Nineteen Tales of COVID-19, has, as the title suggests, nineteen different takes and experiences of the pandemic. The stories are from the early months when people fought over toilet paper, and you could not find masks or hand sanitizers in any store. Remember those first days? Now that we’ve been living in the shadow of COVID-19 for ages, the shock of having to wait in long lines in grocery stores and of empty shelves is gone. We are used to the type of hassles and inconveniences we never thought could happen in Canada.

Living Through Interesting Times

It is so odd living through a historic event, isn’t it? Like, it is clear that the leaders do not have all the answers. Politicians mix the advice of medical experts with the other needs of society. With the next election in mind, plus the changing challenges thrown up by the virus (I heard just this morning that there is a second UK COVID-19 variant) they make decisions one day and reverse them the next all while being judged as incompetent by their political rivals. And consider how different the illness is to what they thought it was. In the first days, it was all about the flu-like symptoms but the long term effects are still only emerging.

In the beginning, people had the disease but could not get tested as there was no way to test for it. That is part of the stories in this book, a detail that may be lost if the information about the virus is averaged and processed after the fact. The phases of the pandemic had different challenges.

When the Dust Settles

This pandemic swept the world and in fifty years, kids may be learning about it in school. It will definitely be studied when the virus, neutralized by vaccines, no longer dominates our lives and things can return to some new normality that doesn’t involve daily counts and forced lockdowns.

Researchers will consider whether the losses of life could have been reduced if we had treated our elderly better. Was the only way to manage this really to shut everything down and cause such financial chaos to citizens? How will we pay for the debt the government has taken on? All the individual tales of anxiety, depression, and suicides can be properly collated afterwards. Was that epidemic of loneliness, depression, and anxiety worse for some countries than the impact of the virus? Will this be the first of many new viral-based pandemics?

What will also be interesting to future researchers is the individual stories of how people fared. The stories beneath the grim statistics. Our book, we hope, will be one of the texts available for such study. We think it will have longevity for that reason.

Why Our Book Matters

And now, for those reading it and who have made it an Amazon bestseller in several categories, it is a collection of stories by individuals who are living through what they are also living through. People who read it, love the diversity of the stories and the experiences. The book contains the stories of essential service workers; families and their love, work, and social relationships; and in these, stories of anxiety, depression, and loss—but it also has stories of hope and of people who could roll with the punches and re-invent themselves and their destroyed finances.

People buy it as they wonder how others are coping during this time when everything is bewildering and all parts appear to be moving. Having this compendium will help isolated people build more resilience and patience; they’ll read about people who are feeling the same way they are about the chaotic new world.

Our Why

This book started as part of a Durham Region writing group led by me. We would meet in my office, restaurants, or my home, and I’d lead the members through the process of completing manuscripts and getting them published. We decided to do a compilation based on big themes, like “redemption” but soon dismissed that as the theme seemed too difficult and well, esoteric. Instead we decided that we’d do the compilations annually, and centre the content on something from the headlines. We figured that would be strong for marketing. In January 2020, when we started this book, the emerging headline grabber was the then unnamed virus. It was a curiosity. At that time, no one had any idea how it would change the world.

Our group did not have nineteen active members. The number of authors in the collection grew intentionally. I reached out to invite in others to ensure coverage of important topics as new challenges emerged from the chaos.

What is special about this book is that the authors come from this one pocket of Ontario. We created a book with diverse voices and I figured that in doing it, one of my Mastermind groups in particular would gain a great understanding of the full publishing and book marketing process. Our sales are in Canada, the US, the UK, and India. We are already international bestsellers based on the Amazon model of algorithms and ranking lists. We’ll not stop until we sell over 5000 copies which gives us the publishing industry title of bestseller and the very real status of having got this book to many readers all over the world.

Our Marketing Experiment

For many of the authors in the compilation, this is their first book. The value of being in a quality compilation is you are not expending as much effort as you will when you write a full-length book. You get a chance to complete a story, have it edited, and then feel the excitement of people reading your words and commenting on how they impacted them. And it is so much more fun with company. Together, we spur the book forwards as we already had nineteen people in our launch team and each author reached out to several others. Potentially we could have had a launch team of hundreds. But, did we?

With the help of Book Marketing Expert, Maxine Wray, we were successful in makeing Nineteen Tales of COVID-19 the Hottest New Release in two categories and, noteworthy, the eBook and paperback were number one and number two. We stayed in the top ten for several weeks. In our first week we made over $1000 when the eBook price was $0.99, which is not bad!

The first lesson many learned is that all your cousins will say “yes, I’ll buy it,” but they won’t. How do you keep consistent with the message when selling may feel a bit, well … embarrassing to keep at it? How do you keep selling after that first book launch?

But we’ve been reminding our writers the truth of book marketing: it stops selling as soon as you stop marketing it. People often take up to twenty “touches” or digital interactions with your product before they finally complete on their intention to buy your book. The first launch, the release of the book, is just that: the first of what must become a regular thing if you are to reach true best-seller status. It is a sad fact that many self-publishers give up on sales far too early in the game.

Our Publishing Model

Our model is different from that of many compilations. For many, the model is to sell to writers, but for us, the plan is to get this to bestselling status. With that, the authors can claim the status for the rest of their careers. Being an Amazon bestseller is GREAT but not enough—it is 5001 copies sold or bust for this group of literary entrepreneurs! That means on each of their future books, they can splash the words INTERNATIONAL BEST SELLING AUTHOR with true pride, rather than thinking back to the fact that you can claim Amazon bestselling status without selling many books at all.

The steps towards gaining true bestseller status are worth studying, so I’ll be blogging on the successes and missteps in our process. Our first misstep is a loss of momentum. We are planning a Virtual Book Tour to raise the book’s visibility and updating a media kit. We will soon be pitching the book to the media as we continue to have it reviewed and shared through Goodreads, Amazon, and social media.

Marketing To Bestseller Status

Wish us luck and follow our journey to true best-seller status. And follow this blog to get tips that you can use as you publish, market, and sell your books.

And if you want help and guidance, consider joining the WRITE NOW Club. Click here to learn more—and also to be alerted with all the information you’ll need to join the next compilation.

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