by Hank Phillippi Ryan


How are you? You ARE staying home if you possibly possibly can, right?  Last month at this last month we could never have imagined how the rug would be pulled out from under all of us, and how we would be trying to stop looking at the stock market, and trying to stop touching our faces, and being wary of other people around us. Two arms-lengths, right?  With conferences canceled and events canceled and school canceled and sports canceled ,it all seems quite overwhelming. Even terrifying.

So career authors, how can we get through this? Having a plan is always good, even in the universe that seems in comprehensible. So many of us have long worked from home, and loved it. Now it seems–disturbing.

But since we do have a choice of how to use our time, let’s talk about some writerly things we can do for ourselves, and for each other. And Career Authors has an offer for you at the end.

Get writing

No excuses now. If your conference is canceled or you’re working at your day job from home, you have no excuse but to sit at your computer and write your novel, or write your synopsis, or write your proposal. Sometimes it is disconcertingly distracting when your brain is elsewhere, but I promise, once you focus on your work, your mind will take you into your writing, and you will forget, even if briefly, about the outside world. Use this as an opportunity to make some progress. When this is all over, you will have something to show for it. And if you are writing on deadline, it is STILL your deadline.

Read a writing book

It might has seemed, back in real life, there want enough time. Now there is. Stephen King’s On Writing. Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. Our own Paula Munier’s Writing with Quiet Hands. Margot Livesey’s The Hidden Machinery. By hoarding some time to read, almost meditatively, you will quiet your brain and settle your mind and improve your writing life.

Email a fellow author

Just check in. See how they are doing. Encourage them. Many authors are used to solitude, and crave it. But this feels different.

Thank a conference organizer

People who organized the various conferences that had to close, Left Coast Crime, and Murder and Mayhem in Chicago (did you see their upcoming on-line replacement? Awesome!), and various festivals of the book. Malice Domestic is postponed. And who knows what’ll happen next.  But the ones you were going to, and even the ones you weren’t: Send an email to one of the organizers. One of those people who have spent the last year‘s planning for something that got suddenly and absolutely unpredictably changed. Tell them you appreciate their work! Tell them you appreciate them. Tell them we are all in this together. We will all meet again. And hug.

Buy a book!

Or two or three or four. Independent bookstores  will be reeling from this, and we as career authors have a deep and profound obligation to help keep them afloat. Many are shipping signed copies. Check your favorite author’s web page or Facebook to see how you can get signed copies! With booktours cancelled, bookstores are in deep trouble. Check with your favorite bookstore–how can you help? Buy books!

Promote a book!

The poor authors who is book tours were suddenly obliterated after years of intense work and incredible planning and endless dreaming and hopes… Buy an extra one of their books. And send them an email. Can you help promote them?  Can you put them on Instagram and Facebook and Twitter? If we all help each other promote, we can reach a lot of people.
(And then see “buy a book” above.)

Adopt a debut author

Is there a newbie who’s book is coming out during this scary time? That would be so earthshakingly disappointing.  Find a debut author who’s book you love and help the heck out of them. Spread the word, post the book cover and links. Hold their hand.From afar. We have loud voices! Let’s use them to welcome new authors. And buy their books! Buy two!

Even veteran authors with much-lauded new books are getting slammed–Sarah Pekkanen/Greer Hendricks and Amy Impellizieri and Samantha Bailey  and  Julia Spencer-Fleming and and Harlan Coben and Lisa Gardner and SO many more wonderful authors are reeling from the shock that may destroy their tours.  You’d buy their books anyway–so DO it. Do it!

Band together

Several online groups like Women Writers Women’s Books, and A Mighty Blaze and Reading with Robin and Readers Coffeehouse and A Novel Bee and Annie Horsky’s group and Bloom with Tall Poppies (find them all on Facebook!) and more are incredibly generously offering Facebook  and Insta promotions to authors.
Support them, engage with them, and help this succeed!  (See below for more on that!)

Write something you always wanted to

That short story idea you have tucked away, that step into a new genre, that article or blog post. I’ve got to wonder how many locked room mysteries, plague thrillers, quarantine dystopias and toilet paper panic books there will be after this!

(And I wish I could give the proper person credit, but someone on Twitter started making up Seinfeld episodes: the one where Jerry is mad because his girlfriend won’t wash her hands long enough, or the one where Elaine wants to break up with her boyfriend but he is in self quarantine. )

Read that book you always promised yourself you would read

I will confess I have never read The Gentleman from Moscow. Or Kate Atkinson‘s Transcription. What classics or contemporary novels have you missed? Now is the time. That nonfiction book you always promised yourself you would read? Do it. Fill your brain.

Review a book!

Every author will tell you how important that is, and now that you have may have a little extra time? Why not bestow on someone the absolute honor of giving their book a wise review? That may lead to someone buying it. Yay!

Check out online book discoverability

Are you on BookBub? Are you on Goodreads? These are wonderful communities of readers and writers.  Now‘s the time to join in. Make recommendations. Follow our favorite authors. Leave reviews. It matters.

And here’s an offer for you

If you are an author with a new novel, especially if your book tour was canceled, let us all know about it. We are going to open up our Facebook page to help you promote your book. Just post it! With your book cover and a little synopsis and your links. this isn’t BSP, this is all of us at career authors in it together.

If you are a collective that’s boosting authors, like A Mighty Blaze and Reading with Robin and Readers Coffeehouse, let the world know–put that up on our Facebook page!

Bookstores–are you shipping signed copies? Or any copies? Put that on our page.

Librarians and libraries–how can we help? What suggestions do you have for all of us career authors in times like this? There’s always room to talk on our Facebook page!