I admit it wholeheartedly. When I always dreamed of being an author, I imagined writing the book, having a publisher accept it, and then people clamoring to buy it. Okay, so my dream is partly true. There are just a few added factors, one of them being the marketing aspect. There are so many books out there. You have to slap your book in front of consumers before they know they want to clamor to read it.
A great tool for that is a Facebook Release Party. I hadn’t known about these until I received invites from other authors at my publishing house. A Facebook Release Party involves the author creating an invite on Facebook for a certain day. People join in the event online where they get to learn about the book. The host of this Release Party wants to make it as exciting as possible. Now, I’ve been to a lot and I’ve hosted two (as well as co-hosted a third), but I am by no means an expert. If you have any suggestions, feel free to leave them here in the Comments section. These are just the tips and tricks I’ve learned along the way.
1. You can pay someone to host it for you! I received an offer from one “host” and a fellow author recommended another “host.” Ultimately, I did it myself because both “hosts” cost money I didn’t have. They weren’t too pricey (around $50) and I’m sure they both do great work (I’ve been to a few awesome Release Parties hosted by one of them), but with all the other book expenses, I couldn’t manage it.
2. Set the date for at least a week out. My first Release Party happened on Release Day. It was fun, but people couldn’t buy my book. It hadn’t shown up in the systems yet, think Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My second Release Party occurred a week after when the ebook and paperback were available. People bought them during the party while it was fresh in their mind. Woohoo!
3. Create the event at least a month in advance. You want to give people time to see the invite and accept it. You also want to be considerate of schedules. Everyone is busy, so the sooner he or she can make plans to attend, the smoother it is.
4. Include an Invite Contest. As soon as you create the event, “pin” a post stating that you want people to leave the name of whoever invited them. The winner will receive a prize (I gave away a paperback copy of my book). Over 2,000 people joined my latest release party thanks to this feature. Participants were inviting their friends like crazy so they could win. I made great connections from getting to know so many strangers.
5. Create a catchy event picture. My publisher made the image for mine, as Photoshop is not my forte, but you could play around with different layouts or just use the cover of your book.
6. Include book contests. People love the chance to win a prize, and as this is a book Release Party, give away books. They can be copies of your own book, but that could backfire – people might wait to win it and not buy it – so ask your author friends if they would like to donate a copy. For my Release Parties, my author friends donated ebooks. This is a great way to spark interest in your event and award the gifter with a fresh reader. For the contest wording, I will say something along the lines of, “Win a copy of XYZ by Awesome Author. Just leave a comment about…” Then I will pick a topic based on the genre of my book. For my steampunk novel, I did: “Leave a comment with a picture of your favorite steampunk-inspired corset.” Sometimes the author will want to pick the winner from the list of commenters and other times I have used a “random pick” online tool to choose.
7. Include contests. While it is great to give away books, you could also give away bookmarks, jewelry, magnets, keychains… Try to keep the items related to your book. For example, I gave away a keychains shaped like my book for my first release party.
8. Choose winners the following day. During my first Release Party, I chose winners at the end. For the second one, I waited until the following day. I noticed that people kept commenting and continuing discussions up until the winner was announced, so by drawing it out, it gave more people time to enter and kept them active.
9. Include games. Keep your games geared toward the genre of your book. Games can include:
a. Picture. Post random pictures related to your genre to get the readers excited about fantasy, science fiction, historical fiction, etc.
b. Caption. Post a picture and ask participants to leave their idea of an appropriate caption.
c. Recipe. Ask participants to post their favorite recipes. If, for example, your book is about Halloween, they could post Halloween-related recipes.
d. Crafts. Ask participants to post crafts related to your genre.
10. Invite guest authors to talk. Participants will get to learn more about their books – and authors love talking about their books – while being active on your Release Party. You can assign the guest authors a slot, such as 8-8:30pm, and they can advertise that on social media. “Come chat with me during the XYZ Release Party.” Their fans will join your event and discover your book, something they might not have found out about otherwise.
11. Share links to your accounts. A website, Twitter, author page, GoodReads…whatever it is, share the link to it to garner more followers.
12. Share cute writing experiences. Perhaps you wrote your book entirely on the train. Maybe you gained inspiration from your grandfather’s childhood. Share the cute stories so that participants will feel closer to you and the book.
I have heard that some people host Release Parties with fellow authors if release dates are similar. This helps to boost the amount of participants and makes it easier on the host – you aren’t posting something continuously, so you have more time to chat. I have also heard that authors host “1 Year Anniversary” parties or “New Cover” parties in similar formats to what I’ve described above. These seem like great ways to spread the word about your book while making connections with readers. If people have already read the book, they might jump in to support you or to ask you specific questions.