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  • Portland Jones

Virtual Book Launch - how I did it.

I had never done it before – a book launch that is. Not in real life and certainly not over our fantasy lives on the internet. I am comfortable, confident and probably a bit cocky when talking to real people. I am used to an audience. I have played with a band performing in local venues in Birmingham. I have danced with a morris side entertaining (I suppose we can call it that) the unsuspecting public. As a pagan, I have led public rituals and handfastings.


Working over the internet is a totally different experience. I am at the mercy of the gremlins that seem to lurk in wait for me whenever I approach a computer. But what option did I have? Let Covid dictate when I launch my book? Definitely not. Saturday 20th March would be the day.


I planned furiously. I watched other people’s virtual launches. I made lists of ideas I could use. Gradually I narrowed it down. It had to be something I was comfortable with, words that would fall easily from my mouth. I would have enough of a problem dealing with the techie side.

I would need something to fill in time while waiting for people to arrive. I decided to play some music from our band. The name of the band was relevant, as Francis Street was named for the back to back housing in Birmingham where my grandmother lived, which features in the book. And as it was a song we had written, it raised no copyright issues.


I would tell people a bit about me, then a bit about how my book came to life. This would be followed by me reading a short extract from my book. People would have the opportunity to ask questions, and then we would draw the winner of the prize – a leather bound journal. Such a journal featured largely in my book.


I set up an event through my Facebook author page. I advertised in Facebook groups. And eventually the night arrived. Did it go well?


Hmm, as I suspected there were technical issues. First of all, as I pressed the button to start the live video, a blue circle started to spin on the screen, like the one that tells you something is loading. I wasn’t sure if I was actually live.


I pressed play on the music already cued up. Nothing happened. I turned back to the camera quickly reassessing what to do next when the music started to play!


I followed my plan, which was written up and taped to the wall behind the camera. I felt very alone. I wasn’t sure if anyone at all was out there. I was expecting to see comments and love arriving on my screen. This had happened when I had done live video before. I hadn’t realised this would not happen on the one done through my author page. I told myself the show must go on – even if there was no one watching.


A hand slid round my bedroom door, waving a piece of paper. ‘Can you see the comments?’ The answer was no, but I was mightily relieved to know there were people out there. The door closed, then reopened to reveal a hand clutching a mobile phone, so I could see the comments myself.


I greeted people by name. I answered their questions. The questions were very helpful. They gave me something to talk about though of course I was now thinking on foot, without preparation. Questions I should probably have anticipated:


· Did you encounter writer’s block during the writing process? If so, how did you overcome it?

· How did you go about editing your book?

· Will the next one be a sequel, a prequel or on a totally different topic?


The last part of the event was to select the prize winner. I had downloaded a prize name generator, which worked very well, complete with spinning wheel and sound effects.

https://wheelofnames.com/#


And then it was over. Thirty minutes gone by in a flash. I was on a high when I finished; I’d loved doing it. And then on a downer when I watched it back and saw all the mistakes I’d made, places where it could have been slicker, more polished, but that was short lived. I had really done it. I asked people to come and listen to me, and they came. How fantastic is that?

You are welcome to watch the launch if you are looking for ideas. And any feedback would be appreciated so I can improve the next one. (Hark at me, talking about the next one already. I’m even starting to think like a proper author.)

https://www.facebook.com/Portlandjonesauthor/videos/3984376201654534




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