Author Takeover Events

On Facebook, a lot of authors host Book Launch Parties to celebrate the release of their new books. These launch parties can be an all-day event of the author talking about their book, answering questions, and giving tons of tips, or it can be just whatever the author wants. What happens most of the time is that the author will invite other authors to come and take an hour of the event to promote their own work. This is called an Author Takeover Event, and the event can be anywhere from one to three days long.

Author Takeover Events are helpful because every author involved already has their own platform and loyal fans who jump at the opportunity to see one of their favorite authors participating in such an event. Also the fans may be curious as to meet new undiscovered authors in the same genre. So this works in favor for everyone.

So what do you, as an author, do in such an event? You usually have one hour to talk about yourself/your book. Sometimes two hours, but usually it’s just one. That may seem like a LONG time, but really it’s not. Let me break it down for you.

  • An hour is 60 minutes.
  • 12 x 5 = 60, so you can post every five minutes which results in a total of twelve posts. Five minutes feels like a long time, but it’s just enough for people to Like/Comment on the posts without being TOO long a wait. I will break that down.
  • So you have ten posts. You want the following:
    • Intro as you an author (who you are as a human being, something for the audience to relate to you)
    • Intro to your book(s) (what your book is about)
    • Post 1
    • Post 2
    • Post 3
    • Post 4
    • Post 5
    • Post 6
    • Post 7
    • Post 8
    • Post 9
    • Conclusion (usually includes links to your books/blog/website/social media and thanking the MAIN host for inviting you to participate)

As you noticed Posts 1-9 have no description. These are the posts you need to get creative about. So really, instead of TWELVE posts that you need to worry about making up, you need to just worry about NINE. The two intros and the conclusion tend stay pretty consistent although you can change them up however often you want. Just depends on how often you participate in these events. However, it’s the seven posts in the middle that you need to focus on.

So, what are some things you can post for those seven posts? Whatever you want. I have seen the following:

  • Paragraphs describing different characters from the stories (I recommend one character per post)
  • Sneak peeks/snippets of the story
  • Questions directed to the audience (“What’s your favorite childhood book?” etc)
  • Sharing blog posts
  • Games & quizzes
  • Pictures (of characters or locations or of the author or author’s pets, etc)
  • Facebook Live video
  • Giveaways
  • AND SO MUCH MORE

There really isn’t limit to what you can do. Be creative, professional, organized, and engaged with the audience, and you can do whatever you want. It’s an opportunity for you to talk about YOUR BOOK for one hour!! That doesn’t happen a lot, so seize the opportunity.

Now though, when you participate in an Author Takeover Event, things can get crazy pretty fast, so you may want to be organized beforehand before diving into it. You see, what happens is that you make a post and publish it, and you plan to wait a few minutes before publishing another post. However, after you post something new, someone may comment on your previous post. You turn your attention to it to reply, and someone else comments too. Next thing you know, you only posted one thing and fifteen minutes have passed, and people are wondering if you’re going to post anything else.

In order to stay on top of your posting and replying to any comments, I recommend you have all your posts written ahead of time, so all you have to do is copy/paste. Now, I use Scrivener, so I organize everything in one file. It looks like this:

screen-shot-2017-02-11-at-2-57-01-pm

As you can see, each document is labeled according to a specific time. This is because for that specific Author Takeover Event, my slot is from 4-5PM CST. Instead of me trying to mentally multiple by 5 during the event, I just titled each post with the time I want to publish them. This is one less thing I have to worry about later.

Here’s another organizational trick I do to keep up with my posts and everyone’s comments. As soon as I publish a new post, I go to the time stamp right beneath my name on the Facebook post, and I right-click then ’Open In New Tab’. This opens that specific post in a new tab. When I post another one, I do the same thing, opening a separate tab for it as well, and I keep doing it. This way, when I get a notification of comment, I can check the notifications to determine which post it is, and then go to the tab that contains that post rather than scrolling up and down trying to find the right post.

I have one main tab open, which is where I publish each new post. I don’t change anything with this tab. As soon as I publish a post, I open a new tab with that post then ignore that tab. I then go to my notes, copy the next post, and go to the main tab, paste the post there, and have it all primed and ready to go when it’s time to post. Once I’ve done that, I can skip around the different tabs I have opened and converse with everyone without missing a beat.

Hopefully that makes sense! Sometimes it’s hard to describe these things!

Now remember, all of these are merely recommendations. Everyone does everything differently. There is no right or wrong way to do it. If you’ve never done an Author Takeover Event, this is simply a guideline you may follow. Adapt and adjust it according to your own preferences. Pay attention to any rules the MAIN host of the event may have. Be professional but also approachable. And most of all have fun!

