A recent headline on the Poynter Institute’s website caught our eye: “Calendars might be the next great online publishing tool.”
Originally published in Poynter’s “Try This – Tools for Journalism” newsletter, the piece showcased certain publications that had created digital calendars for their readers, such as the Minneapolis Star Tribune‘s 2018 election calendar, which was designed to help readers keep up with election dates and related information.
A more current example is the New York Times’ Space Calendar, which aims to “sync your calendar with the solar system.” Readers who add the Times’ webcal link to their iCal/Outlook/Google calendar can easily receive notifications about important astronomic dates, such as the vernal equinox on March 20 and the final supermoon sighting of 2019 on March 21 – notifications that include related links to articles from the Times for those who want to learn more about the day’s event.
It’s easy to imagine how other event-based coverage can adopt the system: Fashion Week, awards show season, sporting events, and upcoming elections are all prime topics that would benefit from a reader calendar. (“Oh, the Oscars are tonight – I’ll see who Entertainment Weekly predicts will walk away with the trophy.”)
But why couldn’t authors adopt this promotional tool, too? Granted, it may be more useful for authors with at least a midlevel following, but here are some ways we could see online calendars benefiting a publishing career:
-Have a book coming out? Let fans access a calendar that contains your title’s release date, pre-order availability date, book cover reveal, paperback launch, etc.
-Create a calendar with book tour/media appearances so readers can follow your promotional journey from afar. (Oh, my favorite author is on NPR this morning – I’ll be sure to tune in.)
-If your fiction involves a lot of worldbuilding, why not create a calendar with character birthdays or event anniversaries? If you were a fan of the Harry Potter or a Song of Fire and Ice series, wouldn’t you be interested in knowing when Hermoine Granger was born or when Daenerys Targaryen became the Mother of Dragons?
-If you’re a nonfiction author, you’re a prime authority to create a focused calendar based on your area of expertise. Fill in important dates in your history’s timeline or your biography subject’s life – in addition to building reader engagement, it’ll also help readers understand the chronological distance between key events in your book.
-Writing in the self-help space? Create a multi-step improvement program that readers can easily follow via their personal calendars. Each week, day, month, etc. can contain a different challenge, exercise, or piece of inspiration.
Your readers already use calendars to help them keep track of different events. Why not meet them where they are – and promote your book in the process?