Dear Agony Editor,
The other day, my publisher confirmed the news I’d been dreading: my new book will be launched online, thanks to COVID-19. I’m trying to keep a positive attitude, but I’m devastated. This book means everything to me and I’m afraid it will fall into the online abyss. How do I make the best of this situation?
Dear Virtual Blues,
I feel for you. It’s been a difficult time for authors, publishers, and literary festivals, although the industry has been incredibly nimble in adapting to this online shift. If it’s any consolation, you’re not alone. Artists in all fields have had to pause their work or, in the worst-case scenarios, have said an indefinite goodbye to that work.
But things might not be as dire as you think. There’s an excellent chance you’ll reach new or broader audiences who wouldn’t be able to travel to an in-person event. And you could attract attention from festivals that wouldn’t otherwise be able to pay for your travel expenses.
Now is not the time for modesty, either. Ensure your online presence is as strong as possible and use your networks to promote your work. Ask your publisher to create some social media graphics for your book and then share them with fellow writers and friends to spread the word across their platforms.
In spite of the challenges, writers who are publishing books during this time are learning valuable lessons that will help inform the launch of their next book. Post pandemic, I anticipate many literary events will continue to have online components.
It’s also important to remember that bad timing can affect any book at any time. You could be launching it under the shadow of another book that sucks up all the media attention. We may like to think we have everyone’s attention when it’s time to put our work into the world, but that’s not reality.
The more resilient and adaptable you are, the better your chances of success – tomorrow and in the long run. And a reminder that kindness will go a long way with your publishing team. It’s hard for them as well.