If you’ve never attended an online event, they are a lot of fun. This blog will explain step-by-step how to set up a book release party on Facebook.
BEFORE THE EVENT
1) Decide on your budget – you have to give away prizes, swag, books, gift cards, and don’t forget to include postage for anything you have to mail.
2) Choose a date (that’s not a holiday or major sporting event) and a two-hour block of time for your event. When you promote it, don’t forget to add the time zone (example: 7-9pm Eastern). Monday and Thursday nights usually work pretty well.
3) Decide if you’re going to give away your book. The whole reason for the party is to sell your book, so giving it away seems a little counter-productive. Perhaps you could give only one copy away in the grand prize.
Go to Facebook and “Create an Event.” On the left side of your Facebook newsfeed page is a button called “Create Event.” Click on it and when the pop-up box appears, look at the top and make sure it is set to “public event.” You cannot change it later.
Add the date and time. Under “Where” state clearly that the event will take place “Right here on this page!” People get confused when they’re invited to a party and it’s actually taking place online. You can’t emphasize enough that the party is “RIGHT HERE ON THIS PAGE!!!”
Once you have the event page, you can upload a picture for the top banner.
Now, invite all of your Facebook friends. Some people will not respond to the invitation because they just don’t see it, so copy the link at the top of the event page and post it on your Facebook page. You will have to do this a few time and more frequently as the date approaches. Promote the event everywhere. Your blog and Twitter followers can also attend. Post the page link anywhere you want.
NOW, IT’S TIME TO PUT TOGETHER A GREAT PARTY!
We will use the above example of 7-9pm Eastern to explain the exact details. The party moves amazingly fast, so write a script in Word so you can copy and paste it onto Facebook at the exact times you want to. You’ll also want to take photos of your prizes and anything else you want to show. Have them ready to go on your computer to upload. Make your party questions things that everyone can participate in. Your script will look something like this:
7:01 Hi, everyone! Thank you for coming to the GREEN EGGS AND HAM Release Party. We are going to have a lot of fun and give away some great prizes, including the grand prize of a swag bag, a signed copy of GREEN EGGS AND HAM, and a $25 Amazon Gift Card. We will get started in a moment.
7:05 Hi to everyone who just joined us! Thanks for coming. If you have any question about GREEN EGGS AND HAM or about writing in general, fire away. I’ll answer questions as they’re posted. Now, let’s get started…
7:06 Question #1 for Prize #1 – a swag bag and a lovely green ceramic egg. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:20. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam I Am had a name that rhymed. If your name rhymed, what would it be?
7:10 (post photo of the ceramic egg) Here’s the green ceramic egg we’re giving away right now.
7:15 (post photo of the book) Here’s the cover of my new book GREEN EGGS AND HAM.
7:20 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select a winner…
7:21 And the winner of Prize #1 is John Doe. Please send your mailing address to Sam@greeneggsandham.com. Congratulations!
7:24 Question #2 for Prize #2 – a swag bag and a $5 Amazon Gift Card. A winner will be chosen from the comments at 7:35. — In GREEN EGGS AND HAM, Sam didn’t like green eggs and ham until he tried them. What food did you not like until you tried it?
7:28 (post picture of prize #2)
7:31 (post picture of something that inspired the story)
7:35 Okay, comments are closed. One moment while we select the winner….
Question #3, picture of prize #3, picture of something else, close comments, announce winner, Question #4, picture of prize #4, repeat and so on and so forth.
Give away prizes at 7:20, 7:35, 7:50, 8:05, 8:20, 8:35, and 8:50. The 8:58 grand prize should be offered to all attendees and chosen from all comments.
In total, you will need seven questions and eight prizes, because the grand prize doesn’t require a question. You will also need eight pictures of prizes and probably eight pictures of your cover or inspiration to fill the time. If you correspond the question # and the prize picture, you’ll be able to upload pictures quickly. Question #1 goes with prize picture #1, etc. Trust me, you won’t have time to look for it.
Before you sit down for the event, get yourself something to drink and have a good clock nearby to keep an eye on the time. It’s good to have a friend stay with you. They can pick the winners for you, help keep an eye on time, and they can run and refill your coffee cup. You’re going to be too busy to move for two hours!
The day of the event, repeatedly post the link on your Facebook page like a countdown. Post in the morning, again at mid-day, 2 hours before, 1 hour before, 30 minutes before, 5 minutes before. (If you have multiple pages, post on all of them. Also post on Twitter, your blog, your website, everywhere.)
Ask questions revolving around your book that anyone can answer, relating a little about the story or characters, but not confusing people, because they more than likely have not read the book yet.
If you see someone come in midway through the party, comment “If you’re just joining us, we’re on Question #4. Please jump in.” Some of your author friends may stop in for a few minutes to support you. Don’t be surprised if they don’t participate. They don’t want to steal your thunder. If you have time, say hi to them publicly, telling your friends, family, and readers that Jane Doe, author of XYZ, is in the room. The general public loves to know that we’re friends with other authors.
Post photos about things that are relate to the prize or the book. If your book takes place in a castle or on a beach, post a photo that “inspired” the location. If your book takes place in a certain time in history, post a photo of that era. One or two photos between questions is plenty. The last half hour, you’ll be commenting and answering questions, so you probably won’t need the photos, but they’re good to have on hand if you do need them to fill time.
Respond to funny comments. Like EVERY comment. Even a smiley face lets everyone know you’re paying attention to them.
About 8:30, your crowd will get a little quiet as two hours is a long time to pay attention. This is the perfect time to advertise a second chance at a $25 Amazon Gift Card by going to your website and signing up for your newsletter, or mention what is happening on your book tour tomorrow, or where you’ll be signing books next week. You have a captive audience. Use it.
ONE MINOR ISSUE:
On Facebook, the last comment on any particular post sends that post to the top of the page, so wait for a couple minutes for everyone to say congratulations to the last winner before posting the next question. You don’t want your next question to get lost in the shuffle. Make it clear what you are posting. Example: “Question #3:” or “The Winner of Question #4 is:”
After the final question, post “We have a few more minutes to answer questions, and at 8:58 we’ll announce the grand prize winner.” Your crowd will again come to life after the last question, and answering their questions becomes a free-for-all. Be warned, their questions will be very few at first, but will snowball toward the end.
An easy way to answer questions it to copy the person’s name and question, add the word “asked” after their name, and create a new post so everyone can see it. Example: Bob Jones Why are the eggs green? – Make it: Bob Jones asked Why are the eggs green? ANSWER: You’ll have to read the book and find out.
At 8:59, thank everyone for coming and POST A LINK to where they can buy GREEN EGGS AND HAM. Have this link ready in your Word document so you can copy and paste it. You don’t want your guests to leave before you’ve posted it.
At 9:00, re-invite them to the book signing or webpage that you told them about earlier. Post link to website or location.
Go back to your Facebook, Twitter, blog announcements where you invited people and add a comment: “If you didn’t make the Book Release Party, you can still click on the link and see all the fun we had. The posts will be out of order, as the last one to get a comment automatically moves to the top, but visit anyway!”
Post-promote on Twitter, Facebook, your website, etc., telling everyone what fun you had and invite them to check it out. You’ll still get likes and comments for a few days.
Mail your prizes! WHEW!!
Lori Crane is a bestselling and award-winning author of historical fiction and the occasional thriller. Her books have climbed to the Kindle Top 100 lists many times, including “Elly Hays” which debuted at #1 in Native American stories. She has also enjoyed a place among her peers in the Top 100 historical fiction authors on Amazon, climbing to #23. She resides in greater Nashville and is a professional musician by night – an indie author by day.