Never would I ever have imagined that my debut book would be released during a pandemic. When I was drafting the poems of Danzirly, I could not fathom having a digital book tour. Unprecedented times required all of us to adapt in all kinds of ways; we stayed home, we picked up groceries, we washed, we worried, we mourned, we disinfected, and we masked (still masking over here, by the way. (Get vaccinated!)).
Despite feeling slightly disheartened to not be touring and connecting with readers in indie bookstores across the country, I learned a ton from releasing a book online. Here are some of the positive and challenging takeaways.
Very little overhead. You basically need an internet connection and a decently lit room to have an online book tour. This proved to be especially helpful during a year of uncertainty.
Accessibility. People from everywhere can attend! My family from Colombia and friends from all over the world and country were able to be a part of different book release readings because they all took place on the WORLD WIDE web.
Preserves your energy. Reading online left me a different kind of tired, but I was also able to read from the comfort of my own home. This is a big pro during a pandemic, and perhaps always for me now.
Connect with writers. Throughout the book release journey, I got to meet many other writers who were launching their books online. We became a community of sorts. This was one of the best parts of the whole experience. Pro-tip: Cheer others on in their book journey. Pre-order books, share posts, and celebrate the successes of other writers in your local and online community.
Highlight local bookstores. An online release allowed me to highlight my favorite local bookstore, Tombolo Books, on social media and with an event that featured some of my favorite poets and people. Pro-tip: link to your local books stores and not Amazon (!!!) on your website and social media profiles. >>>You can still purchase a signed copy of Danzirly at Tombolo Books!
IRL humans! I missed getting to gather and break bread with friends and family after readings. I missed speaking with readers. I even missed the candid awkwardness of Q&As.
Zoom Fatigue. We all know it well.
Just like it can be exhausting to take a long work meeting on Zoom, it can feel draining to read in front of a computer screen. And yet, this is also slowly becoming something I’m more comfortable with doing. Pro-tip: The chat is where it’s at! Encourage attendees to use the chat to engage with each other and share their experience.
I know we’re all itching for human interactions again. I personally can’t wait to attend a live poetry reading in the future! But honestly, launching a book online opened my eyes to a new, perhaps more inclusive and accessible, way to bring a book into the world. I firmly believe that this will be one of the aspects of our lives that sticks around, and for me the pros outweigh the cons.