Last year, when my editor let me know that my novel The Arctic Fury was set to release in December of 2020, I thought, That’s great!
Then as 2020 rapidly fell apart as we all struggled (and continue to struggle) through a worldwide pandemic, bitterly fought election season, and something like the implosion of a thousand standards we all once took for granted, I thought, Well, it kinda feels like 2020 may not be the best time to launch a new book into the world.
And you know what? It’s not. The Arctic Fury came out on schedule last week. In some ways, it was deeply unlike releasing a book at another, let’s say “less disrupted”, time. But in other ways, it might have been even more satisfying. So let’s talk about what’s new and what’s not.
- In-person tours are off the table. Period. I’ve heard anecdotal bits about a few authors here and there doing limited-contact in-person appearances, but for the vast majority of us, the idea of getting on a plane (!) and staying overnight in a hotel room (!) to stand indoors for an hour with a dozen or more strangers (!) in the time of COVID has lost all appeal, no matter how much we love meeting readers.
- Frankly, people have a lot more on their minds these days, and with rising unemployment, many have a lot less money in their wallets. Book buying is a luxury, and while I haven’t looked at my sales figures, I don’t expect them to measure up to previous years.
Okay. So, that doesn’t sound so great. But! Here are some reasons not to despair:
- Even with all of our other concerns and distractions, I still feel all the love from other authors as they support new work making its way into the world. The outpouring of enthusiasm and love from the writing community this week has been absolutely stunning.
- There are still ways to reach readers. Social media has its pros and cons–that’s a topic for another day–but virtual events have really taken off in the past nine months, and in many ways, they’re better than in-person events. An author can work with bookstores and libraries regardless of location; I’ve been lucky enough to do joint events and panels with fellow authors located anywhere from New Hampshire to Los Angeles. When geography isn’t a concern, you open yourself up to far greater possibilities.
- While I love many things about in-person book tours, here’s a cold hard fact: I’m a far more productive writer at home than I would be on the road. With two young kids at home, an hour on a virtual event is exactly an hour of my time, as opposed to an hour at a far-flung bookstore, which could require as much as 24 hours of travel for that same hour of reader face-time. With COVID’s other challenges, I need every minute of writing time I’ve got.
Would I still rather be releasing a book in non-COVID times than COVID times? Yes, mostly because that would mean no COVID (ah, the dream). But the silver lining has been more substantial than I’d hoped for. We still have both the ability and the need to celebrate.
Q: What have you noticed about what has and hasn’t changed about launching a book this year?