Hello and welcome to the first newsletter of 2021! It has been a tough year of living with restrictions for everyone, but the progress being made with vaccination provides a ray of hope along with longer days and warmer weather to come.

During lockdown, everyone has had a different experience of productivity – some have reported that increased creativity, along with more quiet time at home, meant that their productivity had reached new heights. Who reading this has been cleaning their homes, baking banana bread and cultivating sourdough starters with wild abandon? Others have experienced the opposite and are feeling disheartened by the ‘evidence’ of boundless productivity on social media. ‘Toxic productivity’ is suddenly a phrase we’ve all become familiar with.

This year has been hard, too, for some authors who have seen the release of their books pushed back and in-person speaking events and launches cancelled. For those this has affected, we hope we can see you talking about your books in the near future – we would love to hear about any plans you’ve been able to make.

Although publishers have faced challenges when it comes to how they operate, some, particularly trade publishers, have reported increased sales. Nielsen has reported that two in five UK adults were reading more books since the lockdown began in March 2020. We’re also spending more time reading per week. But will our new reading habits last beyond Covid?

Likewise, communities seem to be supporting their local independent bookshops as much as they can, and these bookshops have risen to the challenge of supporting their communities through lockdown – often in truly creative ways. We’ve seen books delivered by bike, virtual events and outdoor collection services, to name just a few. Of course, Bookshop.org reached our shores just in time to help support those bookshops who have been struggling to set up their own e-commerce sites.

In our ‘What’s new’ section, we have some exciting news about our new podcast. Our interviews with authors, publishers and independent bookshops – and even Bookshop.org – will be coming to your ears very soon! Follow us on social media and join the discussion through #NewgenPubcast.

The author profile this issue is by Danièle Cybulskie: author, TEDx speaker and podcaster. You will also be able to hear her talk about all of this and her quest to myth bust the Middle Ages in the first episode of the podcast.

Next up we’ve got a rundown of the production process by team leader and production editor Sarah. Before you are involved in it, the production process can seem shrouded in mystery, so let us explain what it entails.

Lizzie, production editor and academic author, also tells us about her experience on both sides of the publishing process as her first book is due to be released in March.

The Book Club recap this time is by senior project manager Doug, who has chosen our latest book. You can share your thoughts about our choices on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram using #NewgenBookClub.

The spotlight on an independent book shop is brought to us by senior project manager Vic. His choice is the Housmans bookshop in Kings Cross, London.

Finally, Renga, managing editor, has reviewed A Clutch of Indian Masterpieces, an anthology of short stories.

We hope you enjoy!

If you are an author and would like to tell us about virtual book launches or speaking events, please email eleri@newgenpublishing.co.uk.