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.

 

Promotion That Has Worked for Me by Marilyn Meredith aka F. M. Meredith

Marilyn Meredith

Marilyn Meredith

My first book came out in 1982 long before most folks had computers and there was no such thing as the Internet. I had no idea that I should be promoting my book or if I had, how to go about it. The publishing company (and it was one of the biggies at the time) sent me a few complimentary books and I gave them away. I arranged my one and only book signing at a local bookstore and had a nice crowd. Being the only published author around, I received some good newspaper publicity.

Since that time, and about 34 books later, not only have things changed drastically, but I’ve learned a lot about promotion and tried just about everything anyone suggested. I started out sending flyers about new books with tear-off order blanks to all my friends and relatives. I may have sold enough books to pay for the postage.

I’ve given many, many talks at libraries—something I still like to do. When the economy took a dive, people still came to hear what I had to say, but fewer bought books. I’ve given talks at Rotary Clubs, other service and women’s organizations, fun and sometimes quite successful.

I’ve had booths at book fairs and craft fairs and done well at both. One thing I’ve learned, is that you must engage people as they are strolling past. Ask them to come take a look at your books, or in my case, I often ask if they like mysteries. Once you can start telling a bit about each of your books, they are far more likely to purchase a book than if you don’t put yourself out a little. Believe me, I’ve seen authors at book fairs sit in a chair and read and never look up even when someone is perusing their book.

I’ve had book launches in all sorts of interesting places: art galleries, our local inn, a new-age recreation center, my home, and several at a used bookstore.

Of course, now we have the computer and the Internet and there are all sorts of places that we can promote our books for free. I love Facebook for many reasons. It is a great place to promote books, make new friends, keep up with the old ones and find out what is going on with my family. I’ve promoted books that have just come out, new posts on my own blog, and my stops on blog tours.

That brings me to one of my favorite promotions, blog tours. I’ve paid blog companies to arrange them for me but finally realized I could do tours myself and find more logical blogs to visit. It is a lot of work from beginning to end if you do it right. You need to contact the blogs you want to visit, find out what they’d like you to write (you want to have something different on every post), arrange the schedule, take the time to write the posts and send everything along that is needed: the post, a .jpg of your cover, one of you, a blurb about the book, your bio, and links. You need to remind the host the day before the post is to appear and you have to promote the post when it does. It’s important to visit the blog and respond to everyone who comments. There are glitches, but that’s a whole other subject.

Do blog tours result in sales? Yes, though not huge sales I’ve read about from other authors—but I love doing them. I usually offer a prize to get people to follow along. I never give away the book I’m promoting, because I’m hoping for sales, but I do give away earlier books in a series. But the most popular prize is always having the winners name used for a character in the next book.

In fact, I love blogging. Why? I think mainly because I’m a writer and I love to write. What do I write about? All sorts of things: my books, what I’m doing, my family, book reviews, movies, and I love hosting other authors. http://marilynmeredith.blogspot.com/

I do Tweet, but not the way some people do. I use Twitter to promote new blog posts, my blog tours and my appearances. I don’t have enough time for more because I’m writing two books a year.

DAngerousImpulses,NewCoverThe latest, Dangerous Impulses written as F. M. Meredith. An attractive new-hire captivates Officer Gordon Butler, Officer Felix Zachary’s wife is befuddled by her new baby, Ryan and Barbara Strickland receive unsettling news, while the bloody murder of a mother and her son and an unidentified drug that sickens teenaged partiers jolts the Rocky Bluff P.D.

http://www.amazon.com/Dagerous-Impulses-Rocky-Bluff-Volume/dp/1610090608/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1364492508&sr=8-1&keywords=Dangerous+Impulses+by+F.+M.+Meredith

Book promotion: What really works?

That’s the million dollar question isn’t it?  I wish I had the million dollar answer. But I’m a problem solver by nature. I enjoy that. That’s probably why I like mysteries as much as I do. There’s a puzzle to solve. A question to answer.

