How to host a book cover reveal event part two
Editor’s note: Throughout this book marketing series, I will have a few guest posts from authors and editors who have shown true promise in the topics they write about. My hope is that by bringing in guests with experience and knowledge, you’ll get an in-depth walkthrough of what to do and why, and the details will allow you to be effective in your journey as you market and sell your book.
In this post, Crystal Burton is going to tackle part two of her topic, hosting a book cover reveal event. You can see part one here, which discusses creating the event and how to bring in a crowd, but this post will cover preparing for the event, as well as the event itself.
When you have people waiting for the cover reveal, you’re still not done. You have to build hype for your book, and you have to prepare for the actual event so you don’t fall behind on the reveal day. You want to have fun, too, so make sure you’re prepared so you can!
Before the cover reveal
Before the book cover reveal takes place, you’ll want to get a few things set up to maximize potential for sales and followers. Here’s what I suggest (if you haven’t done these already). Do these things at least one week before your cover reveal. I don’t go into detail on how to do each of these things, as many of them are as simple as going to the websites and following their instructions.
Start an author page at Amazon’s Author Central
This will give you one place to send people to see all of your books. If they like one book by you, they may be inspired to buy your others.
Start an account at Amazon’s KDP
If you’ll be selling your book on Amazon, this is where you will set up your e-book preorders. Having the option for your followers to preorder your book is a huge marketing point for your cover reveal.
Set up your e-book preorder
Keep in mind that this will make your book visible on Amazon, so if anyone searches for your book, your cover will appear. That’s why we don’t do it until a few days before the reveal—to minimize the chance someone will see it early, and because it will take a few days for it to get set up.
If your novel is already formatted for e-book, go ahead and set it up on KDP as a preorder. You’ll need the e-book file, e-book cover image, and the back-of-the-book blurb for the description box. Be sure to set the release for a future date when filling out the information so it will set it for preorder and not for sale. Set the date for the exact day you want your book to go live. Try to set the price low, around $0.99; you want to reward your early shoppers with an affordable low price, then bring the price back up after the release date.
If your novel is still in editing and/or has not been formatted for e-book yet, you can still start preorders. All it takes is a document of some sort as a placeholder. I suggest a document with the first three edited chapters and a disclaimer that says, “This is the preorder placeholder and not the full novel; if you’ve received this copy by mistake, please e-mail [your e-mail here] for the proper file. Sorry for the inconvenience.” Don’t worry; Amazon does not send out any documents to buyers until the release date you entered when setting up the preorder, so this placeholder should never actually see the light of day. As soon as your book has been edited and formatted, upload the final file and it will replace the placeholder. The final e-book file must be uploaded ten days before your scheduled release.
Paperback preorders and why we won’t do them
Amazon doesn’t have the option to set your paperback book for preorder just yet. (I know, it sucks. I want them, too.) There is a work-around, but it involves many complicated steps and the use of Amazon Advantage. The guide I followed when setting up my own preorder was pretty straightforward, but it says that Amazon Advantage is a pay-per-year service (even though the website never mentions a cost) so unless you have great sales and sell more than one book a year, it’s not going to be worth the hassle. However, if you want to bother with it, check out the guide I used here.
Claim your book
Once your preorder has gone live, go into your Author Central account and claim your new book. This will ensure it shows up on your Amazon Author Page when people search for you.
Start an author account with Goodreads (optional)
If you’re planning on using giveaways to help market and promote your book, you’ll definitely want to maximize your reach by getting your book on readers’ “to-be-read” lists. A Goodreads giveaway is a great way to do this. You will need to have the book claimed as your own in order to do a giveaway, so follow the directions on the website to claim your book and set up your author page.
Set up your Goodreads Giveaway (optional)
Once your Goodreads account has linked you to your book, start a Goodreads giveaway. It will have to be a paperback, because they haven’t started e-book giveaways yet, but this will give you a chance to give away signed copies and drum up some publicity in the Goodreads community. I recommend setting it up to end a week after the scheduled release date so you have time for the copies to reach you before the giveaway ends. Goodreads promotes all of their newly listed giveaways and also the ones that are ending soon, and when someone signs up for your giveaway, it will automatically add your book to their “to-be-read” list. It’s a great way to get your book seen by readers.
Note: your paperback book does not have to be ready at this exact time; as long as it will be available for sale on the day of release, you can safely start your giveaway now.
Preparing your posts
You’ll want to save the actual reveal for the second half of your event so people have some time to learn about you and your book first. You will also want to save your preorder link and your Goodreads giveaway until after you’ve revealed your cover. This is because Amazon and Goodreads already have your cover image, so you won’t want to share those around until you’ve revealed what that cover is, officially.
