A Survival Guide to Publishing (During a Pandemic)

A Survival Guide to Publishing (During a Pandemic)

A Survival Guide to Publishing (During a Pandemic)

Posted on September 22 by Eddy Boudel Tan in Fiction, Recent Releases
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Remember 2019? I sure do. After years of writing, dreaming, querying, pitching, revising, and more dreaming, I signed my very first book deal. The novel in which I poured so much of myself was going to be published in the fall of 2020. What a perfect time to release my first book, I remember thinking. I love fall! And it’s the first year of a new decade!  

I look back at my 2019 self and can’t help but smile. What an innocent fool.

Needless to say, my debut experience has been quite different from what I’d imagined. Cancelled events, shifting publication schedules, closed bookstores, and a constant undercurrent of uncertainty have all chipped away at the initial joy of publishing a novel. But I’m not special. Whose life hasn’t been upended this year? Booksellers, publishers, and distributors have proven to be impressively resilient—authors have to be, too.

My novel launched last week, and it was wonderful. The lessons I’ve learned this year will remain with me throughout my career. This industry is no breeze in the best of times, so here are a few tips on surviving it all.


Check your expectations.

It doesn’t take a global health and economic crisis to disappoint a writer. If you’re pursuing publication, it’s inevitable that you will be let down at some point, perhaps relentlessly so. Even the most successful authors have stories of crushing defeats and rejections. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dream big—who says you can’t be the next Toni Morrison?—but never forget to ground yourself in reality.


Be a stream, not a boulder.

I was supposed to go to New York in the spring for one of the biggest events in the industry. Cancelled. I booked a cool Tiki lounge in a retro motel as the venue for my launch party. Cancelled. I had plans to speak in person at literary festivals across Canada. Cancelled.

Of course I was disappointed. I let myself lament these things that were meant to announce my arrival as a professional author, but only for a little while.

Like the rest of the world, I learned to adapt. My launch party was a virtual blast attended by people from all corners of the globe. I’m taking part in literary festivals through new and creative ways. When life gives you lemons, pour on some gin and fix yourself a cocktail.

The same goes for every project. Sometimes you need to know when to shift course and divert your energy toward something new. Embrace what comes your way, no matter how unwelcome or unexpected, and focus on the things you can control.


Find your wolf pack.

I used to think writers were such solitary creatures, myself included, but the #WritingCommunity isn’t only an oft-misspelled Twitter hashtag. Despite everything, there have been many moments of joy in my debut year because of the people I’ve met along the way.

I was fortunate to find a community of fellow 2020 debut authors. Like me, every one of them was filled with such unbridled aspiration a year ago, and we’ve battled this blaze together. We cheer each other on, celebrate successes, rant about the disappointments, and share the lessons we learn.

Don’t be a lone wolf. Connect with other writers to share your highs and lows with.


Toast each little victory.

Wrote a thousand words today? Give yourself a high-five! Wrote ten words? Have a slice of cake! Publishing a novel can be a long, winding journey. Don’t forget to take time to enjoy it. Reward yourself, and celebrate every milestone along the way.

Eddy Boudel Tan

Posted by Kendra on December 17, 2019
Eddy Boudel Tan photo

Eddy Boudel Tan

Eddy Boudel Tan writes stories that uncover how strange and extraordinary life can be. He thrives while exploring the world, drawing inspiration for his work along the way. He lives in Vancouver.