Whether because of the pandemic or to reach a wider audience, throwing a virtual book launch party is an awesome way to engage with readers. As a vital marketing tactic for your new book, let’s go over how to make the most of it.
Quick note: despite the pandemic, it’s a positive time for self-publishing as digital book sales spike across markets. For PublishDrive indies, they experienced 69% more sales in 2020. And 77% of the digital growth came from international markets.
How to prepare for your virtual book launch party
Set a date
First, plan your launch ahead of time as far as you can (at least a month). You want to have logistics ready and enough time to promote your event. Most importantly, try to schedule your launch within your pre-order period.
Set up a pre-order
Here’s why a pre-order should be part of your launch strategy. Any pre-order sales are officially counted on the first day of release. That means you can shoot up the sales count at once, giving you a better chance to rank in bestseller lists.
With a self-publishing platform like PublishDrive, you don’t need your final book content or cover ready until the day before your release. All you need are rough placeholders to set up pre-order links with stores like Amazon for up to one year. That’s a full year for collecting sales. A launch party is the perfect opportunity to promote your pre-order.
Decide on expenses
It’s become harder to hold a launch party in person. But a digital event can be cost-effective. Save money on renting a venue or providing refreshments. Instead, invest more in items like giveaway prizes as greater incentives for participants. Consider these expenses:
- Pre-print copies of your book to deliver (as giveaways, but electronic copies work too).
- Freebie items like branded pens, stickers, etc.
- Designed promo materials like invitations or flyers. You can hire a professional or do it yourself with free tools like Canva.
- Decorations for your backdrop when live. Go to Dollar Tree for some cheap streamers.
- Equipment for your live event like a higher quality camera.
Speaking of equipment –
Prepare your equipment
When streaming a digital event, a good wifi connection is a must. Plug your computer directly into the wifi router. A Mac doesn’t have that, so buy an adaptor. In case of wifi issues during the event, have your phone as a backup to hotspot your internet.
Test your equipment in advance. Is your video camera, microphone, or lighting suitable? If not, invest in something better, rent, or borrow from a friend. Check this guide about streaming equipment. With lighting, natural light is recommended, but test it out with your setting –
Prepare your setting
This is your backdrop, where you can decorate with party streamers and balloons or keep it simple with a single banner. Here’s an example from PublishDrive’s CEO Kinga and her livestream:
There are plenty of free platforms to hold your event: Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, or Twitch. Browse on wiki for how to stream on these different platforms. If you have a large following on more than one platform, there are ways to multi-stream.
To choose one platform, check the demographics of your social media audience to see which platform has the most active users. This is also a great way to find the best day and time to hold your event. When you’ve decided, schedule your live and keep the link handy for promotions.
This is the fun part where you can be as creative as you want! If it helps, choose a theme. Maybe your launch is near the winter holidays and you want to get festive. Build a rough outline. Here are some program ideas:
- Book reading (read your favorite chapter or a book page that ends with a cliffhanger)
- Book signing (you can do this electronically)
- Guest segments (invite influencer, someone who already read your book and can talk about it, or anyone else)
- Contest (with raffle prizes)
- Poll/feedback session for choosing your final book cover, title, etc.
For inspiration, check out what indie author/DJ Amani Roberts did. He had musicians perform, a guest portion with a virtual bartender (yes!), and got to talk about his book throughout his launch event.
Have set of creatives
Let’s say you chose a theme for your launch. Your creatives like e-card invitations and social graphics should reflect that. The point is to present yourself professionally and consistently. You can hire a professional designer or DIY (try Canva). Here’s an example of three on-brand book marketing materials:
Refresh your social media
When nearing your book launch, get active on social media to engage your audience and promote your event. It’s a good idea to have social accounts set up for new readers to discover and follow you. Here’s an article about using social media for a successful book launch.
After scheduling your live event, plan your social media activities around that. Use a sign-up link to share regularly in your posts. Add it to your bio or under your email signature. Make sure the info to your event is easy to find.
Reach out to local community bookstores, reading clubs, and more. Join online book promotion groups to spread the word. Be persistent (but not annoying). Create a Facebook event and set it to public – invite all your friends. Promote the heck out of your event!
Here’s one idea. Run a contest via social media where people can enter by using a unique hashtag. Ask participants to tag a friend who might enjoy your book. Share that you’ll enter participants into a raffle during your event for a chance to win a free autographed book or Kindle device (you decide).
Find a helper
If possible, find a helper who can help you rehearse and give feedback. During your event, a helper can moderate the live chat, answer any questions, collect email addresses, or periodically share your pre-order link. During your event, ask friends and family for pre-planned questions to get things rolling.
Follow-up with a thank you
Don’t forget to say thank you by writing a post on social media or emailing participants. Use this opportunity to share the rest of your social accounts, ask people to subscribe to your newsletter, or whatever else. Share that you’ll announce more contests in the future. Or share that you’re interested in answering questions by aspiring authors. Give a reason to stay connected.
At the end of the day, be proud of your achievements and enjoy your virtual launch from the comforts of your home. All of us can use a bit of extra fun and connection in a time of social distancing.
PublishDrive is the only self-publishing platform you need to publish your book and promote it in thousands of stores around the globe. It’s free to create an account. ↓