Games of course!
The name of the, uh, game is promoting your book. The games, quests and challenges should be geared toward maximum book promotion.
Also, keep in mind the order of the games. If one of your challenges is for the Release Party guests to invite more guests to the party, then make sure that challenge is at the beginning of your party!
- Challenge: The More the Merrier. Have your guests invite their friends and associates to your release party. They come back and report when they have done it.
- Challenge: Social Media Parfait. Your guests share your book link on all their social media profiles. You can do this challenge one at a time if you need to fill more than one time slot with activities, or you can jumble them all together into one challenge. You're going to get mass exposure from this challenge, which is awesome.
- Game: Favorites and Variations. If your book is about vampires, then you invite your guests to find and post a photo of their favorite vampire __________. It could be movie, book, actor, portrayal whatever. Variations of this are endless. Your guests will love searching the web for fun photos of their fave actor or whatever.
- Game: Favorite Lines or Scenes from the Genre. If your book is Sci Fi, then have your guests, who are most likely aficionados of the genre, quote their fave lines or scenes from books or movies. The guests will love this, and often lengthy discussions will arise. Don't discourage these conversations! You want buzz going on, and you want it going on as a result of your book. The guests will associate those positive feelings with your book!
- Quest: Search and Find. Have your guests find facts about you or your book or past books. Don't be shy; this party is about your book, and therefore...about YOU! Have them visit your blog page, your Twitter profile or author page and find some trivia. They can PM you the answer. You can even plant things ahead of time if you like!
- Quest: You want buzz about your book. If you are publishing on Amazon, your book will have a sample option for readers. Send your guests on a quest to retrieve a line or scene or detail from the sample section of your book. That action of them clicking and reading will get their brains in the finding, clicking, buying mode! I'm not even making this up. (Check out THIS book for great info on internet marketing. It's called Convert Every Click and I really loved it.)
- Challenge: Share and Share Alike. Have your guests share your blog URLs, Facebook page for more likes and similar such things. You're boosting your exposure and trying to build up some brand recognition.
- Game: Set the Scene. The author whose release party I helped with had a great idea. She had the guests come up with suggestions for items that might be in a particular setting in her book 2. The winner's idea would be presented in the book! Some authors might have the guests play Choose the Name or something similar.
- Prizes: The obvious thing you want to give away is copies of your book! Ebooks are the cheapest prize to offer, and could end up with great dividends if you get some nice reviews out of it. A hard copy of your book makes a nice grand prize at the end of the Release Party. Other prize ideas are bookmarks, magnets, buttons or any other swag with photos or representations of your book on them. You can get super elaborate with beautiful gifts, or you can go easy. One author I know made lovely necklaces featuring the book cover for prizes. Another author was short on time, and the prize of the hour was ebooks. All good choices.
- Conversation and Etiquette: The way you behave at a FB Release Party is the same way you would in real life of course! Graciously welcome your guests. Like every comment you can, welcome conversations about all subjects that your guests bring up. Be gracious as they compliment you on your fantastic achievement. Not everyone has the ability to stick with a novel and get it published! Follow through with the prize winners. You can utilize PMs to get email information for prize distribution or snail mail addresses if needed. Thank everyone for coming and try to include everyone you can in comments and conversations so that no one feels left out.
This reminds me of the question of timing. If you have blocked out a two-hour time frame, then a good rule of thumb is to have eight games. You run your games in fifteen minute increments and close the games at the end of each one to limit the prize pool. Using your random picker web tool, enter the names of those who participated in the challenges and then you'll get your winner. It's so fun to announce the winners!
Your Release Party is a great time to reveal covers, make announcements about sequels or prequels, or announce release dates etc. Your guests are there because they are excited to celebrate your book with you, so the atmosphere is upbeat and positive. You're going to have a lot of fun with it, and you're pretty much guaranteed to increase sales as a result of just a couple hours of your time. Best of luck.
If you would like help running a Release Party, send me a note on Facebook and I'll give you more information. GOOD LUCK!