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The open rate for Author Medial emails is between 45% and 50%. That’s a high open rate for a list with over 10,000 subscribers that hasn’t been cleaned for the last few years. 

What is the secret to the high open rate? 

The basic answer is that we try to pack every email with so much value that readers want to open it, even if the subject doesn’t capture their attention.

But it’s also because over half of our new subscribers join our email when we host a webinar. In their first interaction with Author Media they see my face, listen to my voice, and ask me questions. By the end of the webinar, they know me enough to want to open emails.

Questions that come in during webinars are a great source of topics for future podcast episodes. A typical Novel Marketing podcast episode will generate up to five comments per episode, but my typical webinar generates up to five comments per minute. That means a 40-minute webinar generates 100 comments. The comments, questions, and polls associated with the webinar allow me to get to know my audience better.  

How do you deliver entertaining and educational webinars that readers want to attend? 

Webinars tend to work best for nonfiction authors. Some novelists can make webinars work, but nonfiction authors and course creators tend to have more success hosting an author webinar.

How to Host an Author Webinar Series

  1. Part 1: How to Look and Sound Professional on Zoom, Webinars, and Podcasts
  2. Part 2: How to Prepare for Your First Webinar  
  3. Part 3: Speak, Engage, and Inspire: Secrets of Entertaining & Educational Webinars that Sell

How to Deliver an Entertaining Webinar Presentation 

For a webinar to work, it has to be fun! You want people to enjoy coming to your webinars so that they invite their friends to the next one.

Here are 12 tips I’ve learned over the years that will help you learn how to host a successful author webinar.  

Tip 1: Get in Early

If I have a guest for the webinar, we try to get to the greenroom 30 minutes early to test the audio and video and talk through the plan for the event. The one time you get in late will be when the webcam stops working for some reason. Almost all webinar issues can be fixed by restarting your computer, but if your computer takes ten minutes to reboot, you need to get in early so you’ll have time to reboot several times if necessary. 

Your webinars should always start on time. If 100 people wait 5 minutes for you, you’ve wasted 500 minutes. That is an 8-hour workday destroyed. If you have 1,000 people waiting five minutes for you to start, you’ve wasted two work weeks! 

People will drop out if you don’t start on time.

Tip 2: Warm Up the Audience in the Chat

Before the webinar starts, ask attendees to sound off in the chat. You might ask where they are from or pose an icebreaker question. Warming up the audience before the webinar gets attendees excited and acclimates them to interacting in the chat.  

I typically ask where they are from and what they write, but you could ask about their favorite ice cream or the weather in their location.  Weather is a great topic especially if people are attending from around the world. For best results, connect the question to your topic in a fun way.

Don’t ask, “How much debt are you in?” or “How much weight do you want to lose?” even if those questions relate to your topic. You want these opening warm-up questions to be fun and easy to answer.

If you are frantically troubleshooting your microphone, you won’t be able to interact with the early birds in the chat, so get in early (see Tip 1).

Tip 3: Start With a Bang

For the sake of the replay, jump straight into the content. You’ll typically have a room full of people waiting for you to get started, and later, people will watch the replay. Don’t spend the first five minutes on housekeeping and saying hi to people. To respect everyone’s time, jump into the content right away. Don’t stall waiting for more people to show up. 

I try to get through housekeeping and to my second slide within 60 seconds. In my most recent Book Launch Secrets Webinar, I went through the housekeeping process of voting in the polls, voting on questions, and asking questions in 51 seconds. 

For most topics, the best way to open with a bang is to tell a story. You could begin with your story, a story about someone you have helped, or even a parable or fable. I love opening with one of Aesop’s fables or Grimm’s fairytales because it connects my modern topic with ancient wisdom. 

The key is to find a story that will capture your audience’s interest and connect it with your topic.  

Another way to start with a bang is to debunk a commonly believed myth. If you can help people see something in a new light, it goes a long way in establishing your credibility. It also forces you to be bold in your content, which makes for a more entertaining presentation. 

Tip 4: Follow With Why

When someone is listening to you talk in real life, it is socially awkward for them to leave the room early. For a live, in-person presentation, you can safely assume the audience you have at the beginning will stay until the end. 

Not so with webinars. The web is one click away, and no one will know if anyone leaves early. Webinars are not like Zoom in that way.  

