We’re continuing our series on marketing ideas that are effective and fun for potential readers and authors alike. We’ve seen scavenger hunts, social media swaps, and sassy q&a’s that all drove buzz and book sales. But what’s a launch without a party?
How to Throw the Best Online Party. Ever.
So, you’re not renting out the ballroom at the Ritz Carlton for your book release party? Let’s face it, who can? But, just because you’re publishing a book on a budget, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the art of entertaining. Think virtually. Online parties are easy on the wallet and the nerves. Plus, they can be an integral part of your social media strategy, which is critical to connecting with readers and ushering them to click on that all-important “Buy Now” button.
For the release of the first romance novel in my Whispering Bay series, THAT THING YOU DO, I put on my event planning hat and dived in with gusto. I want readers to feel welcome, have fun, and most importantly – fall in love with the hot heroes and quirky, smart heroines that inhabit the lovable, romantic small town of Whispering Bay on the Emerald Coast of Florida. To accomplish that, I had to strike the right tone by choosing the appropriate venue, invitation, guest list, and theme.
Without further ado, here’s are my Top Ten tips on how to plan an event to remember –
1. THE RIGHT VENUE: When you’re asking people to “hangout” with you for a prolonged period online, Facebook is the easiest way to connect to and retain an audience. The party can be focused on your Facebook page, hosted by a peer on their fan page, or take place on an event page. All you need is the basic ability to post, or alternately have a moderator/event host or fan page administrator post the initial message first for you, and you can then respond to comments beneath that post. Be advised, Facebook policies regarding the posting ability of fan pages in particular—but, anything really—can change at any time. It’s best to check their guidelines before deciding what kind of party will work best for you.
2. ENLIST HELP: We want to do it all. And, that’s admirable, but it can also be crazymaking. If you’re just bopping over to your best author friend’s fan page for a little meet-and-greet with their readers, it’s not a big deal. But, if you’re doing something more involved and inviting guest authors to take turns hosting the party during scheduled times, you’ll want to enroll the services of a Master of Ceremonies to assist with set up, managing the crowd during the party, culling any giveaway entries, and notifying winners. That way you can just wander around and mingle like the glam, superstar hostess with the mostest you are.
3. PARTY TIME: Timing is critical. Check out the insights area of your Facebook fan page to see when engagement is at its height and let that factor into your decision on event time. Also, be sensitive to other time zones. Make sure that anyone from the West Coast to the East Coast, and in between, can stop by comfortably.
4. A FRIEND INDEED: Invite your author pals who write in a similar genre to be special featured guests. And, don’t forget to heartily say “YES!” when they ask the same of you in the future. If you’re a midlist or no-list author, cross promotion through multi-author events can inject much needed energy—and attendees—into your party.
5. YOU’RE INVITED: Make sure featured guests authors are sharing the event on their timelines. Do the same on your page.
6. PARTY THEMES: Just because you don’t have a ceiling to hang streamers from, doesn’t mean you can’t decorate. Customize your event banner, make sure your profile pic is of yourself (and not your book) to be more personable, and purchase royalty free stock art images that you can customize with book quotes or fun sayings. For my Whispering Bay Bash, we’re going to party on the “beach,” and all of my shareable images are branded with that in mind.
7. STRUCTURE/ORDER OF EVENTS: If it’s a multi-author event, schedule guest authors for 30 minute increments so that each is featured prominently during their spotlight rather than having a bunch of overlapping posts. And, remember, Facebook restrictions may keep page owners—in particular—from making the initial posts themselves. This is where a moderator/event host comes in handy. They can post the initial message, and the guest authors will be able to interact in the comments below. If you’re not including featured guest authors, make sure that you have a steady stream of interesting and engaging content to post throughout the event since all eyes will be on you!
8. PRIZES: Who doesn’t like free romance novels?! Uh, not me! Ask the partygoers to answer a question or just pull a random commenter from posts where a contest is indicated as the winner of eBooks, book swag, or more.
9. FOOD AND TEQUILA: Well, this is the one drawback of being online. No 10,000 calorie dips, piles of wings, or margaritas. Encourage BYOB.
10. NETWORK: While you’re working the room, encourage attendees to like your page and include buy links in your posts and in the comment area, as well as links to visit your website, read special excerpts, or sign up for your newsletter. Not clearly illustrating how to connect to you and your books beyond Facebook is a missed opportunity.
Be sure to visit me on Facebook to get more THAT THING YOU DO party details, and if you missed it – get invited to the next one!
All About THAT THING YOU DO, Whispering Bay Book #1:
Imagine running into your ex after years apart. Eek! And, he still looks good. Maybe even better. Do you run for the hills? Or run into his arms? Allie Grant, heroine of my new funny romance THAT THING YOU DO, can relate.
Allie Grant doesn’t believe in second chances. She does, however, believe in the power of a permanent paycheck. So when a tipster reports that the soon-to-be demolished senior center in her hometown is haunted, Allie hightails it to Whispering Bay to get the scoop that could secure her dream job at Florida! magazine. What she finds, though, is far scarier than any ghost. Cue her ex-boyfriend, sexy construction foreman Tom Donalan.
When Tom catches Allie poking around his construction site, he quickly realizes his former high school flame is just as feisty as ever. And, heaven help him, her irresistible, mile-high legs still take his breath away. But Tom isn’t about to delay the building’s demolition because of a silly ghost story.
With neither of the stubborn exes backing down from their opposing positions, sparks fly. And, underneath the surface, the fire of their old attraction burns as hot as ever. When strange things start happening with increasing frequency around town, even a tough skeptic like Tom is tested. The question is, can Allie and Tom stop fighting long enough to get to the bottom of Whispering Bay’s ghost problem—and the more important matter of mending their broken hearts?
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