Facets of a Muse

Examining the guiding genius of writers everywhere

Virtual this, virtual that


Image by Joseph Mucira from Pixabay

Nothing like a pandemic to make the already super-fun chore (yes, that was sarcasm) of book marketing more challenging. One of my last book fairs of the year was finally cancelled. The last one of the year is now virtual. I’m still going to participate; can’t hurt to try it.

I know a number of self-published authors are releasing this year, and some traditionally-published authors who have had their releases pushed back. No matter if there’s a pandemic or not, blog tours are virtual any way you look at them.

But there’s something about meeting readers in person. There’s a connection you can make as an author to a reader when you can shake their hand and talk to them directly. Author panels are another great way to connect with readers, and meet some fellow writers. Our Sisters in Crime chapter did a number of author panels with local libraries (and some not so local).

Then they all cancelled because, you know, COVID-19.

I miss author panels. I’ve met some neat people, and had the opportunity to share some of my “life as an author”.

So what can a writer do now to connect with readers that doesn’t involve gathering in an enclosed area? We can do all the online promotion we want, but word of mouth is still the best way to find new readers, and that in-person connection, that handshake and greeting with a little small talk can go a long way when it comes to a reader recommending your book to a friend.

Sure, we can organize our own virtual author panels, or ask-the-author events, but we’re still authors, and I suspect most of us don’t do marketing very well.

Our Sisters in Crime (SinC) chapter is great at figuring out ways to connect authors and readers. We have an awesome mystery bookstore in Minneapolis that has done virtual book launches this year for some bigger local authors, like William Kent Kreuger and David Housewright.

So what does a group of mystery authors that has a great relationship with said bookstore do? They ask about conducting virtual author panels with the bookstore. It’s a win-win: the authors get to do the author panels we did with libraries but now with the bookstore’s genre-focused audience, and the bookstore gets to sell the authors’ books.

Woo-hoo! We have our first panel in August; we’re going to start with the panels that got cancelled by the libraries and go from there.

So, point being, if you have a local bookstore that has been doing virtual book launches, maybe they would be open to hosting (and promoting) author panels. Granted, we’re focused on one genre for the most part, but if you are part of a local chapter of, say, SCBWI (childrens’ books), and you have a local bookstore that focuses on childrens’ books, (or sci-fi/fantasy, or whatever genre), contact them and ask if they would be interested in hosting virtual author panels.

Heck, if you have a few author friends who are willing, and maybe have a connection to a bookstore, it wouldn’t matter if you’re scattered all over the place. You could do a virtual author panel anyway.

It’s one way we, as authors, can connect with readers you may not otherwise meet. In a way, virtual book events can be better than in-person ones considering people don’t have to drive to get there or worry that there isn’t room to walk or bad weather. Sure, they can’t get that instant gratification of buying the book right then and getting it signed by the author, but you might get that superfan in Helena, MT who tells all her friends about your awesome book.

And that’s what we all want–superfans who tell everyone who will listen how great your book is. Check it out. It might be one of the best things to come out of this whole screwed-up 2020 with respect to your marketing chores!

Author: Julie Holmes, author

A fiction writer since elementary school (many years ago), and NaNoWriMo annual participant for over a decade, I have been published in small press magazines such as "Fighting Chance" and "The Galactic Citizen". I write adult mystery with a touch of romance, mystery with extrasensory elements, contemporary fantasy, and epic fantasy, and I'm represented by the fabulous Cynthia Zigmund of Second City Publishing Services. My debut novel, "Murder in Plane Sight", has been released by Camel Press (an imprint of Coffeetown Press/Epicenter Press). In real life, I am a technical writer and empty-nester with a wonderful hubby, one cat (what writer doesn't have cats??), two dogs, two chickens, and more chipmunks, squirrels, and rabbits than any garden should have to deal with. My garden, our hobby farm, and Nature's annual seasons are some of my muses.

23 thoughts on “Virtual this, virtual that

  1. I can relate to what you’re saying, Julie. By nature, I’m an introvert, but there really is something about book signings, etc., that works best in person. I had a book launch earlier this year, with a signing party and everything. But then came Covid, and there went the event. I’m so glad you’ve got your Zoom panel coming up, and I know it’ll be great!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh no! I’m sorry your book signing was canceled. Hopefully you can do something virtually to make up for it. The worst part is not knowing when we’ll get back to in-person stuff. There are a few conventions I’m looking forward to next year, and I’m hoping they will be in-person, whatever that will look like.

      Have a great week, Margot!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, Julie. Good luck with your virtual events. You never know who will be tuning in. Good things sometimes happen unexpectedly in life. Neil S.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I hope this goes well, Julie. Book marketing has never been one of my strong points, but this pandemic has definitely put a wrench into all plans. I’m going to release a trilogy this fall, but won’t be doing anything face to face until next summer. Ugh. Have fun with the panel and be sure to let us all know how it goes!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. It is a challenge. Several of my conferences were cancelled, one online which was informational but not any good for networking. I want my world back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I hear ya, Jacqui. I’m crossing my fingers the conferences I’m planning to attend next year will be in person, whatever that looks like by then. There’s something energizing about getting writers (and readers) in the same place at the same time.

      Have a great week!


  5. Great ideas you’re sharing with people here, Julie. And look how tranquil Zoey is. Not a care in the world. Must be nice NOT being an author. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Good luck, Julie. There is no reason why the book launch shouldn’t go well on line. So many events today
    are held that way with success. Just be yourself and pretend everyone is physically there.
    All the best.


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Wishing you lots of luck with the virtual, Julie. My local author event was postponed, then cancelled, then switched to virtual. Personally, I’m not a fan of video, so I won’t be participating, but I know there are many people who gobble up vids. And that appears to be the way the world is going. I am such a dinosaur, LOL.
    I wish you an awesome event! COVID is changing the way we function on a daily basis.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I hear the word marketing and I shudder a little bit. Great idea about the virtual author panels:) have a great week, Julie.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Sorry so many of the events you were looking forward to were cancelled, but I love your solution. Hoping it all works out for you!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I am of the generation that prefers meeting people in person (is there any other way?). Hopefully, there will be some payoffs of virtuality, like getting access to an audience ‘anywhere.’

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! I like the opportunity to talk to people, but the whole virtual thing opens up the “anywhere” audience. Still, I’m hoping we can get back to doing at least some in-person events next year. Crossing my fingers!

      Have a great week, Ankur!


  11. I published my poetry collection in November last year, so this summer was supposed to be the perfect opportunity to hit all the poetry readings around the UK and attempt to flog a few copies. Marketing poetry is almost impossible (as repeated by most of the indie-publishing groups I’ve come across.) Despite the virtual opening up the ‘anywhere, anyone’ element, I really miss the chance to have a quick chat with people during the break, before, or after an event.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! It’s nice to connect with readers, and getting that opportunity to meet them face to face is so valuable to us as authors, I think. I know some authors who released this year, and without those book events, I can’t imagine how tough it is to market. Good luck, Carol!


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