Releasing a Book during a Global Pandemic with Jason R. Lady
How did you decide upon December 17, 2020 as the release date for your latest novel Super Problems?
The December 17, 2020 release date was already set on my publisher’s schedule before the pandemic started. My first book, Monster Problems, came out in December 2019 so not only was the timing set to be one year later, but also to come out around the holiday gift-giving season. As the pandemic started and I looked ahead to December 2020, I knew my plans for promoting and marketing both of my books would have to be change but at the time I had no idea what that looked like.
Were you nervous about releasing a book during a global pandemic? What were some specific elements of the process that made you anxious?
I was definitely anxious, and also disheartened.
When Monster Problems came out in December 2019, I’d already lined up quite a few bookstore signing events, and Monster Problems was accepted to the Ohioana Library Association Book Festival and the Kentucky Book Festival. I did several book signings in January and February 2020, right before the pandemic hit, and was doing very well–I completely sold out all the copies of Monster Problems at the book signing I did at my local Barnes and Noble. I’m a children’s book writer and I was having a blast meeting the kids and their parents and grandparents. I made a few very cool contacts and was looking forward to 2020 being filled with these events.
Then, suddenly, I couldn’t do any of these in-person events. Several events I was going to sign books at were cancelled. The two book festivals were moved online, which was still a great opportunity, but being a new and unknown author, I find I get my best traction when people can “run into me” at an event. Without the in-person element, I lost that. It was discouraging to get a taste of it and then those opportunities were taken away. School visits were out, and even virtual meet-ups couldn’t happen because teachers were understandably overwhelmed with the sudden surge of virtual learning. Pretty much every author with a book coming out in 2020 went through the same things I did. Anxiousness really comes from realizing, “Wow, I could’ve met so many people and introduced them to my books, and now my books won’t get that opportunity.” After the hard work it took to write both books and get them published, it was a bitter pill to swallow.
How have you adapted your plan of action for the release of Super Problems to fit the “new normal” during this time?
I adapted by seeking out more opportunities to promote Super Problems online. I searched the internet and Instagram for childrens book reviewers. I did my cover reveal and my book launch on Instagram Live, which I’d never used before, but figured it out. Leading up to the release of my new book, I did monthly book giveaways of my first book. My publisher is doing a Goodreads book giveaway. Someone described the strategy to me this way: “Instead of building your own microphone, find the microphones of others.” So that’s what I’m doing, little by little. I also started doing the VSS (Very Short Stories) daily on Twitter and Instagram, just so I am getting something out on social media on a regular basis.
Has the actual release of Super Problems alleviated your concerns or is the whole launch process still somewhat of an uphill battle?
It’s still somewhat of an uphill battle. There are tons of books out there and it’s really hard to get yours noticed. Again, I think I could’ve built a nice grass-roots following through meeting people in person, but since I can’t do that, I’m glad I at least have online resources. The things I’m doing wouldn’t have been possible 20 years ago.
As a writer how have the events of this pandemic impacted you specifically?
The stress and the cabin fever definitely took a toll on me in 2020. I knew I should be writing my third book but I just didn’t have it in me until towards the end of the year, when I finally started writing a first draft. My “gas tank” was pretty empty for a while there. My books are fun and zany adventure stories and I just couldn’t get into that mindset for a while with all the worrying, uncertainty, and bad news.
Has the COVID-19 pandemic had any positive impacts on you as a writer or on your craft?
I’d say it’s forced me to slow down and assess and not put so much pressure on myself. At the end of the day, each of us can only do our best. During this pandemic we are all operating with less bandwidth and energy than we normally would have. I’ve had two books come out in a little under a year, so I can take a little more time to write my third book and give myself some space to also promote the two that are published.
What advice would you give to other writers going through the release process or even just in the beginning stage of working on a novel during this time?
A lot of great resources can be found online. Be persistent and don’t be shy about knocking on virtual doors to see if someone might review or feature your book. The internet also enables you to connect with a wider range of people-readers and book reviewers-than we could otherwise. I found three book reviewers in the UK to review my new book, which may lead to some international sales, which would be great! Leverage your personal network–family, friends, coworkers, etc. and make sure they know you’ve written a book. They can be a great source of reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. And if you’re in the beginning stages of working on a novel, don’t worry about the book release and what will happen with that. Take it one step at a time. Concentrate on creating a quality product first. Don’t stop believing in yourself and that you have a story to share with the world.
Jason R. Lady
Jason is a self described army brat who moved a lot, living on military bases from Germany to Fort Knox, Kentucky. Jason made friends by drawing comics and writing stories that starred the kids in each new school. When he’s not writing, Jason listens to 80s music, is into superheroes, and is working on visiting every MLB stadium. He lives with his wife in Cleveland, Ohio. Jason’s first novel was the middle grade adventure Monster Problems. The prequel, Super Problems, was released in December 2020. Monster Problems was accepted to the Ohioana Library Association Book Festival and the Kentucky Book Festival.