As expected, the two hours flew by. Guests were introducing themselves for the first thirty minutes, so I found myself typing responses at a frantic pace. I also posted a new contest every 15 to 20 minutes, which required me to leave the main discussion for a bit. Hitting the Like button helped figure out where I left off. I also refreshed the page a lot.
By the end of the event, there were over 350 posts on the main thread. After I reviewed everything, I realized that I’d missed a couple of questions and comments, but it happens. I also had a colleague act as a second pair of eyes, so she helped spot things I’d overlooked.
So, would I do it again? Absolutely. Guests from all over the world attended, people I would never have met at a physical launch. People appreciated the opportunity to win a prize, and here’s the best part: they mingled with one another, sharing experiences and information that was jumpstarted by questions or comments.
Here are some benefits to hosting a virtual launch: your guests aren’t captive. They can pop in and out as they like without leaving their homes. Secondly, if you don’t like making speeches, then virtual launches are a great alternative. As I’d already posted the book blurb and ordering links on the invitation, all I had to do was prepare two paragraphs: what inspired me to write Dead Man Floating and how I got into security work (which happens to be my protagonist’s occupation). I also prepared trivia tidbits about my work experiences, but discussions at the party were going so well that I only used one out of the eight I’d written. In terms of sales, ebooks were sold but I don’t know how many. I do know that when I checked in with amazon.ca much later in the evening, my ranking had jumped from over 26,000 to 306, but I have no idea what that means in copies sold. My first royalty statement will tell me more.
So, is there a downside to virtual launches? Well, a couple come to mind. One is that you’re hooped if a power outage occurs. Second, you really need to concentrate and stay focused and organized. Granted, this is true for physical launches, but the fast-paced virtual world really ramps things up. Third, keeping track of all posts and guests is difficult. Fourth, there will be reading fans who don’t like FB and won’t attend.
Here are some final thoughts and tips. First, it helps if you’re a fast typist who can stay focused. Prepare well in advance, so you can simply cut and paste discussion topics and contest captions. If you’re not comfortable with taking screen shots of books to giveaway for contests, download book covers in advance and post with the contest entry. Have the contest answer and a timeline for posting contests typed up in advance, then send the timeline to the book donators. Invite a helper or two to be an extra pair of eyes. Above all, have fun! I know I did.