I hope you the best!

Sharing Others’ Works

Sharing the works of others—it’s the courteous thing to do in order to support one another, but it is one thing to share someone else’s work and another thing to get that writer new readers. So how do you do it? First off, you have multiple platforms on which you can promote others. Any social media outlet (Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, blogs, etc) offers unique opportunities, but how do you share? What do you say?

Most of the time people simply say, “Read this awesome story!” or there might be a little more like, “Be sure to check out this fantastic fantasy story!” or such. It tends to be short and relatively vague, and it works…sometimes, but personally with me, such blurbs really don’t get my attention. It gives me no motivation to click on the link because it doesn’t speak to me.

However, I ran an experiment. I wrote up two random blurbs for a story and sent them to ten different people. Here is what I sent:

  1. “Hey, you should totally check out this awesome fantasy book! Lots of twists and turns. Very intriguing.”

  2. “Hey, you should totally check out this awesome fantasy book! It has me constantly doubting the motives of each characters, so I don’t trust any of them, but it’s a lot of fun. Plus! There’s a character who ABSOLUTELY reminds me of Rumpelstiltskin from ‘Once Upon a Time’, so if you like that character from that show, you’d like this book.”

(The story I wrote the blurbs about is ‘The Magician: Book One in the Rogue Portal Series by Courtney Herz’ in case anyone was wondering.)

I asked them which one did they prefer better? Which one would likely convince them to check out the story. The results?

7/10 chose #2

2/10 chose #1

1/10 was absolutely indecisive

The people who chose #1 said short was best, but they didn’t really give much more reason other than that.

Those who chose #2 said it was much more personalized, and it spoke to them more individually. The impression they got with #1 was the person was sharing the story only out of obligation—not because they really want to or believed in the story.

One person who chose #2 said if it were an official promotion of a story, they would choose #1 instead, but if it was coming from someone they knew and trusted who was helping out a fellow writer friend and sharing their work in a more informal way, they would choose #2.

And the indecisive person? Still hasn’t given me a reason one way or another.

So what is the verdict?

If you are sharing to help someone out in an informal manner, and if you really want to get that author more readers and help them reach their audience, take an extra moment to craft your message. Find something in the story that truly catches and keeps your attention, something that you find unique because more stories don’t do it (e.g. a vampire that cares for his pet cat even though he’s chasing down possible end-of-the-world threats (this story is ‘Shadows of Glenhill’ by Raven Blackburn on Wattpad)). Don’t make it a long blurb or have too many examples of things you really like in the story. Just one should do. Craft it so it’s more personable.

However, if you are sharing someone’s work in a more formal manner (perhaps as a blog post, or maybe your Facebook Page is about promoting others’ stories), then shorter is better, but still try to make it unique. Don’t settle for, “Great story!” Add something more like #1 had where it said, “…lots of twists and turns. Very intriguing!” —this tells you that the story will be one that will make you think as you try to get ahead of the characters and even the author. Every little bit helps, but keep it short. And, of course, always supply the link where the story may be found.

So, go ahead. Share fellow writers’ works. They may do the same in return, and both of you could be helping out one another. That is what a supportive community is all about.

Create a Specialized Group For More Interaction

Last week, I discussed why it’s important to create a Facebook (FB) page now regardless if you’re published or not. Now, there’s a catch with the Pages, and this is the overall lack of interaction with your followers. I’m not saying you won’t have any interaction with anyone—just not as much the Page gives you the illusion of having. This is because of the inability to tag people in posts (unless in comments, but even then it’s unreliable) and not everyone who likes your page will see every post you make. So what is a good alternative? Why have a FB Page in the first place?

The reason why I recommend getting a FB Page first is because it is the first steppingstone into building your platform. It’s simple, and it’s relatively easy to get people to follow you. If someone wants to support you, and they see the link to your Page, all they have to do is Like it. Not much commitment required on their part since they may or may not see your posts in their news feed. Basically, they’re another number, and it makes you looks good. But what if you (and your followers) want more than that? What if you really want to connect with people who are supporting you? What do you do then? Well, after you’ve established how you post and what sort of things you will be posting, you move on to the second steppingstone—creating a customized group primarily for your followers.

