Book Release Party
Book release parties are the first step in marketing. They are great for exposure. When it comes to getting new people to know your name, this is the single quickest way to achieve it. With each book release party, you have “takeover” slots. These are other authors that do posts on your book party for a set period of time, usually a half hour to an hour.
The best thing about this is they generally advertise to their fans where they are going to be doing a takeover at. This serves as great publicity. Their fans now have a chance to become your fans. Doing giveaways, interesting posts, and offering chances to follow you help make a book release party a great way to pick up interested readers. Yes, you will want to splurge on a few giveaway items. People are more willing to share and “like” a post when there is something tangible in it for them.
There are many companies that do book parties. Liliom is one of them. Your best bet is to hire someone, at least for the first one, to see how they are run and to make contacts with authors you know are willing to do takeovers. In the future, you can possibly use these contacts to run your own book release parties if you so desire.
These are another way to have a massive reach fairly quickly. To do blog blitzes, a company is generally involved. You contact them and pay them for a blog tour/blitz. They send out requests to their large list of bloggers that work with them. Once they have a decent list of people willing to do a blitz for you, you send them some information about your book. They’ll usually tell you what information they’d like. Generally the blurb, an excerpt, links to buy, links to your sites/social media pages, and maybe some model inspirations for the characters or a song list of what you listened to during the book.
The Blitz company puts it all together in a nice package with a photo they make, and they send it on to the bloggers. On the scheduled day, all of the blogs post the information they were given. Like release parties, this helps expose your name to a wider audience than you’d be able to find on your own. You do pay for these, but the price is generally minimal and worth it for the potential exposure you can get.
For a new author, these aren’t a major concern, but as you grow, going to conventions in your area will help to expand your reach. The first year, buy a ticket and go as a reader. Take stock of how many people are there, how many authors seem to be doing well. Pay particular attention to their table setups and what seems to draw your eye the most. This is research!
Once you’re ready, you can sign up as an attending author yourself. Remember all that research? This is where it comes in handy. Booth rentals are around $50-$300 depending on how popular the convention is. You’ll want some print swag, some print books, and a few interesting items for your table. You’ll need a tablecloth in a color that matches your logo, and possibly a poster or two to set up at the sides of your table.
Good pens for signing are a must, as is a nice outfit. This is your chance to meet new readers in person, you want to make a good impression. Above all, make sure you have swag items to give away as people walk by the table, and a few print copies of each book you have available so that people can buy right there. A sign-up sheet for your newsletter is a great idea as well.
For each book you have out, you’ll want to do a book release party. But that’s not the only event you can do. You can do cover reveals. You can do general “Meet & Greets”. You can run events where a bunch of authors get together to showcase their work. When it comes to events and promoting yourself, the sky is the limit. Anything you can think of to do an event every 3-6 months will keep readers interested and interacting. Giveaways draw in people who may not have heard of you before, as well as your current readers/followers.
On the note of giveaways, always remember the three F’s- Fast, Free, and Frequent. You want to keep your readers interested. Running frequent giveaways helps up their interaction, which serves a dual purpose of making your organic reach go further on Facebook and other social media sites. When more people interact, Facebook’s algorithms assume you are providing quality content, and boost your reach accordingly.
They should be free to the user. Don’t require a purchase or something else as a “pay to play”. That’s the best way to lose followers or have a substandard giveaway reach. If you can’t afford to run a giveaway without charging people, then you shouldn’t be doing one. Giveaways can be had easily and cheaply, if you know where to look.
You can easily budget anywhere between $3 and $50 on giveaways, or more. Some ideas- Ebooks, pens, special swag items, gift cards, autographed print books, candies/chocolates, jewelry, etc.
They should also be fast. Readers don’t want to click through a ton of things to sign up for a giveaway. A “like and share” works well, so does a quick Rafflecopter giveaway that requests readers to follow you on social media or share a pre-written post or tweet. So do giveaways requiring a sign-up to a newsletter. Anything more, and readers will be more likely to exit out and not participate.
Graphics are important to your brand as an author. These include your logo, your teasers, your cover reveal images, your social media profile/cover photos, and giveaway photos.
For some, your cover artist should be able to help with images that match your cover. For others, you can use free images online from places like Pixabay and Unsplash. There are a few places to buy photos as well, which can be useful if you want more exclusive rights to an image. Places like Deposit Photos, PhotoDune, Shutterstock, CanStockPhoto, and 123rf are great resources for those. To edit sizes to fit popular social media sites, PicMonkey, Pizap, Canva, Fotoflexer and BeFunky are great free options.
Always make sure to check that your item includes allowances for commercial use. If it says personal use or limited use, you can’t use it for promotion and branding. If you have a limited budget for graphics, focus on your author logo. This will be your “face” in the community and to potential readers, so you want to make a good impression.
You’ll want notecards or notepads to send personalized notes to giveaway winners. Instead of a pen, consider using fine point sharpie markers to sign items in a color that coordinates with your cover image. A gold or silver paint marker is indispensable if you plan to offer signed posters as giveaways. Journals or notepads for writing ideas and a label maker to organize your swag are also good options. Plastic totes to protect your swag and print books are also a must.
