Book launches used to be crowded, public events, often with lavish budgets to match the lengthy guest list. But the way we look at launch day activities has really changed, thanks to new technology and the real need to lock down during the pandemic. And there’s every indication that these new “slipper-friendly” online book events are sticking around.
But how do those of us who don’t have big publishers and teams of PR flacks behind us make online events work? I’m going to be getting deep into just these topics (and so much more) in June’s Book Launch in a Box, a newly-revised-for-2021, one month course that gives you everything you need to have a great launch for your book, no matter how or when you plan to do it. (Click here to learn more about this great course!) Until then, though, here’s a sneak peek with some thoughts on how to reach your goals through a virtual book launch.
We’re all Zoom-ed out after last year, right? I get it. But online events are far from dead and there are ways to energize them to engage as many people as possible. Here’s some tips.
Energize your cheerleaders.
Add advance readers of your book to a Facebook Group that’s all about supporting the launch. These are your FANS – what a great place to spend time online in the weeks leading up to your launch! While Facebook isn’t for everyone, these private groups are great ways to share information like giveaways happening on GoodReads and elsewhere, offer suggested copy to accompany posting about your book, and share your success! Authors who make themselves present in this group and engage with advance readers reap the benefits when those readers turn into cheerleaders for your book at launch time! The more they feel invested in your success, the more they’ll share your work with their trusted network.
Show up all day during your virtual book launch.
I tell our clients that when you have a real, concrete plan, a virtual book launch shouldn’t take over your life. But on launch day, it’s a good idea to take the day off work, or at least carve out multiple times during the day to connect with your readers on social media. Consider creating a schedule with multiple live mini-events to connect with readers all over the globe, and share that info with your launch group and on social media. Going live on Facebook or Instagram on launch day also creates long-lasting, quality content you can repurpose as you continue to market your book! You can also have a live event on Zoom, if social media isn’t your thing, or you want to host an event with guests.
Be yourself when during your virtual book launch.
Even if you’re camera shy, spending time prepping and then going live is just smart marketing. You don’t need to spend an hour talking about why you want people to buy your book. You can make your live sessions fun! We’ve worked with authors who have…
- …gone live at her job as a nurse to talk about her medical thriller, complete with scrubs! What a great setting that grabbed potential readers straight away!
- …invited the inspiration behind her book – her young son! – to read the book aloud on Facebook. A totally sweet and engaging session that kept people watching through the end!
- …hosted a Zoom call with a nonprofit and other invited experts to talk about the real world issues the book brought up. Tons of great questions from the audience, thanks to the interesting speakers who enhanced the story and brought new perspectives!
- …shared craft tutorials and other art inspired by the book’s illustrations on Instagram. This engaged so many people and got replays well beyond launch day!
- …had a music-filled Zoom chat with editors and others, answering questions about character inspirations and living a writer’s life. A great spin on the more traditional launch event, but using art from the book and music to bring the viewers in, instead of just the usual Zoom squares.
- …taught readers how to mix an “official cocktail” for the book in a sweetly funny, very personal Instagram live. This is probably one of our most memorable launch events because even as things went a bit wrong with the cocktail, the author was so present and charming that she won over dozens of new fans in the moment – all of whom are lining up to read her next book!
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel – a heartfelt toast, a reading, a Q&A session can all succeed if you’re showing up as YOU.
Give your book away to get more sales.
There’s nothing like the thrill of a giveaway. For all of our clients, we do some form of giveaway on launch days. You have a lot of options to do one on Instagram or in partnership with influencers or your launch team. But doing a LIVE giveaway is also an exciting way to put some pep in your live event. You can share your screen during a live event and use Wheel of Names or a similar online tool to pick a winner. It’s a great way to cap any online event, by thanking those who attend with a chance to win!
The through-line to these events is all about being YOU and SHOWING UP for your readers. By choosing a launch activity that is authentic to your book and your story as an author, you’ll be turning your readers into fans.