PUBLISHED MARCH/APRIL 2021
by Chelsea Richards
A guide to help you to plan, promote, and execute a successful and engaging virtual book launch.
Over the past year, we have learned how to adapt to our highly virtual world and create meaningful connections despite the distance. Authors are finding new and creative ways to reach and engage with readers through virtual events and digital marketing. This easy-to-follow guide will help you to plan, promote, and execute a successful and engaging virtual book launch.
The Planning Phase
As you begin planning your virtual book launch, start by reaching out to your local bookstore to see if they are hosting virtual events. Partnering with your local bookstore is a great way to connect with readers and to support the community. Most bookstores are offering curbside pickup and delivery options, so there is an opportunity for book sales with your virtual event.
Consider whether you would like to host the event yourself or if you’d like to have a friend, colleague, or someone who has supported the book emcee the event. If your book highlights other individuals, consider asking them to be guest speakers at your virtual event.
You can host your virtual event on a variety of platforms depending on the size of your event and the type of event you would like to host. What follows are a few of the most popular hosting platforms along with links to tutorials on how to schedule your virtual event.
- Zoom (will require an upgraded account)
∗ Getting Started with Zoom Webinars
∗ Scheduling a Webinar with Registration
∗ How to Test Your Video
Creating the Virtual Event
Once you’ve selected your hosting platform and ironed out the details of your event, you need to create the event and invite your network. Create a Facebook event with all of the details for your upcoming virtual book launch, including your registration link. Be sure to highlight any other speakers and prize giveaways to encourage attendee signup.
If you have a website, include the event details and RSVP form on the homepage. You can also offer the opportunity for attendees to sign up to receive event updates or subscribe to your newsletter. This builds your network and encourages reader engagement with you, your event, and your content.
The Promotion Phase
Set up a promotional timeline leading up to your event. Activate your network, encourage word of mouth, and build excitement via your social channels, website, and newsletter.
4-6 Weeks Pre-Launch
- Share the event details, registration link, and any promotional graphics across your social media platforms.
- Post the event details and RSVP form on your website.
- Send an event announcement to your newsletter subscribers.
After your initial event announcement, begin sharing drip content that piques interest in your book and the upcoming event.
Use giveaways to incentivize attendee engagement. Offer a signed copy of the book to an attendee who promotes the event to their networks. Keep the ask simple: “Retweet or share a Facebook post for an opportunity to win a signed copy.”
Create short videos on your smartphone that you can share to tease the upcoming event. No fancy equipment needed.
- Unboxing video
- Brief one- to two-minute video of you opening your first box of books
- Sharing this milestone creates a genuine connection with
- Author intro video
- Brief, 30-second video, including author name, book title, publication date, and where the book can be purchased
- o Share publication date to tease upcoming virtual book launch
1 Week and 1 Day Before
Share the event via email and social media as a reminder and to encourage new signups.
The Big Event Phase
On the day of your virtual book launch, set up in a quiet space with good internet connection and minimal distractions. Create the atmosphere for the event, just as you would for an in-person party, by arranging copies of your book and balloons around you. This will help create a sense of celebration for you and attendees.
- If you’re coordinating with a bookstore, they will manage curbside pickup and delivery options.
- If you’re hosting the event yourself, create special offers for attendees:
- Percentage off
- Signed copy
- Free shipping
- Periodically remind attendees where they can purchase books.
- Include retailer logos in your presentation
- Remember to support indie bookstores by including Bookshop.org, IndieBound, and your local bookstore
- Host or author welcomes the attendees
- Feature a visually appealing slideshow to keep attendees engaged
Author Introduction and Reading
- Encourage attendee engagement by entering everyone who asks a question during the event in a prize drawing for a signed book, bookmarks, branded gift, etc.
- Author greets the attendees with a short message
- Author reads a short excerpt
- Conduct a brief Q&A with pre-drafted questions
- Check the chat feature and read and respond to attendee questions
- Select a winner from attendees who asked questions during the event
- Author shares final thanks and goodbyes
- Display a slide with the retailer logos and ask attendees to purchase a copy and leave an honest review
- Remind them of the special offer for attendees
- Send a final thank-you message via chat or email: “Thank you for attending my virtual book launch. You can find my book on Amazon or wherever books are sold. If you enjoy reading my book, please share your honest review on Amazon: INSERT LINK.”
Chelsea Richards is responsible for executing book launch marketing initiatives that promote discoverability and awareness for authors and their books among both industry professionals and readers alike. She has worked in both magazine and book publishing in San Francisco and London.