On being new and locked in

I can’t imagine what it’s like to have a book out right now, much less having your first book be born into this shitshow of a century-in-a-year. The Star looks at a raft of gracious new writers who had to brave circumstance at what should be a moment of nervous pride. I have a new book coming next Fall and I’m already worried things will remain cancelled then. Maybe we should start profiling new writers here at Bookninja, to help offset the screaming void of inattention and apathy into which these folk are emerging.

Even during normal times, one of the biggest challenges for debut authors is getting their books noticed at all. Events such as the Toronto International Festival of Authors — running this week — are an important place for readers to discover new writers, and writers to make a personal connection with readers.

Amid a pandemic, opportunities to do book signings and speakers series and festival appearances in real life are close to nonexistent. TIFA, like many fests, is still going on but online this year, a completely different experience. We were curious about the impact on debut fiction writers appearing at the festival, so we asked them to finish the sentence: “Publishing my debut during a pandemic …” What they had to say is quietly inspirational.

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