Wednesday, June 23, 2021

Marketing for Writers: Tips for Virtual Readings on Zoom, Facebook Live, etc

Read your work, sell books
Read your work, sell books, get paid, increase your visibility, but please, wear normal glasses


Events, such as readings, are a good way to raise your visibility and, occasionally, sell books.

 Among the benefits:

- If you're reading for a library or other organization, they will often handle the publicity and generate an audience.

- You may get paid. (In the Boston area, most libraries pay between $150 and $300 for a reading. Some don't pay at all -- I avoid them.)

- You can ask the library to stock your book.

- If the organization records the event, you'll get a free video. (I've done events in which the library has brought in the local cable TV station.)

What follows are tips I've gathered over the last 15 months reading on Zoom. Contrary to popular belief, most venues still want virtual events. Live in-person events may be widespread in the fall -- or not. 

(In the coming weeks, I'll offer tips on live, in-person events -- I'm doing my first live gig in 15 months next weekend)

I) Zoom (my preference) and Facebook Live, etc.

1) Elevate your web camera so you can stand up, which gives your more energy and movement. 
- The camera should be slightly above your eye level, tilted down slightly.

- If you're using your phone camera get a tripod and clamp for holding your phone.

- If you're using the camera on your laptop, elevate it on a small table.
(Right Click to enlarge)

- Don't use Wifi to connect to the Internet -- it can be flaky. Instead connect directly to your cable modem, if possible.

- Don't wear clothes with stripes or crazy patterns – test out your out fit and rig with a friend on the other end of a practice Zoom session. (Yes, you'll need your own Zoom account)
My seer-sucker striped pants looked weird on camera.

2) Background: Test them out before your gig!

- The backgrounds included with Zoom can cause you to fade in and out during events.

- A better option: Set up your office with a good background. A blank wall with a Japanese screen works great. I've created a black background with a windsurfing mast and some black tarps.

(Right click to enlarge)


3) Lighting: critical!

- Quick and dirty: Buy a ring light
- DIY: use exiting floor and desk lamps

Right Click to enlarge


- Much more than you need to know on lighting:

4) Reading

- Print out what you're reading in large type instead of reading directly from the book.

- If you're reading a scene with dialog, rewrite it with attributions in front of the dialog, not after it.

- To avoid reflection of your monitor in your glasses, try tilting your glasses down at an angle.

- Read into the camera not to the audience on your screen. 

- Limit big gestures as they can appear blurry on audience's screens. 

- Bonus points if you can memorize some of what you're going to read. That way you can look at the audience.


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