Bundling in the time of COVID

14 Apr

Venusian Job CoverBefore I say anything else, let me remind you of our bundle of books – you can get 12 books for $15 at https://storybundle.com/scifi.

Now back to our regularly scheduled program.

Most people think of writing as a solitary thing and, for some people, it is. For others, not so much. In fact, many of the writers I know are quite the social butterflies – writing together in coffee shops, meeting with other authors to discuss and critique their work, just hanging with fellow scribes to share food, drinks, ideas, troubles, encouragement and friendship. Half my closest friends and the majority of my acquaintances are writers. Some of this interaction has always taken place on-line, so that part hasn’t changed. Still, it can get awfully lonely when you can’t see anyone or discuss writing and the world face-to-face and in groups.

I’m lucky. My wife is a writer, as well, so we can at least talk about our work over coffee and recap our day’s accomplishments (or lack thereof) over drinks at the end of the day. And we do have a forum for our writers’ group where we can exchange messages or even have video conferences. But some essential quality is missing: companionship and physical contact.

Of course, I wear other hats. I am also an editor, both for Bundoran Press and for other people’s work as a freelancer. Oddly, I’ve never been busier, where the medium of discussion is through the text being edited. Indeed, some of my clients live in other countries and I will never meet them face-to-face and only occasionally talk to them on the phone. While writing may be a solitary sport, editing consists of a team of two.

Of course, many of you know me best as the managing editor and publisher of Bundoran Press Publishing Company. That work is nothing if not collaborative and social. I am not only working with authors but also artists, book designers, printers, government officials, event organizers, bookstores and the general reading public.

I knew all that, of course, but COVID-19 has brought it all into frightening clarity.

While the production of book files and even e-books can proceed without too much difficulty, the other side of the business—the creation and sale of physical books—has come to a complete halt.

We had plans to launch a new book on May 1st at the Ad Astra science fiction convention in Toronto with a follow-up event at Creative Ink in Vancouver two weeks later. Those two conventions were, of course, canceled, so Ryan McFadden’s follow up to The Venusian Job, fortuitously (?) entitled Corona Burning, won’t be launched next month.

Which is just as well since the printer contracted to produce it is now closed until at least mid-May (and probably longer), so we would have no physical books to sell anyway. And with conventions shutting down and bookstores closing, there are no places to sell the books in any case. Even sales of our audiobooks have dropped off (as have everyone’s) as people mostly listen to them while commuting. We’re not alone in this, book publishers large and small have had books delayed or cancelled, sales compromised and futures transformed.

I have 4 more conventions and book events scheduled for this year – plus at least one more in the works. But, right now, I fully expect one or two—and possibly all five—to be cancelled as uncertainty persists as to when stay-at-home orders will end. The conventions are important because, in addition to actual sales, they provide critical word-of-mouth publicity that drives sales on Amazon, Kobo and our own website: www.bundoranpress.ca. If nobody knows you exist, nobody buys your books.

Our current bundle of books on Story Bundle was planned long before COVID-19 was on the radar and includes the aforementioned The Venusian Job. Although it was our most recent publication, I included it in order to provide a boost to the launch of the sequel a few weeks later. I’m still hoping to see that boost when Corona Burning comes out (we’ll do a virtual launch in May to market the ebook) but, like everything else, it is hard to predict. Never having done a virtual launch before means having to re-think the whole process and, moreover, find an audience.

There is a sense that people are reading more books – though I’ve sometimes found myself too distracted to settle down with a book for too long. It’s too early to say for sure but initially our sales dropped in the first few weeks of the pandemic, though they seem to be picking up again.

But for now, we are in a wait and see posture, hoping for the best – not just for ourselves and the Press but for all our authors and friends and, of course, our readers.

In the meantime, head over to https://storybundle.com/scifi where you can get six Bundoran Press books plus six more from writers such as Tanya Huff, Robert J. Sawyer, Madeline Ashby, Gerald Brandt, Nina Munteanu and Edward Willet. It’s a great deal for you and would mean a great deal to me.


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