Virtually Yours, Ellen…

Yes, it’s another post about virtual appearances. But this one has pictures! And links! Because… if you’re promoting a book these days, it’s gonna be an online experience. Which can actually offer some great opportunities from the comfort of your own home, in pajamas from the waist down. (Then again, I’ve been wearing men’s pajama bottoms as pants for ten years, so I was ahead of the curve on that one.)

A couple of months before MURDER IN THE BAYOU BONEYARD launched, I contacted some of my regular local book tour stops and scheduled online events. Then my pal Mariah Fredericks, author of the Jane Prescott Mysteries, offered to interview me virtually for the Astoria Bookshop – three thousand miles away, in my old Queens stomping grounds where my Catering Hall Mysteries are set. Yes, yes, a thousand times yes, I cried out!

Christian, Mariah, and me at Astoria Bookshop

Inspired, I reached out to a half-dozen bookstores around the country and set up e-vents and e-ppearances – see what I did there? – in different parts of the country. The shops were receptive, especially about events that could bring together authors from different parts of the country, or even other countries for that matter. Edith Maxwell and I chatted at an event hosted by Pennsylvania’s Mystery Lovers Bookshop. Hallie Ephron and I discussed our different genres at Book Carnival in California. Both Edith and Hallie live in Massachusetts. I’m in southern California. Houston’s Murder by the Book took the brave step of having me as a solo guest. I was afraid no one would come but John McDougall did an amazing job of publicizing the event and conducting the interview. John told me not to worry if initial turnout was low because “these events have a long tail,” meaning that once they’re posted to other outlets like Facebook and YouTube, they often pick up a lot more views. But twenty-five people e-showed up for the live-online event. That’s five times the number of attendees I’ve had at some in-person signings.

John and me at Murder by the Book

This coming Wednesday night, I’m e-joining Elaine Viets and Lori Rader-Day at Left Bank Books in my husband’s hometown of St. Louis. I’m sorry I won’t be able to celebrate with some toasted ravioli and gooey butter cake (that’s for you St. Louis folks -Provel! Ted Drewes!), but I’m excited about sharing the e-dais with two authors I might not be able to meet up with otherwise, seeing as how Lori is in Chicago and Elaine is in Florida. Remember how I said you can even yak about your books with writers from other countries? Well, on October 5th, Canada grand dame of mystery Vicki Delany will join me and Daryl Wood Gerber for An Evening of Cozies at San Diego’s Mysterious Galaxy bookstore. On October 24th, I’ll be one of five authors Zooming at Witches, Screams and Skeletons, sponsored by Murder on the Beach, located in Delray Beach, Florida. (Notice how I’ve added links so you can check out all these events. You know my motto – N.S.S.: Never Stop Shilling.)

Emboldened, I created a unique event as part of my promo push. On Sunday, October 11th, I’m hosting Haunted Louisiana: Fact or Fiction?

It’s gonna be great!

In a quest to tackle this fun and oh-so-perfectly-timed-to-Halloween topic, I enlisted my Louisiana friend Chere Coen, who’s written tons of non-fiction and fiction about the state, as well as noted New Orleans podcaster Mark Bologna, whose podcast Beyond Bourbon Street is a personal favorite. Author pal Keenan Powell has a Crowdcast account and I lured her into sharing it with us. She’s going to help me run the event and share some spooky tales from Alaska, where she lives.

John from Murder by the Book seems to be right about that long tail of these virtual appearances. As of my writing this, the Facebook video of our interview has 905 views. The Astoria Bookshop chat between Mariah and me has 342 views. Considering it’s not specifically a mystery bookstore, that’s pretty great. I hope these views translate into sales for all the stores. Even if a small portion do, I’ve reached far more people than I would have through live events. And all in my pajamas.

At least, from the waist down.

Readers, have you e-tended (sorry, I can’t help myself) any online events? What do you and don’t you like about them?

33 thoughts on “Virtually Yours, Ellen…

  1. I have e-tended several online events. What I enjoy is the opportunity to see authors who I might not otherwise get to see (in person). When it’s a multiple author event, I’m exposed to other authors/books that might be of interest. Also like the exposure to the various independent bookstores around the country.
    I prefer the e-asy (😉) e-vents (😉😉) that are on FB live or YouTube that don’t require links and/or passwords (i.e. Zoom). But that is my choice.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Deb, you caught on to my e-ttempts at e-ing everything! Nice! All of these are great points. I’m afraid you do need a password for the initial Haunted Louisiana e-vent but Crowdcast offers some options I haven’t found in other platforms. But it’ll be posted to FB and you can just check it out there if you want!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, I have e-ttended a handful of online events during the past few months. My favorite part is getting to “see” author friends. Least favorite would be technology glitches. Usually I can fix them by refreshing the screen, but a couple times I’ve been booted from events and unable to get back in. Those small hassles are more than made up for by the convenience though.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. I think you’ve created a great new word there, Ellen–“e-tending” will be sure to show up in dictionaries in the years to come!

