Learnings from Our First Virtual Book Launch
Perry Collins, Chelsea Johnston, Tracy MacKay-Ratliff, & Laurie Taylor
Abstract for Library Publishing Forum Presentation
In March 2020, the LibraryPress@UF published the story of a global disease: My Scrapbook of My Illness with Polio. The book tells the story of polio, an infectious disease caused by a virus, which became epidemic in the United States in the early to mid-20th century. Recounted in the form of a journal, this book makes the story of polio come alive, showing how Americans in the 1940s understood and treated polio.
The LibraryPress@UF acquired this book because of its interesting form and relevance to medical humanities, Florida history, and ability to tell a story of why vaccines and science are so important in addressing diseases and epidemics. We had started promotion in early March, and because of the book’s particularly close ties to communities in Florida, we knew it was ideal for an in-person launch party. When we had to change plans to virtual, we drew on our community connections to support outreach for a successful event, including a process for mailing a printed, signed bookplate in lieu of in-person book signing.
In this presentation, we will:
- Discuss our standard promotional elements and considerations for books (e.g., posters in the libraries, bookmarks, social media, and other activities like textual or video Q&A with the author or creator/s).
- Discuss specifics for this book, including our first virtual book launch, complete with support for a signed, printed bookplate to complement print-on-demand book copies.
- Share templates for bookplates, and invite participants to discuss methods for signed copies in remote and virtual environments.
We share how we acted as whole workers and activated our personal community connections to promote the virtual book launch, resulting in front-page coverage on a local newspaper. We conclude by explaining how this work informs our overall best practices for promotion and outreach, including for cross-collaborations.
As we prepare for our presentation (which will be a video which we will post!), we have started to add documentation to our site on process. While this is still in-process and messy, sharing it now as part of our work in preparing for our presentation, and for our next book launch.