Writing plans for 2021

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The first Monday musings of a hopeful new year

By J.L. Oakley

Photo by Alev Takil on Unsplash

The year 2020 will definitely go down as one of the most difficult years in my nation’s history: the appalling number of deaths from COVID19, the loss of jobs, small business closing for good, and a sense of dread and confusion infused everywhere. Many writers report how difficult it was to get anything written or saw the launch of their new books cancelled. So goodbye and good riddance to 2020.

But how do you approach the New Year? Chances are we not out of the woods yet—wearing a mask will continue to be an integral part of our wardrobe for many more months. Yet how will we reach our writing and publication goals for 2021?

One of the words I learned last fall at an on-line writer’s conference was “pivot.” I certainly pivoted when my new book, The Quisling Factor was coming out in late July. As soon as I saw my local indie bookstore close in March, I asked about a virtual launch. I had just given a talk to a group back East on Zoom and knew that I could talk about my book that way, too. The bookstore found a way to do it on a program called Crowdsource. I was one of the very first to do this, even did a giveaway and it was very successful. I sold out of all my books in a little more than a week. The bookstore has been doing readings like that ever since.

The year 2020 will definitely go down as one of the most difficult years in my nation’s history: the appalling number of deaths from COVID19, the loss of jobs, small business closing for good, and a sense of dread and confusion infused everywhere. Many writers report how difficult it was to get anything written or saw the launch of their new books cancelled. So goodbye and good riddance to 2020.
But how do you approach the New Year? Chances are we not out of the woods yet—wearing a mask will continue to be an integral part of our wardrobe for many more months. Yet how will we reach our writing and publication goals for 2021?
One of the words I learned last fall at an on-line writer’s conference was “pivot.” I certainly pivoted when my new book, The Quisling Factor was coming out in late July. As soon as I saw my local indie bookstore close in March, I asked about a virtual launch. I had just given a talk to a group back East on Zoom and knew that I could talk about my book that way, too. The bookstore found a way to do it on a program called Crowdsource. I was one of the very first to do this, even did a giveaway and it was very successful. I sold out of all my books in a little more than a week. The bookstore has been doing readings like that ever since.
I’ve always enjoyed meeting readers in person at book clubs. Wine, snacks and conversation are part of these events, but I’ve pivoted there, too. I met with a book club on short notice in early December on Zoom. I’m now scheduled for a major book event in Texas in January as well as a local book club’ s reading. More book club events on Zoom are coming in April. Zooming has opened up my books to an audience far beyond an audience in the Reader’s Gallery. Norway, Canada and Brazil for one.
All the writers at Bestselling Reads are good interacting with the digital world. Now it’s time for all writers to embrace this technology as part of their marketing campaigns. I can tell you that bookstores and conferences are not going back. Even after we are free of the virus, book fairs, author events and conferences will be hybrid. Time to pivot.
P.S. I have a new story idea and I’m on it!

I’ve always enjoyed meeting readers in person at book clubs. Wine, snacks and conversation are part of these events, but I’ve pivoted there, too. I met with a book club on short notice in early December on Zoom. I’m now scheduled for a major book event in Texas in January as well as a local book club’ s reading. More book club events on Zoom are coming in April. Zooming has opened up my books to an audience far beyond an audience in the Reader’s Gallery. Norway, Canada and Brazil for one.

All the writers at Bestselling Reads are good interacting with the digital world. Now it’s time for all writers to embrace this technology as part of their marketing campaigns. I can tell you that bookstores and conferences are not going back. Even after we are free of the virus, book fairs, author events and conferences will be hybrid. Time to pivot.

P.S. I have a new story idea and I’m on it!

J.L. Oakley

writes award-winning historical fiction that spans the mid-19th century to WW II. Her characters come from all walks of life, but all stand up for something in their own time and place.

Her books have been recognized with a 2013 Bellingham Mayor’s Arts Award, the 2013 Chanticleer Grand Prize, the 2014 First Place Chaucer Award, 2015 WILLA Silver Award and the 2016 Goethe Grand Prise.

When not writing, Janet demonstrates 19th century folkways, including churning some pretty mean butter.

In addition to historical fiction, J.L. has also written four mystery novellas set in the Hawaiian Islands.

Her most recent historical novel, Mist-chi-mas: A Novel Of Captivity, launched in September 2017. It is set in 1860 on San Juan Island in Pacific NW during a time with the British Royal Marines and US Army jointly occupied the island—peacefully.

 Visit her on:

And follow her on Twitter @JlOakley.

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One thought on “Writing plans for 2021”
  1. Pivoting – this is going to be me in 2021. I nearly gave up on everything. What I was doing on all the old platforms wasn’t working. But now I’m embracing the new… Tiktok for authors, instagram reels. Joining new groups to meet new writers. Great article!

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