Guest blog post by LCW member Annette Whipple
While we wait for in-person book events to become the “norm” again, I want to encourage authors to hold virtual events. One of the benefits of virtual events is that they’re open to people who wouldn’t typically be able to travel for an event. Participants come from all over—even the other side of the globe.
Book events spread the word about books—your book. Whether you work with a book store or plan a DIY virtual book event, plan ahead to engage your audience. When readers feel connected to an author, they support the author—and become a life-long fan. Create a connection with potential readers through genuine engagement.
Engage Your Book Event Audience with Something to See
You may have a great smile, but audiences appreciate seeing more than just your face and a stack of books. Plan to show props, graphs, or even GIFs to engage your audience (authentically) in a visual way. A slideshow can add visual interest in person and at virtual events. During virtual events, you can also show actual items to your audience by holding them up to the camera. (Or stepping back from the camera if it’s a large item.)
Writers Can Show Readers
• markups from an editor
• photos from your research
• brainstorming scribbles
• the cover that wasn’t published
• 62 rejection letters
• your pet goat (relevant to your book)
• timeline from idea to publication
Your readers would love any of this when it connects to a book!
Create a Slideshow
I typically share a slideshow with a variety of images and text. When discussing the writing process, I have a picture of me at the Almanzo Wilder Farm from my research of the The Laura Ingalls Wilder Companion: A Chapter-by-Chapter Guide. Another picture shows me holding a huge Eurasian Eagle Owl from my research of Whooo Knew? The Truth About Owls. Other images show my brainstorming about frogs or sticky notes about soil. I might even share a rough draft to emphasize the importance of revisions. Then I show the published text. I do all of that through a slideshow. I don’t do ALL of these each time I present, but I do when it serves the audience. Because it really is all about the audience.
Remember the Audience
During virtual events, I stop sharing my screen to show Edna. She is the exoskeleton or “skin” of a Brazilian white-kneed spider. I hold Edna up to the camera so participants can see her fangs and hair…and share a bit about each. Since Edna fits in the palm of my hand, not everyone at an in-person event would have a good view of her. To help everyone see her, I share a picture in a slideshow while walking around the group with Edna. (My book Scurry: The Truth About Spiders will come out Fall 2021, but Edna is often relevant to conversations now!)
And please note: A spider’s hairs are interesting because they help it to sense the world, but we don’t want to see your nose hairs. During virtual events, be sure your camera is angled so we don’t see your nostrils…or the top of your head. A few dictionaries or a laptop stand can help with this. We all thank you!
At the Lancaster Christian Writer’s May meeting we’ll dig deep into what you can do in-person and online to connect with readers Beyond Book Signings. Hook potential readers at events beyond the traditional book signing. Find readers at in-person and virtual events with libraries, conferences, community events, and more. Connect with them through engagement. Sales are important, but engaging readers hooks them for life!
I always enjoy helping other writers. You’ll find lots of free resources for writers at www.AnnetteWhipple.com.