“’Rona’s Toll on Fiction Writers”
I wonder how many self-employed authors signed up for the C.A.R.E.S. Act Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (1099-workers) along with 30 million Americans? We and the IRS call writers small businesses ‘owners,’ and many freelancers depend on book royalties to feed themselves and their families. Will 1099 authors ask for and receive compensation?
No one has dubbed writers/artists as essential, even though we know readers depend on our books for entertainment, escape, and education. An additional hazard, newspapers and magazines have lost advertisers, so they’ve been forced to cut pages. Scriptwriters are shut out of their important role in TV, movies, and plays.
Even for those of us who are not 1099-worker/artists, our money-making options have narrowed. Bookstores have closed: too many surfaces, too close quarters. Book signings? Fans stuffed into a tiny bookstore listening to an author then lining up to get books autographed? Not likely. Such venues will never meet the social-distancing requirement.
How about book signings in coffee shops, gift shops, restaurants, and other settings? Are these gatherings doomed in 2020? Amazon, our go-to seller has encountered its share of troubles. Will they be too distracted to help authors sell books? An even larger concern, in the penny-pinching days caused by the virus, will readers put down money for paperbacks?
We know so little about the virus and its long term effects on the health and wealth of humans; we know even less about how artists will endure. The 1918 pandemic killed more than 50 million people, disrupting lives for decades. From what we understand, writers of that time penned details about World War 1, but not much on the Spanish flu. Will authors continue to write about human behavior exhibited before the virus (BV) or will they capture the new reality during/after the virus (AV)? Those of us writing romance are especially challenged. How does new love look in the time of virus?
Presently, I’m polishing a novel I wrote before the virus hit. My plan is to stay true to conventions BV, allowing readers a slice of nostalgia. Normally, I like to set my novels slightly ahead in time, let’s say, a year into the future. Given my predilection, my next novel would be set after a vaccine safeguards every human on earth.
The ‘Rona virus has the potential to sap 2020 authors of income as well as creativity, but we are a resilient group. Let’s hope our actions and modern technology quickly move artists to a safe and productive future.
Look for my eleventh novel, When Oceans Rage, in September. It’s set pre-Covid-19, but it’s still a tumultuous mystery. Stay well, all!