Friday 17 July 2020

Twitter bunker book launch by Tracy Darnton

Like many authors in this blogging community, I’ve just launched the book I’ve worked so hard on in a virtual way. 

Launches are normally a time when your professional writing life meets your personal life and your book team of editors, publicist and agent join you, family and friends to celebrate, make speeches and create a buzz around the book. My planned bash at Mr B’s Emporium was cancelled at the start of lockdown but at that stage none of us knew what the situation would be in July. Would we still be completely locked down? Would everything be back to normal? Turns out we’re in a strange hinterland somewhere in-between and any indoor, crowded event still feels a really long way away.

I experienced the old school, live action launch version for The Truth About Lies two years ago at Waterstones, Bath with drinks and food into the evening. 

Last book launch - A crowd of people! Indoors! 

And now I’ve experienced the 2020 virtual version for The Rules. 

In recent weeks I’ve also popped in on others’ book launches on Facebook Live, Instagram Live and of course lockdown wouldn’t be lockdown without a zoom launch. Due to some bad experiences involving bandwidth in our household, we stuck with the Twitter option. The Rules was published on July 9th and I had a Twitter book launch/takeover in the afternoon.

So how did it go and what can I share with any other writers thinking of the Twitter route? 

Luckily, my Lockdown hair and general disarray met the brief of a book about preppers/bunkers/disaster. I took photos and recorded videos beforehand down in our repurposed bunker basement or in the woods. 

Me tidying up and staging our storage vaults

I wrote and saved to Twitter drafts of my thank you tweet with video and a couple about getting ready for the launch. (If you are more organised than me, you could use the scheduling option on desktop Twitter, HootSuite or similar.)

The format was set by my lovely publicist Charlie Morris at Stripes and we had graphics for each question so that they were easy to read. I retweeted and gave my answer. Like any Twitter chat, we had a hashtag #TheRulesTrustNoOne so that anyone could follow it and not miss any tweets. Charlie tweeted every five minutes starting with a welcome tweet and me reading a very brief opening. Next a (recorded) speech from my editor. I think the twitter max video length is 2 mins 20 so you have to keep it short and sweet.

Next, questions just for me including:

Followed by quick fire questions open to everyone to reply to, like:

We also included:

And a competition

and rounded it off with my thank you video filmed in the bunker.


So what have I learned?

👍 The Upside

-          Nobody has to travel or spend money

-          Readers and bloggers can join in more easily

-          I liked the interaction and hearing other people’s answers

-          It did feel that people had rocked up to support me

-          You don’t have to do your hair/dress up/make speeches in live time

-          You don’t have to feed people and provide chilled prosecco and source an amazing cake

-          You don’t have to decorate a bookshop space on a budget of £3.50

-          You don’t have to clear up

-          It’s much cheaper

-          You’re creative – find a creative way to talk about your book in tweets

-          You don’t have to be the centre of attention standing at the front of a packed room

-          You can be tucked up in bed early

-           (And this one’s just for me, but we finally got round to tidying up our vaults ready for the bunker photos!)


👎The downside

-          It’s not a party!

-          It’s multi-tasking on steroids, trying to reply to every question, retweet, like tweets, cut and paste answers, attach photos, refresh the hashtag. I enlisted one of my kids to man the laptop and I was on my phone.

-          You don’t sign any books and chat informally to people

-          Your friends and family not on Twitter don’t get to join in and may find the whole idea incomprehensible

-          You will have to be on social media A LOT

-          No one feels compelled to buy the book

-          Conventional launches are the only time I get all my bookish family of agent, editor, publicist together and  I missed seeing everyone and properly thanking everyone who’s had a part to play in the book 

      It's public - so my family weren't involved in the event and I didn't get to talk about them in the speeches

-          I ordered deliverable gifts online (and they didn’t arrive in time) instead of handing over at an event

-          It felt ephemeral - no photos of the event for you or others to put on social media and I doubt we’ll be reminiscing about it in the future

-          (I had a three-hour trip to the tip after tidying the vaults.)

That feels like a long list of downsides to end on. Sigh. I know given everything else going on in the world, it’s only a book. But it was still my book. And now I must go and write another one. 

But the upside list was still pretty long too. Take a look at both and see if it would appeal to you.

Here’s hoping that when my next one is published we can safely meet again. Because quite a few of us are owed a big party with everyone in the same room.


Tracy Darnton is the author of The Rules about a girl on the run from her prepper father and his extreme rules. She is determined to set the next book somewhere way more glamorous than a bunker. 




Sue Purkiss said...

I think it sounds amazing - but quite hard work! Very interesting to read about it - thank you.

Emily Kenny said...

Thanks for sharing this. It gave me a really good insight.