That’s why you need to spend a couple of minutes after the “bang” explaining why your topic is important. Give attendees an idea of how they will benefit from the presentation. People are about to spend an hour of their life listening to you. They need to know what they will get out of spending the next hour with you.

The stronger your reason, the higher your audience retention.  

Tip 5: Deliver on Your Promise

When you came up with the title of your webinar presentation and wrote the description, you made a promise about what people would get from it. In your intro, when you talked about “why,” you reiterated that promise. Now, during your presentation, you need to deliver on that promise. If you build a reputation for delivering on your promises, people will want to continue attending the author webinars you host. 

If you have a reputation for giving an hour-long sales pitch, you will find it increasingly difficult to get people to attend your webinars. 

Tip 6: Leave People Wanting More

Webinar gurus tell you to give away the “why” and sell the “what.” That can be a valuable approach, but it can burn out your audience if you take it too far, especially over the long term. You don’t want your webinars to feel like an hour-long sales pitch, but you also don’t want to give so much info that people feel stuffed. 

Selling to an attendee who already feels overwhelmed with information is like a waiter trying to sell dessert to someone who has eaten too many bread rolls: “Yes, that pie looks amazing, but I couldn’t eat another bite.”

A good webinar is like a sample table at the grocery store. Give people a small taste so they’ll know they want more.

Tip 7: 40 Minutes Max

A good rule to help you leave people wanting more is to keep your presentation to 40 minutes. My mom used to help run fundraising banquets for a nonprofit. Her team found that every minute the event ran past 9:00 p.m., attendees collectively donated $1,000 fewer dollars. So, if the event concluded at 9:15, the nonprofit would have effectively lost $15,000 in donations.

For webinars, the magic number is 40 minutes. Get to your first “ask” by the 40-minute mark. Every minute beyond the first 40 minutes will cost you sales. 

Now, I can hear you saying, “Thomas, the last time I came to one of your webinars, it went for over an hour!” It did. But if you pay attention, you’ll notice that I start the pitch between the 40 and 45-minute mark. My pitch is typically five to ten minutes long, followed by an extended Q&A session. In fact, the Q&A is the reward for people who stuck around during the pitch. I might answer questions for another 40 minutes. 

At the end of the Q&A, I give another shorter version of the pitch, reminding people to sign up right away. 

If you are about to do your first webinar, I recommend following this guideline for time:

  • 1 Minute of Housekeeping
  • 4 Minutes of the Opening “Start With a Bang” Story
  • 5 Minutes of “Why”
  • 25 Minutes to “Deliver on Your Promise” in Your Presentation
  • 5 Minutes for the Sales Pitch for Your Book or Course
  • 15 Minutes for Q&A (optional)
  • 1 Minute for a Reminder Sales Pitch
  • 4 Minutes to Close with a Bang story
  • Total 60 Minutes

Tip 8: Practice

It may be impossible to get through all your material in 40 minutes the first time, so practice before you go live. The more you practice your talk, the fewer “ums” and “uhs” you will have. With practice, your sentences will be clearer, and your delivery will improve.  

You can practice alone on your computer or in the living room for your family. If I can hold my kids’ attention by talking about something they don’t care about, I might be able to hold the attention of a busy and distracted adult. If I can deliver a talk while kids are hanging on me and trying to tackle me, I’m webinar-ready.

Practice is the only path to professionalism. 

Tip 9: Look at the Camera

The more practiced you are with the presentation, the less you need to look at your notes. The less you look at your notes, the more you can look at the camera. 

The $300 El Gato Prompter has been a game-changer for me. It allows me to put my Keynote presenter notes on the teleprompter rather than relying on a script running across the teleprompters. This setup allows me to deliver in a more off-the-cuff style. 

Tip 10: Add a Call to Action

Most webinar platforms have a call-to-action button, which you can add below the video. When attendees click the button, they are taken to a webpage where they can take the next step. I use a landing page to sign up for a course. You might take them to your book’s page on Amazon. 

Once the webinar concludes, some platforms will automatically take people to the call-to-action button destination. 

Tip 11: Add Testimonials

Customer testimonials can make or break a webinar.

I hosted an affiliate webinar with Alan Terry about how to How to Make Money as an Author’s Assistant. Alana sent me her slides ahead of time, and I suggested she add a testimonial, and she did.

