Debut in a Pandemic

Globe in a bookshop

It’s been tricky deciding how to blog these last few weeks, hence my silence. Coronavirus has knocked all the stuffing out of my early attempts at promoting my debut. I did my Yorkshire bookshop tour which, as you’ll know from my previous blogs, went swimmingly. It was a joy to see Oranges and Lemons on the shelves of some delightful little independent bookshops. Well, at least it made it that far! I began having discussions with various venues and book supervisors about exciting events like signings and launches. I put dates in my diary, some definite, others pencilled-in, waiting for confirmation. A few booksellers graciously accepted their copy of Oranges and Lemons with a view to reading it before placing an order for further copies from the wholesalers.
I returned to Scotland feeling euphoric and I shared the news with friends and fellow writers. Then I allocated days and weeks in my diary for Book Tour Phase Two which would involve visiting some lovely independent bookshops north of the border. I spent the next couple of weeks writing and posting my tour blog and making - and acting on - a long list of follow-up ‘to do’s’ resulting from the tour.
As I returned home, the UK media were reporting on a handful of British cases of coronavirus. By the time I’d finished blogging, my head brimming with which ‘to do’ to do next, the numbers had soared. And, with my daughter’s 19th birthday approaching, I’d been on the brink of booking a restaurant but the then-new, but now so familiar, term ‘social distancing’ had begun to dominate the headlines, so we decided to celebrate at home instead. Within days, it seemed as if the whole world was shutting down. All the restaurants closed. . . and so did all the bookshops.
On my tour, one of the booksellers had very kindly promised she would call me when my first book was bought from her shelves. Sadly, that wasn’t to happen.
As for many other writers, the release of my novel had clashed with a huge, global onslaught that was to have more far-reaching consequences that we’d imagined possible from a tiny, microscopic germ - particularly for those of us in our First World cocoons - and from which we’ll still be reeling for some time indeterminate to come.
Funnily enough, Oranges and Lemons has continued to sell although in very small numbers. However, sales are becoming more challenging as, like other non-essential businesses, the book wholesalers have closed indefinitely. Even Amazon, it seems, will sell only what they currently have in stock because books are not considered fundamental to current living.
So, for now, I can supply my signed author copies on request and look back on my windblown, snow-dusted Yorkshire Tour of February and let it inspire and kickstart my Bookshop Tour Phase Two! Perhaps I’ll reflect on how it felt several months ago to have those newly printed books in my hand and then I’ll begin the promotion of my debut all over again!

I’d love to hear from other writers who have had to abort or rethink their book promotion strategy. Do please get in touch.

Until the bookshops reopen and Amazon returns to normal functioning, Oranges and Lemons is still available from https://www.troubador.co.uk/bookshop/young-adult/oranges-and-lemons/
Alternatively, signed author copies are available from me. Please email me using the ‘Contact me’ form and I'd be delighted to hand deliver (keeping a distance) in Glasgow or post to addresses further afield.

2 thoughts on “Debut in a Pandemic”

  1. Very frustrating for you, Paula. Lots of other authors will recognise your situation. As you say, your experience is just one example of what’s happening across the world and it looks like you’ve managed to keep a sense of perspective, and humour. I’m sure things will pick up and you’ll be able to relaunch your book. And no doubt you’re working on new projects in the meantime. In the meantime, for anyone who hasn’t read ‘Oranges and Lemons’, I can really recommend it for adults and teens alike.

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