Last month I talked about how to plan a physical book launch party. This month, let’s discuss how to host a virtual (online) book launch party using social media.
You can plan a virtual party in place of a physical party, especially if finances are tight. Or your virtual launch can be in addition to a physical party, enabling you to include contacts outside your local geographical area.
One of the easiest ways to host a virtual party is to create a Facebook event. Since Facebook book launches are becoming fairly common, let’s examine some tips for an effective virtual launch party that stands out from the crowd:
A virtual party gives you the opportunity to expand your reach. Publicize your event on all your social media accounts and ask your friends to publicize the event on their profiles and pages, too. Remember to include a link to the party. Be sure to include people on your email list, people who have already expressed interest in your writing, and influencers.
An effective launch team is critical to the success of your virtual party. Consider creating a private Facebook group for your launch team to help you communicate with the group. For example:
- Ask them to review your book and post their reviews on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, CBD.com, Goodreads, and other related sites.
- Give them incentives for purchasing multiple copies of your book, such as a free pdf, bookmarks, a signed book plate, or other related items.
- Encourage them to publicize your party on their own Facebook profiles and pages.
You can schedule your launch party for the same day your book releases. Or you can delay it a bit to give your launch team some time to read your book and post reviews to help create buzz prior to your party. You can then post links to those reviews during the party.
When scheduling your party, be sure to consider differing time zones. Schedule it too early or too late and you’ll create obstacles to participation for attendees in zones furthest away from you.
The more you can prepare in advance, the more you’ll be able to spend time interacting with attendees. This includes preparing a schedule of activities and posts. But be flexible. It’s okay to go off schedule!
Scheduling posts in advance is an effective way to free yourself up to give participants your full attention. For example, if your event is connected to your Facebook Author Page, you can schedule your posts at regular intervals in advance, just as you can do on your Page. Simply write your post, then click on the arrow on the right of the Post button to reveal the scheduling options. Best of all, if the conversations begin to lag, you can change the scheduled times to post immediately.
Posts with photos or videos (e.g., a book trailer) attract more attention than posts with words alone, so be sure to include lots of visual posts. And don’t forget to include endorsements, too!
Develop your event page to complement the theme of your book. Customize the page banner and add your author photo. Create pictures with quotes from your book for scheduled posts and be sure to use pictures that fit your theme, as well.
Help During the Event
You’ll need help during the event, so consider assigning tasks to members of your launch team. Here are some examples of helpers you might need:
- someone to coordinate posting quizzes and trivia questions.
- another launch team member to coordinate contests and prize drawings.
- someone to use Twitter to cross-post quotes, activities, and trivia questions about your book, using a hashtag to make the tweets easier to find (These tweets may also increase interest in your book and your party.)
- another team member to help monitor attendee interactions to ensure all questions are answered
When you schedule your posts, be sure to include lots of links: the link to your website, links to sign up for your blog and newsletter, and of course, links to purchase your book! Don’t be shy about asking attendees to share the links in their social media, too.
Be sure to thank everyone who helped. Post photos and links from the party wherever you have an online presence.
Have you either hosted or participated in a virtual book launch party? Tell us about it in the comments!
6 thoughts on “How to Host a Virtual Book Launch Party”
hi Ava! I love FB parties! I’ve participated in several and have hosted 2 myself for my picture book series, Willoughby and Friends. Since it’s a children’s book, and you have to be 13 to be on FB, it’s important to reach out to the parents/adults who will be buying and reading the book to little ones.
I’m blessed to have my best friend as the illustrator. She’s created coloring pages, so when an adult signs up for the party and they attend with their children, I send a coloring page through private messaging as a Word attachment. They can print it out at home and while they are attending the party, the kids can be coloring. If they take a picture of the finished colored page and share it during the party, I send their children more book swag. I have stickers, temporary tattoos, bookmarks, and other coloring page designs.
I make sure some of my posts are things the kids can answer or take part in. It was especially fun when I hosted Willoughby’s birthday party on FB! We played games like drop the clothespin and a scavenger hunt, had dragon dance parties, and every child who attended with their parent/adult got a loot bag in the mail. The grand prize for that party was a pre-release copy of Willoughby’s next book.
Marketing picture books is so much fun and there’s a lot of potential. The physical book release party for Willoughby’s new book, Willoughby and the Lumpy Bumpy Cake is this Saturday and we’re having cake (of course) and every child who comes gets a paper chef hat. I have games and coloring and prizes. And we’ll read the new book as well as the old one.
The Dollar Store and Oriental Trading have been my best friends for book swag and prizes. But Amazon can also have stuff at great prices. For example, I got mini whisks, scrapers, and wooden spoons on Amazon for cheaper than anywhere for the new book. Last year, I got wooden back scratchers for less than a dollar each and I was able to write on each one the phrase Willoughby likes to say, “A good friend is a great gift.” I also found a kid’s chef set that included an apron, hat, and some utensils, as well as 3 cloth aprons by themselves that I’ll use as part of the prizes for the FB event. I got the paper chef hats through OT that I’ll use at the physical party. And I was able to get round plastic magnets at the Dollar Store and I use the stickers to make fridge magnets. And putting a Willoughby sticker on mini notebooks creates a special Willoughby notebook, which I pair with fun pencils. Man, I love the Dollar Store!
And we can’t forget dragon snacks! I take plain ole cheese doodles and call them dragon flames. 🙂
I’ll also be announcing Willoughby’s Birthday Club at both parties. If an adult gives me the child’s name, birthdate, and mailing address, Willoughby will send them a birthday card during their birthday week. I designed and had my publisher make the cards. Candy Abbott at Fruitbearer Publishing does this right in her office and they turned out beautifully! I also have note cards, incase Willoughby needs to send a note, like he did after his birthday party. Not only did each child who attended get a loot bag, they got a thank you note from Willoughby.
The FB event party is still in the works. I’m hoping for next week, if I can get myself together.
Wow, Pam, thanks for adding all these great ideas!
Pam Halter, thank you so much for these great ideas. A virtual book launch is pretty much the only option right now for my children’s book release and, I so appreciate these ideas.
Interesting, Annette. Pam wrote that blog 2 years ago and it is very relevant now! Carol Baldwin
You’re welcome, Annette – find me on Facebook and send me an invite!