Daily Archives: May 13, 2021

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What If You Planned a Party and Nobody Came?

May 13, 2021 by in category From a Cabin in the Woods by Members of Bethlehem Writers Group tagged as , , , ,

What if you spent a year planning a party, sent out the invitations, and nobody came? For the past year, that has been the scenario for writers and readers. Each writer’s plan was simple: write the book and go on tour launching it. Readers looked forward to the party aspect of interacting with authors at bookstores, libraries, and conferences. Then, on March 14, 2020, the world shut down.

That weekend, I was in Washington, D.C. at a family function, not knowing it would be a year or more until I saw those loved ones again. Before arriving in Washington, I had been on a whirlwind tour for newly released Three Treats Too Many, the third book in Kensington’s Sarah Blair mystery series. The tour had taken me to Los Angeles, San Diego, Phoenix, Denver, Memphis, Fairhope, New York, and Atlanta in two months. More stops were planned for April through August, but they were canceled.

I, like many authors, had to pivot. We spoke to groups or participated in panels virtually. Authors learned to sit up straight, use microphones or earphones, adjust lighting and backgrounds, and provide bookplates instead of only bookmarks. Using Zoom, Crowdcast, or other platforms was a good substitute, but not the same as live interaction with readers and bookstore owners. Reaction times were different, especially for webinar platforms where readers could only communicate by leaving a chat message.

Although readers still establish links between themselves and the characters in books they choose to read, experimentation with new authors dropped. Why? Housebound, people found comfort spending time with familiar characters and scenes that brought back good memories.

Four Cuts Too Many, the fourth Sarah Blair book releases May 25. In it, Sarah, who finds being in the kitchen more frightening than murder, has no desire to learn knife skills from her friend, sous chef and adjunct college instructor, Grace Winston. But, when Grace’s department chair is found dead with one of Grace’s knives in his neck, Sarah is forced to sharpen her own skills to uncover the elusive killer. The premise and the book are fun, especially for a summer beach, airplane, or bath read, but how to launch it to the most people is a dilemma.

It is a problem that is not mine alone (although it sometimes feels like it). Most authors with release dates that would offer readers the perfect summer book are finding that stores are still not having large in person book parties nor are the usual conferences taking place. Consequently, we’re planning individual virtual store appearances or panels, we’re increasing our number of Facebook parties and group take-overs, more blogs are being written, and we’re hoping for word-of-mouth help.

Whether it is Four Cuts Too Many or any other book you read, review it, and tell your friends about it. Publishers look at sales and numbers, so it is important that readers and writers work together if favorite series and characters are to be survive the pandemic.

I know I can’t wait to see you in person again, but in the meantime, do you have any ideas how you’d like authors to connect with you? I’ve got my pen and paper ready to take notes.

Judge Debra H. Goldstein is the author of Kensington’s new Sarah Blair cozy mystery series, which debuted with One Taste Too Many on December 18, 2018. She also wrote Should Have Played Poker and 2012 IPPY Award winning Maze in Blue. Her short stories, including Anthony and Agatha nominated “The Night They Burned Ms. Dixie’s Place,” have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies including Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, Black Cat Mystery Magazine, and Mystery Weekly. Debra is president of Sisters in Crime’s Guppy Chapter, serves on SinC’s national board, and is president of the Southeast Chapter of Mystery Writers of America.

Find out more about Debra at any of the following links:


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