And, since I’m a book publicist by trade, I guess this is a question that I need to consider more than most. When it comes to book promotion today, what does really work?

Well, when trying to find any elusive answer, I often work backwards. The process of elimination. What doesn’t work?

For the purpose of brevity (something for which I’m not well known but I do try), assume that the point of said promotion is to sell books. There are many other apparent points to book promotion but I won’t go there now.

What doesn’t work?

Expecting the publisher to do it. I think we all know that won’t work. We once thought it would if the publisher was one of the biggies but I’m not sure that was ever totally true. Today, I’m sure it’s totally not true unless you’re the biggest author on the list, which most of you aren’t.

Expecting immediate results. I hear it all the time. “I was on the Blah Blah Radio Show and I checked my sales an hour later and hadn’t sold a single book. Guess that doesn’t work!” “I had a book signing at Buy a Book Store and nobody came. That was a waste of time!” Seriously. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve heard something like that. In our so-called microwave society I guess it shouldn’t be a surprise, but it always is. Think about it for a minute. I’ve been at a lot of signing events, and I do always make a point to

Janet Evanovich signing event – I’m guessing her first book signing didn’t look quite like this one.

check out the author/book and usually buy one. But it’s really easy to see the difference in how the author behaves having a huge impact on outcome. Some authors are standing, friendly, laughing, engaging with customers who pass by, while others are sitting, often staring at the table or the wall, with body language that screams don’t come near me! I’ll post about book signings another time. The point is, when is the last time you heard an author interview on the radio and dropped whatever you were doing at the time to rush out and buy a copy of their book? Think repeat exposure – building name recognition and STOP expecting immediate results.

Expecting to wait on book signings until your third or fourth book when you’re better known. I understand the logic in this, but I’ve seen from experience how it can backfire. Book signings are challenging enough these days, but building a following – particularly for a series – starts with the first book. I represented one author who had a lovely series that I really enjoyed who had employed this line of thought and didn’t hire me until the fourth or fifth book. I was shocked when I started contacting stores to set things up and found repeatedly that they weren’t interested. The reasons given primarily focused on low sales and lack of promotional activity for the earlier titles. While it doesn’t seem like entirely sound reasoning from my perspective, I heard it often enough to know it makes a difference to a lot of booksellers. I completely understand why an author would want to avoid the what-if-nobody-comes fear of a book signing event for a little known name, but I think if you’re in it for the duration, you’ve just got to plunge in and start from the beginning.

Expecting social media to do it all for you. This seems to be the most popular one these days. Tweeting and Facebook pages are all the rage. Blogs, blog tours, LinkedIn, Pinterest, whatever. You could easily spend 8 hours a day or more in your jammies from the comfort of your own home without even trying. And you could genuinely be busy doing things (besides playing Farmville) during all that time. But is it working? Is it effective? If you’re reading this, chances are you’re familiar with the blogosphere, Twitter or FB so it must be at least somewhat effective, right? Yes. In fact, it can be quite effective if utilized properly. However, it’s deceptive in its ease of use. A HUGE majority of authors using these social media outlets either don’t use it well (tweeting incessantly something along the lines of “buy my book, buy my book”), or don’t know how to use it well, or find that most of their friends or followers are other authors who are trying to do the same thing. Be honest. Of your 739 followers on Twitter, if 500 of them are authors, how many of those 500 books have you bought? And how many of them have bought yours? Honestly, if all 739 bought yours, which is highly unlikely, how many days/hours of tweeting time investment did you make to get to that point and can you do it again with 739 more followers? Maybe in time. I’m not saying it’s not worth your time to tweet. I tweet. I’m saying look carefully at the time investment vs. outcome. Because even the smallest radio program can put your book in front of several thousand potential readers in about a 15 minute time investment. Sooner or later the numbers will win out.

I could probably go on and on. Those are some things that don’t work, at least not if you focus all of your attention in that one area, which leads back to the original question. What does work?

