Given a fall that’s packed with previously scheduled titles, books that were bumped from spring, and timely drop-ins, some titles have skipped the autumn fray altogether. PW spoke with publishers that, citing issues including printing problems and temporary bookstore closings, are delaying publication dates by as much as two years.
Counterpoint, for instance, moved Jamie Harrison’s next novel, The Center of Everything, from June to January 2021, with the hope that more bookstores will be open than were in spring. The author’s previous book, 2017’s The Widow Nash, enjoyed strong indie support.
Center takes place in Harrison’s home state of Montana, and the publisher sees virtual events not just as a must in the pandemic era but also as a way to expand beyond regional interest to reach readers “all over the place,” says Rachel Fershleiser, associate publisher and executive director of marketing at Counterpoint. Because the book was ready for June, she adds, the publisher already has plenty of finished hardcover copies to send to Instagram influencers.
The fall printing crunch prompted Tiller Press to bump Law-breaking Ladies by Erika Owen from August to the end of February, just ahead of Women’s History Month in March. Publicity manager Marlena Brown says she usually focuses promotional efforts within the first two weeks of a book’s release but welcomes the longer news hook. “With this pub date coming on the cusp of a month tied directly to the book topic,” she says, “we have more freedom to think of creative promotions.”
A timely tie-in can help make up for the disappointment of a postponement. Debut novelist Robyn Gigl says she was crushed to learn that Kensington was bumping her thriller, By Way of Sorrow, from its original July publication. “You have that date when you’re going to be published,” she says, “and it becomes magical for you.” But she turned the shift into a plus, suggesting that Kensington go with a new pub date of March 30, the day before International Transgender Day of Visibility. Her book’s plot centers on a transgender attorney who defends a transgender prostitute accused of murder, and Gigl is herself a transgender lawyer who frequently lectures on diversity issues.
Greystone Books moved Pain and Prejudice: How the Medical System Ignores Women—and What We Can Do About It from fall to March 2021, which allowed author Gabrielle Jackson to add a pandemic-related epilogue. Editorial director Jen Croll says the new information explores emerging research showing women are more likely than men to suffer long-term effects after a Covid-19 infection and to “be told it’s all in their heads.” But Jackson offers a hopeful tone, Croll adds, presenting the pandemic as a catalyst for chronic fatigue and pain “to finally receive research and attention from the medical community.”
At New Directions, 2021 was still too soon for the new Storybooks ND line of fiction, overseen by writer and translator Gini Alhadeff and highlighting New Directions authors including National Book Award–winner Yoko Tawada and Clarice Lispector. “I don’t have confidence in our government to really get the plague under control and create that happy shopping mood we want” next year, says publisher Barbara Epler. With their 6½” × 9” trim size and gold spines and edges, the slender volumes are “tactile,” she notes, and meant to be picked up in person. ND moved the summer 2020 launch to summer 2022 to best court bookstore shoppers and expanded the original list from four to six titles.