webinarLive author events and book signings are important, but don’t overlook the power of technology to reach your readers. In previous blog postswe have talked about social media. Now, consider video conferencing to reach readers directly.

Everyone is familiar with Skype, but most use it to communicate with only one person at one location. What if you could get your mom in California, your child in New York, and your brother in the UK all on the same screen at the same time? This is the power of group video.

Skype also works for video calls with up to 10 people, each logging in from their own location. Google Hangouts is popular, and can include up to 10 people in a video call. Record your video to YouTube and live-stream your event – it’s free.

Zoom allows up to 25 people on-screen, allowing larger meetings and lively face-to-face discussions. Zoom is easy to use, has excellent video and sound quality (making you look very professional) – and you can record the video to show later. Also consider WebEx, GoToMeeting, or AnyMeeting, all of which offer different packages for varying fees.

You need an up-to-date computer, a good Internet connection, a web cam, a microphone and speakers.

So how would an author use this technology?

Consider an online book signing. People register and pay a fee that covers the cost of your book, shipping, plus a bit extra for you! You present on your book’s topic and/or do a reading, and everyone who registers and pays is mailed a signed copy of your book.

How about a webinar with you as the guest speaker? With others in your industry, coproduce a webinar on a theme that aligns with your book. You can be on a panel or be a presenter. By coproducing, you create a compelling event and you can tap into their database of contacts as well.

Online book groups? Offer a series of discussion groups in different time zones. Make them free, but people must register so that you capture their e-mail addresses.

You can publicize these events through social media, press releases, blog posts and your website’s Events page, and use an online program such as Eventbrite to manage registrations.

Why go to all this trouble? Live author events can be difficult to organize, and you must convince someone to invite you. By creating your own online events, you are in control. You create the event; you don’t incur much expense, nor do you need an invitation. You can reach an international audience without getting on an airplane. With a bit of work and some social media savvy, these events are easy to create and sell, and use technology that just about everyone has in their home.