Create the event at least one month before the start date. This will give you optimal time to promote, and it will give your friends plenty of time to join. Also, give your event an interesting title! It needs to stand out from all the other events that your competitors may be holding. I also recommend planning your event for the afternoon (between 7 and 10) during a weekday. This will increase the chances that your guests are at home and not at work or spending the weekend on the beach.
Create a buzz by posting the link to your event on Facebook at least once a week. You can also promote your event on Twitter, Google+, your blog and other forms of social media. I recommend posting on Facebook and Twitter at least once a day THE WEEK OF the event; this will boost awareness without overdoing things and it will also get your friends excited about your event! NOTE: It has been proven that more people will read your post if you incorporate a picture with it. Get creative and come up with interesting banners to go with your status updates. Here's a banner I created for my launch party:
Plan a few fun, yet simple, games for your guests to play during the event. Don't make everything about your book! This will quickly get boring and you will start to lose your audience. I recommend doing "Caption This" and "Fill in the Blank" contests every 20-30 minutes. (Maybe more often, depending on how engaged your guests are.) Remember to moderately post things about your book between each contest. This can include your book trailer, an excerpt, and links to sites like Goodreads and Authorgraph. But be careful, because your guests didn't come to your event to have your book shoved down their throats. They came to have fun, show their support and to gradually learn about your book as the party progresses. If they are interested in your book, they will purchase a copy without you having to PUSH them to. It's that simple.
Be sure to have giveaways! During my Everafter Chronicles launch party, I conducted three "Caption This" games and awarded a $5.00 gift card to whoever could come up with the funniest caption for each picture. (This was TONS of fun, by the way! I could not stop laughing!) I also held four author-related quizzes, and awarded a PDF copy of one of the illustrations from my book to each person who could answer the question the quickest. Here are a few screenshots of some of the games from my launch party:
Plan a grand finale. After spending hours in front of their computer at your event, your guests will really appreciate the thought and effort that you put into a grand finale. This can be something as simple as holding one last game, and instead of awarding a $5.00 gift card try awarding something bigger, like an autographed copy of your book. For my launch party, I made the grand finale a scavenger hunt. I hid a doubloon somewhere on my website, and challenged my guests to find the doubloon. After they found and clicked on the doubloon, they would automatically be directed to another website which challenged them to solve a riddle. First person to solve the riddle won a $10.00 Amazon.com gift card. It was great fun!
Planning and conducting book launch parties on Facebook can be a lot of fun. There really is no limit to the things that you can do. Use your imagination, and have fun!
Casey Sean Harmon