She told the story of one author assistant she helped train whose family was struggling financially. After becoming an author assistant, she made a good, steady income and was able to buy a house. Alana showed a picture of the house she bought, and everyone was sold. In fact, that lady attended the webinar and was able to interact with people in the chat. 

Tip 12: Add a Power Close

While I try to start my webinars with a bang, I also try to conclude with a bang, even if we have a long Q&A session after my presentation. I always prepare a “power close” because I don’t like to end with the Q&A. You never know what kind of question will be asked last, and you want to leave people with something powerful. For best results, connect it with the opening and give people a final call-to-action. 

How to Boost Live Interaction

The last thing you want during a webinar is someone clicking to another browser tab. So, how do you keep them focused on the video? The chat!

Have a Chat Ally

The bigger your webinar, the more people you will have on internet connections that can’t handle live, unbuffered video streams. These people make a lot of noise in the chat, asking for tech support. Don’t talk to these people during the webinar! Tech supporting one person ruins the webinar for the 99 who are not having technical issues.

Instead, recruit an ally to participate in the chat who can help that one person refresh their browsers, click play, click unmute, restart their computer, or whatever they need help with. 

If you have trouble with trolls or spammers, give your chat ally moderation powers to delete unwanted comments.  

Ask Questions

As the webinar goes on, people will drift away to other browser tabs even if you are engaging and have great slides. The pull of the internet is strong. One way to bring them back to the webinar screen is to ask an interesting and easy-to-answer question.

If you ask an open-ended question that requires a paragraph answer, your attendees will stop listening because they’re typing. Focus on questions that can be answered in a single word. Either/or and yes/no questions work best. 


  • Do you drive an electric car? yes/no. 
  • What kind of phone do you have? iPhone or Android?

Don’t use these examples. Prepare questions related to your topic!

Answer Questions

People love being able to ask their questions and get them answered live. It adds value to the webinar for everyone with a similar question and makes it dynamic and different. Some of my webinar attendees listened to the same presentation to different groups just so they could hear the different Q&A sessions at the end of each webinar. 

Respond to Comments

It is tricky to present and read comments as they come in. But occasionally, I like to check the comments and, if possible, respond to them directly. Interacting in the chat makes the talk more dynamic and encourages people to leave more comments. 

Bring Attendees on Screen

Bringing an attendee on screen adds a level of risk and uncertainty that makes the webinar exciting to watch. Nothing keeps people engaged like a bit of danger! Plus, the attendee can become an avatar for the audience when they ask clarifying questions. 

When someone is waiting to come on screen, their heart is racing, and adrenaline is rushing. You might not be nervous, but your attendee is. Their hyper-alert state causes them to pay more attention and get even more out of the event. No one falls asleep while waiting to go live on a webinar!

Webinar Follow Up

When the webinar concludes, your work is not done!

Make the Replay Available 

Not everyone can attend live, so make a replay available. Crowdcast (Affiliate Link) is a great tool for hosting an author webinar. Crowdcast makes it easy to send a replay link since the link for the live event is the same as the link for the replay. Other platforms make you jump through hoops. Zoom is a hassle when it comes to sending replays. 

Tag Your Attendees 

Before importing the webinar attendees into my email list, I create a tag for that specific webinar. The tag allows me to see which webinars my subscribers have attended. It also allows me to send an email only to people who attended that specific webinar. 

Email a Replay Link

As soon as the webinar is over, I email the replay link to everyone who registered. The longer I wait to send the link, the more replay request emails I get. The open rate for the email containing the replay link is high. The last replay link email I sent had a 77.7% open rate. 

In the email, I include a paragraph thanking them for coming, a link to the replay, and a paragraph about whatever I’m selling with a link to learn more about that product. It’s a simple email with a high open rate and a really high click-through rate, so it’s a powerful tool.

I really enjoy webinars, and they work well for me. I love the interaction with my audience. If you haven’t tried to host an author webinar, give it a shot. You may find that you enjoy it as well. 

Michelle L. Levigne, author of Inquest: The AFV Defender Book 4 

Join the fearless crew of the AFV Defender, a legendary ship known for their daring adventures and unbreakable bond. But when strange signals from the edges of charted space lead them on a mission with the notorious Inquest, their luck may finally run out. As they race across the galaxy to uncover the source of the mysterious signals, they must also navigate the dangerous reputation of their new partners. With every step closer to the truth, they realize they may be facing an enemy unlike anything they’ve encountered before.    

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