Holding an online book launch (Part 1)

Publishers plan their lists months, sometimes years in advance, and with the onset of COVID 19, it has been impossible to postpone or reschedule all new books planned for a 2020 release. But that’s OK. People are still purchasing books online and reading more in social isolation. If your book’s publication date still stands, then you can launch your book online. 

In these days of social distancing and #stayathome, we’re now embracing our social media more than ever. It provides much needed connection, a welcome means of communication and a valued meeting place. Don’t worry, people will embrace your virtual book launch!

Which platform should you choose for your launch?

As we all come to terms with the new normal, we’re becoming more familiar with Zoom. I’m doing my twice-weekly boot camp via Zoom and loving keeping in touch with my exercise pals and trainer in this way (not loving the exercise so much!). Zoom is probably the most widely used and well known app for virtual meetings and events in Australia but you could also look at StreamYard.

According to Jaqui Lane from The Book Adviser, who has successfully held several virtual book launches for clients, both Zoom and StreamYard do a great job. StreamYard plans are slightly cheaper and it allows you to stream directly into your social media account.

Why hold a virtual book launch?

The reasons you should hold a virtual book launch are the same as holding a physical book launch. They allow you to:

  • Celebrate the enormous achievement of publishing a book
  • Let people know about your book
  • Sell copies of your book
  • Encourage people to read your book and recommend it to others in their community
  • Engage with your potential readers.

Ways to support a virtual book launch

In a fascinating article The coronavirus pandemic derailed these authors’ book launches. This is how they’re fighting back, published by Independent, we learn that despite the disappointment of so many book launches cancelled and book tours abandoned, there is much that authors can do to promote their books in the virtual world. In preparation for your launch consider these methods.


Many authors use Twitter to promote their books and launches, as well as Instagram, LinkedIn and Facebook of course. Just search ‘Book Launches’ on Twitter and you’ll be amazed at all the activity around book launches.You can get some ideas from these. Don’t forget to include links where people can purchase your book in your Tweets.



Book bloggers

Australia doesn’t have the huge community of book bloggers that the US has but you can still encourage people to blog about your book ahead of your launch. It’s a great idea to email your database and offer a free PDF of your book (perhaps to the first 20 or 50 respondents, you don’t want to give away too many sales) to anyone who will read it, blog about it, or post about it on social media. Ask them to send you links to the blogs they write. After your launch, when your book is widely available, request that readers write a review on an online book-selling site.

Social media promotion

Use your social media accounts to announce and promote your online book launch. Include the book cover in your visuals as much as you can so that people start to recognise it. Include links for pre-publication purchase. When you have set a date and have a link to your virtual launch, start to ask for expressions of interest and send out the link.

Start your promotion two to three weeks in advance of the launch and don’t be afraid to repeat your message frequently.

Set up your book sales channels in advance

Your publisher will have announced the publication of your book to booksellers two to three months prior to publication. The book cover, blurb and bibliographical details will have been sent out on the ‘feed’ to booksellers. So, you will be able to link to your preferred booksellers and drive sales to them. Amazon.com and Booktopia.com.au have affiliate programs for authors, so you may earn a slight income on sales over and above the royalties you will earn from your publisher.

You may prefer to sell you book yourself at the launch. You can do this via your website. Make sure people can just click the link during the launch and order seamlessly. Perhaps offer to sign every copy you sell from your website.

Remember you can drive sales of your ebook too. You might want to set a special price for your ebook to coincide with your launch. Talk to your publisher about this.

The mechanics of  holding a book launch

In my next blog, I will detail the mechanics of holding your online book launch. In the meantime, email any questions to lesleyw@majorstreet.com.au 



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