These are your mainstays. They’re perfect for cheap giveaways, and for helping people remember your name after they’ve left the conversation. Cheap options are everywhere for business cards, bookmarks, and poster prints. Note cards, notepads, playing cards, things of that nature are all fully appreciated by readers as they’re easy to carry and can be used for other things. For the adventurous, calendars can be used with free photos that tease your books, or if you have enough, book covers for each month.
This is your advertising budget. As stated above, you are your biggest supporter. When it comes to promotion, a little money expended can net a lot of interest. If possible, try to run Facebook or Twitter ads. Erotica or pages with adult content are blocked from promoting/boosting posts or running ads, so that is something to be aware of.
Sign up for social media promotions, book promotions, mailing list promotions, multi-author giveaways. Anything you see that might enable you to get your name out there, use it. Don’t skimp on it though, if you can’t afford them at the onset, note the price and save up until you can. Good promotions can be had for as little as $10, depending on what you’re doing.
This is often forgotten in the grand scheme of things, but it is no less important. Forgetting this can lead to “crap!” moments as you realize you have to mail out a giveaway reward or print book and don’t have the items. Stock up on 8×10 envelopes for autographed books. Padded envelopes or small mailing boxes are necessary for giveaway items.
Make sure to grab or save some cardboard pieces to slide inside the envelopes to protect 8×10 posters. Regular tape, packing tape, bubble wrap, black ink cartridges, and printer paper. All are necessary to ship items using Paypal, which gives you a lower price than going to the post office. Remember to include shipping prices in your budget, so you know you have enough money to ship things on time after giveaways.
As you expand your reach, you’ll start seeing other options you might like. Paying for a fancy word processing program isn’t needed, but some enjoy software dedicated to writers. Similarly, Grammarly and ProWritingAid both offer paid options for their editing services, that are well worth the cost if you want a more in-depth editing glance than the basic tools provide. If your giveaways could use more “oomph”, Rafflecopter allows you to upgrade when needed.
Buffer is a free service, but if you have multiple accounts you want to connect from each social media outlet, the paid option allows you to add multiple Facebook pages or profiles, which is a plus if you’re running one of each. Liliom authors use PromoRepublic, which is another social media management platform. Jotform allows you to create beautiful forms, and if you plan to use them often, they offer a subscription option as well. Google Forms are free, but don’t allow as much customization. Mailing lists, once you get past a certain number of subscribers, will need to be shifted to paying accounts.
Some of these won’t be necessary now, or ever, but it’s nice to keep your options open when things start heating up.
Do them, and do them often. Whenever you see an author posting that they need takeovers for a book release or other party, jump on it if you can. As noted above, book release parties are an excellent way to net more readers and fans for yourself. For a half hour takeover, plan to do 3 regular posts and 3 giveaways. This shouldn’t cost you much. A signed book, an Ebook, and a bit of swag- there’s your 3 giveaways. We’ll go into more detail on takeovers and book release parties in future posts.
This won’t matter for most of us, but it does need to be said. Keep track of everything you spend, and everything you earn. For the first while, you will have a net loss. It’s inevitable… you’re starting a new business, and new businesses require investment without the promise of quick returns.
Once you start gathering a following and actually making money, you may find yourself making enough to qualify as taxable income. This is where keeping track of your expenses and royalties will come in big handy. Almost all business expenses can be written off. Don’t pay more than you should!
More than your social media sites, this is your “face” to the world. The link will go on your business cards, your social media pages, your swag if applicable. People will go there to sign up to your newsletter and click to see your new releases. It pays to invest in something that puts your best face forward.
Most platforms now have fairly easy systems in place for new page owners. If you want to look professional, you will want a site that has no branding from the hosting company, which means upgrading from a free account. Generally the “starter” or “basic” plans on most website hosts are sufficient. In order to have your own domain, (which you need!) you have to buy a domain name from a domain registrar. This will be around $9-$12 a year, depending on the specific web address you want.
As mentioned, you’re starting a business. Little things can add up, but knowing about them beforehand is half of the struggle. Keeping track of your budget can help you decide where you want to focus the most of your spending. For Liliom author Mandi Konesni, her focus was her website, swag/giveaways, and promotions, so she focused on those and found other ways to handle the rest.
Above all, remember to be resourceful. Any time you can barter for services or find ways to lower the cost, do so! Contrary to public opinion, you can publish a book and present yourself as an author without going into debt. There’s no reason that anyone should have to spend more than they have in order to follow a dream. Our budget sets our potential reach, so there is always time later to go back and add on things that you couldn’t afford before.
The sky is truly the limit, but we must remember that we are already writing the next books, so we have to practice careful spending in order to give each book the same presentation and promotion. When in doubt, always look at something objectively. Make sure you’re clear in your mind about what the costs vs rewards are, and what you expect it to do for you as an indie author. If you can’t justify the cost based on the potential rewards, set it aside, either permanently or temporarily.