HOW TO: Throw a Successful Facebook Book Launch (even when you have the flu)

HOW TO:

 

Throw a Successful Facebook Book Launch (even when you have the flu.)

 

By

 

Pamela DuMond

 Dumond

 

I’m an Indie author and I don’t plan these events months in advance. I also do not schedule a book launch event for 12 hours or two days. The reason? Every time I receive one of these sorts of invites—I cringe.

 

‘But, Pamela,” you say. ‘There are 20 authors supporting this book launch and we all get to take an hour and explain how our books are important, the lead author’s new book is super important and then we field questions about our books etc. Why would you not want to click the ‘Yes-I’m-attending Button’ and support our auspicious event?”

 

Because a 12 to 24 hour book launch sounds… DAUNTING. I have a life. My readers have a life. Then guilt creeps in and I wonder if I should hit the ‘Maybe’ button, which basically translates to  ‘No— but I don’t want to hurt your feelings.’  Ack!

 

So, instead I pick a date and block out two to three hours and create a Facebook Event Page. I named it something festive like a — Cocktail Party.

 

I write a fun description based on my book.

 

Part-time Princess: Hold tight to your tiara! Stop by and have some fun with other readers, writers, artists, musicians and wacky folks. There’s plenty of royal bling to be given away. Enter a photo of Who-Looks-Best in the Tiara Contest (You can enter ahead of time.) Issue your Royal edict. Virtual snackies, cocktails, champagne will be served.

 

I invited people on my regular FB page when suddenly Facebook schooled me. I discovered that as of August, 2014, FB has capped the number of folks you can invite. So DON’T invite everyone. Only those you think might actually be interested.

 

I ask my author friends to participate and post links and descriptions of their new books. The more the merrier. It’s a ‘cocktail party.’ It’s not a mandatory college lecture. I start posting links and comments, images, etc. to my Event Page ahead of time. I included my book’s description and a link to my book on Amazon.

 

Consider the ‘THEME’ of your book and fashion a party around that. Part-time Princess has a ‘royal’ theme so I wrote up a couple of royal quizzes for folks to answer via multiple choice. These included questions about the movie The Princess Bride, notorious female royals in history and even trivia about Princess Grace of Monaco. I bought inexpensive princessy bling to award the winners of the various contests.

 

Michael James Canales of http://www.mjcimageworks.com created a Part-time Princess Royal name Generator for me.

 

Crossing the SPAM line

PJ Nunn

PJ Nunn

I read yet another announcement on Facebook this morning that said, essentially, I don’t care if your book is an Amazon bestseller, or if it’s been selected for reading by some book group I may or may not have ever known, if you keep posting advertising in this group I will NEVER read your book and I suspect I’m not alone in feeling like this.

We’ve all seen similar posts and maybe have posted similar posts. I hadn’t had coffee yet, but it set my mind whirling. Most marketing experts tell authors to be more active in social media, to tweet their hearts out and make sure they’re posting regularly. And honestly, what is advertising but putting your product information out in venues where it’s likely to be seen by potential buyers?

If I subscribe to a cooking magazine and sit down to read it when it arrives, I shouldn’t be surprised to find advertising in it that is somehow related to food. It’s expected, actually. I may not know the company that’s doing the advertising. In fact, I probably will come across quite a few products that I never knew anything about until I saw it there. I think that’s the point. Whether I like it or not, or will buy it or not, that’s a different story.

If you ask some people what crosses the line from discussing or introducing a book to spamville, the consensus is often whether the poster is known to the group in which he or she is posting. At first thought, that seems logical to most and heads will nod. But can you give me a comparison from general marketing guidelines? Where are the rules?

If you’re talking about groups to join on Facebook or LinkedIn or wherever, maybe that could be compared to those rare occasions when you get to watch a television movie with “no commercial interruptions”. I’m not saying spam is ok. I can get annoyed as anyone when that typical BUY MY BOOK tweet interrupts my feed for the umpteenth time and, no, I probably will not go buy the book.