I wish I could offer you a magic wand that would make your work instantly appealing to every potential reader that sees your information. Wouldn’t that be fabulous? But wait. The key isn’t making your work appeal to every potential reader. Hopefully if your work is good, it already does that. The key is in getting your info out there so more potential readers can see it. Then we trust that many of them will make the right choice and buy it. Book promotion – the effective kind – requires that you consistently increase the number of potential customers who repeatedly see your product information in a variety of venues over an extended period of time. That requires a well-thought-out plan with specific long term and short term goals. In other words, the shotgun approach probably won’t work well for you. Then again, even a broken clock is right twice a day and a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes.

What are your thoughts on what does and doesn’t work in book promotion these days?

Designing a promo campaign

Planning a promotional campaign for a new book can be a monumental task and no two campaigns are alike. Here at BreakThrough Promotions, our goals include determining what the author’s goal is, determining what the publisher will do to help the author meet that goal, and then filling in the blanks. A well-designed team effort gleans the best results. However, in this day and age, most publishers aren’t able to do much by way of promotion, so the author is left to do much of it alone. Usually, this isn’t because the publisher doesn’t want to help. It’s just the simple fact that in today’s economy everyone has scaled back and a single, in-house publicist simply can’t take care of a whole list of authors. There are only 24 hours in a day and time available for follow-up is crucial.

We like to discuss what our clients want and what they feel most comfortable doing for themselves, then design a customized package that lets us schedule those things the author would rather not tackle. We’ve designed several packages that include different types and amounts of events. Here’s a brief description:

Carl Brookins and the Minnesota Crime Wave at a book launch at Once Upon a Crime

Events: These could be basic meet-n-greet book signings, short talks at libraries or civic organizations, or workshops conducted at community centers or writers conferences. Some authors very successfully command an appearance fee or honorarium for their time and this can be discussed if it’s a type of event that interests you.

The most common is the bookseller/book signing event. Many authors really don’t like them, and some swear they’re not worth the trouble until you’ve published several books and have developed a following.

Authors who’ve been there and done that will explain that those basic book signings 1) are a sure way to get your books on the shelves, 2) help you develop name recognition and relationships with booksellers, 3) are the primary way they built their following and establish a fan base (by collecting addresses at these events), and 4) that the signings are more about the first 3 items than about how many books you sell at a single event. Like most promotional efforts, the results are cumulative and no single event can be judged as a success/failure. Successful book promotion is a “slow and steady wins the race” affair. No matter how large the foundation, they’re all built one brick at a time.

Print: The most common thing we arrange in this category is book reviews. We don’t pay for book reviews, nor do you pay us to write them. Technically, authors pay us to find appropriate review markets, send the review copies and follow up with those markets, reporting back to the author when we find those who have written reviews in response to what we’ve sent them. We don’t send unsolicited review copies (ARCs) to anyone unless it’s a request specifically from the author or publisher.

Other things that fall into this category are mentions or interviews in blogs, mentions in newspaper articles or columns, newsletters, magazines, trade journals. Pretty much any time we’re able to assist in getting your name or book title in print. We’re happy to target the type of print market that you’d most like to see, but have no way of guaranteeing which ones will respond.

DJ Doug Wilson (right) of WANB

Radio: This is probably the most cost effective means of book promotion, almost always conducted by phone. We work with a number of shows regularly that have established audiences and recurring “book” or “author” spots during their programs. Most of the shows we work with are considered local, but many are regional and national broadcast programs.

We also work with a selected few internet radio and satellite programs that have documented large audience bases. Interviews may be 5 minutes in length up to an hour. When we send the confirmation information to you, it should include some information about the program and the coverage map. We can also arrange for you to talk with a media specialist to help you improve your interview skills and make you more comfortable in giving interviews if needed.

