Monday, May 25, 2015

How to Throw a Fantastic Facebook Launch Party (Without Losing Your Sanity)!

with guest blogger Amy J Cattapan.


So maybe you’ve got a new release coming out. Or maybe you’ve spent years hoping you’ll have a book to promote . . . someday. Either way, when the time arrives, you’ll want to be ready to throw yourself one fabulous celebration!

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:

Website: www.ajcattapan.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/acattapan
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJCattapan
 Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/ajcattapan/ 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24553425-angelhood




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.


Purchase Links:
Amazon Kindle  
Amazon Paperback  
Barnes & Noble Nook  
iBooks  

69 comments :

  1. WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE, AMY!

    Have we got red, white and blue treats scheduled for today? Yes, we do.

    Let's start with donuts with sprinkles for the night crew!

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  2. I was just invited to a FB launch party today.

    I can see how having helpers is a good plan. Otherwise chaos ensues. Great idea.

    BTW, love your book cover!

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  3. I have gone to Facebook parties, but had no idea how much went behind them. Wonderful post today! Thank you Amy! Donuts sound lovely Tina. :)

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  4. Wow, a lot of things to consider when hosting a FB party! I'm a full time student and work part time, so oftentimes, because of the time zone I'm in, I often miss FB parties, though the ones I've been to, I've enjoyed! I've noticed a lot of the parties I've seen are scheduled on weekdays --is that because people are assumed to be more busy on weekends? For me, it's the opposite. =)

    Loved your tips on writing posts ahead of time and getting friends to help you!

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  5. Off topic (please delete if this isn't allowed): Has anyone entered Robin Lee Hatcher's #RLHKaraokeGiveaway? If so, I'd love to see your video!
    This one is mine (as one of my favorite Disney characters, Mulan): https://youtu.be/pFc2YiiVkKA

    The video with the most "likes" by the 26th wins! Please consider liking my video or sharing if you are inclined? =)

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  6. Welcome to Seekerville, Amy!

    What a great post! Thanks for sharing your process.

    Happy Memorial Day!

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  7. This is a marvelous idea!!!!

    Now... where to find SIX FRIENDS????

    FOILED!!!! THWARTED!!!! I SHOULD BE NICER TO PEOPLE!!!!!

    :)

    Amy, this is a lovely layout on how to do this successfully! Thank you so much!!!

    Patriotic cupcakes in red/white/blue with white chocolate stars are joining the party!

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  8. Jen, I went and liked it, darling! You could be Mulan.... God has blessed you with so many talents, I'm so glad I've gotten to know you!

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  9. That was a wonderful party Amy! I had a blast that night, especially blowing up Twitter with my tweets! :)

    Thanks for sharing all your tips with future authors like me! :)

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  10. Thanks for the welcomes, everyone! It's great to be here. Now why didn't I think of red, white, and blue cupcakes. I'm making lemon ricotta cookies for a BBQ today.

    @Tina - Thanks for the book cover love! I'm really pleased with how it turned out, too. :)

    @Kelly - I attended a bunch of Facebook parties before throwing my own and also didn't realize quite how much went on behind the scenes. On the bright side, attending a bunch gave me ideas for my own.

    @The Artist Librarian - I think you're right that people assume there is more time during the week. Or at least people are more likely to be somewhere where they can keep on eye on Facebook (as opposed to weekend dinners out or movies).

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  11. @Ruth - LOL! I'm sure you could find a few friends to help. I know one woman who did it with just her husband helping. I don't have one of those, so I grabbed a bunch of friends instead. :)

    @Laura - Good to "see" you again! Hope you are enjoying the copy of Angelhood that you won!

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  12. Loved all these great ideas, Amy! Thanks for being our guest today and sharing from your experience with a Facebook launch. WOW! Lots of info to file away for the future!

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  13. What great post! I loved all the ideas you shared. It sounds like you knew how to throw a great Facebook party! :)

    I've attended a few. They're fun, but it's impossible to keep up with all the comments. :) You were smart to have some friends helping you. :)

    Thanks for sharing this post! It's very helpful.

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  14. @Myra - Thanks for commenting! I do hope this is the kind of post people will "file away" and come back and reference!

    @Jeanne - Yes, the comments are fast and furious on a Facebook launch party. Almost as fast and furious as they are here on Seekerville!

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  15. Laura Pol blew up Twitter and I missed it???

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  16. I always have a hard time finding the flow of comments in a FB party. How do they appear? Top to bottom or bottom to top?

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  17. Avril Lavigne! Avril Lavigne!

    Sorry, I couldn't resist answering the question! At least I hope that's right. Love these suggestions for a Facebook party! I have to confess that I never heard of it before. And Ruth, I highly doubt you'd have a problem finding friends! And Tina, I'm up for donuts with sprinkles! Blessed Memorial Day to my American friends.

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  18. @Tina - I believe the comments have the most recent at the bottom. I found that I had to keep refreshing my page because the comments were coming in so fast.

