Tips and Advice for Authors (Lockdown Edition)

For many, disappearing into the pages of a good book is a reliable means of escaping the real world and brightening up their normal day-to-day. And if you’re anything like us, at no time in recent memory has the urge to escape been more profound than in these past six weeks with the arrival of quarantines and lockdowns due to the Coronavirus.  Which is why no one should be surprised that people are reading in much greater numbers. The LA Times recently wrote that, “Ebooks and digital audiobooks are selling better than usual, alongside the print books Amazon and a few others manage to deliver.”

Which means that it is authors—those often overlooked and usually underpaid wordsmiths—who are providing something in the way of relief (see #booksareessential).

There is much precedent for hardship sparking creativity. William Shakespeare wrote King Lear, Macbeth, and Antony and Cleopatra in the early 1600s while quarantining from the plague. Charles Bukowski, the German-born American novelist, short story writer and poet, wrote that, “Poetry is what happens when nothing else can”. More recently author Sloane Crosley noted in The New York Times, that “For writers, as the tentacles of the Coronavirus unfurl each day, everything is copy.” And a post in The Guardian queried, “Finally working on that novel as you self-isolate? You’re not alone.

The takeaway: if you are able, use this enforced period of isolation as best you can to be creative.

But don’t be too hard on yourself if the words aren’t flowing. While the inspiration might be there, having to work a second job from home while keeping your kids from killing each other means you still may truly not have the time. W. Scott Poole, College of Charleston Professor and author of books like Monsters in America: Our Historical Obsession with the Hideous and the Haunting, says that , “I think it’s also important for…writers who are just beginning, to give themselves a break if they can’t focus right at this moment. Real writers never feel they are writing enough.”

For those of you having a harder time getting started, or completing your work, take a look at these tips on working from home recently compiled by The Guardian, including “Do the hard things first”, “Have a routine and stick to it” and “The internet is your enemy”. You may also want to check out a blog on Medium called, Creative Support During the Coronavirus that offers writing tips, spotlights, and updates.

Those who are able to access their muse may find that, now in particular, being able to handle all aspects of publishing is a clear benefit.

These days it is traditionally published authors who have books ready to go who are stuck in limbo, and those who know how to navigate publishing and distribution on their own have a clear advantage.  But with so many people out of work, they may not have the funds. Writers who are struggling should check out, “Resources for Writers in the Time of Coronavirus”, recently posted by Poets and Writers, which provides a great list of financial resources, including many grant offerings.

And because we have so much faith in the indie community we’ve been privileged to work with over the past decade, IndieReader has launched a new option where authors can purchase a Pro Book review and submit their work whenever it’s finished (no pressure!). And through May 15th, we’re also offering a discount on our Pro Reviews and IR Discovery Awards submissions.

So stay safe, stay healthy and stay creative.

Vive la indie!