Promoting the event:
- Choose a time for the event that works well for your readers. You may already know when they are most active and available by watching your social feeds. View your audience analytics for a deeper breakdown of times when your audience activities spike.
- Announce and promote the event before it happens: post about it on social media or send an Email to your readers.
- Give your readers a sense of what you will be talking about, or the format of the event.
- Make sure to give your publicist or marketing manager a heads up, so that we can also promote the event for you.
- HBG has created a dedicated landing page for author events. We’d be glad to feature your event here as well.
Preparing the event:
- If you’re using live video, choose a good room for the event where you won't be distracted.
- The lighting should be even and your face should be well lit. Avoid dark shadows on your face or in the background.
- The device you are using to record the event should be secure and stable. If you don’t have a tripod, find another way to set up your device. Look for a flattering angle that is wide enough so that you won’t leave the frame when you are gesticulating.
- Consider the audio. Either record in a quiet space or use a body mic if you're going to be in a loud environment. In outdoor settings be careful of wind noise. If you're going live with someone, make sure you stay close enough to the phone that you can hear what they are saying.
- Check your WiFi signal using the Speedtest app to check if your connection is higher than 1 Mpbs. If not, try to find a location with a stronger signal or connect to a Wifi Hotspot.
- If possible, have someone other than the host operate the camera. Have the operator and host rehearse together how to go live and then sign-off.
- Decide if you want to go live alone or with someone else.
- Build a content outline so the host knows what to talk about. Prepare the people who will be on screen, but also leave space for spontaneity so everyone involved can let their personalities shine.
- Write the event description out ahead of time so you can just copy and paste the event description without delaying the start time of your Live Event.
- In choosing the time of day for your Live event, consider viewing your audience analytics and the times in which they're most active. See our section on Facebook & Instagram Best Practices for instructions.
- Introduce yourself and welcome your viewers or followers. Keep in mind that additional people will join throughout the event and you may occasionally want to welcome those you are just joining in.
- Give your audience a sense of what to expect, in a way that entices them to stick around. Prepare a 2-3 minute introduction while you wait for people to join the broadcast.
- Be personable, but remember that this is a professional event and should reflect your work as an author.
- If you can, respond to comments that appear in your feed during the live event. If this is overwhelming, you could have a person assisting you out of sight and handing you the most relevant questions. Either way, consider asking your readers to submit questions ahead of time. (Tip: if you are answering fan questions, call the fans out by name to make the content more engaging.)
- Fans LOVE a shout out. Pick a couple random viewers to say hello to as people are joining the chat.
- Drop off rates tend to be substantial after the 10-15 minute mark. Try to keep the chat under 20 minutes.
- Remember that you cannot include copyrighted content in a live video. This includes music, artwork, and anything else trademarked or copyrighted.
After the Event:
- Most platforms will archive the event. Share a link to the recorded event on social media, through your newsletter, or on your Website if you have one.
- Be grateful to your readers for their interest and participation. Give them a shout out on social media. This is also another opportunity to respond to questions that you didn’t get the chance to address live.
- Review the analytics for your event. Creator Studio provides a wealth of information for Facebook and Instagram after the fact.
Support your fellow authors:
- Show your support by sharing information about other authors’ events on your social channels, or by participating in their events.
- You can also team up with fellow authors to host live discussions or Q&As. We can help you with more complex live events that combine multiple video streams. Please contact your publicist or marketing manager for advice.
- HBG has created a Virtual Author Events page where we are sharing information about our authors’ virtual events. On that page, you can sign up for a newsletter that will promote our weekly schedule of events. This is a great way for you to identify other author events that you want to support, and to promote your own event.
Working with bookstores and other venues:
- If you had been planning a physical event that you would like to hold online, we can help you coordinate with the store or venue and provide the best technology solution. Please get in touch with your publicist or marketing manager if this is something you would like to explore.
- Many bookstores will be impacted by the loss of foot traffic during the Covid-19 pandemic. Your participation on online store events will allow stores to stay in touch with their customers and maintain the sense of a reading community.
- Show your support for your local bookstores by posting about them on social media or sharing their posts. Make sure to link to a variety of retailers in your own marketing efforts, including Indiebound.org and Bookshop.org, which both support independent bookstores.
