Barefoot Book Launch: 4 Tips for Virtual Success

I have a confession to make… I was barefoot for the Ferry to Cooperation Island launch party! That’s a first (and maybe why it was so much fun). Thanks to everyone who attended, as well as those who’ve watched the recording. It was such a success that I’ve since written an in-depth guest post for a writer’s blog about how to throw a memorable virtual launch party, and I thought you all would enjoy hearing some more general conclusions as well.

But first, please review

If you’ve already read Ferry to Cooperation Island, please post a review on Amazon (even if you didn’t buy the book there). Amazon ratings help other readers decide whether to buy the book and also help increase its overall visibility; as I put it during the launch party, they are a crucial part of a rich get richer scenario. You can really help the book succeed by giving it an honest review. Thanks!

Now, onto today’s main topic. I have four takeaways from my first-ever barefoot book launch; if you have additional thoughts, please share them in the comments below (or email me). (Thanks again, I’m still smiling!)

1. Tell us a story

Any public performance (virtual or otherwise) should tell a story, even though ideally the structure and planning won’t be obvious to the audience. For the launch, my primary goal was to share the book’s three inspirations: Cooperation, Coastline, and a ferry Captain. That helped me figure out what to include (and, even more importantly, what to leave out). 

2. Ask for help

Like James, the ferry captain who is the book’s main character, I like to do things myself. But an hour of me as a virtual “talking head” would’ve made Death by Powerpoint look like a pleasant alternative—and I also knew that if I tried to handle all the logistics of entertaining 100-plus friends and readers, I would be way too distracted. Captain Liz Baylis managed the screenshare and Q and A, Kim Couranz asked pre-planned questions (and even dropped in one that wasn’t planned), and Paul Cronin responded to everyone in the chat window in real time. Having teammates made it a lot more fun and much less stressful; with all of the logistics covered, I could focus on sharing my own excitement.

3. Stroke the senses

Sensory details bring a story to life, but how to achieve that at a virtual party? Screensharing, of course! We shared visuals I’d collected during my research, just as I would’ve for an in-person party. The variety of sensory experiences (readings, polls, photos, maps, and even a drink-spittingly funny picture of me as a five-year-old, with attitude) provided something for everyone: the readers, the visual learners, and the audiophiles.

4. Bookend the evening

Novels, short stories, magazine articles, and—yes—virtual talks should all open with an explanation of where we’re going and how long it will take to get there. Ideally, this structure is not too obvious to the reader/listener, but the biggest complaint I’d heard about other virtual launches was the lack of such structure. At our very first practice session, Captain Liz came up with the theme: she’d take us all on a virtual ferry ride. Her introduction framed as a “safety briefing” entertainingly communicated necessary housekeeping details in “captain-speak” and made a great start to the evening. And after our Q&A wrapped up, Captain Liz reminded us all to watch our step while leaving the ferry. 

Since the launch party, I’ve received several compliments about the enjoyable “ferry ride.” One writer said he liked when I read from the book. Others commented on the photos. And several others mentioned seeing me so excited and happy—which was easy, because I had teammates!

Virtually or in-person, we all just want to be entertained. Thanks to my teammates for helping me figure out how to best use online tools to achieve that. And thanks again to all of you for joining the fun—whether or not you were barefoot!

If you missed the launch party, here’s a link to the recording. Feel free to share in the comments below what you liked best—or send me an email. Thanks for reading and watching!

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