Promotional events such as book tours and signings are great for meeting up with readers to sell books and promoting authors. Unfortunately, in 2020, COVID-19 has put a damper on those in-person events. But that doesn’t mean you should cancel. Moving these events online is the next best thing and can even provide some advantages. Here are some tips for making lemonade out of the COVID lemons we’ve been dealt this year. In fact, these virtual events just might turn out sweeter than you ever expected.
Advantages of going virtual
One obvious advantage of moving your book event to an online venue is the cost, both for the host as well as the attendees. With no travel or overnight stays involved, these events become much more accessible and convenient, especially for those who don’t live close by or are unable to travel. Although book signings are typically local affairs, an online event allows you to expand your reach. Readers can sign on from anywhere they have access to an Internet connection. Events also can be recorded and made on-demand for those who were not able to attend. As an added benefit, it’s much easier to coordinate several authors for one online event, packing an even greater value punch!
Launch your book virtually or go “on tour” from home
Nothing can beat the intimacy of an in-person book launch, and you should work with bookstores to make the experience as safe as possible for everyone involved. When in-person events are simply not an option or if you simply want to add additional value to your book launch, there are many ways to engage readers on a virtual platform as well! Use your imagination and get creative. For example, hold a virtual book reading. Host a virtual book signing during which readers can authors sign their copy and put it in the mail. Another option is to share how the book came to life using video conferencing or live streaming services (e.g., what inspired you, tour of the author’s writing space). It may not feel as natural or personal as connecting in person, but readers will appreciate the effort.
Best practices if you go virtual
As bookstores are beginning to reopen, you can show your support by once again hosting in person events. But when that isn’t possible, here are some tips to make your virtual event go as well as possible under these challenging circumstances:
- Identify your primary objective for the event. Is it to launch or sell a new book? Are you trying to promote an author and build relationships with readers? Are you trying to support bookstores as they begin to reopen?
- Consider ways to expand and enhance your engagement through chat bots, live discussions with the author, webinars, surveys, and other ways to involve the audience.
- Promote your event on social media and email lists. Build a buzz around your event to increase participation.
- Prepare for technical difficulties/glitches. Utilize IT support to solve any issues that may arise during your event.
- Capture audience information and feedback. Address any questions or comments by following up with attendees.
These are challenging times for everyone but that doesn’t mean you should hibernate until things get back to normal. Publishers, authors, and book sellers can and should take action to help the industry on its road to recovery.
Contact your Sheridan representative for a consultation on your book project.