A cover reveal is supposedly the perfect opportunity to build excitement about your newest novel, but how do you get anyone other than your mother to care? My past cover reveals (all two of them) got lots of likes and more than a few comments, but they felt anticlimactic to me. I love my covers. I want my readers to be as excited about them as I am. But how?
On the flight home from Malice, the answer came to me. Host a cover reveal contest!
Now all I had to do was figure out how to do it. In case any of you want to try one too, here are my key learnings:Seven tips for a successful cover reveal contest:
Follow the rules. My favorite social media marketing tool is Facebook, but Facebook is persnickety about contests. There are rules, rules and more rules. Follow them and all is golden. Don’t? You might get yourself banned to Facebook purgatory. A place where your Facebook privileges are suspended or even revoked completely. Facebook rules, including those pertaining to contests, are at this page.
Have a single web page that summarizes the contest. I write for multiple blogs, but I posted the first day of the contest on my personal blog. This included the disclaimers and instructions for all days of the week-long contest. That way even as the contest continued to plug along, I had a single place I could refer people. Even though I thought I was clear in every post, I had multiple entries that I needed to correct each day.
Make it a week-long event
In my case, there were 5 key elements in the cover I wanted to highlight, so I spread the contest out over 5 days, with a unique prize each day. The grand prize round two was days later. Even my husband, who had seen the cover multiple times, started to wonder what the next “reveal” would be. And the participants created stories about how the 5 elements might fit together—some of them surprisingly close to the truth!
Have a grand finale
The final reveal, of course is the grand finale, but shouldn’t there be a grand prize to go along with it? In my case, I honored my fellow Agatha nominees for Best First Novel by giving a set of autographed copies of all 5 of the nominated books.
Ask for a little help from your friends
In this case, my friends are my street team. I had a special contest for a signed ARC of my book to street team members who shared the post. That got me reach to readers I’d never otherwise find.
I’ll admit, this contest took a lot more time than I thought it would. Posting the contest was only the start. I also had to check in on the posts several times a day, note who had shared each post and how many times, and reply to the relevant comments. I also had to re-direct people who accidentally posted their answers on the wrong page. I firmly believe that time spent interacting with my readers (and future readers) is time well spent. I don’t recommend doing this, however, if you’re up against a deadline. Make sure you leave plenty of time for contest administration.
What good is a contest if no one enters? I advertised in several ways, all low cost and low time:
· Posts on my personal and author Facebook pages. I started a week before the contest, and posted daily throughout it.
· Cheap Facebook post promotions. I was hesitant to do this, in case my contest violated any of the oh-so-grumpily-enforced Facebook rules, but I put on my big girl pants and did it anyway. I paid between $2 and $5 a day to boost the day’s post. Honestly, except for the final day, my organic reach far exceeded my paid reach.
· Posts in relevant Facebook groups. I belong to 5 cozy mystery groups, and I posted to every one of them. If you’re going to do that, be sure to follow the group rules.
· Dedicated blog posts. I dedicated the contest-week posts on Killer Hobbies and my Whole Life Yoga blog to the contest.
· An author newsletter article with a link to the contest.
If I’d had more time and energy I would also have posted on Twitter and advertised in Goodreads groups. Alas, that will have to wait for next year’s contest.
Considering my author page only had less than 600 fans and I’m a newer author, I was pleased with the interaction.
· Each day of the contest, my author page post was seen by 900 – 1200 people, 90% of that reach was organic.
· The final reveal post has been seen by over 2300 people. Four times the number of fans of the page it is posted on. Considering I didn’t promote that post and Facebook’s organic reach is usually about 5%, that is notable.
· Each day’s contest had 60 – 90 entries.
· The final contest (which required following the contest for 5 days and e-mailing me personally) had 54 entries.
· The “likes” on my Facebook author page grew by 70. (Not a lot, but since I wasn’t targeting that, I thought over 10% growth in a week was interesting.)
· Many of the contestants contacted me personally to say how much fun they’d had and to thank me for the contest.
Will I do it again? You bet! The fun I had alone was worth the costs of the prizes! Next year I plan to make it even more exciting.
How about you? Have you ever run a cover reveal contest? If so, how did it go? What ideas would you add to my list above? And even more importantly, what do you think of my new cover?
Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. Tracy loves sharing her passion for yoga and animals in any form possible. Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction was nominated for the Agatha award for Best First Novel. The second book in her series, A Killer Retreat, was released January, 2015 by Midnight Ink.
Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.