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Self-publishing News: The Impact Of Coronavirus

Self-publishing News: The Impact of Coronavirus

Dan Holloway head and shoulders photo

ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway

In this week's Self-Publishing News, ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway takes a look at how coronavirus is disrupting book conference season. 

While Coronavirus might be dominating much of the world's news, the mainstream. But there has been one huge piece of positive news in the book world. After years of waiting, Hilary Mantel's The Mirror and The Light is with us. It is the final part of the trilogy set in Tudor England, and follows two books which set an unprecedented feat by both winning the Booker Prize. No pressure, then.

Coronavirus continues to disrupt conference season

Coronavirus continues to dominate the news. I should be reporting to you live from London Book Fair. Instead, I’m tucked up in my office in Oxford keeping myself very much to myself and watching the cancellations rise. The whole of Italy is locked down, with creative industries there expressing deep concern. So as well as the obvious human questions, which have to come first, let’s have a look at what it means, and might mean, for the book world.

First of all there are the inevitable event cancellations. Some publishers are already starting to pull out of the rescheduled Bologna Book Fair. And the National Book Circle Critics' Awards have been called off. The pace of these is bound to pick up as coronavirus cases start to peak, so make sure you look out for emails from conference organisers. But also, if you are relying on conferences for major events related to your book, maybe now is the time to think about alternatives that are not vulnerable to cancellation. Look into ways of making a splash online in particular.

The impact is wider than conferences,though. Amazon workers in New York are working from home. And with deliveries of groceries set to increase greatly as people self-isolate, delivery of other items such as books may struggle. The other worry, of course, is for bookstores. The more people stay indoors, the more bookstores will struggle. While China's bookshops are reopening now, they were hit badly when the coronavirus outbreak was at its worst there. So far, New York's bookstores have reported holding up, but who knows how long that will last? This feels like a good time to remind you of Bookshop, the new app that will push a cut from sales of ebooks to book stores.

ALLi’s Self-publishing Advice Conference

One event that will not be affected by Coronavirus is ALLi's Self-publishing Advice Conference. you can find out all about the latest edition of the 24 hour online extravaganza, featuring speakers like Robin Cutler from Ingram Spark, Mark Lefebvre best known from his days with Kobo Writing Life, and of course a host of ALLi stalwarts, here.

Research into reading needs you

What is reading? It's a question we are asking increasingly. Does it include audiobooks? Podcasts? Will people read in smaller chunks in the future? Will the switch from ereaders to phones be complete? Or will everyone go back to print? As writer-publishers we need to know. So a new piece of research from Professor Laura Dietz at Anglia Ruskin into changing reading habits is excellent news. Dietz is responsible for the excellent piece of research we reported on last year into people's fears about using their Kindles. Do point any readers you know to her latest survey, which closes later this month.

MacMillan, Hachette & a Troubled Week for Big Publishers

It has been a difficult week for the Big Five. Particularly for three of them. It's been toughest of all for Hachette. They faced a walkout of staff when Ronan Farrow revealed the publisher were bringing out the memoir of his father, Woody Allen. Hachette, who are also Farrow's publisher, had kept the deal secret. The protest ended with the publisher pulling the book altogether.

MacMillan have tried to have a better week. They were the original publisher at the heart of the ongoing dispute with libraries over new charging schemes for ebooks. They made a move in the dispute, offering three potential charging models: metred by time period, pay per use, and metred per time and use. These would see libraries pay either a fixed amount to be able to loan an ebook any number of times over a foxed period after which the fee would be renewable, or pay for each time the book is borrowed, or a mix. Libraries have mildly welcomed the move, if not its ontent. What is clear, though, is that MacMillan's offer came without much in the way of consultation.

Finally, Simon and Schuster is up for sale. Apparently its parent company, Viacom, doesn't see it as a good match for its emphasis on digital video.

The impact of coronavirus on the book world and top #selfpub news stories for #indieauthors, in one quick read, by #ALLi News Editor Dan Holloway @agnieszkasshoes #digitaleconomy #publishingopenup Click To Tweet

Over to You

How has coronavirus affected you? Have you missed events, or have you noticed any impact on your sales? Let us know in the comments below.

Upcoming Conferences and Events

MARCH 2020

Self-publishing Advice Conference, 14-15 Mar [Online]

APRIL 2020

Self-publishing Conference, 25 Apr [University of Leicester] Short story course, 2 Apr – Sep (6 workshops) [London]


Self-publishing Live, 14-16 Aug [Chicago]


DigitalBookWorld, 14-16 Sep [Nashville]




Author: Dan Holloway

Dan Holloway is a novelist, poet and spoken word artist. He is the MC of the performance arts show The New Libertines, which has appeared at festivals and fringes from Manchester to Stoke Newington. In 2010 he was the winner of the 100th episode of the international spoken prose event Literary Death Match, and earlier this year he competed at the National Poetry Slam final at the Royal Albert Hall. His latest collection, The Transparency of Sutures, is available for Kindle at http://www.amazon.co.uk/Transparency-Sutures-Dan-Holloway-ebook/dp/B01A6YAA40


This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. I’m co-organising an event in May and have been asked twice if the COVID-19 outbreak is going to cause us problems.

    It’s a small event with no big companies to pull out. We’re not concerned about it at this point as the UK isn’t classifying small events as high risk. But we’re discussing possible guidelines to publish in order to reassure people.

    We’ve actually seen a spike in sales this week though, so maybe people aren’t worried.

    1. That’s encouraging!

      The thing to remember about publishing guidelines is that the situation is bound to change very rapidly – possibly having a link you can use in publicity and messages that goes to a particular web page which you can update constantly is the most practical approach – maybe using a QR code for printed material

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