A few months ago, a member of my street team mentioned that she was bummed that she lived too far away to attend my launch parties for A Killer Retreat. I immediately replied, “Why don’t we do one on Facebook?” As soon as the words left of my fingertips, I realized that I had a huge problem: I had no earthly idea how to do it. For those of you prone to similar brain farts, here are some of my key learnings:
Tracy’s Tips for Hosting a Killer Facebook Launch Party
- Invite everyone you know—and then some. I sent every one of my 1500 Facebook friends an invitation to the party. Rumor has it that Facebook only allows you to send out 180 invitations daily, though I was able to do over 200 a day with no problem. But that was only the start! I also asked my street team (Team Tracy) to spread the word, posted invitations on my author page, and sent notices to several relevant Facebook and Goodreads groups. According to the party page, 208 people attended, though I suspect that’s actually the number of people who RSVP’d “yes.” In any event, I had more attendees than I’d hoped for—many who heard about my writing due to the party!
- Pick a reasonable party length. I originally scheduled the party from 6 – 7 PM PST, but I quickly realized that wasn’t great for my East coast fans. In hindsight, an hour wouldn’t have been long enough, anyway. I finally lengthened it to two hours (5 – 7 PM PST). Some people only came for a few minutes, but many stayed the full time. To be completely honest, that two-hour window was just a guideline, anyway. I was still receiving and responding to messages at midnight!
- Act like a boy scout. Be prepared. I spent days preparing for that two-hour party. I gathered photos, games, memes, quotes, party favors, and marketing ideas. I quickly realized that I needed to organize the material so it would be available when I needed it, in the order I needed it. I had four separate windows open throughout the party, each with different content: the Facebook page for the party; a draft e-mail listing the games and giveaways scheduled for each 15-minute segment; a file folder of photos (both for the games and of scenes from my book); and a Word doc of excerpts. Without the pre-organization, I’d have been lost.
- Give out party favors. Lots of them. Party favors get people excited, so I posted a contest for a prize or two every 15 minutes. I gave away signed copies of my favorite authors’ work (some books were donated, some I purchased) and I made book-related swag. After the party, I sent anyone who signed up for my newsletter an autographed bookmark.
- Think variety. During the party, I had threads for the contests, threads with excerpts, threads with photos, and threads in which readers could ask questions. Keeping up with it all was admittedly impossible, but the attendees loved it! And no one expected me to be present in every thread at once. I toggled between them.
- Don’t make advertising the goal. It’s OK to post a few advertisements. (I think I did four or five different ones spread throughout the event.) But if all you do is yell, “Buy my book!” people will quickly jump ship.
- Get help! I wasn’t confident enough to have an assistant help me this time, but I learned my lesson. An assistant could have drawn the “party favor” winners, gathered mailing addresses, and brought my attention to questions I needed to answer. An assistant also would have kept me from screaming every time my computer froze, which it seemed to do every ten minutes.
- Measure success in terms of the fun you (and your attendees) had, not the number of books sold. I truly believe marketing is a long-term strategy, built on the matrix of relationships. No individual effort is likely to pay for itself, Facebook launch parties included. The goal is to build relationships that will hopefully snowball over time. No one knows what really sells books. All you can do try, and be sure to have fun with the process.
I thought my party was a rousing success. Did it land me on the New York Times Best Sellers list? Not even close. In all honesty, the jury’s still out on the success of my writing career. But I’m having a good time, making friends, and putting myself out there. Isn’t that what’s most important?
What tips do you have for virtual launch parties? I’d love to hear your ideas!
Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. The second book in her series, A Killer Retreat, was released January, 2015 by Midnight Ink.
Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.