Society is bereft of the manners with which I was raised oh so long ago, so I shouldn’t be surprised when some trample over any semblance of etiquette in social media situations. But I admit as a publicist I do feel a twinge of regret that this person wants very badly to see his or her book succeed and it’s too bad that he or she is going about it in the wrong way. I’d like to think that if we ranted less and offered well placed advice more, there might slowly be change. But then few take unsolicited advice to heart and I don’t blame anyone for not wanting to stick their necks out. Pearls before swine, as it were.

What are your thoughts? When does ill-advised attempts at advertising cross the line to spam?

Off to find that missing coffee…

Hudson Valley Writers Guild Marketing Panel

 

M.E. Kemp

M.E. Kemp

M.E.Kemp was born in 1636, Salem, MA – no, that’s not quite right.  The first baby in the family was born then.  Kemp’s ancestors settled in Oxford, MA in 1713, the founding of the town by the English after a Huguenot community evacuated following an Indian attack.  Her roots, her Grandmother’s family tales about the Civil War and her father’s love of American history influenced her to set her mysteries in the Boston area, rather than the myriad books set in medieval Britain.  American history is just as bloody and colorful, she believes.  Her detectives are two nosy Puritans, since Puritans were supposed to keep track of their neighbor’s doings.  Nosy makes a good detective. She has five books out and is at work on #6.  Check her out on her website: mekempmysteries.com; or on facebook under Marilyn Rothstein.

 

Marketing Panel – Hudson Valley Writers Guild

A panel consisting of poet Dan Wilcox, self-publisher Barbara Traynor, mystery writer M.E.Kemp and newpaper critic/reviewer Elizabeth Floyd Mair addressed the issue of marketing in “Selling Your Words,” held at a local library.  Moderator M.E. Kemp started off by recalling her first writers conference where a mid-list publisher stressed in no uncertain terms that writers must sell their work themselves, not to depend upon the publisher.  “Shy people need not apply,” she stressed – although today’s technologies allow more marketing efforts behind a screen.

Poet Dan Wilcox said he’d had some early success by joining with two other poets in readings as “Three Guys From Albany.”  Giving readings is the main way for poets to market their work.  Wilcox arranged with the local Social Justice Center to give a series of readings by local poets once a month, with open mic to follow.  My granddaughter Betty Rothstein recently read her own translations of contemporary Russian poets, including some of her poetry in Russian and in English.  (Betty majored in Russian studies.)  Wilcox said there is a strong audience for poetry in the upstate New York area.

Barbara Traynor’s book on self-publishing has gone through two editions.  One of the ways she markets herself is to contract with newspapers for articles as she travels across the country in search of warmer weather during the winters in upstate.  Traynor plans well ahead of time for this trip for her marketing campaigns.  She gave the audience a sample of her time-lines.

M. E. Kemp stood up to reveal one of her marketing tools – a black tee with the cover of her latest book in bright colors on the front.  She suggested that writers find a special niche market for their books.  Since she writes historical mysteries set in and around the Boston area, she speaks to historical societies, book clubs and libraries with a special talk offered on the Salem Witch Trials – always a selling topic.  She is also a member of the Sisters in Crime/New England speakers bureau, as well as setting up writing conferences for the Hudson Valley Writers Guild.

Elizabeth Floyd Mair gave some practical advice on how to approach newspapers for a review.  Writers should always include a press release in their packet, making it clear with personal info who you are, a local connection to the paper and a good summary of the book in the release so the reviewer can judge whether it’s a book they might like to review.

Key speaker for the conference was Frankie Y. Bailey, Professor of Criminal Justice at the local university and author of two series of mysteries, including a new police procedural set in the future in Albany, NY.  Bailey gave a very funny anecdote about how she came up with the subject off the top of her head while speaking to her publisher. Bailey brought a pile of books on marketing but she recommended only one, the old stand-by WRITERS DIGEST.  She advised writers to find their “purple cow,” the one that stands out in the field.

