It’s the skill no one wants to learn–how to host a virtual book launch.
I know; we were all hoping to get back to in-person events by now. Well? Whether you’re able to operate in-person, facing a calendar of cancellations, or want to pull off a hybrid event so your fans can choose a comfortable option, here are some ways to make sure your virtual book launch is satisfying for everyone!
Decide on Live or Pre-Recorded
Let’s start with the hardest part: video. It takes a long time to feel comfortable seeing and hearing yourself on video. So if you feel super awkward–good! That means you’re doing it right 😉
The best way to decide how to host your virtual book launch is to keep it as simple as possible. Use whatever software or camera hardware you’re most familiar with and most confident running. Maybe that’s your cell phone, your laptop’s built-in webcam and the Zoom app, or your friend’s or spouse’s nice camera (and a buddy to do the filming.)
If you’ve gotten a lot of practice in the last many months using livestreaming or Zoom, you may prefer to do a live event so you can interact with your participants in the live chat section. (And just in case your participants are shy and quiet, have a list of common questions you can answer.) If so, ask a savvy friend to help out with moderating.
But if all of this sounds scary or like jibberish, I suggest scripting out your presentation and pre-recording it. Reach out to your local library to see if the activities director can help you record and upload your launch. Those hard-working folks are looking for authors to fill their own virtual calendars, too, and there’s a good chance you can help one another!
And if you’re not already, become a member of a regional or state-wide writer’s organization. That way, you can benefit from many smart authors putting their heads together and brainstorming ideas that work.
CAUTION: if you’re in a group or online forum and the comments turn negative and discouraging, I recommend you bail from those comments until after your launch. It’s easy to get discouraged, and that feeling can spread like…well, a virus. So stay positive, stay creative, and read on 🙂
Make an Offer
Think about what motivates people to attend a book launch event–even in normal times. “What’s in it for me?” (That doesn’t make us selfish, it just helps us decide how to spend a Friday night or Saturday afternoon when there are a dozen options.)
So give your audience a reason to attend, and reward them for showing up. Here are some ideas:
— a workshop. Since you’re launching a book, you have several topics to choose from, like, “How to Organize Ideas Into a Book”, “How to Write Your Life Story”, and, ironically, “How to Market Your Book or Art”… People love a free workshop, and are happy to hear about your book at the end of the free class.
— a chance to win a gift basket or door prize. Put together an assortment of local products/services. If your book is fiction and set in a different time/place, make a giveaway related to your book. For example, my debut novel, Waiting for Jacob, featured a main character who was an algebra tutor. So I could make an algebra-related…just kidding! No one would want an algebra gift, ha! But it was set in Parkersburg, WV, so an assortment of local items would be nice. You get the idea.
— something to make their lives easier. This can be related to or piggyback off of a workshop, or be a workshop disguised as a talk. Think of ideas like: how to write more efficiently, how to stay focused on a big project, or how to find time to do what you love and why that’s worth the effort!
Plan a Plot Twist
Okay, friend, you know what sets an incredible book apart from a just-okay book?
You know the delight of reading a great plot twist. So incorporate that feeling into your virtual event.
Let’s face it: virtual events can be boring. After these many months of zoom meetings and webinars and the like, the shine has worn off. Bring the shine back!
If the usual virtual author event goes something like: intro, point one, point two, point three, closing–throw a good plot twist into the schedule!
Try this: intro, clue, question, clue, answer the question, MYSTERY, interruption, ask audience to use clues to solve mystery, reward the winner(s), explain how you used similar process in your book, present book for sale and directions for how to buy, juicy cliffhanger with the resolution for those who sign up for your email list.
Tell me–which event would you rather attend…?
Make It Easy to Buy
Speaking of offering attendees a chance to buy your wonderful book, you need to make it easy. If a person has to jump through seven hoops to purchase your book–guess what? You’ll lose them after the second hoop.
Give readers an easy-to-click purchase link, put it in a prominent place in bold print, and mention it periodically. If that feels too “salesy” to you, remember that’s because you’re the seller. Buyers don’t want to search for your info. In fact, many of them don’t want to overthink it at all. If someone has money in their hand, make it easy for them to give it to you.
Still need some courage? Click here to read this post about selling your book!
Keep in Touch
Even if an attendee isn’t ready to purchase your book or support your writing, you want to keep in touch with them and build a long-term relationship. A curious virtual attendee might watch your launch event, sign up for your email list, and pass on the news of your next release to their friends and family. They might enjoy getting to know you and then introduce you to others in their network.
You need an email list, and if you don’t already have one, try MailChimp or ConvertKit. Both services have videos to show you how to get started.
Also, make sure you direct folks to your social media profiles. BUT THIS IS IMPORTANT: you want your social media accounts to direct readers to your book and your email list–not the other way around. In other words, show people the next step you want them to take, which is to purchase the book and join the email list.
You DO NOT want them to land on your purchase page, get distracted by your social media profiles, and spend their time looking at your pretty photos then clicking off to related photos somewhere else on the internet. So make sure all paths lead to your book <3
“Do or do not; there is no try.”
Regardless of what you choose to incorporate into your virtual book launch, congratulations are in order! You’re releasing a work of art and effort into the world during a challenging time, and you’re going to make it rewarding for all parties involved. You, my dear writer, are living the life. Way to go!
NOW YOU: Do you have more hot tips for hosting a virtual book launch? Leave them in the comments!
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