How to hold an online book launch (part II)


We got a great response to our previous blog ‘Holding an online book launch’ (Part I).  If you haven’t read it yet, you might like to read it first. In Part II, we step you through how to run your virtual book launch.

The mechanics of holding a book launch

There are several platforms you can use to hold your online book launch, but we’ll assume you have decided to use Zoom. Most of us are already familiar with Zoom. We will have attended Zoom meetings and events and will probably have downloaded the App for free. If you are using Zoom to launch your book and continue to hold virtual events to promote it, then you will need to purchase a plan. Zoom’s plans and pricing are explained clearly on their website.

10 steps to a successful online book launch

  1. Make sure you have been rigorous in your prelaunch promotion (see the section ‘Ways to support a virtual book launch’ in our earlier blog).
  2. Schedule your launch and create a link to send out to interested attendees well in advance. Remember to keep sending reminders. Some Zoom plans are limited to 100 participants, so you might need to purchase additional capacity. Expect actual attendees to out-number ‘expressions of interest’ so that no-one is disappointed.
  3. A good time for a launch (virtual or physical) is straight after office hours – say 5.30pm. You can start a live countdown from 5.15pm as people start to come online.
  4. It is highly recommended that you have an MC to host the launch and control the admin features of your platform in the background. This frees up YOU the author up to engage with the launch attendees and concentrate on getting your message across.
  5. Plan your running sheet in advance. Have the MC advise the attendees of the format of the launch in his introductory comments: How long will it run for? Will there be a Q&A at the end? Allow 2 to 3 minutes' introduction from the MC, then allow 15 to 20 minutes for the author to speak. You need to cover:
    • Why you wrote your book?
    • Who should read it?
    • What answers to which challenges does it provide?
  6. Keep the atmosphere light and acknowledge your situation. In one of the virtual launches Jaquie Lane from the Book Adviser was involved in, the author ran an off-the-cuff competition as his dog came into view. He gave away a free book to the person who guessed the dog’s name!
  7. After the author’s talk, the MC can come back and officially ‘launch’ the book. He/she may cut a ribbon around a pile of books, or pop a champagne cork or raise a glass.
  8. Have visuals on screen throughout the launch with some key points and, most importantly, where people can buy your book – leave this visual up as you move to Q&A. If you’ve created visuals for your socials promoting the launch, use these for continuity of design.
  9. Participants can type their questions on screen and the author can answer them. Any that you don’t cover live, you can promise to respond to after the launch. At the end of the launch you will have email addresses you can use in post-launch business development and you will have an idea of the sorts of things they need help with or information on.
  10. Close the Q&A to the general audience after 10-15 minutes but offer to stay online if some people still want to chat.

The gift that keeps on giving

Remember that Zoom has the facility for you to record your virtual book launch. You can send the recording to people who showed an expression of interest in attending the launch but didn’t show up for whatever reason. You can also send it to those who did attend and encourage them to share it with others in their communities – extending your reach even further.

Unlike a physical launch, which is a one-off, one-sized-fits-all event, you can hold multiple, customised launches for different clients. Perhaps you do one for existing clients and one for potential new clients.

The Q&A function is invaluable as you have a record of all the questions your client base needs answering.

The database of attendees means you can contact them in the future with further offerings and updates on your business.

 A few tips to make sure your launch is a huge success

  • Make sure you practise before the live event, perhaps with a small group of attendees.
  • Watch other online launches. You might find some ‘what not to do’s’ as well as some good ideas.
  • Don’t be afraid to SELL your book. People expect to be able to purchase a book when they attend a book launch. Make sure you can deliver it in hard and soft format. Make it as easy as possible for people to click a link to purchase.
  • If people buy a hard copy of your book, don’t forget to sign it!
  • Remember, your value as an author hasn’t changed, it’s how you deliver your expertise that needs to be different.



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