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Ideas for remote author events

Some fresh ideas for how to run an author event while maintaining social distance.

Last updated: 25 May 2020

Whether working with vulnerable groups, in prisons or in remote locations there have always been occasions where being in the room with your audience isn’t possible.

Remote events come with a unique set of challenges and can be daunting. We’ve pulled together some ideas for how to best reach your audience from a distance.

Think about your audience

If you are hosting an author event online, think about what suits your audience, just as you would with an in-person session.

Your audience might not all be able to access a computer at a set time, or at all. Your activity might be something that can be pre-recorded, or printed and delivered locally. Focusing on your audiences needs will help keep your event relevant to them.

Finally, it’s important to make sure what you’re sharing is safe and legal. Take a look at our guides for running online workshops and sharing books and stories online(this link will open in a new window).

Host a webinar

A webinar is a live online video conference. They’re a popular alternative to in-person activity because they can provide a similar experience to author events or workshops, without the need to be in the same room.

In-person interaction is one of the major benefits of a webinar, so don’t be tempted to overload your audience with slideshow presentations. At the same time, it can be nice to break things up with videos, music, quizzes and questions.

Run a social media Q&A

A question and answer session on social media can be another way of encouraging interaction between authors and their audience. We recommend using your organisation’s account rather than the author’s. This gives you the opportunity to moderate and source questions in advance, and potentially reach a new audience if the author’s own followers join in. A Q&A is also a good way of maximising an author’s time since less preparation time is needed.

Although social media can be a powerful tool for bringing people together, you will have less control over the content of your event, and who has access to it. Your audience will also be limited to people who are already active on social media.

Share recorded content

An audio or visual recording is a great way to bring authors directly to an audience. Podcasts or videos can be made in advance, and enjoyed by the audience at a time that suits them, on a variety of platforms and hosting sites; audience members could also submit questions ahead of time. Recording in advance also gives you the opportunity to make your content more accessible by adding a transcript or subtitles.

Whether you’re recording a video or a podcast, factor in time for multiple takes and editing. There could be technical issues, background noise or even just natural breaks in conversation which all take up time. These are times when people might be trying new ways of working, so be prepared to support each other if necessary.

Even short videos require more work than you think. You’ll need time to set up a room for camera, try different takes and check videos before sending anything on. Keep your brief simple: one location; and something that can be filmed on a phone or tablet.

Create a written resource

It might not always be possible or preferable to host activities or events online. However, you could still use this time to create a written resource that will help your audience to engage with books and reading during lockdown. This could be shared offline, for example using community noticeboards, volunteer networks or local food delivery services.

Be careful that your resource doesn’t become too much work. You should aim for nothing longer than 2-3 pages, and factor in time to discuss your plans and for one round of edits in your budget.