Following the successful virtual launch of her book The Letters of Edward I Dr Kathleen Neal has kindly recorded for us how she set it up and how it went. We hope it will help guide and inspire our authors and editors – and we’re always here to help as best we can.
My launch for The Letters of Edward I was a big success. (We had up to 55 international participants in the zoom meeting at any one time, even after a number of last minute hiccoughs meant that a number of registrants couldn’t make it.)
The format was a zoom ‘meeting’ moderated by one of my senior colleagues. A meeting allows a maximum of about 100 people, in which participants can see the list (and video images) of all other participants. We decided this was better than a ‘webinar’ which allows more participants, but in which only the organisers / speakers can be seen or identified; and participants don’t know who else or how many other people are present, and can’t switch on their microphones or video, becoming passive observers rather than active participants. Admin from our School set up the zoom meeting and put up a registration page; the password-protected meeting link was automatically shared with the email address of registered participants. I circulated the registration link myself via various email lists, and social media.
We two invited commentators, chosen by a combination of subject expertise and seniority/profile from the potential pool of scholars known to me (and my work) who were likely to be amenable to taking part and could reasonably be expected to accommodate a common meeting time, given the pragmatics of international time zones. (e.g. Because my work looks mainly at English history, we worked around the need to accommodate an English and Australian audience. This ruled out approaching Americans since it would be the middle of the night for them, making it a request of a different order.)
We settled on speakers from UK & NZ, and we put them in touch with each other so they could agree on a division of labour – with one taking a ‘summary’ approach, and the other a ‘personal anecdote’ approach to their remarks. We set the event date so that we could confidently predict the book would reach both commentators in adequate time for them to read and reflect on the text (given the long postage delays to the southern hemisphere since COVID, this meant the launch ended up being quite some time after the release date, but it didn’t seem to matter much; if anything it allowed more time for word of mouth to develop.)
At the event, each speaker had 10 minutes to discuss the book, its argument and its contributions. Then I spoke for about 7-8 mins on the development of the book and my chief debts & acknowledgements.
Speakers were followed by an open Q&A moderated by the MC. Those with questions sent a private message to the MC via the chat to join the ‘queue’, and were called on in turn. We closed with a slide providing discount and purchasing details / links, and an online toast (some with their morning cuppa and others with a glass of something stronger). The whole event went for about 1hr, but probably could have gone as long as 90 minutes without trouble.
I used the image created by Boydell’s graphics team for the header of my recent ‘Proofed’ blog as my background theme on zoom, so that everyone could easily spot me in the zoom screen.
It was a really wonderful event, and lots of people emailed me afterwards to say how much they enjoyed it.
This guest post was written by Dr Kathleen B. Neal, Lecturer in History at Monash University.