Five Tips for Launching a Book Virtually
Laura Perdew for The Children’s Book Review
My debut picture book, The Fort, was first drafted in 2007. Since then, it’s been through countless revisions, submissions, and rejections. At last, in 2018, after another major revision, it was picked up by Page Street Kids. Hooray! I did a little happy dance and started to envision my book launch in April 2020. Nothing big or fancy. Simply a gathering at my local, indie bookstore to celebrate the journey with the people who had been with me at various stages along the way. It would also be a chance to share the book with the children in my life. I’d finally see MY book on the shelves!
But alas, it was not to be. At first, I was in denial. Then angry. I desperately tried to maintain perspective. My “problem” was, after all, superficial, especially in a time of such profound challenge and grief for so many people. And yet…
I finally faced the reality that the book would have to launch virtually. Since it is a small club, those of us launching books in this new reality, I had to learn a lot very quickly. Here are a few of the highlights:
It’s Okay to Feel [insert emotion here]
Fill in that blank with whatever emotion(s) you experience. When I learned that my debut book launch had to be virtual, I could have filled in the blank with angry, sad, disappointed, frustrated, and more. This advice may seem trivial, but the truth is we shouldn’t ignore our emotions. And what I found was that as soon as I was able to acknowledge and accept my situation, I was able to take control and move forward to launch the book.
Reach out to Your Friends (Both Real and Virtual)
Friends, by definition, are there to support us. Let them. I did a couple of email blasts – one to friends and family, the other to my writing community. I included the book trailer I’d made. Perhaps this seems a little self-indulgent, and maybe it is. It’s also good marketing. Plus, those close to us want to celebrate with us, be it virtually or in person. The notes I received, plus cards, flowers, and pictures of friends with the book in their hands, were all extremely uplifting. I was alone, but not.
My writing friends and those in the greater virtual writing community were even more supportive because they get it. They truly understand what writing and publishing is all about and how disappointing it might be to launch virtually. They are helping with tweets and retweets, buying books, doing book reviews, and more.
Also, remember that your publisher is your friend too. They want your book to do well as much as you do. Don’t be shy about contacting the marketing person to ask what you can do and what they will do. They are full of resources and ideas. Page Street Kids has been extremely helpful getting The Fort out there.
Embracing technology is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to launch your book virtually. I am what you might call a low-tech person. Having gone to college in a time when using university email was optional and papers were typed up in computer labs, saved to 3.5” floppy disks, and printed out to turn in, technology was not part of my education. Over the next decades, I learned what I needed to learn to get by but mostly survived using Word and Google. That is, until last month.
Compared to where I was in February, I now have mad tech skills. And these skills have been integral in launching my book virtually:
- I learned how to make and post a (decent) video of me reading my book aloud.
- I’ve learned how to do virtual school visits and storytimes at bookstores.
- I taught myself how to make a book trailer (decidedly my proudest tech accomplishment!).
- I’ve learned how to navigate multiple virtual meeting platforms.
- I’ve learned how to use Google Voice and Forms.
The list goes on! Each of these new skills has allowed me to take different actions to market The Fort that I may not have done under normal circumstances.
Utilize Social Media
Whether or not you like or use social media, now’s the time to love it. Quite honestly, you can’t virtually launch a book without it. It’s a way to reach a lot of people quickly and efficiently. And if you take the time to build a virtual community of fellow authors and illustrators, teachers, librarians, booksellers, and more, they will help you spread the word. If you tweet about your book (and include that book trailer you make!), some of those people may retweet your post. Now your book has reached an even wider audience. It’s exponential. In my case, I may not have thousands of followers (more like hundreds), but my followers have followers.
I am lucky in that in advance of the publication of The Fort, I’d built a social media following (small though it may be), mostly on Twitter. Other popular platforms include Facebook and Instagram; I have a profile on these sites as well. Utilizing Goodreads and Amazon is also important, as is having the family and friends write reviews of your book!
Seek out Bloggers, Book Reviewers, Bookstores, and Teachers
Finally, reach out to bloggers, book reviewers, bookstores, and teachers. Many authors did this even “before.” Now it’s imperative. By doing guest posts, you are literally taking your book on tour. The same thing with book reviewers—when your book garners a review, you gain a broader audience.
Bookstores and teachers are another way to share your book. While stores and schools are closed, people still want books! Kids still want storytimes. I would never have considered a Skype school visit or reading at a storytime in a bookstore in a faraway state. But now my calendar is full! And the funny thing is, now I’m no longer bound by geography or the cost of travel. With virtual marketing, I can tour the whole country. The world (well, not yet)! And perhaps, I’ll admit, the effort I’ve put into the virtual launch is more effective than local appearances.
Much of what I’ve said here is not new marketing advice—it’s part of marketing yourself and your book no matter the state of the world. Now, we are simply using a different lens to adjust our focus. Am I still sad about missing out on that launch party at the local bookstore? You bet. You only have one debut book. But remember that bit about perspective? I’ve managed to keep mine (mostly)! And The Fort is out in the world, making its way into the hands of fort-loving readers.
About the Author
Laura Perdew is a veteran nonfiction author, writing books for the education market on subjects ranging from toilets to pirates to politicians. This is her debut picture book. In addition to her work as an author, she is currently a writing consultant at the University of Colorado Boulder. Raised in Virginia, she now calls Colorado home.
Written by Laura Perdew
Illustrated by Adelina Lirius
Publisher’s Synopsis: Can a pirate and a prince learn to share?
In the fort in the woods, a prince is preparing his castle for a lively feast for the royal kingdom. Unbeknownst to him, a pirate uses the same fort as her ship, planning to venture out to the open seas in search of treasure. But when a treasure map appears on the prince’s party invitations, and the pirate finds that her sword has turned into a scepter, they realize there is an intruder in the castle―no, ship! Soon, a battle over the fort between the adversaries ensues, leading to a humorous showdown. When they make amends, their amazing imaginations come up with a new adventure…together.
Kids will revel in the spirited and imaginative battle and be thrilled by the turn of events. Dynamic and charismatic illustrations bring this witty tale and its celebration of sharing and teamwork to life.
Ages 4-8 | Publisher: Page Street Kids | April 21, 2020 | ISBN-13: 978-1624149252
Five Tips for Launching a Book Virtually was written by Laura Perdew, author of The Fort (Page Street Press, 2020). For more articles like this one, check out our posts archived in our Writing Resources category.
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