Selling Your Novel to Readers – A Malice Domestic Report by Catherine Dilts

CatherineDilts_authorphoto_2-blog

 

When I attended the traditional mystery convention Malice Domestic this May, I had to overcome my reluctance to push my book. I’m an introvert, with a wide streak of shy. Schmoozing with strangers is my idea of torture.

Many authors seem to thrive on social media and self-promotion. Not me. My career path never even veered close to sales. That alien territory is fraught with rejection. I will admit I have sold quite a few Girl Scout cookies in my day, but seriously, those Thin Mints sell themselves.

Before my book came out, I did some research on book promotion. I hoped to discover a magic formula for what worked and what didn’t. There is no formula. Whether your novel is traditionally published, like mine, or indie, the correct approach to selling that book is as individual as the author. All promotion involves time, effort, and a bit of luck.

 

Here are some helpful hints I picked up on my journey:

  1. Don’t wear heels if you’re a sneakers kind of person. Find what you’re comfortable with, and don’t force yourself to spend time on promotional 05-01-14_sign-blogefforts you really hate. In my case, with a demanding day job, time is very limited. I focus my energy on my website and blog, Goodreads, and a few carefully selected in-person events.
  2. Not everyone likes Thin Mints. Don’t take rejection of your book personally. Focus on selling to your audience. At a book event, a woman glanced at the cover of my murder mystery, and declared she never read anything negative. Ouch! I smiled and nodded as I considered creative ways to do away with rude people. In a fictional manner, of course. I’ve had plenty more people tell me they love mysteries. There’s a market!
  3. Readers want you to succeed. The most important thing I learned at Malice Domestic is that readers have voracious appetites for fiction, and are excited to make new discoveries.
  4. Can you make a career off one novel? Harper Lee did it with To Kill A Mockingbird. But I’ve seen more success among authors, in any genre, who keep the good stories coming.
  5. Don’t stop writing because you’re promoting your new release. Keep working on your next story!

Conferences are good places to gain exposure to potential readers. I went to Malice Domestic because the focus is on the traditional mystery, cozies, and amateur sleuth novels. The conference offered authors multiple opportunities to pitch their novels to readers of murder mysteries.

The first morning, I sat in on Malice-Go-Round, an intense session where authors circulate around the room giving two-minute pitches at dozens of tables. I congratulated myself for not signing up for the frenetic event. I would have been in a straight jacket by the end.

Then the woman sitting next to me leaned over and said, “I can go home now.”

I needed clarification. She explained that this was what she came for every year. She was kidding about leaving. She would stay the entire weekend, but Malice-Go-Round was the highlight. I noticed readers scribbling notes as authors gave their two-minute pitches. People were making purchasing decisions, some for libraries.

I did sign up for the New Author Breakfast. Dozens of authors gave timed pitches to the entire room. I was still a nervous wreck, but at least it was over quickly. A hint to new authors – try to sit near an exit for that last minute dash to the facilities for cases of nervous tummy. Just sayin’.

The panel was where I really hit my stride. The focus was on my novel and my writing process, not me. I wasn’t alone. Three other authors participated in a panel on the topic of regional settings. The audience was lively, and seemed eager to find a new series or author.

Lessons learned?

  • Find the promotional methods that work for you.
  • Focus on your audience.
  • Feed your readers’ appetites with new stories.

 

You might have to step out of your comfort zone to reach your readers. That doesn’t mean you need to tackle all forms of social media, public speaking, or other means of publicity. Genre-specific conventions like Malice Domestic are a great way to promote your novel to a receptive audience.

