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How to set up and run a successful Facebook party for novelists

imagesHow to set up and run a successful Facebook party for Novelists
By c. 2014 Beth Barany

What is the Facebook party and why would you want one?

Over the last six months or so I have seen authors use Facebook parties to promote their novels. I have participated in several of these parties too, and found them a really fun way to connect with new readers.

What is a Facebook Party: A Facebook party is organized as an event via your Facebook page. By creating an event via your Facebook page, you have a specific place to invite your friends and fans to, and to share, and to ask others to share.

The benefit of organizing a party on Facebook is that your readers are most likely on Facebook. Go where your readers are.

The goal of the Facebook party is to generate excitement, connect with readers, and ideally, make sales. Most writers use Facebook parties to launch their book. You can launch your book via Facebook right when the book comes out, or you can launch your book months later. It depends on your situation. If you are a traditionally published author, it makes sense to launch your book on or near publication day. If you’re an independent author you can launch your book whenever you want.

As an example my young adult fantasy novel Henrietta and the Dragon Stone (Book 2 of The Five Kingdom series) was published at the end of January 2014. I am an independently published author so I have run multiple launch events for this book. I ran a blog tour in January and February and now recently did a Facebook launch party in June on my birthday. I choose June because it’s my birthday month and I have a lot of excitement around that time. I like to give things away on my birthday.

Here are tips to run a successful Facebook party for your book.

1. Length of time: Most Facebook parties are run on one day. I’ve seen parties that run from 9 am to 9 pm Pacific (12 noon to 12 midnight Eastern). I think that’s a bit long. I ran my party from 2 pm to 6 pm Pacific (5 pm to 9 pm Eastern), only four hours. I like that short amount of time because that allowed most of my guests to participate the whole time.

2. Have special guests:  what makes this party so much fun is that you don’t do it alone. By that I mean you get special guests—other authors—to come to your party and also give away prizes. In the several Facebook parties that I participated in I was asked as a guest. I was there to celebrate that author’s new release and also to offer a giveaway, usually an e-book copy of one of my books that related in some way to the authors book.

As an example, I participated in Virna DePaul’s launch party in December 2013 and so there it was appropriate to give away one of my romances. If you write in multiple genres make sure that what you offer as a giveaway gift is attractive to the author’s readers.

At the recent party I ran in June I had an author who gave away a book that wasn’t a young adult fantasy like my book, and like the other guests’ giveaway. It did not generate as much interest as the other gifts for my other guests. So you want your special guests to be in the same or similar genre as you.

How many special guests should you have? I’ve noticed that 8 to 10 guests is a good number. But it will depend on how many you can manage.

At my party, I gave my authors 20-minute time slots. I asked them to show up at an appointed time. For 20 minutes they got the stage, so to speak. I asked them to promote their book with a short blurb, post an Amazon link to their book, and then ask a question to the readers to provoke conversation. This generated interaction with the author and hopefully interest in their book. After the party, we picked a winner amongst those who commented.

I gave my guests the template of what they could say during their time, which is what I just shared above. That way they could write their text ahead of time, then copy and paste it, and thereby put their focus on interacting with readers.

How to choose your guests: Since I write young adult fantasy and I’m independently published author, many of the guests I invited were also independently published young adult fantasy authors.

The benefit of having guests at your party is that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Also they will promote the party to their fans and readers and more people will get to know about you, and your fans will get to know about them.

3. Prizes: In the Facebook parties I have participated in I’ve seen lots of different kinds of prizes. Some authors give away e-book copies of their novels. Other authors give away print editions. If you give away print editions, you’ll want to specify if you’ll mail in United States, to Canada, and/or internationally. Some authors gave away gift cards. And still some authors give away special items like jewelry or tchotchkes.

As the main author as the host of this party you want to give away the most prizes. It’s your party. At a recent Facebook party that I went to as a reader-fan. I saw that the author had a Rafflecopter.com giveaway for all kinds of prizes. I did this as well during my Facebook party. Rafflecopter is a wonderful tool in which you can invite people to enter the giveaway by joining you in various ways in social media and by joining your list and your blog.

