A successful virtual book launch
A traditional book launch, in a beautiful venue, surrounded by the people who helped you make it happen is a fantastic way to promote your book, connect with your audience, and create a buzz around yourself and your work.
But they do come with difficulties, especially for independent, self-publishing authors who don’t have much of a budget, or a whole lot of time, and want to find the most effective way to reach large numbers of potential buyers.
Your ‘traditional’ book launch party can be expensive.
You have to fill a room with guests, attract a large enough crowd to create some buzz, pay for the space, the catering, AV equipment, and any extra costs that come up (and there will be extra costs). It can really add up.
And it’s a lot of preparation — the venue, confirming that people will come, arranging press. Getting people in a physical space comes with more complications than using a virtual venue.
And what if you’ve decided on a digital only edition? Or doing print-on-demand? That’s either seriously anti-climactic, or a big up-front cost of printing enough copies for the launch.
So what’s the answer to launching your book your own way?
A virtual book launch
Whether you decide to have that in-person launch party or not, a virtual book launch is perfect.
If you don’t want the expense or the stress of a traditional event, you have a great alternative by doing it online.
And it’s a perfect complement if you do decide to have that launch party — what about your connections around the world? Use it as a way to supplement your local publicity and reach a wider, fragmented audience.
If you want to make your online, virtual launch successful, here are six simple steps you can follow.
The first step is to decide on the date of your virtual launch.
Normally, this would be the day of the release, but it doesn’t have to be. If your book ties in with a special event or occasion, or you have something you can hook your book launch to, then hold off until then.
Visit virtual book launches around the web and work out what you like, what you don’t like, and how you can make it better.
Simply type “Virtual Book Launch” into your search bar or on Facebook and pick from the dozens of launches that are happening every week – join, participate, or just observe.
Create The Event
About a month out from the launch, create a Facebook event with the date, time, and information of the book launch.
Decide how long it will go for – longer time frames are great for people of different time zones, but can also be off-putting for those who want to be there at ‘peak-time’.
Create a visually appealing Facebook banner for your event, and write a brief synopsis of your book, yourself, and the event, to draw people in.
Think about who you want to invite before you send out invitations. There are ways to do this strategically to get the most out of your event.
- You definitely want some friends and family there to make you feel comfortable, and to kickstart the chat during the event, but, please, don’t be one of those people who blankets everyone they know with an invitation, whether they are interested or not. This can be a fast way to lose friends (or worse, to have your friends block any future invitations from you), and you can look like a no-hoper when you have an invitation list of 2,000, but only a half dozen who’ve actually responded.
- You want to invite your email list, or post the event details on your Facebook page. These people know you, and are most likely to attend and then go on to buy your book.
- Also invite prior clients and customers, and ask them if they would be willing to share with their audience. Perhaps you’ve used some of their stories in your book and you’re showcasing, or interviewing them during the launch party. What better reason for them to invite their friends and followers?
- And then you want to invite influencers. Authors, bloggers, or experts in your field — and ideally encourage them to post about your event on their timeline or website.
Connect with people you know, even if you don’t know then well, and give them a reason to attend. If you have an audience, talk about how they will get exposure to your audience; the better reason you give someone, the more likely they are to attend.
And, as you get people saying yes, mention this in your next round of invitations because it makes you look more credible, and makes the person you are inviting a .
If you’re approaching people you don’t know, or know in a different context, it’s a good idea to use a media kit, or a press kit, to give them a succinct overview of who you are and what your book is about.
Write to people first, and if they agree, then invite them through the event page on Facebook. Assume that a proportion won’t answer you, and a few will say no. But, as you gain more social proof about who else is coming, more of them will say yes.
You’ve already invited the people who know you (friends, fans, your email subscribers, etc) and the influencers in your area, now it’s time to do a little additional promotion.
But don’t stop there.
Share the link on all of your social media channels, on groups that you belong to on Facebook – writing groups, but also professional groups, interest groups – anyone who would be interested in your launch.
Ask any bloggers, authors, or experts that have accepted your invitation to promote it on their channels.
If possible, ask to guest post on their blog in the lead-up to the launch, and attach a link to the event at the bottom of your post.
