Before now, in the midst of a pandemic, a virtual book launch was a novel idea. Now, it really is our only choice for a book launch. Thankfully, I pulled one off at the end of February 2020 for my newest book before everything went insane.
How to Make a Virtual Launch Party Happen
For my first book, I did a live book release in my home town. It was fun but my books are very ‘nichy’ and my true market for this book was only about 60 people in my home province as it was marketed to in-service music teachers. I thought, is there a way to release my book to the world and let everyone come without having to worry about being there? That way I can extend my reach to as many people within my market as possible. Then I did some research, and at the time it seemed like a few self-published authors were attempting to do a virtual book releases. I stumbled across this video, and it gave me the inspiration I needed:
I planned my event by first selecting music teacher authors or content creators that I knew might be interested in being co-hosts at my virtual launch event. Then, I put an invite out on Twitter and Facebook asking if anyone would be interested in participating letting them know that they would be able to promote their stuff while promoting mine and be required to give away one of their products. The idea was that it would be mutually beneficial for everyone involved: each would gain followers from one another and some exposure to a similar audience. And, if they helped with the promotion, the reach would increase by the number of however many co-hosts you have.
Once I had my interested parties, this is the email I sent out giving them as much information as possible (feel free to use this as a template):
You are receiving this because you either expressed an interest in participating in this event or I asked you directly (perhaps a while ago).
Creative Musicking Virtual Launch Party: Pop-up Professional Development Event
Featuring your favourite music education authors and presenters
Thank you for your interest in participating in the virtual book launch party of my book, Creative Musicking. The date is set for Thursday, February 27, 2020 at 8:00 Atlantic Standard Time. It will all take place in a Facebook event page that I will send along on a later date.
Here is what would be expected of you:
1. You need to be available on the evening of the event. However, if time zones are an issue (which they likely will be in a couple of cases), we can accommodate. Please let me know if this will affect you, and we can figure out how to help you participate.
2. You would be expected to read or peruse my book so you have an idea of what it’s about (I will attach a copy to this e-mail).
3. You will be expected to either post a 10-minute video or go live for 10-minutes in the event to chat about a topic from your book(s) or a topic you are passionate about in music education that creates value for the viewer (i.e., something to think about or something they can use). You would each have an allotted time (which will be decided later).
4. You will be expected to give away at least 1 product or service during the event. It could be a physical book, an eBook, a paper, a brand-new never-before-seen blog post, the perfect lesson plan, consulting services or what have you. You can be creative with how you give away your stuff, so I will leave that part up to you. Some ideas for the giveaway:
a. A scavenger hunt of music teacher stuff. The first to post a picture with that item gets the free thing.
b. Ask a burning question or a question about your presentation and be first to answer it correctly gets the free thing.
c. Ask them to tell you the number you are thinking of.
d. Ask them a music trivia question.
Either way, this is to get attendees interacting, engaging with, and commenting on your videos—all good stuff.
5. You need to be willing to do a bit of promo for the event by inviting your followers to take part and advertising it on your respective social media accounts or pages.
6. You need to be willing to give a quick plug to my new book during or after your presentation.
I am marketing it as free PD for music teachers. Each of your sessions should have something of value to give to the attendees. Chances are, many are only attending for the free stuff, but if they get a bit of PD in there too, even better. It will be around 2 hours of rapid-fire professional development and free stuff.
What I need from you!
If you are still wanting to be a part of it, I need the following items from you by January 10, 2020:
1. A high-quality headshot.
2. A short bio.
3. What products or services you offer.
4. The topic of your 10-minute presentation.
If you are unable to participate, for whatever reason, please let me know. No hard feelings. Either way, please RSVP by January 10, 2020.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask. I want this to be successful for all of us.
It was all done in a Facebook Event Page. I marketed it as a professional development event for music teachers. Leading up to the event, I would post the schedule of presentations, then the list of prizes to be won, and presenter bios. During the event, the presenters would post their pre-recorded video at their allotted time or go live right in the event page depending on their preference. Once the event has finished, it would still be viewable so if someone misses it, they could catch it later on. Here is a link to my event so you can take a look at how yours could look.
Some Things to Consider
Make sure to send out reminder e-mails. You might even want to organize it all into Google calendar so nobody forgets. You will likely have to remind participants to promote the event as much as possible leading up to it. Inviting works best.
Make sure to have them check and practice with their Go Live button. Also make sure they have it as an option in the event page.
They can pre-record their video if they like. It is sometimes easier but the attendees just can’t interact with the presenter live as easily if it’s pre-recorded.
There will be some technical glitches. Be prepared to stray from your schedule.
Either have someone else do the back-end work or do it yourself but make sure you have easy contacts for your presenters. I used Facebook Messenger in a back end during the event. It was used a lot!
Do plan to keep promoting it for weeks after the event is complete. I set up a schedule on my Facebook Page and my Twitter feed to post one of the videos each week until they were done!
Remember that time zones exist. I was pretty lucky in that my timezone is one hour later than the Eastern Time so having it at 8PM Atlantic was fairly reasonable for most timezones within North America. If you are in Mountain Time or Pacific time, having your Launch Party at 8PM local time will make your event after midnight on the East Coast, and even later in Atlantic Canada.
I hope this is helpful in your planning for your Virtual Book Launch Event. If you have any specific questions, do not hesitate to leave a comment. I will do my best to answer.
Until next time, Happy Musicking and Happy Writing!