I hope it's not too late to do a "2021 in review" post! This was a really intense year, for various reasons. I published three (!!!) books, and also got to witness the debut of a television show that I had worked on for the better part of a year.
This year really changed how I think about being an author and putting books out into the world. The last time I put out a book, in 2019, I went on a big tour and visited a ton of bookstores all over the country, and also appeared in person at conventions, book conferences and other live events. It was a lot of early morning flights and random encounters, but on the plus side I got to hang out with lots of bookstore people, not to mention fellow readers and writers. In 2021, for obvious reasons, I did a lot more zoom events, podcasts, and TikToks.
I felt like in some ways, the emphasis on virtual stuff stripped book promo down to its barest essence: I was a talking head, speaking about my books to an audience. Nobody could wander up to me afterward and chat to me about their own writing. I couldn't pull together a group of random people to go out for ice cream. It felt as though the demarcation between "author" and "audience" was getting a bit more impermeable and solid, and I found that I really missed finding opportunities to just be book-lovers together. Thanks to the whole "zoom bombing" phenomenon, a lot of virtual events now have an entirely invisible audience, whose cameras are off by default, which makes things safer but less companionable. It felt like a very 2021 trade-off. Put another way: I've always tried to push back against this notion that authors should have a personal "brand," because we're people, not toothpaste. But I found in 2021 that marketing a book mostly over the internet, by necessity, forces you to think of yourself in terms of branding a bit more.
I apologize if the above sounds like I'm complaining -- I've mostly had a really fun time doing silly videos and getting to chat with some of my favorite people on zoom and other video platforms. But I'm very glad to be going to a few in-person events again, including Writers With Drinks, because I've found that one of the main perks of being an author, for me, is just having one-on-one interactions with friends and strangers who love some of the same things I do.