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How to host a virtual book launch

Take your book launch or promotional event online with a few handy hints and technological tips.
Audience: Writers

Last updated: 18 March 2020

The traditional format of a book launch tends to involve a few different components; an author, a venue, an audience, copies of the book and free wine (if you’re lucky). Most of these elements can be transferred online with a little ingenuity.

If you’re unable to hold a book launch in person (or you’re hoping to reach a new audience online) here are our top tips for hosting a virtual book launch.

Choose your tech

Firstly, decide how you will host your launch and how comfortable you are in front of a camera. There are some amazing live streaming and webinar-type platforms out there that are perfect if you’re confident in your tech abilities. Zoom is a free and easy to use meeting platfrom, and Instagram, Twitter and Facebook all have live stream options too.

A reasonably good smartphone is totally adequate for hosting a livestream - you don’t need fancy cameras and microphones. Try not to sit directly in front of a window or light; ensure the sound is good; and make sure you aren’t staring down into the camera. Social media platforms are designed to make going live as user-friendly as possible. If you’re still not sure, YouTube has countless ‘how to’ guides you can browse to build your confidence!

Of course, you don’t have to host a video launch. You can still make your launch an online event by sharing a written post on yout blog or favourite social media platform. If you go down this route, it’s a good idea to include lots of pictures, quotes and links to grab your audience's attention.

Prepare for your reading

One of the most essential elements of a book launch is the author reading. Reading your work aloud can really entice people to give the rest of the book a go, so it’s worth trying to find a way to share.

If you’re streaming a live launch, then be sure to practice your reading ahead of time and act as if you’re standing up at the front of a bookshop.

If you’re planning to host a text-based launch on your blog or social media profiles, then you could pre-record a video or audio file and share it for people to watch (or listen to) at their leisure.

Open for questions

Are you confident in your real-time ability to answer questions? If you’re using a platform like Twitch or Zoom, the people watching at home can ping live questions to you while you stream.

If the idea of negotiating unexpected questions in front of a camera fills you with fear, try sourcing them beforehand. Put out a call for questions when you’re advertising your launch. And if no one asks the questions you’re hoping for - ask them yourself!

Offer something special

At in-person launches, readers have the chance to ask personal questions and take advantage of exclusive opportunities. Did we mention the free wine? It’s great if you’re able to give your audience at home something similar.

Could you do a live reading from a work in progress, or negotiate a discount code with your local bookshop for everyone who watched live? This can be a nice way to support local books shops as well as a way to encourage book sales.

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