10 Amazing Virtual Book Events from 2020

Virtual book events have been a bright spot in 2020—allowing readers and authors from across the globe to connect and share in a love of books and the literary community. One of the best things about these events is that many are being housed on YouTube—meaning you can tune in for free, whenever you want! Here’s a roundup of ten events from the last few months that are well-worth a watch.

BookCon pivoted to bring bookworms from across the globe online this year, and an incredible array of panels resulted. “Transcending the Binary in YA” is such a joyful panel to watch featuring Kacen Callender, Charlotte Davis, Mason Deaver, Victoria Lee, Anna-Marie McLemore, Aiden Thomas, and Mark Oshiro, moderated by Casey McQuiston. The group discusses writing trans and nonbinary characters, working against the binary in genre conventions, and crafting characters with intersecting identities.

Another amazing virtual book festival from this year was Juneteenth Book Fest, which has fourteen must-watch panels on YouTube. Nonfiction readers won’t want to miss “All of Me: Black Memoirs,” which features memoirists Mikki Kendall, Keah Brown, and Nichole Perkins, moderated by L.L. McKinney. Their conversation covers finding the courage to be vulnerable in their work, learning the parts of yourself you keep for yourself and the parts you share in memoir writing, and more.

Alyssa Cole’s Date Night series is not to be missed! Held through Loyalty Bookstore, these events feature in-depth discussions about the romance genre, exploring everything from craft to inspiration to new releases. Every episode is great, but we particularly enjoy this one featuring historical romance authors Beverly Jenkins, Courtney Milan, and Olivia Waite.

Mystery readers will definitely want to check out Murder By The Book’s YouTube channel to watch their various author interviews and panels. We recommend starting with the conversation between Rachel Howzell Hall and Kellye Garrett, moderated by Kristopher Zgorski. They share how they approach different subgenres from thrillers to cozy, the craft of creating character arcs over series, and the importance of setting in mysteries.

Earlier this year, V.E. Schwab began a weekly series called No Write Way where she interviewed authors on Instagram Live. The conversations explore writer life, craft, and their favorite creative tools to use, and are now all available on YouTube! Schwab’s love of fantasy shines in her conversation with R.F. Kuang as the two talk about their origin stories as authors, the challenges of plotting series, and flawed characters.

The Social Distance Book Fest put out a wonderful lineup this spring, all of which is available to watch on YouTube. One of my favorite panels was “Navigating Latinx Identity in Fantasy” featuring Chantel Acevedo, Zoraida Córdova, Amparo Ortiz, Anna-Marie McLemore, and Daniel José Older moderated by Paola Guerrero. The group spoke on identity, intersectionality, and weaving their experiences into fantasy worlds.

Get your geek on with New York Comic Con’s virtual convention! Their YouTube channel has panels for every kind of geek (from comics to movies to books), but sci-fi and fantasy readers will definitely want to watch “Can Mermaids Get Drunk? (And Other Important Questions About SFF IRL).” Moderator SB Divya talks to Amal El-Mohtar, Max Gladstone, Kat Leyh, Ken Liu, and Rebecca Roanhorse about research, writing chickens into the Star Wars universe, and more.

During Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, the Asian Author Alliance put together a virtual event featuring panels that cover everything from building community to Korean dramas. You can’t go wrong with any of the panels, but we’d recommend starting with “The Asian Diaspora Experience” featuring Samira Ahmed, Julie C. Dao, Tara Sim, Randy Ribay, and moderator Kat Cho. The group discusses writing as a bridge to their cultures, feeling connected to community, and representation in their works.

Looking for more debut authors in your life? Penguin Random House’s Book Your Summer series has a great panel that features Ros Anderson, Daniel Hornsby, Micaiah Johnson, and Megha Majumdar, moderated by Lindsey Elias, Director of Consumer Shows and Conferences at Penguin Random House. The conversation explores their paths to publishing, what it means to them to be debuts, and the inspiration behind their novels.

Romance bookstore Love’s Sweet Arrow has hosted a number of fantastic events this year. One of our favorites is “The Craft and Creation of Romance” featuring Zoraida Córdova and Alexis Daria, moderated by Danielle Dresser. These authors discuss outlining pros and cons, expectations of genre readers, and the impact quarantine has had on their writing process. 

What’s the best virtual book event you’ve attended this year?

Kelly Gallucci

Kelly Gallucci is the Executive Editor of We Are Bookish, where she oversees the editorial content, offers book recommendations, and interviews authors and NetGalley members. When she's not working, Kelly can be found color coordinating her bookshelves, eating Chipotle, and watching way too many baking shows.

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