In a recent post, we covered how authors can put together great book signings and events at local bookstores and other venues in order to sell more books. If you missed it, you can read about it here.
In the aftermath of a pandemic, one good thing that came out of it is this: Many people learned how to attend events and meetings online who had not done so before. This includes participation in virtual bookstore events. The result is that many stores are continuing to offer them, all from the comfort of one’s own home.
So how do you go about setting up virtual bookstore events?
I was just recently asked this question, so I thought it might make a good follow-up. Here we go:
First, find a bookstore that is interested in hosting your virtual book event. You can do this by researching online at independent bookstores or chains that focus on your genre or topic. For example, mystery and crime, science fiction, romance, children and young adults, to name a few. I have listed a number of stores in different genres at the end of this post, which you may find helpful. You can also reach out to bookstores that cover all types of topics, which is especially helpful if you have a relationship with them.
Much like the media, you will have to pitch them your idea and be able to convince them that this is something their readers would be interested in. It’s also helpful if you can assure them that you will bring people to the virtual launch as well. Bookstores are interested in selling books, as are you, so show them you can help them to do that.
Once you have found a bookstore that is interested, work with them to schedule a date and time for your virtual book event. Make sure to choose a time that works well for both you and the book store.
Decide on the format for your virtual book event. This could include a reading from your book, a Q&A session, or a discussion about your writing process. Perhaps you have featured people in your book and they can attend the virtual launch to speak about their experience. Create a game or contest and give away some prizes. Whatever you decide to do, it should be both informative and entertaining.
Choose the platform you will use to host your virtual book event. There are many options available, but Zoom is the clear winner these days and most people know how to use it, so consider sticking with something that will be easy for participants to navigate. That said, the bookstore may have its own requirements, so you’ll need to work this out with them.
Promote your virtual book event on social media, your website, and through email newsletters. Encourage your followers to spread the word and invite their friends to join in. Be sure to tell the bookstore manager, or community relations manager that you will be doing this, and make sure they will be promoting to their customers as well.
On the day of your virtual book event, make sure you have a reliable internet connection and that all the necessary equipment, such as a webcam and microphone are in excellent working order. Test everything out before the event starts to ensure that everything runs smoothly.
During the event, engage with the audience and be prepared to answer questions and discuss your book. Have fun with it. If you’re enjoying yourself, it will help attendees to enjoy themselves as well. Even with a serious topic, there are moments of levity and emotion. You want to create an atmosphere that lets participants know attending was a good idea.
Be sure and create a landing page for your book where attendees of your virtual bookstore event can easily purchase your book. This landing page can be hosted on your own website or on the book store’s website. The bookstore may handle this, but you want to make sure it is discussed and taken care of.
The landing page should include information about your book, such as the title, author name, and a brief description of what it’s about. It should also have an eye-catching cover image of your book to draw in potential readers.
In addition, you can incentivize attendees to purchase your book by offering a special discount or signed copy for those who buy during or immediately after the virtual event. This can help encourage attendees to take action and make a purchase. Talk to the bookstore about this option beforehand. They are going to want participants to buy from them, so while they may be willing to offer the discount, offering signed copies may be for when you do your own event.
Overall, setting up a virtual book event with a bookstore can be a great way to connect with readers and promote your book. With some planning and promotion, you can create a successful and engaging virtual event that leaves a lasting impression on your audience. It’s also a good way to help grow your list. Remember, have fun!
To your success!
P.S. As promised, below is a list of some bookstores in various categories. And remember, if it’s an online event, you don’t have to be in any particular city to do an event.
Mystery and Crime:
The Mysterious Bookshop (New York City, USA)
The Poisoned Pen (Scottsdale, USA)
Murder by the Book (Houston, USA)
Crime and Punishment Bookstore (London, UK)
Sleuth of Baker Street (Toronto, Canada)
Science Fiction and Fantasy:
Forbidden Planet (London, UK)
Borderlands Books (San Francisco, USA)
Powell’s City of Books (Portland, USA)
Bakka-Phoenix Books (Toronto, Canada)
The Tattered Cover Book Store (Denver, USA)
Children’s and Young Adult:
The Children’s Bookshop (Sydney, Australia)
Once Upon a Time Bookstore (Montrose, USA)
Wild Rumpus (Minneapolis, USA)
The Flying Pig Bookstore (Shelburne, USA)
The Lion & Unicorn Bookshop (Richmond, UK)
Ripped Bodice (Los Angeles, USA)
The Ripped Bodice (Culver City, USA)
Love’s Sweet Arrow (Tinley Park, USA)
Chapters of Marple (Stockport, UK)
All About Romance (Dallas, USA)
City Lights Booksellers & Publishers (San Francisco, USA)
Shakespeare and Company (Paris, France)
The Grolier Poetry Book Shop (Cambridge, USA)
Poet’s House (New York City, USA)
Griffin Poetry Prize Bookstore (Toronto, Canada)
Please note that the availability and focus of bookstores may vary over time. Check their websites or contact them directly for the most up-to-date information.
If you’d like to receive juicy publicity secrets directly on a regular basis, join the Savvy Sunday Community at the bottom of this page.