Since my first historical fiction novel came out in 2017, I’ve done hundreds of presentations at book clubs, libraries and other organizations discussing the history behind my stories. When the pandemic hit and all of my in-person events were cancelled, I decided to pivot to online webinars, making them open to anyone in the world who wanted to attend.
For the first one in April 2020, I kept my expectations low in terms of how many people would register for the event. You can imagine how shocked I was when over two hundred people signed up. With the success of that first one, I decided to continue to do live webinars on a monthly basis, and more recently, created a new webinar series called Historical Happy Hour, where I interview another historical fiction author about their latest novel.
Here are five things I’ve learned:
People are (still) seeking original live content
I realized after my very first webinar, that people are really yearning for original, live content that they can view from the comfort of their own home. This has held true even as life in the pandemic has improved and I believe it will remain true long after it’s over.
Consistency is key
If you decide to start a webinar series, pick a regular time each month or week, choose a program format and stick with both. For the Historical Happy Hour webinar series, I chose to air them on the third Thursday of the month at 7PM EST. I interview the author for the first half and take questions from the audience for the second half. I keep the entire program to an hour maximum, because I’ve found that’s just the right amount of time to keep viewers watching and engaged. Speaking of engaged…
Make it interactive
One of the things that my Historical Happy Hour webinar attendees love is to interact – in the chat room, they make comments during the first half of the webinar and also talk with each other and for the second half of the webinar, they ask questions that I then ask the guest author. I’ll always cite the attendee asking the question, and I try to always mention some of the audience members who have become dedicated fans just to thank them for their support. Interacting with the audience is not only fun, it creates a real sense of community that I love.
Build a subscriber base
I have encouraged attendees to sign up for my newsletter list on my author website, so that they receive news about my books and invitations to my upcoming webinars every month. This has resulted in building up an enthusiastic core audience that comes back for every episode.
Consider doing giveaways
I don’t think you have to do a giveaway every episode, but once in awhile doing a fun giveaway – an autographed copy of a book or two, a book-themed gift or some sort of swag (my readers love tote bags with my book covers on them) – is a nice way to say thanks to your audience for coming back every time.
How about you,Career Authors? Have you tried a Zoom or Streamyard or Webinar presentation? What’s worked–and what hasn’t? Let’s talk about it on the Career Authors Facebook Page!
Jane Healey is the Amazon Charts and Washington Post bestselling author of The Secret Stealers, The Beantown Girls and The Saturday Evening Girls Club. When her daughters were
young, Jane left a career in high tech to fulfill her dream of writing historical fiction about little-known women in history. Learn more here.