When I first started day dreaming about publishing a book, I was under the impression that I would hand my polished manuscript to an agent and they would do the rest. That's laughable now. I hear agents are wonderful, but the author is still involved in editing and, more often than not, the burden of marketing lands on the author's shoulders. Not many authors have publishers pouring money into advertising, and it's our job to figure out how to get our book in front of the public. This is easier for authors lucky enough to have an established reader base, but us newbies have to work hard to earn every reader. I am lucky that Booktrope, my publisher, has me work with a book manager. Her efforts were instrumental in turning around an online launch that looked doomed to fail. Sometimes doing things the wrong way teaches us the biggest lessons, and I was lucky to have someone swoop in and save the day.
A Facebook launch party actually occurs on Facebook, not at a physical location. People meet online at a designated time and the author posts excerpts, contests, and a lot of related content. It is a great way to reach people outside of your personal network - across the country and even internationally. Just remember to start the event from your author page (oops - you can't change this once you set it up). Join online book clubs that post launch party announcements and attend at least one before you throw your own. For more information on Facebook launches and some great advice, click here.
Social Media Works. Sometimes.
Social media is crucial for authors. It's a wonderful way to meet people, learn tricks of the trade, and network. I swore I would never join Twitter, and now I love it. That said, it does not generate sales. I've met a lot of authors, had some great dialogue, and laughed out loud at some pictures and quotes. I do use it from time to time to notify people that I have an event coming up and I'm not shy about retweeting flattering posts, but it didn't help me get more launch party attendees. What did work was joining Facebook book clubs that focus on my genre and allow promotional posts. I joined several groups and posted once or twice about the event with details on a contest we started a week in advance of the launch date.
Teaser Graphics are Crucial
The only time I did get responses to launch party announcements was when I included a graphic with a teaser quote. I followed the instructions from Page Curl (click here) and came up with a few quotes that I thought were intriguing and matched them up to graphics that matched my storyline.
When you set up your online Facebook Launch page, start a contest that rewards people for inviting people to your launch. Attendees are the most important part of the party, so make the reward a good one (a free ebook and a gift card to Amazon or Starbucks is a great idea). Set up a poll in a comment and leave it open for people to add their own "answers." This will allow people to add the name of the person who invited them and vote for them. The person with the most votes by the beginning of your party wins.
It also doesn't hurt to have a contest for an Amazon gift card for people who purchase the book before the launch party. It helps to have people familiar with your book when you open up dialogue in your launch party, and people have incentive to buy the book. Other contest ideas:
- Caption Contest - Post a Picture and give the prize to the person with the most likes at the end of the night
- Rafflecopter Contest - Rafflecopter is a free service that allows you to track people sending tweets, shares, etc.
- Email List Sign Up - People who sign up get entered to win
Plan Your Content
To keep a good amount of comments and dialogue going, plan to post every fifteen minutes. Posting excerpts, photos, and other content related to your book is great, but make sure the posts are engaging and allow for continued interaction. Each time you ask a question, you open up an opportunity for readers to respond. Make sure to monitor all of the comments, respond to them, and pose thoughtful questions.
If you know anyone who has published a book that is related to your own genre, this is a great way to get some cross promotion. They attend so their readers are invited and you have a break for an hour during the launch. Launch parties typically run at least five hours, and generating content and monitoring those comments and responses is exhausting. Scheduling guest authors is a great way to get a break. Don't know any authors? Get on Twitter and Facebook and strike up some connections!
I made some missteps and was clueless about how to get more attendees. My book manager immediately set up a contest to generate more attendees and taught me about Facebook book club groups. In four days she took my attendee count from 10 to 162, which was awesome. I believe the launch went well because we had a lot of interaction with attendees and hundreds of comments. There were some really great conversations and I had a lot of fun! It did generate a modest amount of sales, but the important thing was that it did get my name out there. For that I am grateful.
Have you attended a Facebook launch you enjoyed? What did you like about it?
Have you hosted a Facebook launch? What were your take aways?