Live stream video and online events for authors

Last updated 03 April 2023

Written by Jin Wang

Live stream video and online events for authors

Have you started hearing about live stream video events online? Perhaps you’ve even watched a few live streams already? So much of the world is moving online for work and events, now’s the time to get familiar with live video streaming.

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Instagram Live example with Oliver Jeffers
  3. What platforms to use for live streaming?
  4. Embedding the stream on your website
  5. Do I need special software?
  6. Top tips for your first virtual launch from Lauren Chater
  7. Setting up for your first live stream
  8. Going live!
  9. After the credits roll
  10. That’s a wrap!
  11. A few reader questions
  12. 13 creative ideas for your first live stream


According to Facebook Live, users watch live videos 3x longer and comment 10x more than recorded footage.

  • Video has already taken over the web, but with live video, people from all over the world can attend real-time events and be part of the moment.
  • With many free tools offered by social networks, it’s very low cost, compared to a physical, in-person live event.
  • Viewers have a lower expectation of production value with live video. So it live takes less time to produce than pre-recorded video.
  • We’re social beings. The power of seeing a favourite artist live with other fans can be a magical experience.
  • And don’t forget the ability to reuse recorded content for ongoing marketing.

If you’re looking to dip your toes into live streaming here’s a crash course.

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Live video screenshot

A live book reading with Instagram Live

While live streaming, viewers can see:

The total number of live viewers

Interact by adding comments which appear on the left

Choose to add quick ‘reactions’ via emojis

Add ‘Likes’ which appear as a stream of hearts on the right.

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What platforms to use for Live streaming?

There are many platforms for hosting your live stream, but my recommendation is to go with the biggest and most common. This means you’ll not only have access to sophisticated tools, but it’s where your audience already is. They’re already familiar with Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. Go with those. Don‘t complicate it for yourself as a beginner.

Here’s a list of some of the larger platforms.

Facebook Live
Being the largest social network, it makes good sense to host your live stream in a familiar place. Easy access for your followers.
YouTube Live
The current king of video content online, YouTube offers powerful and simple to use live streaming tools.
You can now post videos in longer-form with Instagram and Instagram TV. Hit the live button and start sharing what you’re seeing with your followers.
Traditionally a platform for sharing video gaming streams, Twitch can be used for any type of live stream and realtime-chat.

Here’s Oliver Jeffers reading his books live from Instagram. Check out Oliver’s website where he posted them all.

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Embedding the stream on your website

To get up and running with as little hassle as possible, it makes sense to use an existing popular platform. But you can also control branding and user experience by embedding the live stream on your website.

WordPress has some handy hints for how to embed a live YouTube stream on your WordPress website.

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Do I need special software?

You can start live streaming to your followers with just your computer or the smartphone apps you already have, like Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.

If you’re looking to take your live streams to the next level you’ll need video encoding software. Encoding software allows you to capture and record your screen while also capturing audio.

Here’s a list of some popular well supported encoding apps:

OBS Studio (Windows, MAC)
Streamlabs (Windows)

At the time of writing, Streamlabs is Windows only with a Private Beta for macOS. Streamlabs say, “While we do not have an ETA on a public version of Streamlabs OBS for Mac, you can follow us on Twitter for updates.

Want my 13 creative ideas for your first live stream?
Click here to get them

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Lauren Chater Live Book Launch

Historical fictional author, Lauren Chater launching her book Gulliver’s Wife on Facebook Live.

Quick tips for a live book launch with Facebook Live

Consider a pre-roll for a minute or two for people that have trouble accessing the stream exactly when it starts.

Have a buddy to film you and note questions and comments as they come in. They can informally interview you, even just in voice. This can give your event more structure (and you a rest).

Put thought into your ‘set’ – the foreground and background setting for the video. Express your personality, and writing space, or include elements from your cover, story, or character.

Record the video (even just use screen recording on your phone) in case people miss the event. It gives you more content for your marketing and website. It’s also just nice to keep it for yourself as a memento of your writing success.