4. Planning: I planned my Facebook party in about 3 to 4 weeks. First I asked my special guests if they could join in and offer a giveaway. Then I had my designer create a banner for the event page. I also asked my guests which book they wanted to giveaway and I asked them this ahead of time. I develop the schedule for the event, planning to post something every 20 minutes. So either I posted something or my guests did. My general schedule was that once an hour I would post a special giveaway. So not only did I promote my Rafflecopter giveaway, but I came up with some fun other prizes, like asking people if they wanted bookmarks and having them send me their address, and giving away a free prequel to my series. I also did a very special giveaway where I asked people to buy my book, either one of the books in the fantasy series, send me their receipt, and then I would pick a winner who got to choose the character name in book 3 that I’m writing next.

5. Marketing: What I noticed what works is to promote the Facebook party 5 to 7 days before it happens. By that I mean promote it on Facebook to your larger community and to your Facebook groups. Also remember to promote it on your blog and if you have a newsletter promote it there too. What I notice if you promote your Facebook party too far in advance then people forget about it. But you may have your own promotion cycle that works for you. One of the other ways that you can promote this event is to highlight your special guest authors one at a time. My author Liz Adams did this quite nicely. Every day for eight days before her Facebook party she highlighted one of her eight guests. What this did is that each guest in turn had an opportunity to forward these Facebook messages to their community, calling attention to themselves, the party, and Liz Adams.

6. During the event: As an author it is really fun to host the Facebook party if you like being a party host. Quite like being the host in real life, you are the one that keeps the energy high. You can also hire a company to run a Facebook party for you. I know many authors who have done this. That way you can focus on interacting with your guests, both your special guests and your Facebook friends and readers to come to celebrate with you. I really enjoyed being a host of my own Facebook party. I did notice though that I was glued to the computer for practically four hours straight and that was tough. How I handled that was I just posted in the party that I was taking a little break. That’s really about managing my energy as the author. And that’s something you want to think about. I did have an assistant who helped me with some things behind the scenes, and that was very helpful. Next time it would be nice to have a tech assistant because I had some authors who were having some tech issues posting. It would have been nice to have delegated this action so I can stay focused on the party.

7. Party follow up: The next day, or a few days after the party, choose the winners of all the giveaways and notify the winners. Also send thank you notes to all your special guests, all the authors who participated in the giveaway. You can automate some of the follow-up. We have the winners enter their information in the form. I also prepared ahead of time by writing templates for the thank you notes and the giveaway notifications. I tailored these to each person when I sent them. Another piece of follow-up is to celebrate the results. In my recent Facebook party since it was on my birthday and I asked people to buy my books for my birthday I got to celebrate that my book Henrietta and the Dragon stone hit the bestsellers list. I shared screenshots on Facebook and on my blog and also in my newsletter. People like to know good news. I also got feedback from my special guests who said that they had a really good time. In my book that’s what counts.  I want my book promotions to be fun for me and for those who play with me.

8. Measure your success: If you want to track your success of your Facebook party, then here are a few things you can do. Before your party, decide what is the measure of success. For some that’s social media growth or sales. For others, it’s about having a good tome interacting with their community of current and new readers. I tracked my success in terms of all three. I increased my social media; I sold books; and I have a good time and so did my guest authors.

A Facebook party is a great way to celebrate your book. It’s an opportunity to put attention on what you’ve created and published. And it’s an opportunity for your community to celebrate with you. For readers it’s a great way to get to know authors and have some one on one interaction with them. And for your fellow authors to participate as guests in your party it’s a great way to build community and cross-pollinate your readership.

Readers love to read and connect with authors. Authors can join together to connect with readers and celebrate their books. In a Facebook party, you can. Have fun!

Beth-Barany_360by270-croppedABOUT THE AUTHOR
Based in Oakland, California, Beth Barany is an award-winning novelist, creativity coach for writers, and book production shepherd. With her coaching, consulting, and teaching programs, she helps novelists write, publish and market their books. Along with her husband, bestselling novelist, Ezra Barany, they help authors of all kinds produce their books and get them published on Amazon, iTunes, and Barnes & Noble in e-book and print format. She offers a complimentary Discovery session to authors curious about getting support from her. Be sure to sign up for that because appointments fill up fast. More about Beth and her products and services at http://www.BethBarany.com. In her free time, Beth enjoys practicing capoeira, traveling, playing with her cats, and watching movies with her husband.

 

 

 

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