The big question on every writer’s mind right now is: “Do I write about pandemic COVID-19 in my next book?" Here’s the answer:...
Author Inspirations

Should You Include The Pandemic COVID-19 In Your Next Book?

The big question on every writer’s mind right now is: “Do I write about pandemic COVID-19 in my next book?" Here’s the answer:...

The big question on every writer’s mind right now is: “Do I write about pandemic COVID-19 in my next book?” Here’s the answer: You don’t have to if you don’t want to. Fiction readers choose books that most often help them escape their realities. So, if a reader is trying to escape the reality of the coronavirus, a novel that doesn’t talk about the virus is more palatable for them.

On the other hand, there are readers who are going to want to read all about COVID-19 because it helps them see the pandemic from other people’s viewpoints.

The real answer to the question is: There is no right answer here. But if you are contemplating the addition of the novel virus in your next manuscript, here are some tips to keep in mind:

1. Use it as inspiration in a science fiction world.

The beauty of world-building in your science fiction book is that you can create anything and everything you want: the world, the people, the language, the roadblocks, and more. That means you can also create your own pandemic. Pull inspiration from COVID-19 and other widespread disease outbreaks, including ebola, swine flu, the Spanish flu, and more. Use that research to build a pandemic in your book.

2. If writing contemporary fiction set in 2020, you really can’t avoid the pandemic.

I heard a traditionally published, New York Times bestselling author say that if a writer is going to set his or her contemporary fiction novel in 2020, the pandemic really can’t be avoided in the story. How much and in what way the pandemic is included is up to the writer though. An example could be something like this premise: a 20-something-year-old woman living in NYC who has her entire life mapped out—dream finance career, handsome fiancée, a gorgeous apartment on the Upper Eastside—suddenly finds herself balking all the dreams she had when she loses her father to COVID-19. This example uses COVID-19 to set the protagonist off on her journey to self-discovery, but the pandemic doesn’t drive the plot much past that initial set up.

3. Don’t include COVID-19 just because you feel like you have to.

If you try to force the pandemic into your writing because you feel like you have to, the end result won’t be great. If you don’t want to do some level of research and study necessary to include coronavirus in an authentic way, then it’s best to leave it out of your manuscript altogether.

4. Include it in your memoir if it fits with your overall message.

If you are working on your memoir, only include the pandemic if it personally affected you in a way that’s worth sharing. Examples of when you should include COVID-19 in your memoir include: You or a loved one was diagnosed with the respiratory disease. You lost someone close to you due to the coronavirus. It made you take an extra close look at your lifestyle and make significant changes. You lost your job, etc. There are plenty more examples of reasons to include the pandemic in your memoir, but these examples should be able to help you decide.

5. Don’t let it run the show.

If you do decide to include COVID-19 in your next book, the only real guidance I can offer is that you don’t let the pandemic run all over your work. Don’t go overboard with including it. Weave it into your writing in a way that feels natural, but doesn’t consume the entire storyline. This could create pandemic fatigue for your readers. Keep it subtle; you want to avoid aging your book too much so it doesn’t become obsolete a decade from now.


Have any more questions about your next writing project? Call 1-866-381-2665 and speak with one of our publishing consultants. You can also read more of our writing advice to set yourself up for success.


Erika Bennett is the Content Manager for Xulon Press. She has worked in the publishing industry for more than a decade and her passion is to make sure great books find their way into readers' hands. You can also find her writing on

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