Book Marketing for Thought Leaders: Reviewing 2020 and Looking to the Future in 2021

Let’s say you just spent two years hard at work writing a book. Brainstormed, outlined, wrote, edited, re-wrote, re-edited, and finally had a book you were eager to share with the world. At some point in late 2019 or early 2020, you got your hands on an advance copy…and you were beyond excited for your publication date, which was set for March 2020. This book was to be the key to further establishing yourself as an expert in your industry. In addition to earning royalties on book sales, you were excited to have your book be a critical element of your overall platform and content game plan, opening doors for new opportunities such as speaking and consulting arrangements. Everything’s going great until, exactly one week after your launch, the world stops in its tracks because of a global pandemic. Of all the things book launch-related to worry about, contingencies for a global pandemic were likely not on anyone’s radar.


Let’s recap what happened in 2020:
As it became clear the pandemic wasn’t going to reach a speedy resolution, books started trickling out in the summer and the latter half of 2020. Many meticulously scheduled marketing plans were thrown out the window.

-Live events were canceled. This included speaking gigs, conferences, book talks, launch parties, author readings, and book signings.

-Webinars and virtual events became more crucial than ever for author-reader connection, and many occurred in late spring.

-Content accompanying book launches also became more important than ever. Authors competed with the rest of the digital world for attention and needed to deliver unparalleled value.

-Brick-and-mortar bookstores saw already-declining sales for business and thought leadership titles nosedive. Amazon, on a continuous upward trajectory, became even more important. Amazon keywords campaigns increased in importance.


Case study: Invisible Solutions: 25 Lenses that Reframe and Help Solve Difficult Business Problems (March 3, 2020)
Stephen Shapiro, author of Invisible Solutions, is a highly sought-after professional speaker on the topic of business innovation. When the pandemic hit right as his new book hit the market, he pivoted to digital promotion. This meant virtual speaking engagements and releasing more video content. He created a videobook by adapting information from Invisible Solutions into a YouTube format. He also started a podcast, the Invisible Solutions Podcast. Was it ideal? Nope, but he didn’t let a pandemic stop him in his tracks.

“I was already shifting to virtual events and platforms before the COVID-19 pandemic hit,” Shapiro said. “I accelerated my business plan to more than just replicate the live experience, but to improve it while remote.”


Now, let’s look ahead to 2021:
Nobody knows for sure what 2021 will hold for book marketing, though we anticipate live book launches to slowly start returning toward the end of the year. Though there are too many variables to say with certainty, we do anticipate a stronger emphasis on virtual promotion is here to stay.


What does a good 2021 marketing strategy look like?
A good 2021 strategy should incorporate the same qualities any book marketing campaign does: flexibility, creative thinking, and problem-solving. Be sure to add more virtual elements to your marketing plan. Online events that allow you to talk about the book and make connections should be your focus.

Authors with a 2020 or 2021 release shouldn’t stop their efforts after a few months, either. As the average lifespan of a book is one to two years, marketing should continue post-pandemic. Milestones like cover reveals and release date announcements can continue on social media, and award submissions are active as usual. The more you promote your book beyond its first six months, the more likely it is to reach its target audience.


Launching a book in 2020 seemed an impossible mountain to climb, but authors managed to adapt and carry on. 2021 will likely require authors to meet additional unseen challenges. A return to in-person marketing is hopefully on the horizon, but for now, virtual promotion is key to a book’s success.




As the CEO at
Amplify Publishing and Mascot Books, Naren Aryal is a recognized publishing industry expert. Naren advises authors, thought leaders, and various organizations on the opportunities and challenges that exist in the evolving publishing world. He’s guided the company’s growth from a single children’s book in 2003 to becoming one of the fastest growing and most respected hybrid publishing companies in the world. Today, Mascot Books publishes hundreds of books a year across all genres, and Amplify Publishing is a leading nonfiction imprint specializing in “big ideas” from some of the most reputable names in business and politics.

Naren frequently speaks at publishing and business events about the importance of developing compelling content and a robust author platform. He is also the author of How to Sell a Crapload of Books: 10 Secrets of a Killer Author Marketing Platform.

Prior to entering the world of books, Naren worked as a lawyer, advising technology companies in the Washington, D.C. area. He holds a B.S. in Finance from Virginia Tech and Juris Doctor from University of Denver.

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Case Study: The Roadmap to Becoming Crisis Ready®

Organizations that are Crisis Ready® are more than just resilient. They’re invincible.

Building an invincible brand in an uncertain world

Written by crisis management advisor as well as founder and CEO of the Crisis Ready Institute Melissa Agnes, Crisis Ready: Building an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World provides organizations such as businesses, police, military, and universities the tools they need to build resilient brands. Being Crisis Ready® means if an organization is faced with a crisis, they come out of it stronger and even better than before.