Now, to do this, you can create a Facebook Group or even a Google Plus group or something on Twitter—or all the above. There are numerous social media outlets out there, and all you need is the ability to create a group. Once you have that group, you can send a personal invite to those people who like your Page. Explain to them how you will be posting even more stuff in the group and that you welcome interaction. Not only that, but what you post in your group has a higher chance of showing up in people’s news feed than the Page. For the most part, people feel privileged to be invited to such a personalized group, and the fun really begins because now you can tag people to strike up a conversation or to show them a picture or a quote that made you think of them specifically. They feel included, and people like this.

Why not just create a Facebook Group first? Why start with a Facebook Page? First off, there are no rules as to which one you should do first, but I have found people are more inclined to Like a Page rather than join a Group. This is because the thought of a Group gives the impression that more commitment is required (in order to have proper interaction). I like to use my Facebook Page as the gateway to my Group. When someone likes my Page, I send them a private message thanking them for liking my Page, and then I invite them to my Group if they’re interested. Never add anyone to the Group without their approval. This is regarded as rude and may stress out the individual because the last thing they need to put up with at that time in their life is another Group (no matter how awesome it is). Rather, leave the decision up to them. Tell them about it, share the link of the Group, but let them go to the Group and decide for themselves whether or not they want to join. If they join—wonderful! If they don’t, then don’t take it personally.

How long should you wait between creating a Page and creating a Group? While there is no absolute rule to this, I recommend waiting six months to a year before creating a Group after you’ve made a Page. This is because you need to build up your credibility and establish your FB presence, so when people see you have a special group they could join, they won’t hesitate joining because they know you. Also, when you create a Group, you may find it difficult to keep up with constant activity on both sites. I post 95% more in my Group than I do on my Page, but I still keep my Page active because I have specific things I make sure I post there to keep it alive. Otherwise, all my energy would go into my Group. It’s hard to multitask. You don’t want to give your followers duplicate posts because that could lead to them unfollowing you on one (or both) of the sites.

Some people say self-promotion does not work for authors, and they may right. The internet is so bombarded with information and everyone clambering to get on top, that it is really almost impossible to reach a huge mass of people—almost impossible. However, if you stop focusing on the larger scale but connect more individually with each person, and it becomes a real connection. Over time you’ll realize how many followers your actually have.

This is why I recommend interaction through your own Group using your Page as your gateway to the Group. Some people have more success than others using Pages than Groups or using Groups than Pages or something altogether different. You need to determine what works best for you and what your method is to reach your audience. It takes time, patience, and confidence. If you have low self-esteem, don’t make it so much about you. Rather, make it about others—seek to be a source of encouragement, inspiration, and a safe haven on the otherwise cruel place known as the internet. As they come to appreciate what you have to offer, they’ll come to respect you and hold you in high regard, and this gives you confidence.

If you’d like to compare my Page and my Group as an example, you may find them here:

Page: www.facebook.com/AuthorKellyBlanchard

Group: www.facebook.com/groups/AuthorKellyBlanchard

P.S. With the Page and with the Group, you have the ability to customize your URL so it’s not merely ‘facebook.com/(a long series of numbers…)’. Be sure to look into that. It helps give you a more professional presence.

Should You Create a Facebook Page?

Facebook offers a unique tool for artists, writers, businesses, and anyone looking for an audience. This is the feature of a ‘Page’. The difference between your personal timeline and a Facebook page is, you don’t have to be friends with everyone on your page in order for them to see the content you put out. They ‘Like’ your page, and poof! They’re part of your audience. You can post whatever you want without worrying about what others may say or think because, honestly, there isn’t much interaction on the pages. People who’ve liked your page are your captive audience until they decide to unlike it.

Now, of course, there’s always a catch, and the catch here is that you can have 500+ likes, but only 25 of those people will ever see your content on their News Feed. Why? Because Facebook is like that. Facebook tries to encourage more interaction by telling people, “If you like, comment, or share posts from the pages you’re on, you will see more content from those pages.” Otherwise, you, as the creator of the page, can pay to have your content boasted in order to reach a wider audience.

So, why all this talk about Facebook Pages here on my blog? Because a lot of writers ask, “I’m not published yet. Should I create a Facebook Page?” Despite all its flaws and inconsistencies, my answer would be, “Yes.” Why? Consider a Page as the first steppingstone in building your online presence. It’s easy. It’s relatively simple, and you don’t have to worry about breaking some kind of rule (as you might in a group or so) when posting your content. Consider this as your place to discover who you are online, how you like to present yourself, and how you’re going to promote yourself. It’s like the playground to marketing. Yeah, whatever you post, real people will see, and some might respond. You get to learn how to flex your marketing muscles, “Okay, this works…and that doesn’t work. People like this, so I should do more of it.” And so forth.

