The REAL highlights of my VIRTUAL book launch

OIt’s just over a week since the launch of Sophie’s Run and I’ve had a little time to catch my breath. It has occurred to me that I enjoyed this second book launch a lot more than my first. Don’t misunderstand me, there was nothing wrong with the launch for Sophie’s Turn, a great time was had by all, the consensus was that it was a rocking party, but. There are a few things I did differently for Sophie’s Run, and they made a huge difference for me.

Making fireworks without seeing the sparkle?

Many authors these days celebrate their book launches online. We use Facebook and Twitter and Goodreads to host our parties, and we have a great time doing so. More importantly, this avenue has the potential to reach thousands of people all over the world.

However, for the author, the event can be a little surreal. There’s so much going on; the Tweets and Facebook comments come flying, you’re glued to the computer for the entire day, barely daring to leave your desk for a toilet break, let alone food. And that’s exhausting. It can feel like you’re creating massive fireworks that you can’t actually see yourself.

The very REAL highlights of my second book launch

So what did I do differently for Sophie’s Run?

I’ve been giving this some thought because the additional things I did weren’t the result of a deliberate strategy. Rather, they were the confluence of all the observation and learning and experience that came to me in the six months between the launches. And here are my three topline thoughts.

A Preview Party

Siren Launch PartySome time in October, I became involved with Siren FM, Lincoln’s first community radio station. Courtesy to the enthusiastic support of the host of the midweek drive show, Alex Lewczuk, I took part in several editions of the show as well as the ‘end of the world’ Mayathon in December. Somewhere along the way, the idea was born that we could celebrate the launch of Sophie’s Run live on air, on the eve of publication. We invited some special guests, we publicized the event ahead of time, and we had a go. It was a new format for the station as well as for me, and we had great fun. To me, that kick-started the launch day proceedings with real fireworks that I could see, feel and–thanks to the podcasts–can still hear today.

A Book Signing

Next, I had this idea of inviting readers to a very short ‘quick-fire’ book signing event at my local library on the actual morning of my launch day. I can tell you, when I had to leave my Facebook party, I frankly thought I was mad. I reassured myself that I would be back within the hour to resume my social media partying.

Launch Library SignIt turned out I was wrong on the timeframe and the madness factor. The event was a huge success, and here’s why. As I had set a half-hour time limit, most people turned up at 10 a.m. on the dot. We had coffee and tea and biscuits, and we chatted. Questions were being asked and before I knew it, there was an animated discussion about what it’s like to be a writer, how writing fits in with being a mum, and more. They asked for a reading; I hadn’t prepared one, but I gave one anyway. Most of my audience bought and walked away with a signed copy of Sophie’s Run. That felt really good. That was real. I had officially launched this book into the world. And ok, it took a little longer than half an hour, but it was worth it!

Chatting with readers all over the world

SWAGLast but not least, I took a slightly different approach to my Facebook party. I asked questions. I had some SWAG to give away, and I ran a few little spot-competitions. I got some fantastic discussion strings going, the most popular being my choice of Chinese takeaway for dinner. And when the fun was over, I got to sit down and write to the readers who won prizes. That, too, was real. In fact, that was absolutely amazingly fantastic.

Writing Readers

So ~ three real things, quick, short activities that made a tremendous difference to how real my virtual book launch felt. If I may be permitted a soppy moment, I’d like to say that I allowed myself to see my own fireworks, and I enjoyed them!

Was it the perfect book launch? Of course not. There are always things you can do different, things you learn, things you need to change.

How will I approach the book launch for Sophie’s Encore in September, you ask? Will I have another radio party? Frankly, I haven’t got a clue right now. I’m letting this come to me and I’ll see what feels right nearer the time. But I’ll be certain to include things that make the launch ‘real’ for me, and for my readers.

What do you think? Can you see this working for you? How do you make your fireworks sparkle for you?

25 responses to “The REAL highlights of my VIRTUAL book launch

  1. Honestly, I am so impressed with how you put yourself out there. I’m building up to that in my head at the moment. You have a great sense of self as a writer and I admire that : )Well done Nicky! I’m trying to decide on a supplier for postcards, flyers and bookmarks, can you PM details of yours? Would you recommend them? xx

  2. It sounds like a wonderful, wonderful day, Nicky! I’m so glad that you had a good experience and hope you get to rest up now!

    • Thanks so much for visiting, Steph. It was a wonderful day and I hope perhaps my thoughts can inspire other online launchers to think about ways of making their day ‘tangible.’ Does that make any sense? Anyway, #amresting as they say ~ have finally crashed and burned today. Back next week, LOL! 🙂 x

  3. Totally in awe of you Nicky, well done and you deserve every ounce of success. Looking forward to Sophie’s Encore already. xx

  4. It has been fascinating following your blog tour. You clearly put as much energy into promoting your books as you do writing them. I take my hat off to you (not that I’m wearing one) 🙂

  5. Nicky, this has been useful for me (us) – and we will be referring back to when we launch our next.
    I think the ‘bite-size’ events can be just as exciting as the all-day-long-dare-I-leave-my-laptop ones!
    I did manage to listen to the radio interview; thank heavens for the podcast!
    It was clear you were having a fabulous time, and that helps your readers channel into the excitement of the book launch as well! I still don’t know how you do it all. 😉

    • Whoop! Jo, that’s my mission accomplished, thank you! So glad you enjoyed and thanks for taking the time to listen to the podcast, and to come back and comment today. I do think it makes a difference if you’re really, really enjoying yourself: so glad that showed!! Thanks for being here today, and keep rocking. Happy weekend! 🙂

  6. Sounds like a great combination of live and online interaction – well done you for being so energetic and organised about it all! (Not that I had any doubts you would be). And now enjoy a well-deserved rest and treat!

  7. Congratulations on a great launch, Nicky! You put an amazing amount of thought and effort into all of the events and I am sure you gained many new readers in the process.

  8. You’re doing a FABulous job, Nicky! AND selflessly sharing useful info – thank you. As one of the lucky winners of Sophie’s Run (and a fan), I can confirm it seems to be working! Go that girl! 🙂 xx

  9. Your energy is boundless NIcky and I think we are all in awe! Takes one fab rock chic to make a party swing and this one has been swinging since launch day! Wishing you all the best and know that there will be another stunning party to come later this year… Lxx

    • LOL, Linn, you make me laugh. I hope there’ll be more parties later this year… but meanwhile, thanks of your cheering along the way, it makes all the difference. Rock on! XX

  10. Brilliant job on your blog tour. I love the combination of “real” and “virtual” appearances. Best wishes for HUGE success with Sophie’s Run and continued success with Sophie’s Turn.

  11. Thank you for sharing your experiences, Nicky! 🙂

  12. I am staggered by how you do all this virtually. Well done you! I have always done my book launches in bookshops, but this is just as exciting and reaches out to many, many more people. Clearly you and your fans enjoy yourselves too, sipping bubbly by your computer!! I think you’re a bit of a trail-blazer, Nicky!

    • Hi Miriam ~ I loved your post on the Waterstone’s signing and it shows that you’re a pro at it! But I think you’re right, there’s something about combining ‘real’ and ‘virtual’ elements that makes it special for everyone involved, not least the author. Thank you for your lovely comment and for visiting! XX 🙂

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