Looking Back on a Pandemic Book Release

Back in the day, before the world shut down due to COVID, my publisher (She Writes Press) gave me August 18, 2020, as the release date for my novel The Aloha Spirit. There are many exciting milestones on the road to publishing a book, but having an actual release date makes the whole process real. On August 18, 2020, my book would be out in the world for everyone to read!

I busily began planning a massive launch event. Near my house is a village square surrounded by businesses. Every Friday all summer long, they hosted a Movie Night. That meant the square would already be filled with a couple hundred people. I wouldn’t have to experience that common author dread, “What if nobody comes?” We scheduled my event for August 14. It would be the last Movie Night of the summer.

Brainstorming commenced in January 2020. To tie into my book, planners would get Moana as the movie. They could serve mai tais to the adults. I would order cookies with pictures of my book cover on them for the kids. Before the movie, I would talk about the book and read a bit of it. During the movie, I would have a table where I could sell and sign books. There was talk of leis, Hawaiian decorations, posters… It would be an exciting event!

In March, the world shut down. Not only would I not have a fabulous launch event, I would have no events at all. All the authors publishing with She Writes Press that year were stunned. Publication would go ahead as planned. Events would not. Over the next few months I cycled through panic, fear, depression, and acceptance.

We all became masters of Zoom very quickly. At first, virtual events were scarce and sparsely attended. Authors banded together and supported each other, growing our social media presence so people could learn about our virtual events.

My book launch didn’t go as planned, but the reading public was receptive to virtual events, and they still are. I can speak at conferences and visit book clubs that are far away from me, and I enjoy that very much. Adversity creates bonds, and the authors who published in 2020 with me are still supporting each other. Many of us are getting ready to release another book. I wonder what our release events will look like in 2023? In the meantime, happy book birthday to The Aloha Spirit.

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