In these COVID times, authors can no longer turn to their favourite bookstore or pub as the venue to launch their new releases. So what’s a writer to do? Zoom, of course!
When the Mesdames of Mayhem offered to host a Zoom launch to celebrate the release of UNCHARTED WATERS, I immediately agreed.
And without the fabulous Mesdames, I wouldn’t have had the successful launch I had last weekend. Madeleine Harris-Callway is a pro at Zoom, and she set a time for the event, and volunteered to act as its techie and moderator. I got busy, created the evite you see below, and drew up my guest list. I was told that 100 people could attend.
I came up with the names of 80 people—family, friends and fellow writers—who I thought might be interested in attending. Six days before the launch, I emailed the evite to each of them. And I posted the evite on Sisters in Crime Toronto’s Facebook page, expecting to draw about 20 Sisters. Unfortunately, a Walter Mosley webinar proved to be an irresistible drawing card, and I only attracted two people from that posting. In retrospect, I could have invited more friends and colleagues, but there were more than 40 people at the launch—which I’ve been told is a very good turnout.
The format of the launch was an interview, so I spent considerable time creating interview questions for Madeleine to “ask,” and more time on the responses I’d give. I also crafted four contest questions—all centred around true financial crimes. The four winners were invited to select any one of my four Pat Tierney mysteries—paperback copies—as their prize.
We figured the launch would last about an hour, but it was nearly two hours before I signed out of Zoom. Madeleine followed up immediately by sending emails to all my guests with the online purchase links to UNCHARTED WATERS.
It was wonderful to see all the people who attended—some of them as far away as Edmonton, Ohio, Sudbury, Montreal and Ottawa. None of my out-of-town guests would have been able to make a bookstore or pub launch in Toronto.
Zoom launches may be here to stay, even after the pandemic has ended!
Tips for holding an online book launch
Hold your launch as soon as possible after your book’s release.
Email invites a week or 6 days before the event. Too early, people may forget about it; too close to the date makes scheduling and follow-ups difficult.
Take a personal approach. Email your guests individually, not in a group email.
Ask guests to RSVP.
Introduce your guests who came from afar at the beginning of the launch.
Hold a contest with several prizes. Don’t make the contest questions too difficult.
If you plan to be interviewed at the launch, give a lot of thought to the questions and answers.
Save some time for a short reading from your new release.