 

Links:

1)      Malice Domestic – http://www.malicedomestic.org/

2)      Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/

3)      For more one hit novel wonders – http://listverse.com/2008/02/07/top-10-literary-one-hit-wonders/

4)      Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery : Amazon – http://amzn.to/18R60gQ

Tattered Cover independent bookstore – http://bit.ly/IC97SG Barnes and Noble – http://bit.ly/1bFVaQz

 

 

Biography:StoneColdDeadFront_blog

Catherine Dilts writes amateur sleuth mysteries set in the Colorado mountains. In her debut novel Stone Cold Dead – A Rock Shop Mystery, business is as dead as a dinosaur, but when Morgan Iverson finds the body of a Goth teen on a hiking trail, more than just the family rock shop could become extinct. Catherine works as an environmental scientist, and plays at heirloom vegetable gardening, camping, and fishing. Her short fiction appears in Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine. Visit her at http://www.catherinedilts.com/

On the Road: Face-to-Face in a Virtual World by Jenny Milchman

Jenny_Milchman_WebWhen my second novel came out in April, I set out with my family on a 4 month/20,000 mile journey.

 

Maybe I should back up a bit. Like, all the way to our home in New Jersey.

 

Today a writer can feel like she needs to be everywhere at once. And I do mean everywhere—the internet gives us the power to be not just in everyone’s living room, but in their purses and back pockets on tablets and cell phones. Twitter, Facebook, blogs, Pinterest…where’s a writer to go?

 

I’d like to shine a light on a place that’s getting a little less emphasis these days. Perhaps because it’s only one place, or at least one place at a time. I’m talking about real time, live, physical sights (not websites) where writers connect with readers face-to-face.

 

Last year my first novel came out after a thirteen year struggle to publication. Since the only thing harder than breaking in as a debut is building a CoverOfSnowlong-lasting career as a writer, both my husband and I knew that we would have to give this thing our all. So we did the only logical thing. We rented out our house, traded in two cars for an SUV that could handle Denver in February, and withdrew our kids from first and third grades.

 

OK, maybe it wasn’t so logical. But once we’d done all of that, we then hit the road, car-schooling the kids, husband working from the front seat, while I visited nearly 500 bookstores, libraries, schools, and book clubs. All told, we covered seven months and 35,000 miles.

 

The question I get asked most often is whether it was worth it.

 

It’s a difficult question to answer because it comes down to what worth it means in terms of launching a writing career. Did we sell a lot of books at every stop? No, definitely not. But we knew from the outset that this was going to be less about selling books, and more about building relationships.

 

Booksellers receive hundreds or thousands of Advance Reading Copies. They can’t possibly read them all. By going to the bookstore, I added to the work my publisher’s reps were doing of putting a book by an unknown author on the radar. 60-70% of the reading public browse in bookstores. That’s a lot of potential fans. And no matter how an event went, I would hear from booksellers weeks and even months later about a copy they had just hand sold to a person they knew would enjoy it.

 

The other question I hear is, “But what if I don’t have 7 months? Or 7 weeks for that matter?” My answer to that is: Don’t worry. The power of the face-to-face can be mined in 7 days. Or in a weekend. What I love about doing events is that it’s additive, and you can start with one.

 

jenny at book signingPlan an event at your local bookstore, which won’t even require missing a day of work. Take a weekend road trip, making it a working vacation. Draw a radius around your hometown, and identify bookstores within it. If setting up the events seems difficult, consider working with an independent publicity firm. In this way I was able to get booked at some places that had established attendee lists, allowing me that rare author experience of walking into a crowded room.

 

You can also move beyond bookstores when planning events. Libraries, book clubs, and schools are all fairly ready options. But you can get more creative than that. Perhaps you write historical novels? Research genealogical societies that might like to host you. Or maybe you write cozies? Craft shops, cooking classes, and rescue clinics are all possible places to encounter potential readers. A little advance preparation can shine a light on both your work and a local business or charitable organization.

 

There is a power to meeting your readers face-to-face. I found that as much as I enjoy communing with people virtually, another sort of connection grows when that relationship is lifted to real time. I met people on the road whom I now consider friends. I can’t wait to meet them next time.

 

That’s right, I did say next time. Because with my second novel about to come out, we are set to hit the road all over again. And I hope to see you RuinFalls_Websomewhere along the way!

