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Monday, February 15, 2021

The Journey to Self-Publication, Part 17: Facebook Takeover Events

 I've gotten quite a few questions about why I finally decided to delve into self-publishing and how I'm doing it, so I figured why not create a new blog series!

Every Monday, I'll be sharing a piece of the self-publishing puzzle---from how I came to this choice to writing, editing, marketing, sales, and everything in between. Please remember that this is simply my experience, how chose to do things. Others do things differently, and that's fine! So, your mileage may vary, but in the end, I hope seeing yet another way of tackling self-publishing will help you on your path. 

Need to catch up on previous posts? Find them here:

I've read a lot of articles and books that state Facebook doesn't sell books. I disagree. Is it the best place to promote your books? Probably not, but let's face it -- there are a LOT of readers hanging out on Facebook, and when used correctly, you can tap into that market. 

For a while, Facebook ads were all the rage... though I've heard they're not as effective as they used to be, but I'm not sure how accurate that is. A lot of other people who are smarter than me and better well-versed in Facebook ads have written about them, so I'm not going to. Instead, I'm going to focus on a different way to utilize Facebook: 

Takeover Events!

What exactly is a takeover event? It's when you essentially "takeover" a group for a certain period of time, usually a few hours or all day. The owner of the group will grant you admin status for the duration of the event so that you can post without restriction. 

So, how does all this work, how do you find groups, and most importantly, why should you bother? I'm glad you asked ;-) 

Recently, I did 3 different takeover events over the span of 3 consecutive days. A 30-minute one that was part of a multi-author event, a 2 hour hour one, and an all-day one. I had different results with each, but overall, I felt they were successful. During the course of these 3 days, I sold 7 books and had almost 3500 pages read. Again, I'm not hitting any bestsellers lists, but these are readers I wouldn't have connected with otherwise, and with any luck, they'll go on to buy more of my books. I also gained some new followers and newsletter subscribers, and that's always a good thing! 

How do you find groups to takeover? 
Obviously, you can search Facebook for reader groups and a ton will pop up. You can then narrow those down based on your genre. Also, search for your favorite authors who write the same stuff you do and join their groups. A lot of authors will open their readers' groups for takeovers with the hope that you invite your own readers, and the hosting author thereby gets access to YOUR readers while you get access to THEIRS. It's a trade-off that tends to work very well. 

Bloggers will also have groups you can join, and I've found that these are often the best and most fun. Seriously, book bloggers are your best friends! I adore all the ones I've had the pleasure of working with. But I digress... 

Here are some helpful tips for finding groups to takeover and proper etiquette: 
  • Follow bloggers across social media platforms. They will often share takeover opportunities.
  • Ask other authors if they know of any opportunities.
  • Follow PAs on social media as they share a lot of stuff like this, too.
  • Join various groups and interact! Please, please do not join a group, ask to takeover, then promptly leave said group. That's rude. Don't be rude. 
  • Follow the blogger or author on social media. 
  • If you're looking to do a takeover in an author's group, take some time to get to know the author. Follow them on social media, share some of their promo posts, read one (or more) of their books if you haven't already. 
  • Basically, don't use these groups for just your personal gain and not offer anything in return. 
  • If you have a group of your own, offer to return the favor to fellow authors.
  • Promote the takeover on your own social media. Invite your readers / fans to attend and encourage them to share, too.

How does a takeover work? What am I supposed to do?
Have fun! Seriously, these events are meant to be fun, and while you're goal is to gain new readers and introduce them to your books, takeovers should NOT be all about "buy my books!" This doesn't work--trust me! 

Here are my tried and true tips for having a fun and successful takeover event:
  1. Plan ahead! I cannot stress this enough! Plan your posts ahead of time, because once the event starts, it will move fast and time will fly, especially with shorter ones. I created a Google Drive folder where I store all my takeover images and a doc with all my posts pre-written. This makes it much easier to just copy and paste as you go.
  2. Use images! They snag attention a lot better than a simple written post. I use Canva to create images that coincide with the posts. (See below)
  3. Talk about yourself more than your books. Let them get to know you. Share stuff about your life, your likes and dislikes, etc. Let them know you as a person as opposed to someone trying to sell them something.
  4. Sprinkle in posts about your books with the blurb, buy link, and an excerpt. If you can make this interactive, do it! For example, I have a teaser image that has the opening paragraph of my book. I post that with the blurb and then talk a bit about how I rewrote the opening so many times before settling on that one. Then I ask what they think, if they'd keep reading based on that paragraph alone. 
  5. Play lots of games! People love games, and if you can tie them in to your book, even better! Because my series is all about vampires and witches, I play games asking who their favorite vampires are. I'll encourage them to show me with a gif or meme, which makes it a little more fun. 
  6. Offer giveaways. People love to win stuff and I've found the posts I make with giveaways get double the interaction than those that don't. They don't have to be huge or expensive, either. I give away digital copies of my books, audiobook codes, and sometimes small Amazon gift cards. Because I have a series, I usually stick to giving away copies of the first book so that winners will be able to start at the beginning of the series, but also because my hope is they'll enjoy it and then go buy the rest of the series. 
  7. Don't make the requirements for playing the games too complicated. I've seen some where the author requires people to go do XYZ then come back, comment, leave a screenshot, share on social media, etc. If you make them jump through too many hoops, they'll just walk away. I usually just require people to comment with an answer to a question. It's simple for them, and it's way less work for me when it comes time to pick winners as I don't have to go verify that people did everything I expected.
  8. Engage the group with questions that encourage discussion. Avoid "yes" or "no" questions. Instead of asking, "Do you like romance?" ask: "What's your favorite type of romance?" This will get people talking. Readers love to gush about their favorite things, and once they do, others will join in to bond over their shared love of things. Also encourage people to talk about themselves, their likes, dislikes, etc. 
  9. Acknowledge every single comment. Even if there's not much you can say in response, at least take a moment to like what someone says. This goes a long way to show them that you see them and appreciate them taking the time to read your posts and interact. 
  10. At the end of the event, thank the host, thank everyone for showing up, and then invite them to follow you on social media. Include all of your links! I offer a free book to every single person who subscribes to my newsletter, so I always mention this. 

Sample takeover image with post: 

As writers, we’re told to start with action or a line  that will really  just grab a reader’s attention. Trust me, that’s a lot harder to do than you’d think. I rewrote the opening to Eternal Curse at least 5 times before I finally settled on this one. 

Based on this alone, would you want to keep reading? What’s the best or worst opening you’ve ever read in a book?

Doing takeover events can certainly be time consuming, and they can get expensive if you give away too much stuff. So keep your personal budget in mind as you do these. Most of all, though, have fun and meet new people! As I said, I've personally had success with these, and even if I don't make sales right away, I've gotten my name out there to people who didn't know me prior. Remember: publishing is a marathon, not a sprint. So is marketing yourself. 

Got questions?

Drop them in the comments!

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