Launching in the Time of Covid: A Debut Novelist Speaks

by Mally Becker, TWC Outreach Coordinator

A few authors tell me that I’ve missed out on the “real” book launch experience because The Turncoat’s Widow (Level Best Books 2021), my debut mystery, was published during the Covid-19 shutdown.

I can’t compare my experience to anyone else’s, but I know this much:  I’ve got memories that I wouldn’t trade for anything.

It’s been a blast to chat with readers from California to the Carolinas thanks to online events that exist only because of the ban on in-person gatherings. I’ve spoken at virtual author events and conferences far from home, including in Atlanta and Hilton Head, at a bookstore near Pittsburgh and a writers conference usually held outside of Albany.

In fact, the last ten weeks have felt like a 21st century version of “This Is Your Life,” a vintage television show my mom used to watch. Old friends from childhood, workplace friends, and current and former neighbors all took the time to show up for these author events. More than half live out-of-state now, and they couldn’t have possibly trekked back to New Jersey for an in-person event.

And then there’s The Writers Circle, where The Turncoat’s Widow was born and raised. I workshopped the novel from beginning to end in TWC classes. Judith and Michelle capped my launch by throwing me a virtual publication party, which gave me the chance to celebrate with writers who have become friends as we watched each other’s stories grow. I can’t wait to attend their launch parties when the time comes.

All of these reunions with people I care about have been the best, most magical part of launching The Turncoat’s Widow.

The transition to published author is ongoing. As odd as it sounds, it didn’t sink in that strangers (people I don’t know!) would read my book until it began to happen. I’m still gobsmacked–also thrilled and grateful–when anyone takes the time to let me know they enjoyed The Turncoat’s Widow. Conversely, it takes me a while to recover from a lukewarm review. And to that reader who complained my story didn’t include sex … You’re right. Better luck next book.

Has it all been fabulous? Well, no. The social media learning curve has been steep, which shouldn’t have come as a surprise but did. I’m still figuring out how to light myself on Zoom calls, create a functioning website, use hashtags on IG, and navigate the twin dangers of undersharing or oversharing online. Introvert that I am, I have to remind myself that book promotion helps readers who love the type of historical mystery I’ve written find The Turncoat’s Widow, and that’s the point, isn’t it?

Luckily, writers are the kindest, most generous of people. I’ve been supported every step of the way by The Writers Circle, by my editors at Level Best Books, and by writer friends who have walked the publishing path I’m just starting. So what’s next? I’m looking forward to talking about my story to more book groups and library patrons, and I’m working on the next book in my Revolutionary War series.

Mally Becker

Mally Becker works and takes classes at The Writers Circle. You can find her at or  Her historical mystery, The Turncoat’s Widow, is available everywhere books are sold.

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