Caroline Leavitt and Jenna Blum are cofounders of A Mighty Blaze, a social media initiative for authors whose tours have been canceled by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. They hope by lighting “a mighty blaze” authors will still be able to reach their readers—and readers will also have a place to go every week to find and buy new books.
Join them on social media for Pub Day Tuesdays, Indie Bookstore Wednesdays (when indies takeover), Celebrity Spotlight Thursdays, Cocktail Hour Fridays, Social Media for Authors Saturdays and Giveback Sundays. And look out for A Mighty Blaze hosting the Newburyport (Mass.) Literary Festival on social media with live author interviews and virtual cocktail parties on April 25.
They have quickly taken the literary world by storm and been featured in The Washington Post, O, The Oprah Magazine, People, and Publishers Weekly for their efforts and quick work in helping authors promote their books with virtual events. Learn more at amightyblaze.com or by following @AMightyBlaze on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Where did the idea for A Mighty Blaze come from?
When Caroline’s first tour event for With or Without You (August) was cancelled, she started the Nothing is Cancelled Book Tour out of frustration, making virtual book tours for authors and for herself. Soon inundated, she partnered with fellow NYT author Jenna Blum to form A Mighty Blaze, an initiative to help publishing authors with cancelled tours and indie bookstores with shuttered doors.
What’s the biggest thing that fellow authors can do to support the growth of A Mighty Blaze? What about readers and supporters?
Please come to our FB page and like our posts! Retweet, repost, amplify everything we do! If you are an author who lost a tour, we want to hear from you!
What’s the reasoning behind the criteria you’ve set up (the book has to be traditionally published for adult readers, and the author’s book tour has to have been canceled) in order to be promoted via A Mighty Blaze? Do you plan to expand beyond those two criteria?
We started out with just Jenna Blum and Caroline Leavitt, and we couldn’t handle every single author. Even now, with our unpaid staff of 19, we still can’t! So we narrowed our focus to those who had tours that were cancelled and who were traditionally published (which often are the only group that DOES get a tour.) As we grow, we may be able to expand to include hybrid presses like She Writes or even self-published works.
You’ve grown a lot since your launch on March 13th (Congrats!)—what can readers and supporters currently find on your social media accounts and website?
EVERYTHING. Author interviews with Reading with Robin. Celebrity authors like Anne Lamott interviewing authors. Debut day to focus on great new debuts. Give Back Sunday to promote helping others. Indie Bookstore day. We are expanding ad changing every day, so I guess the best answer is—you’ll see!
What ideas do you have or are you working on next for how to grow and expand the community?
We have an outreach arm where we reach out to writers, to industry people. We are running the Newburyport Literary Festival on our page. We have given over our page to an indie bookstore. We hope to have more partnerships and to offer more in terms of support to writers.
Are there any lessons you hope the book publishing industry learns from A Mighty Blaze and its community for how to conduct events and/or how published books get promoted once the lockdown is over?
We would never presume to know as much as the book publishing industry, but one thing we are seeing is that writers don’t quite know how to use social media themselves, and if we can teach them, that would be a HUGE help to their publishers, to the writers, to the books, and to readers, too!
How can authors that meet your criteria ensure that they are featured and promoted via A Mighty Blaze?
We have explicit directions and writers who want to be featured (all pubbing can post) must have all their information (a video, an interview, whatever else they want to post) a week before pub date sent to us. We also get so many, many writers that we only can really feature ten each week, something that is done by committee here.
Do you see A Mighty Blaze potentially moving into the self-publishing world?
While we love all kinds of writers and all kinds of publishing, right now we don’t have the bandwidth to feature those who are self-published, but that can change in a heartbeat, as we continue to grow!
What sort of response are you getting from the authors that are participating in your online events?
Amazing response. Instead of pubbing a book into a black hole, they are getting interviews, and social media pings, and they have a real presence online—which is real everyone is right now. And they are telling their friends!
What are your thoughts for the future i.e. once the pandemic and lockdown are over and in-person?
Even after events are possible once again, we still very much feel that authors can use help! The more publicity and promotion the better, and we are also planning to offer training to authors. How best to use Instagram? How to do a radio interview where you make your main points without seeming to be an automaton while doing it.
Currently, participation in A Might Blaze is free, but there’s the potential of monetizing it in some fashion in the future—how do you see A Mighty Blaze expanding and growing once that switch happens?
We are very much in the baby stage of this, but as I mentioned, we do imagine offering packages to writers, training for how to best use Twitter, for how to make an Instagram post that might go viral, how to do a Radio interview where you don’t’ get rattled and you make your main points.
Do you need a ghostwriter? Pitch your book to us below, and we’ll work to match you with ghostwriters who can help you bring your vision to life.