Hi everyone. Pamela S. Meyers here with my monthly posting on marketing your book. This past month I’ve been focusing on promoting my newest book and preparing for a launch event this coming Saturday, which involves a Power Point presentation and book signing at a local museum.
It came to my attention recently that there is another type of launch celebration in the form of an online party. Fellow CAN member, Sharon Srock, recently held such an event on Facebook to launch her second book in her current series, and I asked her if I could interview her about how she prepared for the event and carried it out. She happily agreed and I’m so happy she did.
Pamela: Sharon, I was excited when you agreed to share your experience with a virtual online party you recently held on Facebook for your latest release in your Women of Valley View series. Why did you decide to hold this type of party as opposed to one people can physically attend? Or are you planning to have both?
Sharon: When Callie (Sharon’s first book in the series) released, the women in my church threw a beautiful party. I sent invitations and bookmarks to the other community churches, posted flyers all over town, and had a lovely press release in the local paper. The attendance was exactly ZERO for women I don’t worship with. They offered to have another party for Terri, but I just didn’t see the point.
I’d been invited to a few virtual launches and parties, and I was curious. I dropped in on a couple then checked in with the authors afterwards. Everything I saw and learned pointed towards a well-attended party, increased traffic and likes on your page, and a few sales as icing on the cake.
The first two results have already proven to be true. It will be a while before the sales results are in.
Pamela: How far in advance did you start planning, and can you list in order the things you did prior to the day of the launch?
Sharon: Sure. I started planning about thirty days ahead of the party date.
I secured some prizes, nothing expensive, but nice. I chose AVON jewelry and bath products since I have easy access, and copies of both my books. Enough to allow me to award a prize every thirty minutes.
I contacted my influencers and asked if any of them would be interested in being special guests during the event. The two guest authors who were able to attend also gave away copies of their books so they got a little promotion out of the deal as well.
I scheduled an ad to run the day of the event and invited my entire friends list.
The day of the party I made announcements on my FB page, asked my friends to share it with their friends. I also announced it on Twitter, and invited everyone from all the eloops I’m on.
Pamela: You mention buying an ad on Facebook and that you were able to target certain age groups of women. Can you elaborate on that?
you schedule a FB ad, you are given the option of narrowing your target
audience by gender, age groups, and interest. I targeted women between the ages
of 20-60. There are other tweaks I used to narrow the field. You can see the options
when you set up the ad.
Pamela: You also said on a loop we’re on together that you earned credits on the cost of the ad. How did you do that?
Sharon: When I reached 350 likes on my page they gave me a coupon for $50.00 in advertising, and I used that. I only spent half the budget, which goes along with what other authors told me. They buy a $25.00 ad for their party, and I will follow their example next time. When you create the ad, you set a budget for the campaign, and every time someone clicks on the ad, it costs a few cents.
Pamela: I’m not sure I understand. Are you saying that you had to pay more money in addition to what you paid for the ad each time a person clicked on the ad? Is there a budget set so that when you reach the amount you set, no one else can click on it?
Sharon: No, the $50.00 was my budget for the ad. Each time someone clicked on the ad, it deducted money from the 50.00. Since I did not use the entire 50.00, I don't know what happens. It works similar to Ebay. You set the amount you want to pay and they don't go over it.
Pamela: Thanks for clearing that up. You say you scheduled three hours. Was the pace heightened throughout all three hours or was most of it in the middle three?
Sharon: The party started at 6:00 p.m. central, and it was like an explosion. By 6:15, I was typing too fast to worry about spelling. J The pace did not begin to slack off until about the two-hour mark. Even then, it was still furious enough to keep me in the seat without a break. At 9:15, I finally pushed everyone out the “door” and logged off. I needed a drink of water and the little writer’s room.
Pamela: Wow, that must have been wild. What do you feel worked and what would you change?
Sharon: Prizes are always well received. The partygoers seemed to enjoy the guest authors as well. The guest authors also turned out to be the very best thing I did for myself. One of them had done this sort of party, and if it hadn’t been for her help during that first hour, I would have been seriously overwhelmed.
Which brings us to the first thing I would change. If (when) I do this again, I will enlist a buddy for the whole time. The author who helped me the other night helped field the questions and comments, while I uploaded prize pictures. She was a God-send. Definitely team up. Throw your party with another author or two and then return the favor when they throw theirs.
Change two. Three hours was too long, especially if you are on your own. Two hours would have been a great length.
Change three. I wouldn’t send the invitations a month out. People get busy, people forget. Next time I’ll invite my friends about 10 days out.
Change four. I'd use Hootsuite to schedule excerpts, pictures of my prizes, and maybe even a conversation starter question or two. That way, I wouldn't have to leave the party to go find them and get them up when it was time.
Pamela: I've heard a lot of good things about Hootshuite and I'm going to have to check into that site. Thanks so much Sharon. You’ve got me thinking about doing a Facebook book release party myself. I’ll be interested to hear the long-term results in the way of book sales.
Have any of you done a similar thing with your book releases? If so, please share your tips and what worked and didn’t work in the comments.
Sharon Srock lives with her husband, Larry, and two dogs in Rural Oklahoma. She is a mother, grandmother, and Sunday School teacher. Sharon has one and three-quarters jobs and writes in her spare time. Her favorite hobby is traveling with her grandchildren. She is a member of the ACFW and currently serves as treasurer for her local chapter. Sharon’s debut novel, The Women of Valley View: Callie released in October 2012. The second in the series, The Women of Valley View: Terri has just released.