Yesterday, I had my second reading for my second book The Taming, and it was great. I feel like I hear more and more buzz around the concept of virtual book launches and virtual book tours as a way to "reach" more readers and fans. After having done two readings now, I can't help but think that those authors who push Facebook and other online platforms as the free alternative to the in-person reading are actually missing out on something special.
Having attended a handful of those types of events, I rarely focus solely on the virtual event I'm "attending". I'm switching back and forth between windows, I get up for a snack, I see what my spouse is doing in the other room. How much of an impact are you really having with your readers that way?
I hear from other authors all the time that they find the idea of promoting and having an in-person event daunting and a little scary, but I can tell you it is worth it.
Last night, the room wasn't packed or even really full, but there were people there who had never heard of me or my books until the moment they saw the Facebook ad promoting my Monday night event. They came to hear me read, because they like dark fantasy and they thought my books sounded interesting.
Can you imagine what a thrill it was to see actual strangers walk through the door to hear me? If you're still working to build your readership like I am, I bet you can.
No matter how well attended a virtual event is, it will never surpass or even match the thrill of interacting with my readers. It will never match the happiness I feel when someone walks up to me with my book in their hands, asking me to sign it for them. It is for these people that I put my work out there, not so that I can see a notification on my screen, telling me I have a new comment.
Don't get me wrong - the virtual event is good for when your fan base is spread out. It IS a great way to connect to those people you cannot connect with physically. However, try not to hide behind these electronic means of reaching fans. Go forth. Meet your fans and share a smile with them.
Yes, having a reading is scary. Yes, you need to have books on hand to sign. Yes, you may be faced with an empty room the first time, but show me the author - indie or traditional - who hasn't.
All you need is a few strangers to show up to hear you read. Then, you will know the real thrill of having a book reading.
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