If you don’t record your launch live, run a live stream after your launch when people have read your book and can ask deeper questions about the book. This also helps to ‘keep the buzz alive’ after your book has launched.

Pic of @WellReadCookie on her live book launch on FB hosted by @SimonSchusterAU! She was brilliant in answering so many questions (including mine about poetry) and the answers were extremely interesting. I am really enjoying these on line live events! Buy her wonderful book!

— Cindy L Spear (@Cindy_L_Spear) March 26, 2020

The benefit to online live video is a larger crowd. You include those that wouldn’t or couldn’t make it to your real-world event, those that live interstate or fans overseas.

A live virtual book launch brings the usually invisible creator to life.

Lauren Chater

Here is my tip for authors doing their first virtual launch (actually I have a few!)
— Lauren Chater, historical fiction author

Make sure you do a test run before you go live! Ideally, you would do a test around the same time as the event will be taking place the next day as you want to ensure the lighting is similar.

I also think background is important. I filmed in front of my sister’s bookshelves and viewers could see the books and asked about them as the launch went on so it was an opportunity to connect in another sense. If you can find someone to read the questions out for you and ‘moderate’ the session, that’s really helpful. I got my sister to help out and people seemed to really enjoy the conversational banter. Keep it casual and relaxed but of course, remember that you are on show and people are watching.

The most important thing is to have fun with it and see it as a way of communicating with your readership in a different way.

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Setting up for your first live stream

  • Promote your upcoming event to your social media followers and email lists.
  • Ask for questions or topic ideas in advance through your social media accounts.
  • Use a tripod if you are using a phone.
  • Outline what you are going to say or prepare a rough script for your opening.
  • Get lights behind the camera. The more light behind the camera, the better you‘ll look.
  • Make sure you can see and read comments while you’re live.
  • Have a strong internet connection. Google “Speed test”. You want at least double-digits.

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Going live!

  • Eyes and teeth!
  • While you wait for questions, outline what you’re planning to cover on the stream.
  • Consider starting with reading a short passage from your book or share some news.
  • Use commenter names when you respond to them.
  • Ask your viewers to share the video.
  • Viewers come and go while watching live videos. Every few minutes recap the topic for those just joining.
  • Thank your audience for tuning in and direct them to where they can get more, like your author website.

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After the credits roll

  • Pin the video to your Facebook page for people that missed the event.
  • View your YouTube metrics or Facebook Insights. See which moments where the most and least engaging to your audience.
  • Pat yourself on the back! 😅

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That’s a wrap!

With just your computer or smartphone, you’re ready to run an online book launch, Q&A session, or even a live reading of your book.

I recommend starting with one of the big-name social media apps for beginners (YouTube, Facebook or Instagram). They have all the tools you’ll need and these apps are already in the hands of your audience.

For most, using the standard social media apps will be fine. But if you’re wanting to take it to the next level, you’ll want encoding software to share more advanced graphics on your stream.

Prepare yourself before your live event to feel confident and maximise your success. When it’s all over, don’t forget to debrief and check your analytics for ways to improve for next time.

To truly develop your author brand and be able to move with the times, it’s essential to embrace new technology in your marketing mix. But most importantly, have fun with it! Enjoy yourself!

Your positivity and passion will shine through to your audience and that’s what we all connect with.

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A few quick questions I’ve received

Is there a way to save a Youtube Live clip?
Yes, if you’re the one that’s streamed a live video, and your stream is less than 12 hours, YouTube can automatically archive it to your channel for you. More from YouTube here.


If you’re the viewer, you can use a Downloader, such as VideoSolo.

Can you Zoom meeting and screen it live on Facebook? My launcher will be in a different house.
You can cast a Zoom meeting to a Facebook Live [see video here]


Here’s Zoom’s step-by-step instructions article [link to article]

13 creative ideas for your first live stream

Not sure what to do for your first live stream? Get these 13 creative ideas perfect for author live streams.

Want my 13 creative ideas for your first live stream?
Click here to get them