Build up your Facebook author page.
If you don’t already have an author Facebook page, do so pronto. Yes, it’s true that Facebook is using all sorts of algorithms to decide which of your fans should see your posts (the more someone likes and comments on your posts, the more likely they’ll see future posts), but you still want an author page. Don’t believe me? This article from Bad Redhead Media explains very clearly why you don’t want to use your personal page as your author page.
Long before your book releases, you’ll want to build up your audience. Reach out to friends and fellow writers and let them know you have an author page. To keep them coming back, post interesting content daily so that people stay engaged. With the new changes to Facebook, you may need to post 3-5 times a day to reach the most people.
Set the date and time for your party.
Pick an evening during the week when people are likely to be free. The great part about a Facebook party is that people can participate on their smart phones while doing other things. During the launch party for my young adult novel Angelhood, I had one friend participating during her daughter’s fencing lesson! Nonetheless, I wouldn’t recommend a Friday or Saturday night when people will be less likely to commit time to your party. Also, don’t forget to list all the different time zones on your party page! I had people from four different time zones at my party, and you don’t want someone not showing up because they had the wrong time.
Decide on your prizes.
Most authors give away copies of their book, bookmarks, gift cards, and other author swag, but try thinking outside the box, too. For my party, I wanted to celebrate young adult books, so I reached out to my fellow YA authors to see if any of them would be interested in donating copies of their book(s) as prizes.
This turned out to be a win-win for all of us. Seven different authors offered up their books. With each donated book, I added a prize of my own (my own book, a gift card, an Angelhood pen). By offering up other author’s books as prizes, I was able to introduce these other YA authors to the fans who showed up at my party. In fact, several people commented that they loved getting to know so many new authors! Also, these authors advertised my party on their own social media accounts, so a lot of their fans got to learn about me. It was a win-win for us all!
Create cute graphics for your prizes.
Because I was partnering up prizes, I used picmonkey.com to create cute graphics for each prize pack. These graphics became a fun way to advertise the party ahead of time on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. During the party, it gave the partygoers a chance to see exactly what they were vying for.
Type up your script ahead of time.
Your Facebook party is going to fly by! You don’t want to waste time composing and typing out your posts during the party. Simply, create a Word document with an entire timeline of already composed posts. For example, I typed out:
8:00 Game #5
In the following passage, I introduce one of the guardian angels in my book. After reading the passage, can you guess what pop singer I had in mind while creating this character?
“A bright light zooms past me so fast it leaves a trail of shimmering stardust behind. Up ahead, the light blossoms into the image of a feisty, petite angel. She has long blond hair with a pink streak dyed through the right side, heavy dark eyeliner, and black fingernails. She wears a black tank top over ripped jeans and cargo boots. A tattoo of a Celtic cross adorns her upper arm. A pair of bright wings are tucked behind her.”
Since I was inspired by a musician, I’m giving away an iTunes gift card for this one! Plus, you’ll get a copy of Marissa Shrock’s YA dystopian novel The First Principle.
Notice how I tied together a snippet of the book, some background on how I come up with a character, and the prize. People like getting inside information so craft your games so that people feel liked they’re getting the inside scoop.
Here’s another game we played:
8:15 Game 6
My main character’s younger sister Cecille is a ballet dancer. I took ballet lessons for only a few years but really enjoyed our dance recital in which we performed a ballet to a song from a popular opera that takes place in the Far East. Can you guess the opera?
The prize is a Jamberry nail wrap gift basket, including a sheet of the ballet slipper style like I’m wearing tonight and a copy of Cynthia T. Toney’s Bird Face, a great story about overcoming bullying.
This script was a lifesaver! It was so easy to just cut and paste the posts at the necessary times. This left me free to read people’s comments on the posts and respond to them.
Gather your friends for help!
I had a team of about six women helping me out. We staked out a spot at a local Starbucks, made sure we had plenty of caffeine, and fired up our laptops and tablets.
The women took turns watching the entries on the games. Each time a new game went up, one of them would take all the names of the commenters and enter them into random.org. As soon as the game was over, they hit the “randomizer,” and the top name became our winner!
We were getting around 50 comments per post, so having a lot of eyes on the party helped tremendously.
Have a place to write down the winners’ names.
At the end of my Word document script, I listed all the prizes (by the way, I definitely recommend numbering your games and prizes!). As soon as the winner was picked, I typed in the name and posted it in the comments section of that game. When the entire party was over, I listed all the prizewinners in a single post.
Have fun with it!
My friends and I all dressed in our “Angelhood blue” t-shirts, so we’d stand out at the Starbucks. My sister-in-law (who makes customized jewelry) even made necklaces for us with my book cover design on it. When the two hours flew by, we couldn’t believe it! Over 100 people had joined our party, and it was so much fun reading their comments.
But you want to know if this helped book sales, don’t you? I mean, having fun is good and all, but is it worth the time and effort? While I haven’t seen my sales numbers yet, I can tell you this: Angelhood sat at the #1 Amazon bestseller spot for Christian YA on social issues for the first few days it was out. The next week, it fell down. By the morning of the Facebook party, Angelhood was down to #25 or so, but after the Facebook party, I checked the rankings again, and it was back up at #2! So the Facebook party definitely helped spread the word around and got me some more sales.
Have you thrown or attended a Facebook launch party? What did you think? Do you have tips for others on how to make it a success?
Leave a comment today for an opportunity to win an ecopy of Angelhood from Seekerville. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.
A.J. Cattapan is an author, speaker, and middle school English teacher living in the Chicago area. Her published works include the young adult novel Angelhood, a story in Chicken Soup for the Soul: From Lemons to Lemonade, and numerous short stories and articles in magazines for teens and children, including Highlights and Hopscotch for Girls. She will also be featured in a recipe and corresponding story anthology due out this summer.
You can find her here:
Seventeen-year-old theater geek Nanette believes her life is headed toward stardom on Broadway. But when her dream theater college rejects her and her best friend dies in a terrible accident, Nanette decides the world would be better off without her. Unfortunately, the afterlife offers something less than a heavenly situation. Trapped between alternating periods of utter darkness and light, Nanette is stuck following a high school freshman around. Soon, she learns she’s a guardian angel, and the only way she can earn her wings is to keep her young charge, Vera, from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life.
Unfortunately, Nanette is missing more than just her wings. She has no tangible body or voice, either. Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by memories of her old life, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school turns his back on his charge. The shock is enough to supercharge Nanette’s determination. If she’s going to find peace in the afterlife, she’s going to have to discover what living is really all about.
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