Have you ever wondered if your author brand would survive if an emergency came up and took you away from your business for more than a day or two?
Would you even know what to do to keep your brand going while you stepped away?
Would you ever be able to get back to where you were with your fan engagement?
There are five things you absolutely need to know in order to keep your brand going when a crisis situation comes up and you need to step away.
We need to have a plan in case of emergencies because they will come up in your business. When I say “emergency” in this case, I’m not referring to a one day event. I’m talking about something bigger that is going to force you away from your business for several days where it will be noticeable if you drop out of sight for awhile.
Develop a Backup Plan
1.) Decide on the Essentials
We know bad things have the potential to happen and we need to have a plan for when they do. Create a list of the things you do on a daily or weekly basis within your brand. Once you have that list, cross off the non-essentials (meaning the daily social media chatting, the instagram pictures you post, any of the “just because” things you do to engage followers) Keep things that have become an expected staple in your business (weekly blog posts, newsletter, etc) Know what you need to make happen even when you aren’t available to do it.
Then create a plan for how you are going to keep these essential parts of your business going even when you can’t be there to do it yourself. Once you know what you need to accomplish, it’s easier to make a plan.
2.) Reach out to Important Contacts
Have a list of the people connected to your business that you need to contact in case an emergency comes up. Have this as an actual list both on your computer and on paper. You need to be able to hand off this list to someone should you be unable to do it yourself.
Your list should include people like your publisher, editor, CP, business partner, publicist, etc. Anyone you are responsible to or accountable to. Think: anyone paying you or being paid by you. (If work is going to stop between you and someone for an amount of time longer than a day or two, they need to know)
3.) Have Someone Who Can Step In
When you find yourself out of commission, you need to have someone who can step in for you and handle the tasks you can’t. This could mean reaching out to your important contacts and letting them know what is happening. It could mean handling your social media and blog postings for awhile. It could mean informing your fans you’ll be out of reach for a few days. This person could be in charge of handling your bills while you can’t (this is in reference to people you need to pay for cover design, trailer creation, publicity, etc)
Find someone you trust, who understands your brand, business, and the technology you use that can do your job for you temporarily. Consider your business partner, spouse, sibling, best friend, etc.
Talk to them about this first so in case an emergency comes up they already know what they are in charge of. Train them if you need to. Write out step by step directions and have them accessible if you need to. Make sure both you and your Step In person are prepared.
Side note: if you know you’re going to be gone for a certain amount of time and you have the ability to handle some of this early on, you can schedule your own content to post when you need it to, but have a Helper Person ready in case your emergency will not allow you to schedule it yourself.
4.) Create Emergency Content
If you have something come up and you’re going to be away for more than three or four days, you need to make sure the basics of your brand are attended to. Your Step In should not be, and cannot be, doing everything you do for your brand. They should, however, be making sure you don’t disappear off the internet. This means you need to be prepared to make that happen by creating emergency content.
You should be putting out new and engaging content every single week. Take some time to come up with a handful of blog posts and social media posts that you can have your Step In put up for you that aren’t time sensitive.
School teachers are required to have several days worth of emergency lesson plans in case something comes up and they can’t make up to date plans. These are basically time fillers for the students, but on occasion, a teacher plans valuable content instead of busy work.
Your goal should be to create a handful (think four or five) valuable blog posts that your Helper Person can put up for you while you are out. Remember, this is not busy work. These should be posts that are not time sensitive, should not be essential to informing your fans of, should not alter the reality of your brand (nothing earth shattering or brilliant because you won’t be there to interact) and should not require you to answer a lot of questions. Also note, you may never use these, so avoid things that are important to let your fans know.
Good topics include things like: behind the scenes information and images, a story about your story, information on how you find inspiration, a look into the author world and how you interact with fellow authors, how an event from your childhood shaped something in your writing or your career choice, thoughts on how a particular person inspired you, what you love that your fans do, an actual thank you note to your fans for being so awesome, a look at your daily writing routine, etc.
Anything that isn’t essential to your branding and marketing that is still interesting and holds value to your audience is a good thing to store away for events like emergencies. Remember, nothing time sensitive or important to the fandom because these are being withheld unless you run into an emergency situation which will hopefully be never (no emergency=no one ever sees these posts)
5.) Be Prepared to be Public
We like to keep things close to the vest. No one needs to know our drama, family situations or medical life. I get it, trust me. I don’t even post most personal things on my facebook page.
However, you might find yourself in a situation that’s going to keep you away for a longer time. You or a family member might be really sick, something sad might have happened, you might have to leave the state or country to handle something. These times when you will be gone a significant amount of time (long enough for fans to notice and worry) you have to be prepared to come forward with it.
They certainly don’t need many details and you should only share what you feel comfortable sharing, but you’ve got to check in with them and let them know something unexpected came up, you’re super sorry, and you’re going to be gone for a little bit to take care of it. Let them know you will keep them as posted as you can, and you’ll let them know of your return as soon as you know when that will be.
Don’t forget to be specific. If you’re having a Helper Person handle things, tell them (person) is going to be checking in and posting. If you know you’re going to be flooded with fan messages, redirect them. Tell them you’re grateful in advance for their concern, but you won’t be able to check messages and the best thing they can do is (give them a mission-something like reread your book and post favorite lines using a hashtag you create so they can help you smile when you get to check in) You can also redirect them to a person, likely your publicist, who will give information as available. Remind them not to message your publicist because they can’t be there to talk to you if they are busy reading through well wishes.
If you can, let fans know once it’s all over you will doing something fun for them, like a live twitter party or a special book reading. You want to assure them that they will have you back once you get through your emergency so they don’t panic.
The main goal here it to be prepared. You need to have a system in place should something arise and you need to know how to handle it if it does.
Once you create a system and have everything in place, you will be able to just walk away when you need to.
Prepare your team for emergency situations, make sure they know where everything is and what to do, and when something happens you don’t have to stress about getting things done because you know they will happen.
Make sure you grab that emergency Author Contact List above, have a few days worth of content planned out, and have instructions on how your Helper Person should handle everything, both practical and technical so they understand how to do the things you need them to do.
If an emergency comes up, people will understand and they’ll jump to help you out. Never underestimate the willingness of people to show kindness.