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Supporting Writers Impacted by COVID-19

New York (April 16, 2020): From canceled book tours and speaking engagements to the loss of income from day jobs and freelance writing gigs, book authors, like millions of other Americans, are reeling from the economic fallout of the COVID-19 epidemic. A survey of Authors Guild members conducted in early April found that 52 percent of the nearly 1,000 respondents had already lost significant income due to the virus. In response, The Authors Guild is functioning as a clearinghouse for COVID-19 information to help ensure authors get the support they need.

“While social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have resulted in more people reading than usual, it is a mistake to assume that means more book sales for most of today’s working authors. The closure of bookstores, libraries and other venues has made it very difficult for writers to connect with book audiences and promote book sales. This is particularly problematic for those authors who recently released a book or have books scheduled for release this spring,” said Mary Rasenberger, Executive Director of The Authors Guild. “Moreover, just like other Americans, many of our members have lost or been furloughed from their day jobs or freelance writing assignments have disappeared as a result of the pandemic.”

To help address the challenges authors currently face, The Authors Guild is rolling out a series of COVID-19-related initiatives. This includes hosting a series of online workshops to help teach authors how to get their work noticed virtually:

  • How to Make Your Own Book Video (April 20, 2020)
  • Book Club Strategies for Authors (April 28, 2020)

The Guild is also lobbying Congress to clarify that writers and other creatives are eligible to receive the unemployment insurance offered under the CARES Act to ensure that authors and freelance writers can get relief along with their fellow Americans. The Guild recently offered an online workshop, “Coronavirus Relief Programs: Resources for Authors and Freelance Writers,” which reviewed the various government options available to authors and freelance writers and how to utilize them.

Finally, the Guild recently began a social media campaign in which bestselling authors such as Douglas Preston, David Baldacci, John Grisham, Aimee Liu, Priscilla Oliveras, and Scott Turow offer book recommendations that introduce readers to the works of newer or lesser-known writers.

“Almost every bestselling author I know remembers all too well what an enormous struggle it was in the beginning to find a readership,” said Douglas Preston, President of The Authors Guild. “My heart breaks when I think of the emerging and midlist authors who have worked, sometimes for years, writing a book, only to have it published under these terrible market conditions. Here’s a chance for bestselling writers to help our fellow authors during this crisis.”

Writers interested in participating in upcoming workshops or benefiting from the other programs the Guild offers to help book authors succeed can join the Guild here.