This tumultuous year may be winding down, but there are still activities and events you can put on your literary calendar—many of them costing you nothing, thanks to readily available social media and virtual communication tools.
The online Q&A concept became popular on Reddit and has since been co-opted by other social media networks. As 1 in 11 people in the US is a Reddit user, you would do well to try this out on Reddit, although you could also host a session on Twitter.
With Reddit, you can join the r/IAmA or r/AMA subreddit for free. Note that you’ll need a personal website or a Twitter account for verifying your identity; either by creating a page on your website showing a photo of you with a one-sentence blurb saying who you are and what date you’re planning to host the session, or by tweeting a photo of yourself holding a piece of paper with the aforementioned info. You’ll also have to submit a request to the moderators of the subreddit of your choice weeks in advance.
If you want to host your Q&A session on Twitter, you’ll have to create a custom hashtag that’s relevant to you and your book. Let your followers know the date and length of your session (one hour is usually enough), and whether you’re taking questions (in the form of tweets) in advance or during the session itself.
Posting a pre-recorded video on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and/or YouTube is a low-pressure way of launching your book or sharing updates and sneak previews of a book in progress.
There’s no need to prepare an elaborate set for your video—plain walls and bookshelves are acceptable backgrounds—but make sure that you have a great light source, preferably natural. You’ll also have to remember where to look: into your camera lens, not your computer screen, so as to maintain a connection between you and your viewers.
Your video doesn’t really have to be more than 5 minutes long. If you’re doing a launch, you could simply talk briefly about the publishing experience, thank your supporters, and read excerpts from your book. You could also hold a Q&A session in the comment section of wherever you’re posting the video. Remember to link to where your audience can purchase your book in your video description!
Live events are basically a mixture of a Q&A session and a pre-recorded video, with some additional preparation. You’ll have to let people know about your event ahead of time, and you’ll have to think of a simple yet professional setup.
What’s different here is you’ll want to prepare a program. People usually expect live events to be packed with content, so apart from answering questions from the audience as you’re streaming, consider inviting a fellow author for a chat or doing a game with giveaways. When the event’s finished, you can also upload it on your YouTube channel and share it on social media for anyone who might have missed it.
Authors usually launch their books through live events, but some have also established live virtual book clubs with regular uploads of finished events on their YouTube channel. It’s a great way to network with fellow authors from the comforts of home.
Book fairs, festivals, and conferences
Organizers have rightfully adapted to hosting virtual affairs. A number of them do charge you for admission, but think of the travel expenses you’re saving on! If you’re thinking of joining as an exhibitor, they’ll usually feature you on their website for a specified period and allow you to link to your live event (if you’re holding one). Of course, you could also just enjoy other authors’ events (and maybe take a few notes for your own future events).
Some of these are already in progress, although you can still catch up and join. You can plan for upcoming ones, too.
Oct. 5–24: Boston Book Festival
Oct. 22–Nov. 1: Dodge Poetry Festival
Oct. 23–24: National Black Book Festival
Oct. 31–Nov. 15: Texas Book Festival
What other virtual activity ideas have you thought of and successfully implemented? Is there a book fair, festival, or conference you want to add to our list? Let us know in the comments.