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Without Places to Gather, Debut Novelists Reimagine Book Promotion | Press "Enter" to skip to content

Without Places to Gather, Debut Novelists Reimagine Book Promotion

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I was fortunate to complete the first half of my tour in February — though I was in several Covid-19 hot spots, including Seattle, just days before the outbreak was detected there, and those happy, carefree — and crowded — gatherings now seem a bit ominous. I had a second leg charted — visiting spring training and the Tucson Book Festival, then speaking to several university writing programs, including my graduate alma mater, Louisiana State University. I was supposed to be watching a Brewers spring training game right now!

How are you spending it now?

I’m trying to book podcast and radio interviews as much as I can, and I’m being pretty emphatic on social media about supporting not just my novel but all debut writers and independent bookstores (book events are a major driver of sales for them, too).

I’m also spending a lot of time on triage at work — by day I run The Paris Review. Making sure my colleagues were safe and healthy and ready to go remote, and postponing our 400-person awards dinner and fund-raiser, also have kept me plenty busy.

Is there anything else you want to add or that’s been on your mind in connection with this?

I’d love to plug the new website bookshop.org. You can order online, but the sales are fulfilled by indies, based on your geography. It just launched — in the nick of time.

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Describe your book in a sentence.

My debut novel, “Temporary,” is the story of a temporary worker who is assigned a series of surreal and improbable jobs on her quest for permanence — she works as a pirate, an assassin, a ghost and even a bank robber.

How were you planning to spend your time promoting and talking about your book?

I am a former theater kid, and a well-known ham, so more than anything I was looking forward to putting on a show. I think that when readers trek out to a book event, it’s such a great way of saying “thank you” to do something a little bit different than a straightforward reading. For the Brooklyn launch, I had planned a performance of several sections of my novel, with a Greek chorus of readers, including the author Diane Cook, and the writer and podcast host Dennis Norris II. Coffee House Press, Emily Books and I had put together a tour of about 17 events in 12 different cities around the country.


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