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  19. @Carolyne - You're right! It was Avril Lavigne! Too bad you weren't at my party. You could've won! :)

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  20. I attended one Facebook party a few weeks ago and got totally lost. LOL. So hard to keep up with everything and my poor computer finally froze up and expired. Guess we're not hardy party types. LOL

    Artist Librarian -- I liked your video as well. Awesome!

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  21. @Kav - You bring up a good point. I made my games every 15 minutes so that people weren't totally overwhelmed.

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  22. Great post, Amy! I like the concept of a Facebook party, but so far I've never had the time to sit through a complete one. I popped in and out of a friend's party not long ago, but having not been there to consistently follow all the comments, I felt like a spectator watching the action from across a street...totally out of touch with what was going on. Maybe providing a series of games with a specified duration as you've suggested would have allowed time-crunched followers like me to drop in, have some meaningful input and leave again.

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  23. Your Facebook party sounded like fun. I don't know if I'll ever be at that point, but I will remember your suggestions.

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  24. How did you know that answer, Carolyne?

    YES! That's the secret I always forget. Refreshing my screen!

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  25. @Carol - Yes, timed events were helpful for people popping in and out. I let everyone know ahead of time that games would happen every 15 minutes. I think that really helped.

    @Sandy - Glad you liked the suggestions!

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  26. Great ideas, Amy! I've attended a couple of parties and was amazed at the speed of all the action. Your tips for being prepared will be a big help when I do a Facebook party.

    The link to explaining the Facebook rules was valuable. I have an author page, a business page, and a personal profile, but I didn't realize only one profile is allowed. I like to follow the rules. :). Thanks for simplifying the party preparations!

    Hoping there are still some sprinkles donuts left from earlier.

    Wishing Seekerville a grateful and safe Memorial Day.

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    1. I found that article helpful too! It amazes me how many authors don't have an actual author Facebook page. I'm so glad I took a friend's advice and got an author page years ago.

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  27. Welcome, Amy! I've attended FB parties but never hosted one. Thank you for the EXCELLENT piece of advice to type out the transcript beforehand!! What a great idea. And also the idea of enlisting friends to help. A fun way to have a night together while working. :)

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  28. Fantastic post! I love the idea of having a real party with your friends while you're hosting the online one. Love it!

    I could take orders for refills of White Chocolate Mochas and Chai tea! :)

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    Replies
    1. My friends and I had a lot of fun together!

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  29. Guilty party who only has a personal page. Does it help that I do not use it as a personal page. I put zero personal stuff on the internet except my cat.

    I feel like I can get more intimate with a personal page. I had an author page and hated it and got rid of it.

    Forgive me for breaking the rules. LOL.

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    Replies
    1. Tina, I think the main problems with the personal page is that it limits the number of people who can follow you, it makes it hard for you to see your friends' posts (because your Facebook feed is flooded), and you can't promote your posts to a wider audience

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  30. HEY, AMY, WELCOME TO SEEKERVILLE!!

    Gosh, I sure could have used this post a few years back when I had a Facebook party for the release of a new series!!

    You said: "Your Facebook party is going to fly by! You don’t want to waste time composing and typing out your posts during the party."

    OH. MY. GOODNESS!! "Fly by" doesn't even begin to cover it! My publisher actually paid a publicist to set and run the whole thing, but even so, it was a madhouse and I could not keep up. Having pre-typed responses would have helped, so that's a GREAT tip!

    My fingers were flying so quickly, that FB actually threatened to shut me down with a message about spamming!!

    Thanks for outlining these tips because they are going to come in very handy in the future. :)

    Hugs,
    Julie

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    Replies
    1. I have a friend that paid someone to run her party, but I'm too cheap for that. ;)

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  31. You said: "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."

    WOW, another brilliant idea that I will definitely catalog if I do my own FB party in the future. You are blessed to have all those gals help you out, and I bet everybody had a blast!

    Hugs,
    Julie

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  32. I have attended several and love them! I have noticed there are a lot of people who don't know how to refresh. I have that mastered when using my laptop. But when my computer crashed and I was having to use my phone. I couldn't figure out how to refresh. The author did not either. so it might be good to find out answers to questions like that before hand.

    I am wondering how soon to set up an author page. I am not published and as yet do not have anything quite to that stage. I am wondering if I should wait until I have a signed contract first.

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    1. I started my author page about 2 years before I signed a contract. I used it to share blog posts, writing progress, and smaller writing successes such as magazine articles and Chicken Soup for the Soul.

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  33. How to refresh on a phone? Good question Wilani.

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  34. I hadn't thought about scripting some responses as well. Brilliant idea, Jules.

    This made me laugh, though I bet at the time it wasn't funny.

    "My fingers were flying so quickly, that FB actually threatened to shut me down with a message about spamming!!"

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  35. Thanks for the tips, Amy.

    I'm as yet unpublished, but a Facebook party is definitely on my list of things to do when I have a book to launch. :)

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    1. I definitely recommend it! It was lots of fun!

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  36. HI Amy,
    Really great tips. I'm bookmarking this page. Can't tell you how grateful I am for people like you who are willing to share their expertise.

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  37. I'm cheap when it comes to hands on stuff too. Someone says I micromanage. Who ME??