I suggest offering one post every 10-15 minutes or so. You don’t want to overwhelm guests by spamming posts (they could easily miss a bunch that way) but you don’t want it to look like you’ve abandoned your own event, either. Having a few minutes between posts also gives you time to like and reply to your guests’ comments. Keep the posts evenly spread out, and plan them ahead of time so all you have to do is copy/paste your text for each post then just attach any images. Having everything ready early means you won’t be frantic the day of the event.
Your posts should be anything you think will grab your readers’ interest. Keep in mind that people love to be engaged; to put it bluntly, they love to talk about themselves. Take advantage of that by posting games, things they can relate to, and asking questions.
A few ideas for posts might include:
- An opening statement or welcome message as the event begins
- The book’s blurb if it’s not already in the description
- An author bio with links
- A few posts introducing the main characters from the novel (include a picture of a celebrity look-alike if you find one)
- Fun trivia about events in the novel that lead into related questions to the readers (For example, if I were doing a cover reveal for Lord of the Rings, I might say, “When the book starts out, it’s Bilbo’s birthday, but did you know it was also Frodo’s? I myself share a birthday with Alfred Hitchcock. Are there any famous people you share a birthday with?”)
- A post about the inspiration for the novel
- A few quotes from the novel and maybe a scene summary
- A game or two (This is usually done through memes. You’ll recognize such memes as “What Supernatural Creature Are You?” or “What Is Your Dwarf Name?” that require you to use the first letter of your name or the month you were born, etc. These are always a huge hit and garner a lot of attention. Make sure if you use a pre-made one that it relates to your theme or genre—don’t use “What’s Your Vampire Name?” for a contemporary romance reveal.)
- A post about difficulties during the writing, or perhaps what you found hardest to write
- The cover reveal itself
- A post linking to the Amazon preorder
- A post linking to the Goodreads giveaway if you did one
- Closing statements and a link to the book’s launch event (More about this in a moment.)
These are of course just a few ideas—get creative! Make sure you have all your images together in a folder for easy access. Write up all your posts ahead of time and save them in a document in the same folder. Keep the amount of work you need to do during the event at a minimum so you have more time to engage with your guests, and so you don’t forget!
Another popular event post is a giveaway. These are entirely optional and depend on you and your budget. The biggest piece of advice I can offer on this subject is to always follow through with your giveaways. If you say you are going to send a book, do so. If you tell someone they’ve won a gift card, send it to them. It’s good practice to send out the giveaway prizes within two weeks of them winning. If something keeps you from sending it out right away, stay in touch with the winner and keep them informed on the status of their prize until you can get it sent.
Now, if you’ve already got a Goodreads giveaway going (or if you’re like me and don’t really have the spare money in your budget for much else), that is probably enough for you. Let your guests know that they have a chance to win a signed copy through Goodreads and provide the link to the giveaway (remember not to do this until after you’ve revealed your cover).
Some authors like to encourage event participation by starting out the event announcing a giveaway for either an Amazon gift card, a free signed book when it releases, or some other prize that relates to the book or its theme. You might ask guests to comment on a post in order to be entered into the drawing, or ask them to share the event, or even just choose from anyone who attended.
It’s okay to have a giveaway that extends beyond the end of your event, because it includes those people who couldn’t make it during the event but who swung by afterward. Just make sure you come back to the event at the time you said you would and announce your winner. Most event giveaways that go past the end of the event run until the following morning or for 24–48 hours.
You can have bookmarks or postcards made in preparation for the event and give them away to anyone interested. (You’ll just need to PM people to get their addresses to mail them to.) If you have previous books out, you can offer to give away free copies of those (physical or e-book).
I’ve also seen people offer an incentive for preordering the book. Remember not to share your preorder link until after you’ve revealed your cover. However, this tends to be pretty popular as well. If you choose to do this, ask your guests to comment with a screenshot that proves they preordered your book or shared the preorder link in order to be entered into the giveaway. Make sure the prize is worth more than the price of your preorder so they feel it’s worth it (like a mug, gift card, or gift basket).
Leading into the book launch
When your cover reveal event is over, you’ll want to keep your guests thinking about you and your book. Guide them to the next step by ending your event with a link to the next event for your book’s future release. I’d suggest getting the book launch event started just before your cover reveal, but try not to share both events around at the same time or it might confuse potential guests.
The book launch event will need a cover photo. Don’t use the cover of your book until after it’s been revealed. You can use a placeholder at first then replace it with the final cover just before sharing it into the cover reveal event. Be sure to post the preorder link (and Goodreads giveaway link, if you did one) into your new launch event, too.
That’s all it takes
It might seem like a lot at first, but if you stay organized and prepare ahead of time, everything will run smoothly. If you’d like to see an example of a book cover reveal event, just type in “cover reveal” in the Facebook search bar. But most importantly, take a minute to breathe and admire your new cover. You wrote a book, and that cover is part of the reward for all your hard work. Celebrate it.