Every small business is looking at the current situation and trying to work out how to respond. We are no different. Public health trumps all in the current climate. We’d love to say that it’s business as usual, but it isn’t. These are circumstances we have never experienced, so our response is based on trying to forecast what might happen and respond in a manner that is appropriate. This post is an announcement to our authors as much as our readers, and it will no doubt be disappointing to hear some of this news. We hope everyone reading this understands the motives behind our actions. The challenges we can see are laid out below and our responses to them.
Suspension of Publication Schedule for New Titles
We are suspending our publication schedule for new titles that were due to be released up to the end of May. This clearly will have a knock-on effect on books due out in the following months as we could have a glut of titles all coming out at the same time. What this is leading to is a review of our entire 2020 release schedule. Please don’t ask when an individual title is coming out – we simply can’t answer that at present.
Why take this extreme action?
This decision has not been taken lightly, and it’s clear we will have some unhappy authors who were expecting to see the fruits of their labour out soon. Here are the reasons why this decision has been made:
- We are a small business and have personal issues with the current situation. When schools shut, David will be taking on two children at home that require continuation of their education, not being left to fend for themselves on a mobile phone.
- Sam is interning and still needs to learn about the business, but we’ve made the decision that today is his last day in the office, so we have to work out effective ways to work together remotely. These are challenges that will take time to implement, at a time when we already have a busy schedule.
- We regularly work with external editors and proofreaders and it is clear at the moment these people will be affected by family pressures over the coming months.
- See also some of the reasons that follow for some of the other decisions.
Is there any good news?
Yes. We will still go ahead with re-publications of backlist titles where a new launch was less important than getting the book back into circulation. There are still occasions where external proofreaders might be under pressure, but this can continue.
There’s more good news, just continue reading as we have plans to bring into action that will help authors to promote existing titles.
Our advice to authors – be patient at this time. Most people have greater concerns on their mind than reading your book, however good it is. Launching a book at this time is likely to go largely unnoticed.
Postponement of Events Scheduled to the End of May 2020
Subject to review we won’t be promoting or supporting any events until the end of May. This is particularly disappointing as it means cancelling an exciting event planned to take place at Cardiff City Stadium. We also know of authors with interesting events planned, but we are reluctantly going to have to withdraw from being present, or promoting them, as we think public health is the priority.
We suspect it will extend to June, which will affect further events at the Virgin Money Lounge in Cardiff, Motorpoint Arena, and Techniquest. Those decisions will be made as the situation unfold, but we aren’t promoting actively in the short-term.
Why take this extreme action?
- The advice for gatherings has reduced from 1,000 down to 50 in less than a week. It would be irresponsible to actively promote events for 50-100 people as we’d planned.
- Even if the all-clear were given today we strongly believe that it is unlikely people will come out in large numbers for some while. What’s the point of putting something on that people possibly/probably won’t attend? And the all-clear hasn’t been announced, and it seems unlikely to be for some months.
- Much of the initial promotion of our books comes from authors running events, launching their book, and doing book signings and talks. Again, if people don’t come out to attend it turns the launch of a book into a disappointing damp squib.
- This week David had two speaking engagements cancelled (one for 20 people, the other for 15), and this is likely to be the case for authors too. Even though it was below the advisory 50 people, they were still cancelled, and we see this trend continuing.
Our advice to authors – put your book on a back-burner during this time. Book launches aren’t at the top of people’s agenda at present, and you may do more harm than good if you put on an event.
Cancellation of Meetings and Limiting Access
As author visits to the office are infrequent this will have fairly minimal impact. If you have book stock to collect, please arrange to collect it by the end of this week, otherwise it will be held until we consider it appropriate. This only affects a few people.
Please don’t all call the office for a one-to-one chat or catchup. We are extremely busy at present and 30 minutes on the phone to one person is 30 minutes we could be working for everyone. We’d ask that at this time you limit questions to email (or for authors in our closed Facebook Group on the COVID-19 thread there) and please allow time for a reply. Time is at a premium at the moment. We absolutely understand that you’ll have questions and concerns, but until we’ve put a coherent plan into place, the answer will probably be “I’m not sure” at present anyway. Please hang on for further announcements.
We will be rolling out some Zoom meetings where you can come together and ask questions and see what’s going on. The plan is to perhaps hold a weekly briefing so we can answer questions, and discuss future plans together.
Other Problems We Foresee
This is crystal-ball gazing for all of us. But we have to plan for further disruption.
We can see a point where physical books don’t make it to the hands of readers. Whether it’s printers or distributors shutting down, delivery drivers stopping, or retailers like Amazon curtailing deliveries of non-essential items, there are too many potential weak links in the supply chain to confidently predict physical books still being made available. If this happens, it clearly also affects the viability of a new book being launched. While we don’t rely on bookshops, clearly they too will see a downturn in custom.
Our response to this is the development of a mobile app, subscription-based book sales via the website, serialisation of books. Audiobooks are also still very much on the agenda too.
Is There Any Good News?
We are working on moving forward some of the plans we had to reach readers and build audiences at a time when there may be a need for distraction and entertainment in homes across the world. Further announcements will come soon.
What can Authors Do?
You will see us putting together posts and articles, and you can contribute to this too. Use the Article submission form and send us interesting articles to keep people entertained and informed. Don’t expect them to be posted immediately – we’ll add it to our schedule of regular, informative and entertaining content to feed out to LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
How about filling in your Contributor Interview? It’s a great way for readers to find out about you and to tell some of the back-story to your book(s).
Engage with posts on wordcatcher.com or on the social media pages – share content of your fellow authors, leave comments, like posts, leave reviews if you’ve read their books. Do unto others as you would wish them do unto you. Something like that. Don’t expect interaction unless you are prepared to do it too.
Finally, please be patient. We love what we do, and your book is still important to us. But, these are uncertain times in which we navigate, and there are still only 24 hours in a day. We need to spend some of it eating, sleeping and spending time with the people we love the most.