From Instagram Live to Crowdcast to Zoom and everywhere in between, Penguin Random House has been putting on a broad selection of virtual events. Read on for a recap of some of these events, plus an introduction to Books Connect Us Live.
Random House’s “Writer’s Routine” Series on Instagram Live
Random House’s beloved Instagram photo series goes live with Writer’s Routine, where authors let readers into their creative spaces, share their writing routines, and give insights into their books.
Throughout this series, which moved to Instagram Live in May, the team at Random House has been able to interview authors of upcoming books and host audience Q&As with their followers on social media.
For example, during a recent event for The Purpose of Power, Random House got the chance to interview author Alicia Garza. During this event, Garza introduced readers to her writing space, shared her process, and discussed how she balances creativity and organizing.
Penguin Worlds Book Club on Zoom + YouTube Live
Later in May, Penguin’s new speculative fiction book club Penguin Worlds launched, with Jim Butcher and Patrick Rothfuss as co-hosts discussing Storm Front. This ticketed event was hosted on Zoom but after tickets sold out within twenty-four hours, Penguin opened ticketing up on YouTube Live as well.
In the end, more than 1,000 viewers registered for the event. The event is still live on YouTube, where it’s reached more than 30,000 views! In addition to the great conversation, the event drove direct sales for the book, which is not always easy for virtual events to do.
Sean Carroll on Reddit
Virtual events don’t always mean IG Live or Zoom! One relatively new platform, Reddit Public Access Network (RPAN), is a public network made up of live broadcasts created by and for Reddit users. In late May, Dutton author Sean Carroll livestreamed an event using RPAN.
This new option can be a great venue for a highly curious audience of Reddit users, especially for science fiction/fantasy topics. It’s a quick and engaging virtual events platform for authors who are a little tech savvy and have a following. In Carroll’s successful event, he talked and answered questions for a live audience of more than 8,000 users—and the event’s passed 270,000 views since!
Big Ideas Night Goes Virtual
For years, Random House’s Big Ideas Night series has been a forum for thought-provoking conversations between writers and editors on the topics of politics, world affairs, technology, fashion, philanthropy, and more. Before the pandemic, these events were live forums in New York City, but they are now accessible to a much larger audience through YouTube and Zoom.
Last month, Random House held a timely conversation on criminal justice reform featuring authors Brittany K. Barnett (A Knock at Midnight), Shaka Senghor (Writing My Wrongs), and Emily Bazelon (Charged). Bringing Random House’s robust events program to readers all across the world through virtual platforms has opened up more opportunities for authors and readers alike.
Teaming Up with Indie Bookstores
One way many authors have been able to stay connected with their communities is through their local bookshops’ virtual event programming. Bookstores are hosting new events using all of the virtual platforms you can imagine: Zoom, Crowdcast, Instagram and Facebook Live, and more.
Here are a few recent examples:
- On October 21, Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, Florida, hosted Stuart Stevens, author of It Was All a Lie, in a Zoom event.
- On October 27, Malaprop’s in Asheville, North Carolina, hosted the virtual launch for the collector’s edition of Anna and the French Kiss on Zoom, featuring Stephanie Perkins in conversation with Jeff Zentner.
- Also on October 27, An Unlikely Story Bookstore in Plainville, Massachusetts, hosted Cathy Marie Buchanan, author of Daughter of Black Lake, in conversation with Pam Jenoff on Crowdcast.
All around the country, indie bookstores continue hosting bookish events, just as they would in their stores, to help drive sales and visibility—and to create great conversations between authors all around the country and world.
All This and More on the Books Connect Us LIVE Website!
In March, Penguin Random House launched the Books Connect Us LIVE website to promote the author-reader connection during this time of social distancing, by aggregating and amplifying the virtual experiences set up by marketers and publicists across the company. Our consumer marketing team sources events from divisions all across the company for this calendar page, which is updated weekly.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your own virtual events, or if you just want to see what great bookish events are on the horizon, check out the Books Connect Us LIVE page at this link.
Phil Stamper-Halpin is Senior Manager, Author Platforms & Publishing Development for Penguin Random House