My new novel, When Enemies Offend Thee, was released on March 1—a happy, ebullient time until 11 days later when the governor of Pennsylvania closed all non-essential businesses, including bookstores, and issued a stay-at-home order for my part of the state. Consequently, my book launch party was canceled along with any readings and book signings I had scheduled for the foreseeable future. And so it remains.
I don’t know when I’ll be able to connect with readers in person, which is one of my favorite things about being an author. There’s nothing better than talking with readers about their thoughts on characters, motivations, and plot development.
And then there’s the challenge of letting readers know about When Enemies Offend Thee with no parties, signings, or readings. That’s what I really want to talk about today because the outpouring of support from literary organizations, online readers’ groups, and other authors for authors who are releasing books now is amazing.
Ashley Spivey, who is one of the most upbeat people I’ve ever met, online or offline, offered to let authors whose books are coming out now take over the Spivey’s Book Club Instagram channel and Facebook page for a day with live questions and responses. They’re a sharp group, so answering their questions was stimulating and fun.
Therese Walsh, founder of Writer Unboxed, launched the Helping Fellow Authors in the Age of COVID-19 (HFAAC) series. To participate in the series, authors submitted videos of themselves introducing their books. The videos were then posted on the Writer Unboxed website. My submission was too late to be included in the series, but Therese couldn’t have been nicer about it. She offered instead to post my video and those of many others on the Writer Unboxed YouTube channel.
Wiley Cash, author of The Last Ballad and A Land More Kind Than Home, changed the name of his online Open Canon book club to Corona Canon book club for several weeks, during which he featured books released in March and April.
Douglas Preston, president of the Authors Guild, appealed to fellow authors, especially bestselling authors, to make videos to help promote lesser-known authors publishing during the time of the pandemic. The videos were then posted on the Authors Guild YouTube channel.
Two authors, Jenna Blum and Caroline Leavitt, created a brand new social media initiative called A Mighty Blaze to help authors whose tours have been canceled still reach their readers and to give readers a place to find and buy new books every week. On each Tuesday between March 17 and June 2, A Mighty Blaze features writers whose books are released on that day. The writers are invited to post messages, photos, cover art, and videos on A Mighty Blaze’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages.
Another group, Our Own Write, is organizing a virtual book fair for pandemic authors for May 27 on Twitter Live. Their format will offer 30 minutes for each author to read from his or her book and then answer questions live. I’m working with them now on my presentation, and they’ve been extremely helpful.
And there are probably more organizations and authors reaching out to help. I’ve always known that writers’ and readers’ communities include some of the most caring people on the planet, and their concern for others during this crisis is proof. So I encourage all readers and authors to support these groups. Visit their websites and social media pages. Return the love.