March 16, 2018

HarperCollins Launches Live Programming via Facebook

Author Simon Van Booy on HarperCollins's #writerlywednesday

Author Simon Van Booy on HarperCollins’s #writerlywednesday

HarperCollins (HC) took its latest step in enabling authors and readers to interact in real time and to give those fascinated by books and publishing an insider’s view of the business, all via live programming using the new Facebook Live app on smartphones. Launched on June 6, the five-day-a-week programs, ranging from 15–45 minutes, can exponentially expand an author’s reach, from being able to live stream a program from their own home or on a book tour, for instance, to posting that program on their Facebook page for later viewing (and sharing on social media) by fans, as well as on HC’s Facebook or Book Studio 16 pages.

“Not everyone can meet their favorite author on a book tour,” said Lisa Sharkey, SVP and director of creative development at HC, who led the development of the live programming. “The beauty of this is you don’t have to go there [to the bookstore or library]. It’s as simple as going on to your smartphone. We can give authors their own prime time,” she said. Facebook Live programming goes beyond “meet the author,” too, said Sharkey, “embracing not just meet the author, meet the book, but meet us [the HC team].”  The service could be a boon to librarians as an author venue for local live streaming, for readers’ advisory, to vet authors for events, and to mine topics for programs.

For Sharkey, live programming is old hat—she was a TV producer for 20 years on shows like Inside Edition and Good Morning America before coming to HC about nine years ago, where she acquires books across the imprints and oversees Book Studio 16 videos.

There was no dearth of programming ideas in-house, said Sharkey, who drew not only from the creative development group but also from individual publicists, marketing directors, and editors across the company. The daily programs are organized around different descriptive themes: Motivational Mondays debuted June 6 with Marianne Williamson (whose Tears to Triumph hits June 14), who had garnered over 220,000 views by the end of the week. Temptation Tuesdays was set in the kitchen of mom/blogger (aka Baby Sideburns)/author Karen Alpert (I Want My Epidural Back), who tried, unsuccessfully, to make fondant icing while her husband wielded the smartphone, relayed questions from viewers, and dealt with screaming kids. As of June 12, Alpert’s live feed had over 99,000 views. The viewers for the live stream may only be several hundred—or thousands—at the time, but the cumulative viewing audience can be huge.

Writerly Wednesdays opened with Simon Van Booy in the HC studio discussing his latest book, Father’s Day, with audience questions and commentary delivered by Sharkey. On an upcoming Writerly Wednesday, author Adriana Trigiani will take fans on a live tour of Greenwich Village. Truthful Thursdays’ nonfiction focus brought Peggy Orenstein talking about Girls & Sex and boys and sex, in the wake of the Stanford rape case. And, finally, the first Free-For-All-Fridays featured HC’s LibraryLoveFest team led by Virginia Stanley, offering a mix of book buzz, push for Library Reads’ votes (the monthly top-ten librarian picks), and casual fun. Upcoming Free Fridays will include HC art directors on cover art—what works and doesn’t—and the writers who craft flap copy.

A self-described super-user of Facebook, Sharkey sees Facebook Live as a way to create “engaging experiences” for readers of HC books and help authors showcase their “innate talent.” Stay tuned for further developments.

Francine Fialkoff About Francine Fialkoff

Francine Fialkoff ( spent 35 years with LJ, and 15 years at its helm as Editor and Editor-in-Chief. For more, see her Farewell Editorial.