 

Jenny Milchman’s journey to publication took thirteen years, after which she hit the road for seven months with her family on what Shelf Awareness called “the world’s longest book tour”. Her debut novel, Cover of Snow, was chosen as an Indie Next and Target Pick, reviewed in the New York Times and San Francisco Journal of Books, won the Mary Higgins Clark award, and is nominated for a Barry. Jenny is also the founder of Take Your Child to a Bookstore Day and chair of International Thriller Writers’ Debut Authors Program. Jenny’s second novel, Ruin Falls, just came out and she and her family are back on the road. http://www.jennymilchman.com/ 

 

 

Do I Really Need a Website if I have a Facebook Page?

There are lots of opinions on this topic, but if I had to pick just one of the two, I’d still pick a website – with qualifications.

First, look at what they are. A Facebook page is a social media networking platform. It consists largely of a place to share news, announcements, photos, gossip, you name it – it’s out there. It can be as casual or as professional as you like. I strongly recommend that if you have a Facebook page, you create one for personal use and an author page for professional use and you try not to mingle the two together too much. Maybe that seems like overkill today, but the more people who read your books and follow your pages, the more important it becomes to keep your private information private. As much as we don’t like to think about it, there are people out there who are a little unbalanced and you don’t want to be sharing pictures of your grandkids with them.

A website, on the other hand, is a more “fixed” platform. I work with journalists every day and while they do look at your Facebook page, they also go straight for your website to see if you’ve posted press information there. As you probably know, journalists often work around the clock and on deadline. If they’re working on a story and can’t find the info they need, they’ll find it elsewhere. Your website is the first impression you’ll make on a lot of people. The good news is, there are no rewrites in real life, but you can work and rework the content on your website until it really shines.

In both instances, I come across pages that look professional and even more that don’t. As with any area of business, find out what you’re good at and staff your weakness. Your brand and your professional appearance are NOT the place to cut corners and save money. With all the freebies available today, it’s tempting and I know few writers are independently wealthy, but if every time someone checks you out online they find information that looks more DIY (do it yourself) than professional, that’s exactly how they’ll think of you.

We all want to know and do business with people who are on the road to success. Maybe you’re not there yet, but you need to look like you’re the person you want to be. An author who shows up in shorts and flip flops may be a fun person and a great writer, but the impression is probably someone who isn’t that serious about his or her professional appearance.

Take some time and do a search for author websites. Don’t just look at one, look at several and keep an objective eye. It’s best to look at authors you don’t know personally and visit a few pages on their sites.

  • What do you like?
  • What don’t you like?
  • Do you find any typos?
  • Is the information up to date?
  • Do you find information there that would be helpful if a journalist was writing up a quick article to announce an upcoming event?
  • Is there something missing?
  • What could be done to improve the site?

Once you’ve visited a few, go back and look at your own site. Do you think it gives the impression of you and your work that you want it to?

If you use Facebook and/or Twitter, visit some author pages there and see what kind of impression they make. Do they post things that would be of interest to their readers? Do they include a variety of photos and links that are in good taste?

Usually the best gauge of what any of your pages should be is what interests you, and what works for others. We all have different tastes and opinions, but if you’re drawn to particular posts and pages, chances are similar posts and pages will work for you.

Don’t hesitate to ask trusted friends for their thoughts, but also get input from others within the writing industry. Most of my family have no idea what works on webpages and FB for writers, but other writers should have some good ideas. Good luck with your project!

Tips for promoting a series by Vickie Britton

Tips for Promoting a Series

 

Promoting a series must be approached a bit differently from promoting a single title.  Because authors have more than one book to sell, they must make it tempting for the reader to sample the series and go on reading.

 

Naming a Series

 

Some series have a uniting name.  For example, our series set in Wyoming is called “The High Country Mystery Series.”  Giving the series a name helps to define the series and establish recognition. The concept of branding and name recognition helps sell books.  It is easier for people to ask, “Have you read ‘The High Country Mystery Series?’” than to remember numerous titles.

