A virtual book launch is a great way to get readers interested in your book on the day of its release. One of the great things about writing for the middle grader is that they are tech savvy enough to participate in a virtual launch. Here are some tips and tricks for hosting a virtual launch that includes your middle grade reader.
1. Set up an event page on Facebook
Even though your middle grade reader probably doesn't have a Facebook account, their parents probably do. And by hosting on an event page instead of your own Facebook page, you don't have to worry about the middle graders or their parents following you. They just join the event.
2. Co-host the party on your blog or website
Some middle graders won't be allowed to go on Facebook even with their parent's account, so make sure you have a blog or website that is also posting during the event. If you normally have restrictions on comments, make sure to relax them during the event to make it easy for someone to post.
3. Choose a time that is early enough for middle graders to participate
I decided to hold my event from 7:30 - 10:30 pm ET. This was an early enough time on the east coast and a late enough time on the west coast.
4. Set up a schedule
I posted a schedule a few days before the event. Content that was more appropriate for my middle grade audience went up earlier in the night. I also gave away prizes every hour so that attendees didn't have to wait until 10:30 to win.
5. Have some age appropriate prizes
Adult readers wanted book plates and ARCS. Middle graders love anything that has the book's name on it. And it doesn't have to be fancy. I used a sharpie marker to write my book title on some baseballs and a beach ball and those were my most sort after prizes.
6. Encourage questions
The best questions of my launch came from my middle grade readers.
7. Ask your audience questions
I had a couple of questions that tied into my book ready before the launch to use any time things got slow.
8. Preset blog posts
It can be very challenging posting at two places at once. A blog allows you to set the time that posts will be made. If I were to do it again, I would have every blog post written at least a day in advance and set to release once an hour. That way you can focus only on commenting and answering questions. Creating the blog posts before the launch can also avoid any technology hitches. I had planned to read a chapter live during my launch but I couldn't get the video to load. The other two videos I had created before the launch went up without any issues.
9. Assume that more people are ready and watching than those who participate
The day after my launch I got emails from people who hadn't commented but had either been to the launch or came by later to read all the posts. Continue to use the event site and blog to talk to your silent fans as well as your loud ones. They'll appreciate it.
Not quite sure what I mean by a virtual launch? Go to my blog for a better definition. To see my virtual launch visit my Facebook event.
Some great resources I found were How to Host a Virtual Launch and Throwing a Virtual Launch Party.
Any more questions about hosting a virtual launch? Ask below.
(This was originally posted on Publishing From the Heart after the launch of The Sweet Spot in June. Unfortunately, that blog needed to be deleted due to hacking.)