Links and Resources
Boston University: Guide to Reddit AMA’s – they have a helpful ahead of time/day of checklist for getting started and links to all the features
Twitter Live Video
Live Video Examples from Our Authors
Since Orbit Books transitioned their author Brent Weeks from doing pre-recorded videos to Facebook Live videos, Brent's videos have gained about 10k more views each. Watch Brent Week’s past Facebook Live videos here.
Voracious author Jeff Eisner did a Facebook Live that is now up to 44k views, and he’s got down to the 200s on Amazon. View the video here.
Little, Brown School model for Twitter chats is a great example of audience engagement without getting on camera. This option is viable for online tours to engage all of the store hosts & their communities at once on Twitter to kick-off or celebrate the end of a virtual tour! See how they kicked off their Twitter chats for Pride Month last year here.
Facebook / Instagram Live Best Practices
- There is no link or swipe up capability, so either include a website link in a pinned comment or add a link to your bio and tell people to go there.
- Tip: If you are going live on both Facebook and Instagram at the same time from two devices, tell the audience which platform you are taking questions on and share the link to watch on that platform. This is an easy way to encourage your audiences to follow you on both platforms.
Before you go live:
- Instagram Live is oriented for portrait-mode only and does not support landscape.
- Use your Instagram account to promote that you're going live at specific time and with who on both feed and stories. If co-broadcasting, have both accounts tease the announcement. Also add relevant information to your bio.
- (Tip: use the questions sticker on Instagram Stories to collect questions to answer during your broadcast and to drum up excitement for the Live)
- In deciding the best times for your Live event, consider reviewing your audience analytics.
- For Facebook this can be found on clicking More in the top navigation bar, then Insights, then Posts on the left-hand side of the Insights dashboard.
- On Instagram, you'll need to convert your personal profile into a business profile to get access to Insights. Instructions for this process can be viewed here. Once you have a business profile, an Insights option will appear. From there, click Activity. It won't tell you the best time, but it will tell you the best day. Under Audience, you'll be able to see where your audience lives, so you can narrow it down further to the best time zone.
- Pin a comment that explains who you are, what you're talking about, and who you are talking to if you are interviewing or co-broadcasting. It’s a good idea to include hashtags here, and you can also include a link. The description isn’t very accessible but at least the hashtags will tell Instagram how to serve it up in the discover tab. To pin a comment, write the comment, press and hold the comment, and select “pin comment.” (Tip: write out your pinned comment ahead of time, then copy and paste the comment once the live has started.)
- Tap the ‘Start Live Video’ button and start sharing for up to an hour.
- You'll see when new people join.
- Add someone to your live video by clicking the icon with two smiley faces (note: not supported on older devices).
- They will get a notification telling them that you have invited them to join your live video.
- People can also request to join your live video.
After Going Live:
- Tap “End Live Video” to finish your live video.
- Tap “Viewers” to see who watched during your broadcast.
- Once your live video ends, you'll see your total view count and the length of your broadcast.
- Save your live video to your camera roll by tapping “Save” in the upper right corner immediately after your broadcast ends.
- Only the live video will be saved — not the comments, likes, numbers of views or any interactions.
- If you don't tap Save as soon as your video has ended, you cannot go back and save it later.
- Save only works on individual live videos — it's disabled when going live with a friend. If you want to save a co-broadcast, make sure someone does a screen recording outside of the app.
- When you finish your live video, you will have the option to share it to your Instagram Stories for the next 24 hours.
- Insights for Instagram Live is not available at this time.
- If you share the live video post-broadcast, you will be able to see the total views until it expires in 24 hours.
- Make sure to note your total views and relevant comments in order to measure the success of your event. A simple way to do this is to screen record your Live broadcast so you can revisit it later. Or screen shot the last frame that shows your broadcast statistics.
Important Things to Note:
- You can go live for up to an hour.
- You can only go live from the Stories camera.
- While you're live, you can pin a comment for everyone to see or turn off comments altogether.
- Your followers will receive a notification that you're live and your Story will move to the front of the Stories bar at the top of the feed.
- Comments on your live video will respect any comment filters you have turned on. You also have the option to turn off comments altogether.
- Remember to give the video a title. After the Live event, an archival video will be saved to your videos.