What does this mean?

Modern-day organizations face a slew of potential risks: security breaches, economic hardship, PR disasters, and, most recently, global pandemics. In Crisis Ready, Agnes provides organizations with the roadmap for embedding a culture whereby every member of the team becomes adept at getting ahead of risk—be it a customer complaint straight through to a full-scale catastrophic crisis—in a way that transforms the risk into a brand-strengthening opportunity.

Crisis readiness is not the same as crisis management. Crisis management is what happens once the risk has materialized. The more Crisis Ready® an organization is, the less crisis management they are likely to have to do. When you’re Crisis Ready®, your organization can withstand hardships and unexpected emergencies because a Crisis Ready® brand is proactive, confident, and strategic.

Our goals?

  • Hand the mic to Agnes as a Crisis Ready® thought leader
  • Support her expertise with a powerful design
  • Create a quality, evergreen book that will help businesses for years to come

As a strategic advisor and keynote speaker, Agnes has worked with NATO, ministries of foreign affairs and defense, financial firms, technology companies, healthcare organizations, cities and municipalities, law enforcement agencies, global non-profits, universities, and many others. In other words, she is an expert in crisis management across a diverse range of industries and is fully equipped to share her knowledge.

Agnes took the lead on her manuscript, and we utilized a writing coach to keep her on a timeline in coordination with the production calendar. She wrote, and we reviewed and edited. After 6 months, the manuscript was done.

The result? She created a compelling manuscript that provides readers with real-world examples of where organizations do well and where they fall short. This includes learning the tools to interact with stakeholders appropriately and having a measured plan of action to be Crisis Ready®.

Next, we needed a strong interior design to supplement Agnes’ expertise and streamline her findings. It was important to Agnes that the book be a multi-sensory experience. Our design team filled out the interior of the book with eye-catching 2-color graphs, diagrams, and most impressively, a gatefold insert that opens out to reveal a large chart with her teachings. It was a thoughtful journey to finding the perfect cover, fluctuating between thousands of ideas and outlines to create a meaningful, subtle approach. A simple yet powerful cover design tied it all together, conveying a sense of calmness and readiness in an uncertain world.

Two years later

Commended as “intelligent, intuitive, and unabashedly gutsy,” named by Forbes as a top ten business book in 2018, and named by Book Authority as a top three crisis management book of all time, Crisis Ready is the go-to book on the topic of crisis preparedness and crisis management, and has helped solidify Agnes as a leading expert in the field.

While Agnes is profitable with online and brick-and-mortar retail, she finds enormous success with bulk buys from corporations and businesses, who are looking to evolve their culture and become Crisis Ready® from the ground up. One of her greatest successes was with J.P. Morgan Chase & Co. After supporting Chase’s small and medium-sized business clients through the COVID-19 pandemic, Chase bought 2,000 copies of the Crisis Ready® ebook to give away to their clients. We coordinated the logistics, and the deal was done.

Agnes frequently uses her book as a teaching and speaking tool on her podcast, vlog, and contributes articles to Forbes magazine. Crisis Ready is also part of the curriculum at Harvard University and dozens of other higher education schools globally. The book has gained Agnes professional speaking gigs and brought in more clients interested in retaining her Crisis Ready® expertise.

Now, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Agnes’ ideas have become even more relevant and necessary. This new era has forced organizations everywhere to reevaluate how to communicate with clients effectively and collaborate with staff virtually. Ultimately, organizations need a strategic plan to come out alive on the other side. Agnes’ expertise is in high demand because there is no better time to be invincible.

Now that Agnes has solidified herself as a leading authority on crisis readiness, she has launched her latest initiative, the Crisis Ready Institute, a public benefit corporation with a powerful mission. By incorporating a culture of readiness in organizations and teaching them how to turn risk into opportunities for growth and connection, the Institute is on a mission to create a crisis resilient world.

The second edition of Crisis Ready is in the works and is scheduled to be released in 2021.

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Promotion in a Pandemic?

The comparisons to life in the aftermath of September 11 to the current (and ever-evolving) challenges we face with the coronavirus COVID-19 are unavoidable. One of the post-9/11 moments etched in millions of American’s minds is the episode of Saturday Night Live that aired on September 29, 2001.

Surrounded by Ground Zero first responders, then-Mayor Rudy Guiliani opened the show, with Paul Simon performing “The Boxer.” At the end of this unprecedented cold open, show-runner Lorne Michaels asked Guiliani a simple question: “Can we be funny?” 

Guiliani’s reply: “Why start now?”

In times of extreme uncertainty, it’s only natural to ask yourself if now is the right time to resume, especially when it comes to book promotion. The key is authenticity. Does your expertise lend itself to the situation at hand? Could it provide solutions? Or a path to much-needed distraction? 