Cheryl Nason of Conversation Cafe

Television: This is a wonderful way to reach a large number of potential readers and to help you establish your brand and develop name recognition. The interviews we arrange are usually local morning or noon news shows and interviews tend to be very brief – 2 – 3 minutes at most. They can be very beneficial to your campaign, but should be done sparingly, especially at first. They’re especially helpful if scheduled prior to an appearance in the area. Keeping recorded clips of radio and television interviews is wise. Almost all requests to appear on national broadcast programs require sending clips of previous appearances to assure producers and guest schedulers that you will be comfortable and entertaining for their listeners/viewers.

So, now that you’ve seen the sample campaign contents, and the descriptions of the types of events, how do you know what you really need?

We believe in what I call a pyramid approach:

The base of the pyramid is the availability of books. Without the book, there’s no need to promote it, right? If you talk enthusiastically about this great book, but the customer can’t find it anywhere, that’s not helpful. So the first and large part of your effort has to be establishing the availability of the book for purchase. Larger publishers probably take care of that for the author, and many smaller presses at least make the attempt. But it’s still advantageous for the author to speak knowledgably to issues in this area. To do that:

  • Make sure you know which distributors stores can order from and what the bookseller discount is
  • Include ordering information on your sell sheet
  • Make ordering information available on your website
  • Do not lump all the info together – make a specific sell sheet for booksellers and wholesale ordering and another for retail sales
  • Design campaign activities to notify independent booksellers and libraries about your book
  • Design campaign activities to notify potential readers about print and e-book availability
  • Don’t overlook alternative, niche markets for book sales

Once you’ve got a strong foundation in the works for book availability, the next tier in the pyramid is print. Today’s print market is much different than it was even 5 years ago. Newspaper reviews are like gold and about as hard to find. But there are a lot of alternatives; they just require a little planning. Design your campaign so that a wide variety of print markets are being contacted. Don’t make the mistake of waiting too late – many require several weeks lead time prior to publication. But don’t make the mistake of giving up too soon, either. With diligence, you can glean reviews months after the release date if you’re pursuing the right market. And remember, a book is new to a person until they see it, no matter what date it was actually released.

Bob Langstaff WAMV

The third tier of the pyramid is media. This is a broad category, but should have less of your time and attention than book availability and print. Fortunately, you can accrue a good amount of broadcast media coverage in a short amount of time. Look for opportunities for radio interviews on a variety of show types and in a broad spectrum of locations. TV interviews are good for helping drive traffic to events and personal appearances.

While relatively easy to set up, broadcast interviews provide the opportunity to get your name and title in front of more potential buyers than just about any other single event. Even the smallest local programs will have an audience of several hundred. Most have several thousand, and regional programs can easily have more than a million listeners. Don’t make the mistake of gauging the success or failure of a radio interview by watching for an immediate spike in sales following the program. Sometimes that happens. More often it doesn’t. Marketing experts will tell you that it generally takes 14 repeat exposures for a name or product to register on the consciousness of a consumer. It’s the cumulative effect of several marketing efforts that builds name recognition and begins to spark sales.

Elaine Viets at Venetian Arts Society

The tip top of the pyramid is niche markets. As you might suspect, the possibilities here are endless. It may mean finding markets that focus on nurses because your primary character is a nurse, or it may be alumni of your college. It may be a variety of pet venues because your protagonist has a canine sidekick or maybe gift shops in National Parks because your books feature a forest ranger. There may be several specific niche markets that would be interested in different aspects of your book(s) or in you as the author. Take advantage of all of them, but only after the other three tiers are getting the needed attention. Niche markets can seem like a gold mine, but in the overall scope of things, you don’t want to focus all your attention there if you want a reasonable return on investment. Careful timing and planning will help you cover all the bases.

There are a lot of factors to consider when planning an effective campaign, so it’s easy to understand why some opt to get professional help. As you begin to craft a plan for your own campaign, keep in mind that you cover each pyramid tier to some degree, but you may need more help in one area than another. If that’s the case, learn to staff your weaknesses. Call on friends and family to trade tasks with you if that will work. Or contact professionals. You might be surprised how simple things become when you have a well thought out plan to start with.

