It’s been several weeks since the virtual book launch for my debut YA fantasy The Dragoneer and I’ve had some time to reflect. Here are a few of my takeaways.
1) Don’t Go it Alone Part 1: I worked with a critique partner and friend of mine, Tracey S. Phillips, author of BEST KEPT SECRETS for an informal chat she was able to set up through zoom. If it was just me and I had had to sit in front of the computer and talk about my book for anything more than 5 minutes, it would not have been a very dynamic virtual presentation, but because she and I were able to have a conversation, things were much more interesting. I gave Tracey the job of monitoring the chat and passing on questions from those attending to me. This freed me up to enjoy the experience. I’m super grateful for Tracey and her zoom abilities. If you all want to see how it went down you can watch it on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaPetcfh0YY
2) Don’t Go it Alone Part 2: Partner with a local bookstore for the event. Times are strange right now and for the foreseeable future. While in-person events may not resume for while, bookstores are still open and shipping books or providing curbside pickups for customers. I partnered with A Room of One’s Own in downtown Madison, WI. They advertised the event on the homepage and newsletter and I signed all of the copies they had in stock. If people wanted a signed copy, they knew where to go. Ahem: https://www.roomofonesown.com/book/9781733122528
3) Practice: You know how to read. And write. Obviously. But reading to an audience over a zoom call is a bit different. Perhaps even a little intimidating. Another critique partner offered to help me practice and I jumped at the opportunity. Thanks, Diane, for listening to me read and giving me tips to help connect to my virtual audience, namely: Slow down and still try to make eye contact. Also, at no time when you stumble over a sentence should you throw the book and yell, “Who wrote this?”
4) Prepare Your Space: Times being what they are, you’re showing off the space you live in. Be conscious of what’s in your background. I admit, the launch required me to do some tidying up, but I also got creative. What to do with that blank wall? I got a poster of my book cover made and put it up behind me. It’s still there.
5) Spread the Word and Be Prepared: Self-promotion isn’t for everyone. I get it. But it’s less about promoting yourself than it is being yourself and making connections with others. I am blessed beyond measure. As a writer, you keep your head down working on something, in my case for years, and when you look up it’s not surprising to find some people have moved on. Do you know who doesn’t though? Those you’ve managed to form a real connection with, be it over kids, books, or writing, they remain. The same could be said of blood relatives. Not only are the people you’ve connected with still there, but they also show up when you need them to. And you will need them to show if only to keep from talking to yourself. When they do, be prepared to tell them about your book. You did write it after all.