When my publication day came, I heard two familiar refrains from people. Wasn’t it sad that my in-person launch was cancelled, and wasn’t I conflicted about promoting my book during this time of COVID and social and racial unrest? I took a different view. I was neither sad, nor conflicted. I perceived it as a “both and”situation. Yes, these are extremely difficult times and yes, it’s okay to share our artistic creations with the world.

Artistic expression is needed now more than ever. Writing allows us to break through the barriers of isolation and despair that, at times, threaten to undermine us all. Our stories offer hope, redemption, and healing during times of distress as people transcend their private world and connect with the lives of others. What better time than now to offer our books to readers as a reminder that we are all interconnected?

Given the nature of the COVID pandemic, authors need to adjust to the virtual world. I’m not saying it’s easyor we have to like it,but I do believe the virtual launch brings unanticipated gifts and benefits. Here’s what happened to me. On the day of my launch 95 people attended, and only half of those people were close friends and family; the other half were people I had never met. In one case a potential publisher, with whom I’m working to promote a second book, tuned in. It was super exciting to see so many new faces and to reach a wider audience.

Utilizing the virtual platform allowed me to promote the event to a broad base of my contacts on social media. Another advantage of doing a virtual launch was that close family members and friends who live on the East Coast were able participate. Thanks to the virtual option, my sister, and my nieces and nephews were able to attend and that meant a lot to me.

If you’re an introvert like me, doing a virtual launch is preferable to doing a live event. I get easily overwhelmed in a large group. I enjoyed the simplicity of just looking into the camera, and not having a live audience to contend with. If you are an extrovert and need the live interaction with people, you can build in a long question and answer session with participants.

Here are few helpful tips for you to consider for your virtual launch:

  1. Plan ahead.  I began advertising my launch one month ahead of time and invited people to pre-register. This gave people plenty of time to sign-up and for me to plan the actual event.
  1. Take advantage of your social media platform and advertise to as broad a base as possible.
  2. Be creative and ask yourself questions: How do I envision my launch? Would you like film images or live music to be a part of the presentation? Do you want other people involved in your launch?
  1. Watch other author launches and interviews to get ideas.
  2. Plan to have a technical person to consult with who can set up the launch and manage the event once you go live.
  3. Have a sign or image of your book cover in the background. It’s good advertisement.
  4. Practice your launch virtually ahead of time. Perhaps you can pull together a close circle of friends to do a live run-through of the event.
  5. Record the live event so that people who weren’t able to attend can watch it afterwards.
  6. Smile and have fun!

I believe virtual launches are here to stay. They may not replace live in-person events but they are a viable option, nevertheless. As we navigate this new territory together, we can tap into our creativity as artists and enjoy the process along the way.