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Saturday, December 15, 2012

Birthday Lesson

The last coupe of weeks I have been distracted on a personal project: a virtual birthday bash. The plan was to try to sustain a week-long celebration. I was not exactly sure how this would work, but it sounded like an interesting experiment.

You all know how I love to experiment! There was a lesson to be learned here…

Others have done this and I suppose if I look, there probably is data being collected on such things. But I wanted to document some of the experience and adapt the parameters of it to a book launch.

When Google Plus first appeared in the ether, I said that hangouts had a great potential for book launches. I admit that I did not go ahead with the planned virtual launch of One Night with B.B. because I panicked: What if I throw a hangout and nobody comes? What if they hate the story? What if nobody wants to buy your silly little e-book?

Tortured by my own doubts, I denied myself the experience.

Granted, the virtual birthday bash lasted well over a week and it was such a smashing success, we kept the group (it is private) and continued the conversations. A book launch is likely to last a very limited period of time. But I think I have learned a few things…

Here are the details that I wish to translate to a book-related event. The group was international, comprising three continents. It was balanced along gender lines. Involved were three distinct generations.

Obviously the majority had two people in common, the minority at last one of the two birthday girls. Some of them were familiar with my work but not all, but that was hardly important because it was not a publishing event.

There were no rules as such, but we did define what the virtual gathering should look like.

Music: Parties should have music! Dancing music, make out music... Bring us a good song!

Party Games: What's a birthday party without a game or two? Run your own trivia threads, if you'd like. I will give away a few books as prizes.

Food: Of course, you can link up some good food porn. And drinks! I even got you started in the cocktail department.

Gifts: No purchase necessary! But you can bring all those wonderfully weird, conversation pieces you haven't shared on your wall because . . . well, just because. If you get stuck, K and L enjoy looking at sexy boots neither can afford.

Stories: We like words! Stories, poems, songs, jokes. You got some? Share!

Video: Seen something interesting or funny and want to share or just discuss? Throw it in the mix. Especially if there's cute kittens in it!

The only thing that did not go as planned were the games and we did not need them as such (they were referenced). The conversations pretty much extended 24 hours as the group spanned several time zones.

What transpired was an exchange of ideas, philosophies, jokes, stories and ephemera that defined each of us, the group, cliques within it, the times in a much larger sense and the event itself.

I had a fantastic time and was left with ideas for more writing projects; a deeper bond with some and a deeper appreciation of the whole; a new hangout place simply called The Lounge; and a playlist of over 200 videos and 18 hours of sheer entertainment (which you are free to peruse and amuse, explore and use as a muse).

So it was an epic birthday, but also it expanded my idea of how to present my work and market it online. Plus I got to explain kinky boots. Like other defining experiences in life, it’s always best to try them out with friends you trust before taking the plunge…

I am ready to do this! And I am already working out the details in my head for a fantastic virtual book party (and I'm dying to try out the technology to include a virtual signing as well). O brave new world!