Career authors helping other career authors is part of our writing life now. Our own Jessica Strawser listed (here) many of the organizations and coalitions working hard to help get debut and veteran authors whose book launches were canceled and plans demolished. One of the first to organize is called A Mighty Blaze. We learned its origin story—as well as its amazing reach—from its incredible founders.
CA: How did this all start?
AMB-Laura Rossi/public relations for AMB: A Mighty Blaze began when bestselling author Caroline Leavitt’s very first tour date for her book With or Without You [Algonquin, August 2020] was cancelled. When the call came, Caroline had spent two weeks practicing a fantastic speech—including the hand movements!
CA: So—like so many author tours now—the entire tour was all cancelled?
AMB-Caroline Leavitt/AMB founder: Yes. When it happened to my book, I couldn’t believe it. So, I made a video of my speech and sent it to the library person at my publisher Algonquin as a lark. She liked it so much that she sent it along to her mailing list. Because I kept hearing from more and more writers in the same boat, I decided it was better to do something about all the cancelations instead of weeping along with them. So I started the “Nothing is Cancelled Book Tour,” giving authors a chance to do short videos, as casually as if they were in a bookstore, and all they had to do in return was give a shout-out to another author and an indie bookstore.
AMB-Laura Rossi: What Caroline didn’t anticipate was that her idea to give an opportunity to other authors facing cancellations would quickly gain momentum, with more and more authors wanting to do videos. It was overwhelming for her.
CA: And how did bestselling author Jenna Blum get involved?
AMB—Jenna Blum/AMB founder: Because of the way writer world works, I had reached out to Caroline with a similar idea. We quickly formed a partnership, and called it A Mighty Blaze. We thought of it as a social media community and online initiative to help authors connect with readers, to introduce their new books during the COVID 19 pandemic.
AMB—Laura Rossi: So now, thanks to Leavitt and Blum, authors facing canceled book tours and publication challenges can come together online for daily digital events. These include Publication Day Tuesdays, Indie Bookstore Wednesdays, Celebrity Author Thursdays, Cocktail Party Fridays, Social Media Saturdays, and Giveback Brunch Sundays, among other initiatives.
CA: Are you doing this alone? We bet people thronged to help.
AMB—Laura Rossi: In less than two weeks, A Mighty Blaze has a volunteer staff of more than sixteen and over 50 partners. To date, the publishing industry and media have celebrated the entrepreneurial spirit of the two founders and their mighty team, including the Author’s Guild, Publisher’s Weekly, Lit Hub, The Washington Post, Book Riot, Shelf Awareness, Library Journal, NPR—even O, the Oprah Magazine.
In a time of social distancing and isolation, two women writers in yoga pants are now superheroes who are literally saving the publishing world one book and one post at a time.
CA: Tell us more about what you do!
AMB—Laura: The cornerstone of A Mighty Blaze is the weekly Pub Day Tuesday online celebration, where A Mighty Blaze features traditionally published writers whose books are being released that day. Writers post author photos, cover art, love letters to readers, and videos on A Mighty Blaze’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. Pub Day Tuesday kicks off with Debut Spotlight [at 10 AM ET], giving special coverage to first-time authors. Radio personality Robin Kall Homonoff of “Reading with Robin,” interviews authors [1 – 3 PM ET] on AMB’s Facebook page. And best of all, the authors are celebrated all day on AMB’s social media pages.
CA: But wait, there’s more, right?
AMB-Laura: Of course! A Mighty Blaze will also feature ICYMI Monthly Roundup on the last day of the month, showcasing all that month’s authors. Small Press Saturday is once a month, highlighting works from smaller presses; Poetry Slam Day is coming this month—date to be announced. And Newburyport Literary Festival will take over AMB’s pages on April 25, moving their festival online.
CA: Can you believe the response?
AMB-Laura: Well, yes and no. It’s amazing, of course. But that’s our writing community. And now, A Mighty Blaze has garnered over 50 industry partners, from Authors Guild, Poets & Writers, LitHub, Grub Street Writers, various literary festivals and conferences, indie bookstores from coast to coast. AMB’s 100-plus author supporters include Michael Chabon, Elizabeth Strout, Jane Green, Alice Hoffman, Dani Shapiro, Rick Moody, and many more.
And may I just say, as a volunteer and on behalf of A Mighty Blaze, we hope during the pandemic, our vision will provide comfort and hope. A book may seem like a small candle in a dark time, but when you put many books together, they make a mighty blaze to light the way for writers and readers to find each other and a way forward in the darkness.
Career Authors, do any of you have a book launching this month? Or soon? Let’s talk about how you’re handling it on the Career Authors Facebook page.
For more on A Mighty Blaze:
Laura Rossi , the Principal/Founder of Laura Rossi Public Relations, is a public relations expert, digital strategist, podcast producer and published author. For over two decades, Laura has led book publicity campaigns for bestselling authors, as well as for national companies and brands in the lifestyle, nonprofit, and art and design industries. Laura worked inhouse at top publishers, including Random House/Bantam Doubleday Dell, The Dial Press, Viking Penguin, and W. W. Norton before founding Laura Rossi Public Relations. Her writing appears in Make Mine A Double by Gina Barreca and The Grateful Life by Nina Lesowitz, as well as in the forthcoming Fast, Funny, Women—an original collection of flash nonfiction. Laura Rossi has appeared in The New York Times, Psychology Today, The Chronicle of Higher Education, The Providence Journal, More Magazine, The Huffington Post and on NPR’s The Public’s Radio, and other media.