Good luck and happy writing!

PJ

10 Ways to Raise the Bar on Book Promotion

PJ Nunn

Book promotion today isn’t what it was 20 years ago. Or even 10 years ago. The industry keeps changing and evolving, making it increasingly difficult to get your book to stand out amongst the tens of thousands that are published each month. Once upon a time, that was the publisher’s concern. Today, that’s no longer the case. Authors now must excel in an additional arena, since writing a great book isn’t enough to assure record sales.

The good news is it doesn’t take a lot of effort to rise above the ordinary.

  1. Go back to the good old days. In today’s fast-paced, digital age of communication, there’s something to be said for a hand-written thank you note or a friendly phone call. Authors who take the time to say thank you after a signing event, book review or a broadcast interview are still in the HUGE minority. In a time when just about everyone I know has, at one time or another, been annoyed at too many emails or text messages, I’ve never once heard anyone complain upon receipt of a sincere “thank you.” Sure, you might say, that’s a nice thing to do, but does it really help promote my book? If you’re one of a handful of authors among hundreds who make a good impression by going that extra mile, who do you think that bookseller will remember favorably?
  2. Recognize your activities as a business, not a necessary evil or something that just has to be done. You may feel that way, and have every right to feel whatever you feel, but as my daddy taught me when I was small, you don’t have to tell everything you know. Sometimes, in book promotion, what you DON’T say can be as important as what you do.
  3. Do unto others as you’d have them do unto you.
  4. Be active in popular social networking venues, but don’t spend all your time there. I’m for promoting books long after the pub date, but if you want a career as an author, there should always be something new in the works. That means your time has to be well managed.
  5. Shop around. You want independent booksellers to shelve your books and recommend them to their customers? Make a point of ordering from those booksellers periodically.
  6. If you want something you’ve never had, you’ve got to do something you’ve never done. OR if you want to keep getting what you’re getting, just keep doing what you’re doing. Either way, the point is that if you want to move up to a new level, you’re going to have to climb out of your comfort zone somewhere along the way.
  7. Make connections with others in the industry who get the kind of results you’d like to get. Ours is a very giving industry so don’t hesitate to ask questions, but it’s important to know the source. In other words, if you’re wondering how to make your book signing events more successful, don’t just ask at random. Ask authors who consistently have successful signing events.
  8. Study the craft of promotion and make it personal. What works for one doesn’t work for all. It’s important for you to learn your strengths, staff your weaknesses and improve any areas that are unfamiliar. If you’ve not had broadcast experience (and most of us haven’t), take time to study the art of giving a good interview. If you’ve only attended one or two signing events in all your life, attend more.
  9. Understand that in some ways, persistence is worth more than talent. I realize that’s not a popular opinion, but I have seen too many talented authors give up because of unrealistic expectations. Some of them aren’t writing at all anymore and that’s too bad. Of course talent is important, but who’s going to read your work and recognize your talent if they’ve never seen or heard about your book? Experts say it takes up to 14 times for someone to hear and retain a name. Repeat exposure is what pays off in the long run. Few, if any, people rush out to buy a book the very first time they hear the title or the author’s name. Schedule some activity that gets your name in front of a reading audience every month and keep doing that.
  10. Read a new book every month. I’m amazed at how many writers tell me they don’t have time to read anything but their own work. Bad mistake. First, I hope you’ll always make time to read for sharpening your own writing skill. Then I hope you’ll read to keep abreast of what type of books are selling in the current market. Lastly, I hope you will always squeeze time out for reading for pleasure. It’ll keep you fresh and satisfied.

One thing I’ve learned in this business – what works for one, doesn’t always work for all. There is no one size fits all promotional garment. Unless you’re looking for something that fits like a muu muu. It may take some tailoring to find the fit that works best for you, but it will be well worth the effort and the result, in the long run, will be increased sales. It may come slow and sure, but it will come with persistence and consistency. If I can answer any questions or help you in any way, you know where to find me.

PJ