be with an eye on planning for a true ‘in person’ celebration when the time is right. I’ll be keeping track of what works, what doesn’t, what readers want from me as an author.
And though these are not the ways I had originally planned to launch my horror career, in the long run they might prove even better than the ‘standard fare’ I’d anticipated. The strange circumstances are forcing me to learn new ways to reach out, pushing me out of the ‘cookie cutter’ zone and inspiring me to invent and innovate. Who knows - maybe next time out I’ll have adapted so well to the world of ‘unexpected’ promotion, I’ll ditch the idea of book signings altogether and pick up where I left off with Bandun Gate.