Let’s talk about parties. Release parties to be specific. If you are an author you have them whether you are paid enough (or have a big contract with a Top 5 publisher) to have an actual catered party at some swanky place with champagne and hors d'oeuvres or you are like the rest of the 99.999% of authors and have a Facebook or Twitter party. You need to know how to throw one for success.
Now I will admit I did the typical Facebook party or takeover (author or blog asking me to join for an hour to take over their Facebook party) with some games and a few small prizes. It was fine and I gained a few fans over the years from that.
Most of the book marketing blog posts or books I came across gave the same advice. According to them I was doing everything fine and from what I saw other authors do (even some big name authors) they did the same thing. They had a few games, small prizes, etc.
Then I found J.A. Huss. She is an amazing New York Times & USA Today bestselling author. Whenever I find an author I love I immediately explore their website and that’s when I struck gold. Author gold. I don’t care if you write Romance or Science Fiction or Westerns or Young Adult or anything in between, the advice she gives to writers on her website will help you.
She even gave advice to writers, or at least documented what she did with marketing her books, before she was anywhere close to any bestseller list. She is not one of those authors that may write fiction but also writes how-to books, therefore the posts are a bit sales pitchy. No, she is 100% a fiction writer who just writes some posts here and there about what she has learned to help others.
I saw her post about Facebook parties and it completely changed how I did things. I seriously advise you to check it out HERE. The thing about her parties is she can afford to give out really big prizes because of the amount of money she makes off her books. But that doesn’t mean you can’t learn from what she did and recreate it on a smaller scale. You can even put a small twist on your parties that makes it distinctly you.
Here’s what I did. I went around and observed other author’s FB parties to see what their most popular posts were. This is what I found:
I kept thinking how I could make my party unique to me. Then I used my background: Theater. If you don’t know I was a theater major in college and did Improv for many years. I decided to do a character for my takeover. This time I would play a stewardess. So I looked up pictures of stewardesses and airplanes. I even researched tag lines for airline companies to make up one for myself. Since I write romantic comedies, I made the tag line funny and my character a bit snarky.
I know what you are thinking, “Wow this must have taken you a long time to create.”
Yes, you would be right. Even in JA Huss’s post on Facebook parties she mentions she takes 8-10 hours to make all her posts for the takeover. That’s why I recommend limiting your parties and takeovers. I have decided I won’t do more than one a month.
It took me 5-7 hours to come up with my takeover.
Here are some examples of some of the giveaways I had. I did a total of 4 giveaways in this takeover: the entire ebook Bitten series since it was CC’s release party, a $10 Starbucks GC, $10 Amazon GC, and signed books of my Rules of Payne & Rules of Payne 2. While these aren’t as big of prizes as JA Huss would give out, for me they were pretty substantial.
You notice in the giveaways I have as examples they have the same background. It all ties into my branding. Since I write light romantic comedies I wanted a fun theme: bright colors and 80’s influence. It’s all over my website, my logo and now a part of my takeover images. I even put my logo in the giveaway pic, so if the post is shared someone may instantly recognize it’s one of my giveaways.
I think over time, once I build a little reputation of having good takeovers/FB parties, the recognition of the logo on a post will create an increase in traffic. But I will say that this takeover was the most successful one I have ever had, that includes my own release parties. My posts got the most traffic that I have ever had before. I will not say it is due to one thing, but due to all the ideas I implemented: consistent branding, tag/share post, unique takeover experience, as well as good prizes in giveaways. I even had one person who had never heard of me comment that this was the most fun she has ever had at a takeover. Now there is someone who will probably come back again and again whenever I have a takeover and tell her friends about me.
As far as the images I use in the posts, I am lucky that I have a background in graphic design. Now before you deflate and think you can’t ever do anything like that with images I am here to tell you yes you can. There is nothing I did on those pictures that an average person can’t do (with the exception of the 3d paperback book image. That you may have trouble with). Mainly I just did some copying and pasting and used a fancy font (that related to my brand).
I use Photoshop, but I used to use pixlr.com before I could afford Photoshop. The great thing about pixlr is it’s free. It is basically a scaled down version of Photoshop. You can easily open a few images, like the one I have above of my fan group image. I then copied and pasted to the background I have been using on all of my images, then copied and pasted my logo and finally typed in a few words of what the group is about. That is it. You might have to scale the image down to fit the background. The scale option is usually found under the edit menu of any photo editing program and is named Free Transform or Transform (because you are transforming the image). Hold the shift key down as you scale it to maintain the dimensions of the image or it might get distorted. There is your little photo editing tip for today. Really not that hard. Just do some tests, use some images you don’t care about until you feel confident in it.
Once you have it down it will only take you a few minutes to make each image, I promise. If you have any questions please feel free to contact me via email or message me on Facebook. I am always happy to help people with this stuff. If you really don’t want to do this, just use teasers or images that might relate to your post.
There is one thing I want to mention before I go, it’s Twitter. I have only done this with a book I was in that involved 21 other authors. The idea for the Twitter party was someone else’s idea. I will be doing this now for my future releases.
Basically you create (or use existing hashtag because nothing is really original anymore on Twitter) a hashtag like #TeaseMe (for the release of the Tease Me book) and the day of the release (or you can tie it into the same day as your Facebook release party and have it in one of your FB party posts to get more interaction) create something you want people to do to win prizes. See the sample image we used. You have someone do something, like how they liked to be teased then use the hashtag to enter to win the prize the day of the release.
If you have an Instagram account, do some giveaways on there too. Again, this can all be added to your release party if you wish.
Did I see a big increase in books sales? Yes and no. I saw a huge increase in my free books being downloaded, a spike in my author FB page likes, and a few actual sales. I think over time I will see a good and steady increase of actual sales. But this should not be why you have the Facebook party. You should have release parties to gain fans and get your name out there. If you become known as an author who gives out cool prizes and puts forth a good effort, then your fan group and/or Facebook author page numbers will rise. That will make is so much easier the next time you have a release to get the word out about your book. Also, the more people talk about you and your latest release, the more of a chance you will have sales.
These are just some ideas you can use for release parties or takeovers. Cater them to fit you. My only request in anything you do when it comes to marketing your book is take the time to plan it out. Plan out the parties, plan out your release well in advance and when to actually have the party. The more prepared you are the smoother things will run.
To sum up I have mentioned:
That was your cup of joe for today. Keep coming back for more tips from your book barista. Next week's post will be about organization, why you can't do all this without it, and the best tip I ever got about how to succeed as an indie author.
Check out the next Book Barista post about Organization HERE
As an indie-author I was wondering what I could do to help get my books out there. So, I looked into it and that's when I realized I had a lot to learn. These posts are to help my fellow authors learn how to market and publish their book. I pass on what I found out about making a book a success.