I will start by saying, my virtual book launch was not planned at all. My original book launch party was planned for 4th April, just before the government stepped up restrictions, banned gatherings, and closed all establishments. I wouldn't let COVID-19 stand in the way of my celebrating—so I decided to throw a virtual book launch and want to help others looking to do the same!
The Original Plan for My Book Launch Party
I planned my launch party months and months in advance; it was going to be the biggest night of my book’s life so far!
I had a photography backdrop made for the entrance (channelling a big name awards night), tea lights to create the perfect ambiance, an oversized canvas of the book cover on an artist’s stand, carefully selected goodie bags (just the right size to add a book purchase), a nice healthy stock of my shiny new book, a beautiful new sparkly dress and jewellery, drinks, catering, and even a two piece band! I’d spent over my budget, but my book was finally coming to life. Attendance was sitting at a strong eighty; it was going to be A-MAZ-ING!
Then, out of nowhere—a week before the day—the world experienced something that no one in this lifetime has experienced before, COVID-19.
My book launch party… cancelled.
My book was still launching; it was too late to change that. What to do now? I spent years dreaming of this book, and I had to choose now to publish? I was beating myself up over circumstances that were completely out of my control.
It’s not a first world problem, I know that, but it was my special night—a celebration of all the hard work I’d put in! I had been so busy getting it all together and was really looking forward to kicking it up with all of my carefully selected guests. It was also a big thank you to my closest friends for putting up with me constantly talking about my book, getting them to read different versions, asking opinions on colours or words here and there, asking what flowed better. They are a part of it, and I owed them a drink.
I sat down with a rosé (I had twenty bottles ready for the party), daydreaming about life when Corona was just my favourite Mexican beer.
If things had gone according to plan, I would be getting ready for the big night, thinking should that go there? and do I go with the pink or nude shoes? Sitting there feeling sorry for myself, I had an idea.
I’m going to have my launch party anyway!
My husband doesn’t question what I do very often, but I think he thought I’d finally lost it this time. I told him he wasn’t invited for making fun of me, but he had to take some photos.
I set up my backdrop, brought out a nice chair, found a funky side table, got my books out, and started placing everything out. It was all looking great and definitely lifting my spirits. I had a photo shoot (thanks to my husband) and even had some special guest appearances from Koda, the dog and Princess Leia, the cat.
I enjoyed a group video chat with some friends and had I planned more in advance, I might have tried to do a Facebook or Instagram Live. As it was, there was not enough rosé in the world to grow my confidence that much—but it’s a great idea if you’re game.
Like a lot of businesses have been doing, get creative and think of new ideas for your marketing—and don’t let a little virus get in the way of your launch party fun!
4 Steps to Throw a Virtual Book Launch Party
Because it’s just you and your book, you need a nice background to set the scene. If you have a banner made up, perfect; if not, a plain wall, a big sheet hung up, or a nice bookcase background would be great.
Tip: take a photo of the background so you know what it will look like and add or take away from that.
Your most important prop is your book. Stacking books on a table, or filling a bookcase with just your book is a great look. Then, you can use some carefully selected pieces that relate well to your book. It can be as simple as a birdcage or you can go right out and create a whole room as a scene from your book.
I used lots of greenery and plants as fillers as I had set up outside and they blended nicely. You might be better suited inside with moody low light candles. When you’re all set up, have some nice photos taken so you can post later to your social media and website.
Put on some nice mood-setting music, pour yourself a drink or a cup of tea, and enjoy it. If you are ready for a live video on Facebook, go for it! Have a short speech ready to go, and decide on a passage from the book to read out. You can answer viewer questions and even still do some interactive competitions. If you’re not quite ready for a live broadcast, you can do a video and post it or simply have some photos taken of the night and post them, like I did.
Everyone tuning in to your book launch is there to support you—make sure to have your book available for sale and direct your viewers to where they can buy it!
The most important thing is to have fun and enjoy your night. This is as much for you as it is for your readers and so that you don’t feel like the day has gone and you did nothing to celebrate your launch. It’s a crazy time we are living in at the moment, so all we can do is try to make the most of it.
On a such a special occasion, the last thing to do is a toast.
It matters not if the wine glass is half empty or half full, clearly there’s room for more. Cheers!