Last week, we gave an inside look into how Melissa Agnes, crisis management expert and author of Crisis Readyturned on a dime to put her expertise to work. Our other Amplify authors are on the same path, leveraging their thought leadership and further rooting their platform and positioning.

BigSpeak Speakers Bureau compiled a list of top webinar and keynote speakers featuring Invisible Solutions author Stephen Shapiro. “Provocative innovation evangelist Stephen Shapiro knows all about creating high-performing teams that can think outside the box and tackle challenges that seem impossible. For organizations that fear falling behind in rapidly shifting situations, Stephen is an obvious choice. He’s available for pre-recorded keynotes, live keynotes and webinars.” As small businesses to global corporations shift to remote work, Stephen’s approach was made for this. 

NBA Life Optimization Coach David Nurse, who’s debut book Pivot & Go will be out this summer, has worked with over 100 NBA players with personal and professional development on and off the court. Recognizing the sudden halt in all sports, from the pro’s on down, David’s offering one-on-one Skype/FaceTime coaching sessions for high school and youth sports coaches.

And not only was P.V. Kannan, author of The Age of Intent, featured in an MIT Sloan Management Review webinar on the future of artificial intelligence, his presentation is now available on demand for free, allowing users access to the content anytime. A working parent now juggling remote work and childcare, for example, has the flexibility to engage with P.V.’s expertise on their time, increasing eyeballs and, likely, book sales.

Our answer? Start now.

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The Crisis Ready Response to Coronavirus COVID-19



“Yes, over my weekends, because crises don’t sleep.”

That direct quote, from a webinar held on Wednesday, March 11, should give you all of the insight you need into the commitment crisis management expert Melissa Agnes has to her work. Melissa is the author of Crisis Ready: Build an Invincible Brand in an Uncertain World and has been at-the-ready with her response to the coronavirus COVID-19. 

Her answer to this now global pandemic could have been simply hawking her book on social media, relying on her audience to order a copy and to make their own conclusions based on that content. Armed with a Forbes top business book of 2018 and a work taught in higher education courses around the world (including Harvard University and Homeland Security), one could argue that anyone with a copy of Crisis Ready would be, well, ready. 

But Melissa took her role ten steps further, developing and hosting a comprehensive webinar specific to the impact of COVID-19 in just over a week. It was free to the first 500 people who registered, and no assumptions were made that attendees were well-versed in the practices Melissa preaches. She solicited questions in advance, incorporated them into her presentation, and also answered questions in real-time to make it as valuable as possible to attendees. 

If you ever find yourself asking how to expand the lifecycle of thought leadership books, take a literal page from Melissa’s book, released two years ago. At the highest level, it’s about applying your subject matter authentically and thoroughly to the national conversation with the same level of commitment it took to cement your positioning in the first place. Here’s more from Melissa on how she got from there to here:

When did you decide to put on the webinar?
Specifically, I decided on Tuesday, March 3, while speaking with my team, expressing my frustration on the current lack of leadership and the undeserved domino effect this has on businesses and society at-large. This situation is unprecedented and people are scared. Of course they are. But they don’t have to be alone and I have a ton of experience and knowledge that can help, so I gave as much as I possibly could within a short 75-minute window.

How did you promote it?
Within 24 hours my team had a webpage up and we shared that to my newsletter list, on social media and we asked others to help us spread the world. I framed it as their form of payment for the webinar by saying:
The coronavirus is a global situation that calls for us all to come together and support one another. For this reason, we are not charging for this webinar. However, what we are asking for as a form of ‘payment’ is that you share this link and information about this webinar with your network, so we can increase the reach of this important information to all of those who will benefit from it.

I was very blessed to have—and continue to have—many shares, as the replay of the webinar, as well as all of the free resources that come along with it, are all still available for free to anyone who is interested.

How long did it take you to put the deck together?
It’s not just putting the deck together, but also figuring out the flow of the message I wanted to share, writing the copy for the webpages, setting up email automations, time promoting it across channels… all of which took about 4 days of my time, not counting my team’s time to actually launch the webpage for me, put up the Institute’s splash page, create new automation emails for those who registered, etc. All of this was forced to happen over the weekend and well into the early morning hours, since my day job consists of consulting and advising clients who are currently facing the impacts that COVID-19 are presenting to their businesses.

What else have you done related to COVID-19?
I’m advising clients and constantly trying to find ways to spread the Crisis Ready message to help others through this difficult time; I’m offering a very exclusive opportunity for companies through the Crisis Ready COVID-19 Coaching Program; the Monday prior to the webinar I hosted a Mastermind Session on COVID-19 for my Crisis Ready Community; today, I published this blog post, which I hope will also help inspire hope and provide access to helpful resources… And if anybody has any other ideas, I’m all ears and would be very grateful!

For more on Melissa, go to MelissaAgnes.com and order your copy of Crisis Ready on Amazon.

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