    I’ve been much more socially active since March, if you count all the Zoom activities I’ve e-tended since then. And by the way, butter cake? Not sure exactly what that is, but I so want it!

    Liked by 3 people

  4. I have also “e-tended.” I loved hearing you on the SCWA “Hump Day” tour. I think the “virtual event” is the only good thing to come out of this pandemic mess. I have been able to “see” authors that it would have been impossible for me to “meet’ without these virtual appearances. Previously authors just could not make that many “in-person” events. The same event has had participants from all over the country, every time zone, and even from other countries. That could never have happened in person.

    I like events that provide opportunities to ask questions, but that can be difficult with the large “crowds” at some virtual events. One sponsor found a solution to this by using “rooms.” Four authors were featured in the event. At the start, the moderator briefly interviewed the four, talking about their books and asking “quick answer” questions. Following that, the audience was divided into four rooms, and each author spent 15 minutes in each room, chatting and answering questions. We all got to ask questions and talk in these small groups. It was fantastic.

    I hope “virtual appearances” continue long after Covid is behind us. It is a wonderful way to connect authors and readers. I have met authors at these events that I would never have had the opportunity to meet in person, either pajamas or in an elegant dress.

    Liked by 3 people

      1. t actually was the best event I have attended. The “introduction” gave participants an overview of each author, and the breakout sessions were nice, personal chats. Fifteen minutes was not a lot of time, but it was so personal that it was fine.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I think the virtual appearances will continue in at least some form. They give booksellers another tool in terms of reaching an audience and it’s much cheaper to do an e-book tour! But I am looking forward to combining them with live appearances, too.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I like the way authors and readers can connect from wherever they are, but often the conversation seems stilted. In person, people interrupt and agree and do all the kinds of conversing people do. But online, there’s that weird delay, or the microphone only picks up one person, or someone forgets to unmute themselves. It’s just less of a free-flowing conversation. But it’s better than nothing!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. next time you host a virtual event, have a couple of authors and try those break-out rooms — much more intimate and real. Without so many people it also did not seem so “conjested” even though we all had our mics on.


  6. e-vents and e-ppearances – see what I did there?
    Not only did I see that, but seeing what you’ve gone with e-ppearances nearly bowled me over. I’ll admit, I’ve been getting a bit tired of looking at things on screens, far away things with little people in boxes, but it’s all we’ve got right now and you are making excellent use of the tools available. I’ll check out the recordings of your e-vents and take notes for my own next release. It’s not until next spring, but no one on this planet knows what shape we’ll be in then. THANKS for a goldmine of information and GOOD LUCK with sales. I know this book will be as excellent as the rest of them!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Kaye!! Thank you. And I’m happy to share any tips I’ve picked up for your next release. Hey, my next book is coming out 2/25 – LONG ISLAND ICED TINA, as Maria DiRico. Maybe we can do something together.

      Liked by 2 people

  7. I enjoy the fact that I get to “see” authors I wouldn’t normally get to see at events with the e-vents. I can’t always keep track of when they are, and too often, they are during my last hour or two of work.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. The time diff is hard on us, Mark. On 10/5, I’m doing An Evening of Cozies with Daryl Wood Gerber and Vicki Delany via Mysterious Galaxy and I got to write “10 p.m. EST!” For a change, PST got the win!


  8. You’re a trailblazer, Ellen—great job! I agree with that bookstore owner who mentioned the “tail” idea—I often catch the replays if I can’t make an event in person.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow, El! I’m bowled over by all these e-ppearances that you’re doing.

    I like virtually attending events, but I definitely get screen fatigue. Also, I have a really hard time reading people’s reactions in those tiny boxes.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. You’re e-spiring, Ellen! These are fantastic!!

    I’ve participated in and attended a number of online events, and most have gone very well. Technology can add to awkward pauses, but if there’s grace and humor, it can make that awkwardness both funny and memorable.

    Looking forward to catching you on the small screen soon!


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