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  38. Amy - that is true. :)

    Ruthie and Kav --thank you! ^_^ Feel free to share it if you want. The contest ends tomorrow and the first place video has 44 likes, so I'm a quarter of the way there!

    Wilani -For Facebook app, if you have a touchscreen device, you can usually refresh by "pulling the screen down" by swiping down with your finger ...

    I'm not a writer, but I've seen several aspiring authors with author pages --they do have blogs though, so they often will share posts and such through that as well. :)

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  39. Amy, Welcome to Seekerville! Thanks for the terrific tips for throwing a successful Facebook launch party. Fun to see how your efforts and those of your friends paid off!

    Congratulations on your YA! I'm sure a middle school classroom teaches you plenty about writing for teens.

    Janet

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  40. @Lyndee - So glad you think my tips are worthy of bookmarking. :)

    @Janet - Teaching middle school teaches me a whole lot of things--and not just about writing YA! LOL!

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  41. wow. another scary thing about being a writer. I'm not a social media person. (Seekerville I about as "social" as I get).

    The FB parties I've seen have looked pretty cool - but as a social noob I've never braved jumping in. All your ideas and suggestions sound very wise and book-marking worthy.

    I love your bookcover and blub. The book sounds really interesting. I think I may buy it for my husband's daughter who is graduating next weekend. I think she'd be very interested in it. I also wouldn't mind a shot at winning a copy for myself either. :)

    Great post. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    Happy Memorial Day. Special thanks to all who've served our Country in the armed services (both server AND spouse). Your sacrifices are greatly appreciated.

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  42. TINA said: "Someone says I micromanage. Who ME??"

    Um, that would be a big YES YOU!!!

    And aren't we all extremely grateful!!!!!

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  43. Oh, you teach middle grade. That's how you got to be so insightful about YA.

    Research at your finger tips.

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  44. Hey, I just found out I messed up the spelling of AMY CATTAPAN. So for that fudge I am going to give away a second copy.

    TWO WINNERS!!!

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  45. Thanks, @DebH! I know a number of people who have bought Angelhood as graduation presents. :)

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  46. The last two facebook launch parties I did, I have to look into my laptop, on a camera, and yammer away for ONE HOUR. The wonderful marketing team arranged by Bethany House was feeding me questions and doing give always and changing the topic, while I talked and talked and talked.

    And I wondered if just maybe talking to a screen, all alone, in your home, for one hour, might be the VERY DEFINITION of insanity.

    :(

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  47. I know my husband came home in the middle of it, made supper for himself, went in to watch TV all while I talked incessantly.

    I'm pretty sure he questioned my sanity. Poor guy.

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  48. LOLOLOL. Mary. Sorry I missed that one.

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  49. @Mary - Oh my! I didn't do any video posting during my party. I can't imagine talking like that for an hour. I do know someone who posted a video they had created prior to the party, but I've never been to a Facebook party where the author is talking live. I recommend pre-scripted posts that give you time to read and interact with comments. :)

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  50. Thank you Amy. Lots of very helpful information.

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  51. @D Jess - Glad you found the info helpful!

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  52. I do not like Facebook at all. I make a point of avoiding it, but then I am not a writer looking to promote.

    I am not alone in my thinking either.

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    1. @Mary - you are definitely not alone. I avoided Facebook for years, but eventually I joined because I was hearing how important it was as a writer. And I've got to admit that I've connected with writers and readers via Facebook that I never would've met before,

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  53. Thanks for the great tips, Amy. I'm hosting my first Facebook launch party on June 1st. I'll be featuring all four of the June Love Inspired Historicals. I've got my scripted questions ready to copy and paste. Thanks to your suggestion, I'll be creating graphics to show off the prizes. Good idea!

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    1. @Keli - Sounds like this post came at a perfect time for you! Have fun at your party! I love that you're showing off 4 Love Inspired books together.

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  54. Thanks for the great tips! I'll be putting them into use soon! Blessings!

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    1. @Edwina - you're welcome! Hope the tips work out well for you!

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  55. Amy, this is a wonderful, creative, and informative post on how to throw a FB party! The fact that you gathered friends and positioned yourself at Starbucks is absolutely inspired! It must have been quite a spectacle! Here's to you and Angelhood. Thank you for sharing!

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  56. @Claire - Thanks for stopping by! I think we did attract a little attention at Starbucks. We made sure to pick a location where high school and college students tend to hang out. :)

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  57. Great post, Amy! I'm bookmarking this page for whenever I throw a FB book party. :)

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  58. Just used your suggestions to host my first ever Online Launch Party - your tips were an absolute lifesaver! Your subtitle about keeping your sanity is on the mark. I'd have been ready for the funny farm within 30 minutes without the script, my helpers and Random.org.

    I didn't have the funds or time to order t-shirts - but that is definitely on tap for next time, along with adding a helper to answer questions and sell books to anyone who asks what we are up to! Kudos to Starbucks for being very accommodating - I originally planned to have it at Panera and was warned that they will kick you off their wifi after 30 minutes if they are busy.

    Thanks so very much for sharing your experience!

    Felicia

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