Not only that, but a lot of times publishers these days will ask you if you’ve established a platform (aka fan base). If they see your page with over five hundred or a few thousand Likes, that will make you look better to them because they can see that even before you finish your book, you were working the market.

Okay, so you got yourself a page now, and you’re probably staring at it asking a few questions:

  1. What am I supposed to post?
  2. How often am I supposed to post?
  3. How do I get people to like my page?

To answer the first question, “What am I supposed to post?” you need to determine what the Page is specifically about. Is it about you and your journey as a writer, or is it about a specific book you’re writing? I highly recommend you make the page about You as a writer because in that way it will be all-encompassing of your work, so you won’t have to host multiple Pages to cover all your books.

Now, once you’ve decided what it is about, you can begin posting. You have a captive audience, but you want to keep it in mind with the general theme of your page. Here are common things people post on their Pages:

  • Photos (things that inspire)
  • Quotes
  • Snippets from your story
  • Tidbits of your day regarding writing (e.g. “My characters have go COMPLETELY off the outline!!!”)
  • Share other people’s work to promote and help them
  • If you have a blog, post link to the blog posts
  • If you’re posting a story online, post links to the story
  • Do giveaways
  • Ask questions
  • Share your accomplishments, fears, and tears with your followers
  • And so much more.

Now, on to the second question, “How often should I post?” The answer is simple: every day—multiple times a day if you can. You see, the more you post, the more visible you are to your followers, and the more chances they have to interact with you, and that, in turn, can bring you even more followers. But don’t stress out if you can’t find a lot to post about. Post as things come to you, and try to make it natural.

The third question asks, “How do I get people to like my page?” First off, make sure your page is attractive to people. Give your page a unique, eye-catching banner (sometimes called a ‘cover’).  Make sure the banner is something that will catch people’s attention rather than deter them. Once I saw a banner that was covered in roaches, and I’m sorry, but no–I don’t do bugs. Just seeing that banner guaranteed that I wouldn’t click ‘Like’ on that page. So make sure your banner is something a bit more warm and inviting.

How do you create a banner? If you know an artist who’d create one for you, approach them with the request, but be willing to pay because that’s the courteous thing to do. If you want to try creating a simple one yourself, try this link: Timeline Cover. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s free, it has all the right dimensions, and they don’t include a watermark on the final product. I always click on ‘Start Designing a Facebook cover’ (upper right hand corner), and then select the blank background option, so I can just work from scratch although you can use whatever they have to offer. Just know you’re not going to get absolutely high quality work from this because it’s extremely limited with tools, but it’s an affordable alternative when you don’t have the personal artistic skills and can’t afford an artist to create it for you. When creating your own banner though, be sure you have the rights to the pictures just to be safe. To do this, look up stock photos.

So, you’ve made your page attractive with a brilliant banner, but how do you get people to your page to like it? The easiest way to get likes is to announce to your FB friends and family that you have a page, and that you’d appreciate anyone and everyone who heads over to it and gives it a like. Outside of that, you shouldn’t go to someone else’s page and say, “I liked your page, so go like mine.” That is rude, and 99.9% of people won’t return the favor.

Now, a tactic some people have used with me is private messaging me a sincere, personalized note in which they really appreciate the content of my page, and they’ve liked it, and they ask that I take a look at theirs. They may or may not ask me to return the like. However, because they’re sincere and took the time to really look at my page to see what it was about in order to craft a personalized message, I’m more prone to go to their page and like it. This only works if it’s an honest message and not something vague like, “Hey, I like your page a lot. Would you mind liking mine?” While that’s nice (because you didn’t demand a like), taking a moment longer on the person’s page to discover what it’s really about and putting that in the message goes a lot further: “Hey, I just love the pictures you share on your page! Very inspirational! I’ve given your page a like. Would you mind checking out my page? <insert link>” This is one way to get some likes.

Another way to get more likes is to join groups that are related to your craft (if you’re a writer, writing groups, artist—artist groups, etc). There may be some marketing or promotional groups you can join as well. Remember: always follow the rules of the groups because you don’t want to spam and get kicked out. If you’re uncertain of the rules, contact an admin and ask for permission to share your page. Many groups will have a specific day set aside for such promotion because they don’t want the group spammed all the time by people constantly sharing their work.

Now, once you find these groups, if you jump out and say, “Hey! Like my page!”, don’t expect many likes. Why? They don’t know you. You need to establish a presence within the groups before expecting anyone to follow you. To find out more of how to do this, take a look at my earlier blog post about The Etiquette of Self-Promotion.