If you have a little budget then plan to advertise your event on Facebook, or even Goodreads.
You can target people who like authors in your genre, specify by demographic and location if you like. Targeted ads can do well, and you can experiment with just a dollar a day on both of those platforms.
Make sure there is a good reason for someone to join — prizes, contests, reader questions. It can be a great way to grow your following.
You wouldn’t throw a launch party without having a schedule of events, so do the same for your virtual book launch.
Write down a rough schedule of what you planned throughout the launch, send it to special guests and close friends, especially if you’re asking them to contribute with interviews, questions, games or contests.
Write out your welcoming posts, closing posts, and any questions that you plan on asking your readers throughout the event. As the event is running it can get hectic and you might not be able to type as fast as you can talk!
List out all the activities you want to run during the launch.
Include more than you think you’ll need. It’s better to leave some unused then to be scrambling for ideas during a lull in your launch.
Break these into your absolute must-haves — these will be interviews with other people, guest spots, or giveaways.
And then have some activities that can be moved around or deleted completely. Things that don’t involve other people, such as questions that you post to the audience, or slots where they can ask you questions (unless you’ve advertised these on the event page).
Launching your book isn’t just about bringing attention to its release and selling copies – it’s also about giving back to your dedicated fans and followers.
Devote a big part of the launch to thanking the people who have never met you, for supporting you in the release of your book.
Prepare giveaways – signed copies of your book, gift vouchers for coffee shops, or interesting homemade gifts you found on sites like Etsy, iTunes songs that inspired you as you wrote. Choose prizes that can be emailed or mailed out to the winners after the launch.
But more than that, give your readers something of yourself.
Let them ask questions about you, your profession, your writing – and answer honestly.
If you do this in chat format, have someone else managing questions for you. It can be very hectic so ask a volunteer to moderate and ping the questions to you on direct message or on a call.
People appreciate finding out both personal details, the back story of writing the book, as well as being able to access you to answer questions about your area of expertise.
Of course, the main aim of the launch is to promote your book and sell copies. Ideally leading to an Amazon bestseller, and all the kudos that goes with having that tag to add to your author page and website.
Don’t be shy about sharing links to your book on Amazon or Goodreads and asking your readers to share them.
If you’ve facilitated some early reviews, then share the links to these and encourage people to vote them up by clicking ‘helpful’ on Amazon, and to share them on their social media. Even if people don’t join your virtual party, they will see this and may go over and buy.
And encourage people to buy your book during the launch event. The more copies you can sell in a short period of time, the better your chances of a bestseller.
Offer prizes for the best reviews, silly things like posters and mugs; and offer incentives for engagement and social media shares.
It’s easy enough to give away digital copies — kindle or epub versions, or a pdf, but it is nice to have some physical versions even though there’s an extra cost to you.
Encourage your readers to keep talking (physically and virtually) about your book, to create a ‘buzz’ about its release. Try to find an interesting story, or a little controversy, that helps keep this going.
When the launch is over, remember to thank the people who dropped in and the special guests who attended your launch. A surprise gift will go a long way to building a strong relationship and will help you stand out amongst the sea of people asking for favours.
Tell them about the success you had, and make it real with some stories about the winners, or the people who came with questions. Acknowledge their contribution to the launch, and your shared success.
And acknowledge your readers. Write a thank you message on your social media pages, and to your email list.
Encourage everyone to share the launch’s success on their social media pages and blogs, and give them a link to a blog or a recording of a Q&A call so that the value can be spread further.
Close or Continue
Don’t just leave your page hanging.
Decide whether you are going to close the event, and put a message on the event page — with a link back to your site so that people who arrive there later can still find out about your book.
Or keep the momentum going and update the page occasionally for guests still checking in.
Let readers know how book sales are going, who’s reviewed your book, who is posting about your launch, and where – this page can be a valuable resource for continued social media influence.
The different ways to virtually launch your book are endless. Don’t get too caught up in what others have done before you – create an event that works for you, and your book, and you won’t have any regrets.
Above all, have fun, connect with your fans, and launch a fantastic book!
Do you have favourite blog to book stories? Did one of these stand out for you? Let us know on social media?