Once again, I have managed to stumble across some excellent wisdom about writing. This is from the Career Authors website, written by Paula Munier, who is a literary agent, teacher, author, and all-around Knower Of Stuff. We all know that it’s been an extreme year, sneaking up on us and doing things to us nobody saw coming, but at least it has taught us things about the biz that are good to know. You gotta find the good where you can, and at least you don’t have to dig for this little segment of it. Ms. Munier has some well-thought ruminations about what The Year 2020 has done to us and for us, and what it means to the world of writing. Pay attention — it’s always good to have somebody else do some of the thinking for you.
10 Writing Lessons We Learned from 2020
Hindsight is 2020. I stole that great line from my son Greg Bergman, Editor-in-Chief for capitalwatch.com. This year was a nightmare, but we did learn a lot—the hard way—about our industry, ourselves, and each other.
1) Backlist matters.
As terrible a year as this may have been for frontlist (books published in 2020, especially in earlier in the year), backlist (books published before 2020) sold very well. Stuck at home, lots of people turned to reading for escape, entertainment, and enlightenment—and when they did, they often turned to the authors they already knew and loved. That’s why book sales were actually up this year—6.4% for print books alone—and established writers benefited the most. The industry typically neglects backlist, but that changed this year. Let’s hope that this new focus on backlist sales extends beyond the pandemic. And that frontlist rebounds.
2) Zoom events can work.
You have to feel sorry for those debut and midlist writers whose books came out in March, April, May, and June. With so many bookstores closed, all in-store book events were canceled, along with the book festivals and conferences and library events that celebrate authors and books. Those publishers that had ignored online events and digital marketing (and there were many) were dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, scrambling to create digital promotion and marketing campaigns as well as online events before they were completely left behind.
3) Writers write.
This year taught us that you can write at your kitchen table with your spouse working from home and your kids schooling from home and your dogs and cats barking and meowing from home. Or not. Either way, we all learned something about the way we work best—and how to carve out our sacred writing time no matter what happens or where you are or who’s in your face.
4) Writers write. Part Deux.
Writing under the aforementioned circumstances may have proved that you do indeed require, as Virginia Woolf warned us nearly a century ago, “a room of one’s own.” I’d been working mostly from our living room, my upstairs office serving double duty as the guest room where my son spent the early months of the pandemic before returning to the city.
When I was asked to do an interview with WABC TV with Sandy Kenyon, including footage of me at my desk, I realized that I needed to get a desk. I got one and reclaimed the guest room as my writing space. It’s the perfect hideaway as I plug away on book four in my Mercy Carr series.