Remember though, your page is nor your personal Facebook Timeline. The page is not where you post pictures of your pets, children, or anything personal—unless it’s directly related to your craft. Keep your private life private…unless you want everyone to know about every element of your life.

So, should you create a Facebook Page right now even if you’ve never published a book and haven’t even completed the book you want to publish? If you want to create one, then yes—go ahead. Even if you’re unsure, remember that you don’t have to share your page immediately. It’s not like people all over the internet will see it as soon as you create it. You can take your time molding it into what you want before inviting anyone to view it.

Creating a Page is easy. Building a following takes more time, so you need to be patient and dedicated to it. Might as well start now.

If you’d like to see my Facebook Page, you may find it here: www.facebook.com/AuthorKellyBlanchard. I post a lot of pictures that could inspire settings or characters for stories. Occasionally I post quotes as I come across them, and I talk about my own writing experience when something thought-provoking or humorous or exciting happens. It would be good to see you there!

The Etiquette of Self-Promotion

It is commonly said in order to promote and market your work, “Presence is key.” Does this mean you have to bombard people with posts saying, “Buy my book!”? Or does it mean you can constantly tell people, “Read my stuff! Look at me! Check this out!”? No. That is not what it means when it is said ‘presence is key’. So what exactly does it mean?

First off, the saying is very true. In order to promote, market, and sell your work, your presence must be out there—notice, I said your presence, not the presence of your books or work or anything like that but rather you. You must become a face and a name familiar to people because if people know you, they’ll be more likely to consider whatever you’re selling, and they may start spreading the word. So, how do you do this?

Don’t make it about you. If you’re on Facebook, Twitter, or any social media site, don’t make all your posts about you. Instead, reach out to others, encourage them, answer their questions if you can, and promote their work. Then, when the time is right, market your own work, but don’t spam your followers with posts saying anything along the lines of, “This is worth reading! Worth purchasing!” Your work should speak for itself. Your readers should speak for you. If you have to boast about it, that gives the exact opposite message you want to portray—it tells me your work isn’t exceptional.

Is there a place for you to specifically promote your work without being a nag? Yes, but you need to create that space. For instance, having a Facebook Page or Facebook Group specifically for your work is a good place to post anything regarding what your work. Your followers there expect that, so it’s fine. However, don’t private message anyone or go to someone else’s page and tell them they need to buy your book. That is distasteful etiquette, and as I said, it has the opposite effect than what you want. The only time this is acceptable is when someone inquires of something along the same lines as to whatever you have to offer. That’s a good time to suggest whatever your work. Notice, I said suggest—not tell or order the person to purchase whatever you’re offering because when someone commands us to do something, we’re more inclined to do the opposite just because we like to be rebellious like that.

So, how should you approach marketing yourself? Don’t be afraid of social media or of criticism. Be watchful of what you say, and be considerate of others—remember, they’re human beings as well. Determine your strengths and be willing to share your resources with others without expecting anything in return. Yes, in an ideal world, if you promote someone’s work, they will in turn promote yours, and some people are really good like that, but others…they just forget or don’t think about it, and that’s okay. That is simply who they are, and you shouldn’t take offense to it, and you’re not obligated to share their work either unless you truly think it is worth sharing. At the same time identify your weaknesses and be on the lookout for those people who might be able to help you strengthen those areas. Someone else might have the same weakness and ask the question you didn’t want to ever ask, so you can follow the conversation and learn as well.

Also, when you are giving others feedback on their work, don’t settle for, “That was good!” While the writer appreciates the fact that you think their story is worthy of some praise, this kind of feedback is shallow and hollow. Instead, look into whatever you’re reading and try to pick out one unique thing that stands out for you and bring that out. That will show the author that you really did pay attention. However, if you see errors or anything that needs correcting, be courteous and contact them privately informing them of the problem. Why do it privately? Well, one day it may be your work out there being critiqued, and would you rather someone publicly correct you or privately? If you’ve shown respect to others, they are more prone to show you the same respect.

In other words, be human. Whatever you have that you’re promoting, seek opportunities to surprise your followers and do random acts of kindness for them. Offer unique opportunities that would get your readers excited about interacting with you.

Is this all you need to do to successfully sell your work? No. Each social media site has its tricks here and there and little secrets that’ll help you. However, knowing who you are and being comfortable and confident that your work can speak for itself is a major realization, and this carries over to all social media sites.

In the end, be real, promote your work from time-to-time, but be yourself.