Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Virtual Book Launch Events


Online Launch Party
Last month saw the launch of the new Dane Maddock Kindle World, and with it, the publication of six new Maddock adventures. Because this was a big deal, I wanted to do something more than what I usually do with a book release. So, I decided to host a virtual launch party on Facebook. If you’re thinking of doing something similar, here are a few tips:

Set up a Facebook event:
Doing it this way keeps your author or personal page from getting cluttered and also gives the event that “special” feel you’re looking for.

Choose the date and time:
I chose the day of the Kindle World launch for the event. It was a Thursday, which I think was better than a weekend night, when people are more likely to have other plans. Because the vast majority of my audience lives in the US and Canada, I chose a time in the evening when people were likely to be home from work, and not too late for the folks in the Eastern time zone, which is the most heavily populated time zone in the US. This also worked out for some of my friends in Australia and New Zealand, though the fact that it was a Friday morning there limited participation. Readers in Europe mostly slept through it. Sorry!

Send invitations:
Obviously, having the launch outside of your usual pages means you’ll have to reach out to people, or else no one will come. With a Facebook event, you can send direct invites as well as posting an open invitation to the event. Beginning a little more than a week before the event, I posted invitations on my author page and personal page, then followed it up several days later. I didn’t want to overdo it, so I didn’t do any more advance open invitations, just a last-minute reminder.

In terms of direct invitations, I didn’t want to be obnoxious, so I gave a lot of thought to those rather than blasting everyone on my list. Also, I wanted people in attendance who actually wanted to be there, and not people who were merely dropping in just to be polite. First of all, I sent direct invitations to Facebook friends whom I knew to be among my most ardent supporters. I also invited my co-authors (and not only those who wrote Kindle World stories) and other fellow authors whose work I thought would be interesting to my readership, and who might add to the discussion. Finally, I invited folks from Cohesion Press, who published my (then) forthcoming thriller, Primordial.

I’m a firm believer in giving back, and I didn’t want this event to come across as, “Everybody drop in and listen to me talk about how awesome I am.” So, I did lots of giveaways, and advertised ahead of time that I’d be giving away lots of free books. I spread these out every ten minutes throughout the two hour block of time in order to keep participants interested. The giveaways included:

*Ebook copies of backlist titles. Since I didn’t know which attendees already owned which books, I selected some of my books that haven’t sold as well, and would simply post, “I’ve got X free copies of X. Comment below if you want one.” Ten minutes later, I’d choose the winner(s) and then post another giveaway. Ebooks are great to give away because they’re easy to deal with and doesn’t cost you anything to give away.

Signed books- I gave away a few of these (one every half hour, I believe.) Obviously, with a signed book, you’ve got to pay for the book, sign it, package it, make the trip to the post office, and pay for shipping. I don’t mind the expense, but it’s an hour round-trip from where I live to the nearest post office, and I can be a slacker about such things, so I keep the singed books to a minimum.
Advance copies of a forthcoming book- Cohesion Press was happy to permit me to give out advance reader copies of Primordial, which came out two weeks after the Kindle World release. Readers loved getting the advance copies, it created some excitement for that book, and we’ve gotten some reviews out of the giveaway.

*Books by fellow authors- Each of my co-authors was happy to do some sort of giveaway from their own catalogs. This was wonderful, because it added variety to the giveaways and hopefully brought those authors some new readers. Best of all, I didn’t have to deal with sending out the prizes! (I told you, I’m a slacker.)

*Note- I don’t recommend giving away copies of the book(s) you are promoting! The purpose of the launch party is to create excitement for the new release in hopes that the attendees will buy the book, spread the word, and give you a quick rankings boost to increase visibility. If you’re a big-time author, it might not make any difference, but if yours is a more modest audience, you need every sale you can get around launch time. Give away back list; sell the new book.

The plan:
*A two hour event
*Giveaways every ten minutes
*Inviting participants to ask questions (sort of an “Ask me anything.”)
*Being prepared with a few anecdotes to share about the new books. (Where the ideas came from, what the writing process was like…) This was helpful to get the ball rolling.
*Periodically posting the link to one of the new books (I was launching six at once) and in the comments beneath it, inviting my respective co-authors to talk about the book. This was a blessing because it got them involved and gave me more time to respond to the questions and comments participants posted, and to deal with the giveaways. Also, whenever a participant asked a writing-related question, I responded, and then tagged my co-authors and invited them to add their thoughts.
*Cover reveal- I used this event to create a little excitement for a book that’s coming out this summer by doing a cover reveal during the event.
*Comic relief- I created a Facebook profile for a popular character from the Maddock series, and had him participate in the party. It was difficult trying to be two people at once, but it was fun.
*Obviously, having six co-authors participate in the event is unique to this launch, but even if you’re simply launching a single solo novel, you might find it beneficial to include fellow authors from your genre in order to add to the discussion and add to the giveaways.

In Summary:
I was very happy with the way the launch event turned out. Everyone, me included, had a good time, and the Kindle World enjoyed a solid launch. I don’t think it’s something I’ll do for every book, but I’ll definitely do it again. 

If you have thoughts, questions, or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments!

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