 

However, if an author or publisher chooses to name the series, then that name should be on all the book covers and also on promotional material.  Otherwise, sales may be lost if an interested reader “Googles” the series name and no title to order shows up on the search engine.  It also helps when promoting to mention not only the series name but to list the first three books in the series, whenever possible.

 

Offering a Free or 99c Short Story

 

Everyone likes a free gift.  A good way to draw new readers into a series is to offer a free short story or group of short stories that have the same lead character and setting as the series.  If readers sample and like the free short story, then they may be tempted to purchase one of the books.

 

A free short story can be offered on Smashwords by keeping it free permanently or by giving it a price and then offering a special discount code.  (We are currently offering the short story A Horse in the Corner  for free on Smashwords to introduce readers to our series character.

 

If rights aren’t obligated elsewhere, a free short story can also be posted on a blog or web page with links to ordering related books.

 

If the story is enrolled in KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) Select, it can be given a regular price and then and offered for free for five days every ninety-day enrollment period, or the price can be permanently set for 99c.  (If going this route, the story must be published exclusively with Amazon Kindle, and so this works best if all the books in the series are also available on Kindle or enrolled in KDP Select.)  We offer another short story related to our series, Loyalty for 99c on KDP.

 

The key to success is to make sure the free story reaches the same readership as the books.  Always provide links to the books if possible to make them easier for readers to find.  If readers can’t order a book quickly and easily, you might lose them.

 

 HorseintheCorner

 

 

 Loyalty

 

 

 

 

Discounting the First Book

 

Series writers want to encourage readers to start with the first of their series and read through to the end.  For this reason some authors have luck discounting the first book in the series, then pricing the rest a little higher.  For example, many price the first eBook of a series at 99c or $1.99 either permanently or at limited time intervals and leave the rest at a higher price.  At times our publisher offer the first title in our Ardis Cole Mystery Series, The Curse of Senmut, for a lower price.  (If the book is enrolled in KDP Select, the Kindle Countdown is good for this kind of discounting.)  This helps interest new readers.

 

Good promotional tools for the single title work for the series as well.  Places to promote include Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and other social media.   When promoting one book in the series, (with the exception of Twitter as there isn’t room) list the next book in the series or the entire list if it is not too long.   All subsequent titles should be included at the back of each novel as well as a site where they can be ordered. This will help the buyer find the next book.

 

The key to success in marketing a series is to let readers know about the books, offer sales and discounted prices, and make it easy for them to find the next book in the series with a click of the mouse.

 

Vickie Britton and Loretta Jackson are authors of The High Country Mystery Series and the eight-book Ardis Cole series.

 

The Ardis Cole Series includes the titles The Curse of Senmut, Unmarked Grave, and The Crimson Masquerade.

 

 CurseofSenmut

 

Their fourth and latest book in the High Country Mystery series is

The Executioner’s Hood. 

 

 ExecutionersHood

About the Authors:

 

Loretta Jackson and Vickie Britton, sisters and co-authors, are drawn to out-of-the-way places, old mining towns, and vast rangelands where the legends and history of the past live on.  Inspired by the rugged mountains of Wyoming and Colorado, they find the lonely, high country region a perfect setting for their novels.

 

They are authors of the High Country Mystery Series:  Murder in Black and White, Whispers of the Stones, and Stealer of Horses, also of an anthology A Deal on a Handshake that also features Wyoming sheriff, Jeff McQuede.

 

They are authors of over forty novels, including the eight-book Ardis Cole Mystery Series, The Vanished Lady, and the Luck of the Draw Western Series: The Devil’s Game, The Fifth Ace, and The Wild Card, as well as the single Western title, Death comes in Pairs.

 

Both writers live in Kansas; Loretta in Junction City, Vickie in Hutchinson.

To read more about them visit their web page, Facebook page, or blog.

Author Web Page:  https://sites.google.com/site/vickiebrittonandlorettajackson/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/VickieBrittonAndLorettaJackson

Writing Tips and Fiction: http://vbritton.blogspot.com/