Just One Writer’s How-To for a Facebook Book Launch Party
Decide why you want to have a release party and identify your intended guest audience: Why do you want to have a release party? To find new readers & generate sales? To have a place to discuss your book with readers in a way that people who haven’t read it yet might find interesting? To vent some of the pressure that went into launch day? Once you identify your goal, you’ll have an easier time identifying your audience.
As for Unclaimed, I doubted that a release party would do a darn thing to attract new readers (as I don’t seem to be very skilled/lucky at that, even if I do all the “supposedtas”). I realized that I just wanted to have a space and time to talk about Unclaimed and all the works that went before it, including Jane Eyre, with people who would want to answer the kinds of questions I wanted to ask. In true INFJ fashion I didn’t really want to “party” in the traditional sense. I wanted to have deeper-than-surface conversations with like-minded people. More a gathering than a shindig. Certainly not a hootenany.
Well, there was no brie, but I did have a glass of wine.
Decide on your time frame: Some people want to party all day or over a course of days. I’m not those people. I settled on a two-hour window in the after-dinner hours (for me, anyway) on a weeknight. I’ve worked in youth ministry long enough to know that there is no “best time” for anything. I chose evening because that’s when I could pinpoint the best availability for most of the people whom I was confident would attend.
Decide on what will happen during your party: Will there be discussion questions? Party favors*? Celebrity guests popping in? Links to reviews? Sales links?
Every Facebook launch party I’ve visited (either during or after) featured discussion questions at least. I had another author more famous than I am pop in with a picture of her with her weaving supplies, since weaving is a part of the plot of Unclaimed. I wish I had thought ahead of time to ask other authors who’d read Unclaimed to post in the party on their own, maybe with links to their own books or with their own reviews or whathaveyou. I also didn’t think to post blurbs from reviews or anything like that. I might do both of those next time. I did come up with 8 discussion questions and chose images to post with each question to make them easier to identify. I also thought up a reason to share relevant Pinterest boards (Jane E and Meatless Fridays for the 10 Minute Novelists-inspired Virtual Snacks).
*Party favors: It’s my understanding that Facebook strictly prohibits any giveaways that are not done through their specific promotional program (one that takes money). There’s nothing I’ve found prohibiting against sharing party favors with your guests, however (selecting a gift to give to a guest is different than having a contest or drawing). First I thought of what I had to give as gifts (an ARC of the sequel to Unclaimed, a signed hard copy of 2006 Jane E). Next I asked authors who had books similar in subgenre or style (one dystopian and two steampunk, all YA) to sponsor party favors. Finally, I created a print-at-home Unclaimed bookmark that all the guests could download.
Queue and time your posts: In one document, I typed up all my questions, wrote descriptions and prepared author and book links for each party favor, and prepped sales links for each online book source where Unclaimed is sold (I went wide). Then I typed out what time I wanted to post each question or link so that it filled out the two hours but didn’t overfill.
Schedule your event on Facebook: Through my author page, I added an event on my author page (go to your author page and select “Create Event”). Some hints to make this easier on you:
- Write your description of the event ahead of time, including the time zone of the start time (Facebook is international, so 7:30pm doesn’t mean the same thing to you as it does to someone else).
- Create some art for the event’s cover page. Just plopping your cover or headshot on there is going to look silly and unprofessional. I used Canva and selected “Facebook page cover” dimensions for the art.
- Be sure to include the event time (and time zone) on your art
Invite friends to your event: on the event’s page, click the little button with “Invite” and a little envelope-looking thingie and go to town. Well, not literally. Virtual town.
Share your event with your network: Definitely share it with your street team, whoever they are or however you identify them.
[Note: Two years ago, I thought I had to bust my buns to drum up some kind of street team. I’ve since realized that, honestly, I’m so small-time that mine can just be a cross section of my newsletter subscribers and my individually selected ARC team.]
Share it on FB. Tweet it. Blog about it. Pin it (that’s another reason you need that art on your event page). Encourage your street team to share it wherever they can as well. And don’t just share once, either… or just share once. Seriously, whatever you can do without breaking into a million pieces, do it. That’s Auntie Erin’s advice.
Follow up: Contact individual party favor recipients with the news that they’ve gifts waiting for them. Check in periodically after the party is over to connect with people who’ve left questions or comments post-party. Take notes about what worked, what didn’t, and what you might like to try again next time. Be thankful. Be classy. Be gracious.
Write a blog post so others can learn from your experience.
Questions for you: Have you seen a particularly successful launch party? Can you share the link below?