Sunday, February 6, 2022

Finding a New Normal

We seem to have moved from “unprecedented times” to “a constantly fluid situation”. What did you learn in 2021 about the “new normal” of the business of being an author that you’re going to use to help your future career, and please tell us what you’re planning for 2022.

Brenda Chapman here.

The impact of the pandemic on the book industry is difficult to analyse, but easier to see on a personal level. Initially, the lockdown meant that all the public appearances, the launch and media interviews I had planned for Closing Time were off the table. As the pandemic stretched on, I learned about Zoom and Instagram and Facebook live and the benefits of reaching readers through social media. Authors rallied and began holding virtual events. As Crime Writers of Canada Director for Ottawa/Eastern Ontario, I  initiated a series of interviews with authors from this region. We all pivoted and adapted.

As we're into the third year of the pandemic, we're still adapting. I have the first book in a new series, Bllnd Date, A Hunter and Tate Mystery, being released March 1st, and the launch will be virtual. I haven't lined up any appearances and will rely on social media to get the word out. I've been fortunate to have my neighbourhood newspaper, Kitchissippi Times, run an article in the February edition about my writing, and I'll propose interviews with a few other local news outlets, even if virtual, something I've also been fortunate enough to experience this past year.

Visiting bookclubs through Zoom in other cities has also proven to be a new opportunity, arising out of the pandemic. I have one coming up next month, having already visited two this year. One group of women gathered outdoors around a fire with glasses of wine with a screen set up for my call. A fun way to meet readers across the country (potentially world) that I never would have dreamed of before Covid lockdowns.

I joined Sisters in Crime after the pandemic started and have sat in on a lot of Zoom webinars (also by Crime Writers of Canada, The Writers Union of Canada and Capital Crime Writers), enjoying the learning experiences and the chances to connect with other writers about the craft. One session was about marketing and I purchased Book Brush as a result. I've used this program a lot to make ads, something I never would have contemplated before.

Another benefit from our new virtual world has been seen in the public libraries. Readers around the world are taking out electronic books in record numbers. I've been surprised to find the two books from my Stonechild and Rouleau series to be in the top ten borrowed audiobooks for 2021 in several countries, including the U.K., Australia, New Zealand, the U.S. and Canada. People like the convenience of checking out a book without having to leave home.

All this to say, the new normal for writers has changed drastically, in some ways making getting one's book noticed more difficult. However, if a book does rise above the crowd in the virtual environment, the opportunities to reach more readers are there. It's still sad that three years into the pandemic, we can't meet readers in person or attend events, including book conferences. It'll be a mighty fine day when we can safely congregate to talk books and once again raise a glass together.


Susan C Shea said...

You did well with the changes, Brenda. I’m impressed!

Josh Stallings said...

I'm impressed as well. I seemed to have cacooned into my typing. Thanks for sharing so many ways to get out there without getting out there. What is Book Brush?