Hi Carly, thanks for agreeing to be interviewed about your launch party for your new book Electric. I know you are frantically busy promoting it at the moment, but I want to understand a bit more about how the book launch worked and your experience. As Carly knows, I hosted two one-hour slots, which was a new experience for me. It was great fun, but I was exhausted at the end because there was so much going on. Carly’s party was a three-day event, which took place on Facebook during the 3rd, 4th, and 5th of November. Carly sent out over 7,000 invitations and lost count of how many people joined in during the three days. She had authors from around the world hosting different sections of the party. To give some idea, for one of my sessions I took over from the Indian author Aarti Venkatraman in Mumbai and at the end of my hour handed over to Christine Steendam, an author living in Winnipeg, Canada.
Can you start Carly by telling us a little about yourself and your book?
I was born and raised in the City of Chicago. I am the go to gal of friends and family to write letters, resumes, speeches, and eulogies etc… I always write note cards rather than buying cards with prewritten sentiments. People inspire me to write poetry and prose for any occasion.
For over thirty year I have had an idea for a book developing in my mind and have written it several times using different perspectives. I always came back to the themes of child abuse, neglect and domestic violence. It seemed, I had a deep-seated need to expose man’s inhumanity to man.
With a very busy life raising a family, writing was a dream that laid in my subconscious, popping up from time to time to get my attention. It kept knocking until I had to do something about it. It was then that I decided I needed a degree. I studied and took every literature and writing course that I could fit in my schedule to get my degree.
I began to focus on producing a book but couldn’t afford anywhere from $1,200 to $5,000 for professional services so ended up, editing, formatting and creating my own cover. The biggest challenge, I found, was how to get people to recognize or see your book when there are over 3,000 books published daily on Amazon.
Having a Facebook book release party was a strategy to gain attention for my work.
Where did you get the idea of a Facebook book party from?
About six weeks ago, I was approached to do a take over or TO which means to host an hour at someone else’s book party, by a woman from Triple A. (Amazing Authors Association) I was nervous and created a word document to see me through the hour and it was fun. I ran a contest for a $10.00 amazon gift card to get people to connect with me on the various forms of Social Media. That’s what got me started with the idea of my own book launch party.
Carly can you tell us, it was a massive event, what was involved in preparing for the party and did you have any professional help?
I created the Carly Compass pen name for myself six months ago. I made a Facebook page and really can’t explain the phenomena of how I connected with so many writers and readers, but soon I was inundated with party invites! The first one I went to was for Dori Lavelle author of The Moments in Time Series. I went to her party and bought her books. Dori had a lovely street team of people who loved her work and also worked feverously to help her promote it. I learned that you need a street team to help you. I had to put all that on the back burner because I was editing my novel, building my online presence and writing my blog etc.
Next, I held a cover release party. I invited two authors to do TOs and it went well except for the fact that I hosted three hours, which I found to be too long. I offered a $20.00 gift card and gave out some free downloads of my book for people to read and review. I was on my way. I decided to wait until I had all three books out before I had my book release party. Triple A was not being paid to host my parties so I included them in the Acknowledgements in my book as recognitions for their help and gave them each a free download of my Electric, The Beginning, Book I.
I created a private group on Facebook called Carly’s Comets for my street team. My original idea was to have a 24 hour party with authors from around the world filling the time slots of their day to have a continues stream of authors presenting their work.
I thought, if I invited 24 authors to fill 24 hours and they each invited 1,000 people or more we would have at least 24,000 people in attendance! So I started asking authors if they wanted to be included. I kept changing the date to accommodate the authors until I decided to make it a three-day event instead.
I invited each author into Carly’s Comets where we could all discuss this and pinned a time converter to the top so that we could get organized. As the hours started to fill I created the schedule. Considering that many of the authors had never hosted a book party before, I sent them the word document that I had used for my TOs as a sample and was coaching them through the process. Altogether we had 36 authors, some indie and some with publishers.
Triple A helped set up the event while I invited and organized authors, coached them and planned some give away prizes for guests.
I know you were flat out looking after your guests and visiting authors during the event. Can you tell us what the hardest part of the party was? Was it before or during the party?
The biggest challenge was creating and maintaining enthusiasm!
I didn’t know if people were reading the posts that I was making in Carly’s Comets. I was asking people to help me promote the authors by liking and sharing the Facebook posts I was making. If you look at my wall page and twitter account you will see that not enough participated in helping to promote the event, but if everyone had…we would have skyrocketed!
I subscribe to the theory that if we lift one person we all rise. I love to help people and so appreciate when someone helps me. It is a humbling experience when you help someone and they actually benefit from it. To me that is my reason for living. To learn and grow and help other people do the same. It is like eating or breathing, to me second nature and a vital component to life. So one would hope that one’s enthusiasm would be contagious and everyone would share in the excitement, give it their all and be on the same page in wanting a successful event.
Three thirteen-hour days without breaks must have been a huge challenge. How did you cope?
It was exhausting but I muddled through it. I ate my meals at the computer and took frequent stretching breaks. I guess I am the type of person that figures if you are going to do something you might as well do it big!
Were there any unexpected problems or emergencies you had to deal with?
One author broke her ankle and another was a no show but I was able to compensate by filling in the hours. At this point Triple A saw that I was handling it, so then I was on my own.
A strange phenomenon occurred during my two hours! While an author is hosting an event it is important that people do not click or comment on the previous author’s posts. When people click on the previous author’s posts it brings it to the top of the feed and pushes the current host’s post down the screen, out of sight. When that happened it was difficult to keep the flow going. Perhaps I should write a book on Facebook book party etiquette.
I find that Facebook’s tools such as tagging and posting do not work consistently enough to make it a viable marketing tool . My posts began to freeze and I wasn’t able to get all my information out during the two hour party finale.
From what I saw there was a tremendous amount of goodwill and everyone was having fun. What was the secret ingredient that made everything buzz?
I love win/win situations and that is what I wanted to provide. Hopefully everyone gained new readers and more exposure from the experience! I used a social network @SNRTG #SNRTG to retweeted all of my tweets about the authors and the party. Before and during the party I promoted the authors on my wall page and twitter. I created the hashtag #ccrelease for the party, if anyone wanted to join in and retweet. If you search #ccrelease on twitter you will see all the buzz. I posted all of this in Carly’s Comets asking authors and street team members to participate.
Would you do another Facebook book party and if so what would you do differently?
Since I was new to book release parties I felt better having Triple A as a back up, but soon I was manning the party on my own so I would just do it myself from the start in the future.
What advice would you give to another author thinking of doing the same thing?
Keep it simple. You can choose to have a month long party or a two- hour party.
Here are the big questions, every author will want to know, are you pleased with the outcome and how many books did you sell?
I have decided not to check my sales until Christmas morning! By then I will have exhausted everything in my repertoire and will see if my book is really taking off. I sold five books during the contest for the $20.00 Amazon gift card. I would have liked to have sold more and at least made my money back to pay for the card.
To date my financial investment is $100.00 and a tremendous amount of man-hours…but that sure beats the $5,000.00 I was originally quoted during those seminars to self-publish a book.
Carly, thank you so much for sharing your experience of your series release of Electric, books 1, 2, & 3 with us! Carly Compass’ books are out now and available on Carly’s Author’s Page on Amazon and at Smashwords Let’s hope you have a nice surprise on Christmas morning.
No blog next week because I’m exploring American Civil War battlefields, looking for welsh cannons for my next book in The Iron Masters series. Seriously, book research is tax deductible isn’t it? Even if it isn’t, I can’t think of a better way to spend a holiday?