If you’re new to the online book community, you may or may not have heard about takeovers. What are they? They’re another interactive tool to get your books in front of new readers. Basically, a takeover is a Facebook event, (they can be held in groups too) created by other authors, bloggers, and, occasionally, readers. They’re usually done for cover reveals, new releases, fundraisers, or just about any other reason you can think of. Here’s how they work.
Let’s say I have a new release coming out and I want to celebrate, remind my current reader base that the new book is out, and attract new readers all at the same time. I’ll create a “new event” on Facebook or announce there will be a takeover in my own group on a specific date to coincide with the release date. I’ll then ask authors, usually who write in the same genre as me (if it’s a fundraiser or other event, it won’t make a difference which genre they write) to sign up to “takeover” the event. Common timeslots lengths are fifteen, thirty, or sixty minutes per author, depending on the event, how long it will be running, and how many authors are asked to attend. All the authors taking part in the event should invite their friends and followers to attend. This increases all the participating authors’ exposure to readers who may not have heard of them yet. I try to post the takeover link on my wall and in my reader group a day or two before the event, and then again on the day of the event, reminding my readers that I’ll be there. Inviting your readers will usually increase the comments on your posts and bump them to the top of the feed every now and then.
Sometimes, the organizers will create and run a group Messenger chat prior to and during the event, so all the participating authors can stay up to date on what’s happening and receive reminders when their timeslot is approaching. The authors may or may not be introduced by the event organizers in a post at the beginning of their timeslot, letting the attendees know who is up next. More often than not, this will be done, but sometimes the previous author will announce you or you’ll just start posting at your assigned time.
So, as an author, what do you do during your takeover? Pretty much anything you want! Your first post should be an introduction—tell the attendees who you are, what genre your books are in, how many you have out, etc. Also, thank the organizers for allowing you to takeover the event for a bit.
After your introduction post, you can post any of the following, it’s recommended you include a mix of the different types of posts. Space them out so you’re not sitting there with ten minutes to go to the end of your slot and nothing left to post. If you have a lot of books to cover, post every 2-3 minutes. If you don’t, then every 5 minutes is fine.
1) A “stalk me” post. Some authors put their social media links in the post with their bio. I prefer putting my website in my bio/introduction post, then putting the rest of them, with the Facebook page link first, in another post. The only two links I put in their own separate posts are my newsletter signup and my FB reader group. This way they don’t get lost and skipped over in the other posts.
2) A teaser for your book. A teaser is a stock image (that you have the rights to use!) with a short excerpt (1-3 lines) from the book, the title of the book, and your name. Include the buy links to the book in the post. (These can be for already published books, pre-order books, or an upcoming book in a series that does not yet have a pre-order link. If it’s the latter, provide the links to the first book in the series, even if you have it listed in another post.)
3) Video trailers are similar to a movie trailer, telling the readers a bit more about your book. There are several programs you can use to create book trailers—PowerPoint, iMovie, Windows Movie Maker, etc., or you can hire someone to create them for you. Again, when you post the video, include all the buy links for the book.
4) An excerpt from your book. Pick a short (1-3 page) excerpt from one of your books (already published, pre-order, or work in progress) that will grab the readers’ attention. It can be a sexy scene, sweet scene, or suspenseful scene. Make sure the excerpts are completely edited if the book is published or on pre-order. If it’s a work in progress, mention something along the lines of “Please excuse any typos as this is a work in progress” at the beginning of the post. If you have buy links to the book, again, include them. Also, at the end of the excerpt, I like to add “Copyright ©2018 Samantha A. Cole.”
5) Giveaways! These can be done in a number of different ways with different prizes. Some reader favorites include:
- “Caption this photo”
- Name/date of birth/what color shirt are you wearing types of posts (I’m sure you’ve seen several of those unless you just joined FB this week!
- “What was your last 5-star read?” “When was your first kiss?” or any other fun question for readers to answer.
- Complete this sentence . . .
- Replace a word in a movie title with . . . (pick any word!)
- “Comment some pictures of hot military guys!” “Comment a picture of a fireman with a cute puppy!” “Comment an outfit you would love to wear to a BDSM club!” Or anything else that has to do with the theme of your books! Remind readers to keep them within Facebook’s decency guidelines.
- Meme wars! Have readers post different memes and give them a theme to follow.
- Anything else that you can think of that might be fun!
When it comes to giveaways, there are things you must not require for people to enter because FB and Amazon frown upon them. Do not ask participants to tag anyone. Do not require a purchase or pre-order. Do not require they like your page or follow you on any other type of social media. You can suggest any of those, but they can’t be requirements to enter.
In the giveaway post, let participants know what they need to do to enter, what the prize is, and how you’ll be choosing the winner. Most of the time, the winners are chosen at random. I use Random.org to choose my winners. You enter the number of participants, then the site randomly chooses a number. Count from the beginning entries and find the winner.
Close out the giveaway by posting a gif or image saying the contest is closed, winner will be announced in a moment. Before you announce the winner, click on their name in the comments and contact them by messenger! This is very important. A new scam is people creating a profile in the name of the winner, stealing their profile image, then contacting the author to claim the prize (usually an e-book or gift card). Shortly after the prize is sent, the fake profile is removed, and the author doesn’t know they’ve been had until they’re contacted by the real winner. So, make sure you’re sending the prize to the actual winner!
Once you’ve contacted the winner, then congratulate them in a comment on the giveaway post.
Prizes can include a free e-book (you can gift through Amazon or any other book market, Instafreebie, or Bookfunnel, or you can send a mobi file direct to their Kindle. Avoid sending any book to the winner’s regular email address). A $5 (or any other amount) e-gift card for Amazon or other book market. A signed paperback book. Swag.
Ask the event organizers when you should close out your giveaways. Most will ask you to pick a winner by the end of the next day, but they may also leave it up to you.
With some takeovers, there are so many participating authors that you may have trouble finding your giveaways the next day. I put “GIVEAWAY” at the beginning of each contest I run. Then when I want to find it again, I go to my profile activity, the event, or the group and search for that word. All my giveaways (and sometimes others’) will come up, with the most recent at the top.
At the end of your timeslot, thank the attendees for participating and the organizers for having you. Let everyone know when you’ll be closing out your giveaways.
Try to be on time, ready to post, when your slot comes up. Many organizers will add you as an admin or moderator to the event or group, so you can pre-schedule your posts. If you’ll be doing the takeover live, be prepared. Create a document, beforehand, with what you want to post so all you have to do is cut/paste. It will make your takeover so much easier and reduce your stress dramatically. I have a saved document that has all my blurbs, buy links, social media links, hashtags I like to use, my bio, and anything else I need for posting on a regular basis.
If the organizers let you pre-schedule your posts, take advantage of that so you can interact with those who comment on them, instead of trying to do it between posts or after you’re done posting. (Thank you, Abbie Zanders, for reminding me to add that!)
Reply to comments on your posts with a like or your own comment. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t see a lot of comments on your posts. Sometimes participants check in later in the day or the following day. Some may not like or comment on a lot of posts, but that doesn’t mean they’re not reading them.
Try to observe a few takeovers as a reader before you actually do one.
Most of all, have fun! Interact with the participants and other authors. Comment and like the other authors’ posts. Don’t just drop your posts in there and leave. I’ve made some wonderful friends in the book community by commenting on their takeover posts!