Updated: Aug 25, 2020
Guest post by Anna Campbell
Identify What’s Currently Working in Marketing
If you’re an author trying to assess where to place your energy when it comes to marketing, it’s all a bit overwhelming, isn’t it? I’ve been a full-time author since I sold Claiming the Courtesan to Avon HarperCollins in New York in a three-book deal back in 2006, so I’ve seen a lot of fads come and go (book trailers as the be all and end all? Do you remember them?)
One thing that I’ve found consistently reliable is cross-promotion. That means identifying an author or several authors whose work is similar to yours in theme or mood. People who enjoy that author’s work might possibly also enjoy yours and vice versa.
Once you’ve made contact, there are many ways to get the word out then, via newsletter shares or Facebook page invasions or discussion of one another’s releases on social media.
Recently I’ve participated in a couple of multi-author hops, which have proven to be a fabulous way to extend the reach of my social media and pick up new readers. Emma (hi, Emma! Thanks for inviting me to be your guest today) asked me to talk a bit about participating in a multi-author hop so here I am. One proviso, though: I’ve done this twice and only as a participant. I’ve never actually set one up, but I’m hoping that the information I give you might help you on your way to organise or take part in what I found to be a really effective way of getting my books in front of new readers.
What is a Multi-Author Hop?
A number of authors decide to do giveaways on their Facebook author page at the same time. The two I participated in were a Halloween Hop and a Valentine’s Day hop. It was nice to have some theme/special event to hang the marketing efforts on.
With the hops I was involved in, there was a grand prize which consisted of a book from each of the authors involved and a $100 Amazon card, which all the authors contributed to. The prizes, both individual and overarching, are up to you.
Just a word of advice – you’re doing this to get people interested in your books, so a free book is a great way to achieve that.
If you want to throw in some swag or other goodies, that’s your choice. Also, if you’re giving away books, you need a different book in your individual giveaway from the one you put into the grand prize, in case the same person wins both. Because the hops I participated in involved authors from several countries, we made the giveaways international. Again, that’s an individual choice.
Deciding Who to Hop With
The two hops I participated in started out as an idea when I met a whole stack of wonderful historical romance authors at the Historical Romance Retreat last September in California. See what I mean about commonality? We all had dedicated readers who were likely to enjoy books by other authors writing in the same genre.
The person who set it up, who I will call the captain for ease of reference, set up an event page on Facebook and put together some memes that all the participating authors put up on their page regularly and well in advance, asking readers to sign up to the event. It’s good if all the advertising materials have a consistent look, so that every time a reader sees the meme, they think, “Ah, the Halloween hop!” or whatever.
How Much Preparation Time is Needed?
A couple of weeks’ notice is good. Too far ahead and readers get a bit bored with it all, too short a time and you won’t get the reach in terms of people signing up. You can advertise the hop in your newsletter and invite your Facebook followers to sign up too.
The captain also coordinates the questions that each author asks in their individual giveaways. You don’t want every author asking who’s your favourite book boyfriend. It’s best to have a question in your individual giveaway because it makes it easy for people to leave a comment and enter.
Some good examples are old favourites like:
who’s your favourite author
what’s the last great book you read
my book features a handsome Regency rake, who would you cast to play him in a movie
My question for the Valentine’s Day hop was what is your favourite romantic movie. If the hop has a theme, it’s nice to tailor the question to match that.
My experience is that readers have great fun with the questions so keep things fairly light-hearted and romance focused, if you can.
So, the Authors are Keen and Signed Up—What’s Next?
The captain also sends out a set of instructions to each participating author, including text for including on the individual page giveaways. This details the rules of the hop, the grand prize, and a gentle suggestion to like each author’s page.
You have to be careful how you word that because Facebook doesn’t approve of people being too pushy about readers signing up as followers. But if you say something like, “Make sure you like Ermintrude’s page when you’re there so she can track you down if you win a prize.” Another benefit about everyone using pretty much the same text for things like rules is it saves later problems when the winners are announced.
Participants must enter the giveaways on each individual page then report back to the event page that they have fulfilled the requirements to be eligible for the grand prize. There is a specific pinned post on the event page where entrants leave a comment that they’ve met the giveaway conditions. Obviously, the captain has to check that the contestants HAVE fulfilled the requirements before she announces the winners.
How Long Does the Hop Last?
We kept the giveaways for 3 days so people had plenty of time to enter and tell their friends to enter. The point is to get as wide a coverage as possible.
How Did the Hop Go for Me?
Really well! I picked up a stack of new followers, and a number of those people read my books and enjoyed them. Of course, as with any promotion, there’s probably a large silent faction of people who read my books as a result but I’ll never be able to quantify them. I noticed that my Amazon ratings went up significantly during the period of the hop. It’s also a fun activity for people who already follow you and who go on to discover a whole heap of great new authors and perhaps win some prizes in the process.
So, all round, I’d say this is an excellent way to spread the news of your books to new readers.
As a participant, I found no downsides to the promotion at all, apart from the fact that it’s fairly intensive for the period it runs. You need to respond to comments on Facebook and keep the energy level up on your page so that new visitors think that you’re a fun person to hang out with. On the other hand, if you enjoy interacting with readers like I do, it’s a great way to spend a couple of hours.
For the captain, there’s a bit of administration and she has to make sure that everyone has their prize posts up in time for the start of the hop. Things turn into a bit of a mess if any authors are late for that deadline. Readers like to hop from author to author without any hassle or any missing prize posts. It needs to be easy and fun for the entrants!
What’s the Future Looking Like?
I’m hoping to participate in more hops in the future. I really enjoyed meeting all the new readers and it was fun to work with my fellow authors to build our readerships. Good luck!
Anna Campbell is an Australian historical romance writer. She’s published 11 multi award-winning novels for Avon and Grand Central, and 24 books as an independent author. Her books have been translated into 24 languages. She’s currently working on a series featuring roguish Highland heroes, called the Lairds Most Likely. The Laird's Willful Lass, The Laird's Christmas Kiss, The Highlander’s Lost Lady, The Highlander’s Defiant Captive, The Highlander’s Christmas Quest, and The Highlander’s English Bride. Look out for The Highlander’s Rescued Maiden later in 2020.
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