Facebook and other social media avenues are great channels to drum up interest in your work. As a self-published author (and even a traditionally published one), a huge part of selling books is building and maintaining an author platform. A great way to grow this readership is through online author events, when several authors writing in the same genre work together to host a fun get-together that involves games, prizes and giveaways.
In order to have a successful author event, a few things should be kept in mind:
1. Designating a Host For The Event.
This would normally be the individual who orchestrated the event and invited other authors to join, but it’s not always the case. In some author events, participation is much more collaborative, with several authors scheduling times and creating posters/banners/social media materials, while in others invited authors simply “show up” for their assigned online time. It’s essential that an organizer be chosen (if not already apparent), to interact with authors and fix any issues that may arise.
A successful online event is going to draw in fans and possible readers with incentives. Participating authors need to offer several “prizes” and gifts to encourage readers to show up, and possible options could include signed paperback copies, e-books, Amazon gift cards or even a critique of a reader’s own manuscript. What’s imperative to keep in mind is budget—will authors contribute money to a “pot” for the host to purchase gifts with? Or is each author allowed to decide what (if anything) they would like to offer? Once prizes are selected, it’s also important to decide how they will be distributed—how will private information such as email and physical addresses be shared from reader to author? It might be through the host,or via private message from author to reader.
What happens during an online author event? Is it just authors showing up on a Facebook event page to say, “I’m so-and-so and I wrote a fantasy novel, here’s the Amazon link!” before disappearing into the ether? Definitely not. Compelling author events will include discussion questions, funny anecdotes, memes, and the chance for participating authors to show their quirky personalities while talking about their books. Also, prizes are commonly awarded during the “game time” of an author event, when a particular author might say something like “the third person to sign up for my newsletter today wins!” or “whoever is first to review one of my books online will get a signed paperback of my new release!” It’s fun for readers and authors, because both benefit.
4. Time zones
One of the great things about online events is the ability of participants from all over the world to join, but the issue of time zone is a factor to consider when scheduling authors. The host generally designates a time zone to be followed by all, but a successful online author event will also cater to its readership—whose fans will be awake at certain times? If a participating author has a particularly large fan base, it might be prudent to ensure that they are online at particularly busy social media times (lunchtime and early evenings on weekdays) for more interaction.
5. Marketing materials
A well-done author event will offer eye-catching visual materials that evoke the nature of the event and include the participating authors’ names. A fantastic way to create media materials is with Canva, a user-friendly graphic design website gaining popularity (read our post about using Canva for e-book covers here). Materials to consider are a Facebook events page banner, posters to attach to tweets or use on Instagram, Pinterest photos that link to the event, and buttons for authors’ own websites.
Online author events are a fantastic and inexpensive way to meet readers, interact with other authors and have fun!