The COVID-19 pandemic has largely forced authors to put tradition aside when it comes to promoting their books, and find creative and innovative ways to get the attention of readers. Bookstore customers sitting on folding chairs, clutching cups of punch while the author speaks a few feet away has become a rarity, if it happens at all these days. Writers are autographing books in the relative safety of their homes and shipping them to fans who’ve pre-paid the costs through an app. Book parties, author panels, and readings are held on Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms.

As the virus persists in playing a significant role in our lives, it’s become clear that at least one safety product won’t be shelved anytime soon. And that product—a face mask—can be a vehicle for promoting a book. We wear the face mask everywhere: to the supermarket, the library, the shopping mall, restaurants. Their pervasiveness makes them miniature billboards for the wearer to express themselves, whether to make a fashion statement, share a beloved piece of artwork, or showcase the cover of a book.

Businesses are employing the strategy. They are investing in customized face masks to influence people to make a purchase, sign up for the newsletter, or take other potentially beneficial actions. Much like a book cover, a company logo is the main tool that introduces potential customers to the product. It can make a lasting impression and stimulate a customer’s curiosity.

Choose a reputable manufacturer of personal protective equipment (PPE) for the production of your face masks to ensure the highest quality of materials are used. Ideally, the masks should be comfortable, soft, stretchable, breathable, and washable. Stretchable ear loops and elastic at the top and bottom provide greater flexibility.

For my face masks, I used a high resolution bookstagram image I had a designer create not long after my book, The Talking Drum, was published and sent it to a customized mask production company. I’ve contacted my book champions—friends and family who’ve been my volunteer book promotion squad—and sent them the customized masks. I anticipate them wearing them whenever they leave the house, potentially increasing my customer base.

Lisa Braxton is an Emmy-nominated former television journalist, an essayist, short story writer, and novelist. She is a fellow of the Kimbilio Fiction Writers Program and was a finalist in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition. She earned her MFA in creative writing from Southern New Hampshire University, her M.S. in journalism from Northwestern University, and her B.A. in Mass Media from Hampton University. Her stories have been published in anthologies and literary journals. She lives in the Boston, Massachusetts area. The Talking Drum is her debut novel. www.lisabraxton.com