Book Discovery Strategy #5: Social Media Events

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Facebook launch parties and other related events have been a fixture of the social media platform since its launch. Multi-Author Facebook Events, however, are relatively new, and when they’re done correctly, they can lead to a lot of new fans discovering your books.

Horror author Timothy Long discussed his zombie fiction Facebook event during a 2014 episode of Simon Whistler’s Rocking Self Publishing Podcast. Sell More Books Show Co-Host Bryan Cohen went on to take the events to the next level, running six events over the following year. What these events showed was that Facebook is a great venue for cross-pollinating readers from one author to another. It works well as an arena for author-fan interactions, and it can be used successfully to collect email subscribers and sell books.

Why Does This Strategy Work?

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The Social Media Event strategy works for many of the same reasons that the Box Set strategy works. When you bring together a collection of authors who are willing to promote something, you end up with thousands of fans who hear about it. While it’s likely that not every author will pull his weight and not every fan will be interested, if the majority of people involved give it a go, your event will be popular and successful.

Authors participating in these events have noticed a bump in sales and subscribers. They make direct connections with new fans of the genre, and they bond with other like-minded authors. As in the box set strategy, the person putting together the event will spend the most time, but he’ll also get the most benefit. By directing attendees to a hub page on his own website, the event coordinator has the best chance of bringing in email subscribers and getting the word out about his own books.

How Does This Strategy Work?

As the coordinator, you’ll start out by reaching out to the top authors in your genre with whom you’re already acquainted. This is a good time to call in any favors you’re owed by your peers. It’s always smart to get a few big names on board before you begin to pitch other authors because it’s a sort of social proof that the event will be worth doing.

After you’ve secured some initial authors through your existing contacts, start reaching out to authors via email or the contact form on their websites. You’ll need to be very specific about the event, including promotion expectations, pricing expectations (if you’re doing a 99-cent sale), and the date of the event. You may need to email three to five times as many authors as you want to include to get up to your final number. If you can’t get many big names, then your target should be hard workers who have a small but dedicated fan base.

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Similarly to the box set, organizing the authors involved will be a little painful. Set up cloud-based documents to agree on times the authors will visit the event and what they plan on doing to promote. Giveaways are popular on events like these, so it’s smart to ask the authors what they’d be willing to provide early on.

Make the event and a related event hub page on your website look seamless and professional. Hiring out some art from Fiverr or other contractor platforms will usually do the trick. Make sure to have popups and tracking pixels enabled on your hub page to give yourself the best chance of bringing in new readers.

As the event draws near, get your authors to engage in their agreed upon promotions and spread the giveaways far and wide. If you’re already familiar with the platform, use Facebook ads to bring in additional targeted attendees. The last organizational hurdle will be getting authors to drop their prices for any event-related sales, and it’s worth following up a couple of times to make sure everybody does what they’re supposed to.

On the day of the event, interact heavily with all the readers who attend. This is your chance to make new fans, so you should always respond to comments quickly and charmingly. Throughout the day, pitch the author sale and encourage the other authors to push each others work. As the event comes to a close, draw winners from all the giveaways and invite readers to visit author websites. If all goes well, the authors involved should see a spike in sales, and you should have a fair number of new subscribers and Facebook users to target with your tracking pixel.

Active Promotion vs. Passive Promotion

Most of the discovery strategies we’ve discussed are relatively passive until you get people onto your email list. The Social Media Event strategy is the opposite. You’re connecting with authors and readers directly from the start. There’s something about having control over a process that makes this kind of marketing worthwhile. Instead of waiting and hoping that things happen, you’re the one in the driver’s seat. Since you have a limited number of hours every week, you probably can’t make all your marketing efforts active, but a mix of active and passive promotion will help you cover all the bases for the discovery of your book.