Launching a book during a global pandemic

For the last six months, I’d been working towards the launch date of 2 April 2020 for our second book, State Of Bass: the Origins of Jungle/Drum & Bass by Martin James. Everything had gone to plan and we were on schedule to make the date. It was now time for marketing and promotion to let everyone know about it.

My highlight of any book marketing campaign is the launch tour. I work from home on my own so it’s always nice travelling and meeting fellow music fans in person. I also enjoy spending quality time with authors too. I usually only communicate via email and the odd phone call and I enjoy getting to know them better. My highlight of the Join The Future launch tour was spending a week with Matt Anniss in Calgary at AEMCON.

I’d booked dates in London, Nottingham, Bristol, Brighton and Manchester for the launch tour. Martin was particularly looking forward to the Nottingham date as he actually used to work at the venue we were using while he was at university there. I was looking forward to Bristol as I’d lived there for nine years and we didn’t do a launch party there for Join The Future and we were doing it in conjunction with my old friend Markee Ledge at Cosies.

The books arrived in early March and we were all set. Coronavirus had been in the news for weeks but at the time nobody realised how serious things were about to get. The week it dawned on everyone how serious things were was seven days before the first date at The Book Club in London. However, on the Friday before, Martin mentioned he had asthma and couldn’t take any risks so shortly after we cancelled the whole tour.

Once we entered lockdown it felt strange even trying to promote the book. Is it rude to try to market right now? Am I going to annoy people if I do outreach? Normally on publication day, I’d say, ‘This book is finally on shelves, go pick it up,’ but I can’t exactly say that right now. It is true people need books now, more than ever, and we all have more time to read. But if your book has no marketing, and no-one is going into bookshops, it makes it harder getting it into anyone’s hands.

However, the publishing world is improvising and pivoting to new ways of reaching an audience. Zoom has been one of the big successes of lockdown so Martin and I decided to try it out for an ‘in-conversation’ that we would have done at a launch event. See what you think.

State of Bass is available now as a paperback and ebook.