Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Small Town Hearts by Christine DePetrillo

I did it. Actually, we did it.

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Author Amanda Torrey and I started a reader group on Facebook called Small Town Hearts. Both of us had our reservations about taking on such an adventure so we decided to join forces and get to know a core group of our readers. Together. We both write about small towns in New England and had some crossover readers already, but this group represents a more structured attempt to connect with our audiences.

So far, it’s been an absolute blast!

We designed the reader group page and then advertised it in our separate newsletters, asking readers to join the group. Within a day we had a bunch of readers knocking on our virtual door. Excitement buzzed through us! The beauty of teaming up was that we didn’t have to experience the empty feeling of starting a group and having no one join. Between the two of us, we pulled in a nice variety of fun readers who wanted to be there in Small Town Hearts. If they didn’t want to be there, they wouldn’t have accepted the invite.

Amanda and I channeled our excitement into a super awesome kickoff party on the Saturday after the invitation went out. The party included several games throughout the day with small prizes. Participation in anything going on in the group earned members extra points toward the Grand Prize, which was a Fire 7 Tablet and a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

The group page had activity all day long during the kickoff party. With two of us working to keep readers engaged, it didn’t seem like that much work. In fact, I’ll let you in on a little secret… playing in Small Town Hearts was the highlight of that weekend. I enjoyed the company of readers I already knew, met many new readers, and got to joke around with a favorite author – and friend – Amanda Torrey. It’s also awesome to be teamed up with an author who is more than willing to do her fair share of the work in running a reader group. I was that kid in school who hated group work because I always ended up doing ALL the work. I get a little upset when partners don’t pull their weight, but Amanda is fabulous, as I knew she would be.

We’ve split up the weekly work of hosting the group too. We schedule two posts a day, rotating who posts in the morning and who posts in the evening, and we have the option to spontaneously post whenever we want. Days of the week have themes too – Mood-lifting Monday, Tight T-shirt Tuesday, Warm Fuzzy Wednesday, This or That Thursday, and Flashback Friday. Saturday and Sunday are open for any kinds of posts. Flash games/contests for small prizes can also pop up at any time so readers want to keep checking in.  

I can’t wait to see what else we’ll do in Small Town Hearts. Amanda and I have lots and lots of plans for more fun games, contests, guest author appearances, interviews, and sneak peeks into our books.

There will most likely be pictures of hot heroes too.

I would definitely recommend starting a reading group if you are an author or joining one if you are a reader. If you can pair up with a buddy who writes/reads the same stuff as you, even better! Partying from the comfort of your home where all you need to bring is an electronic device is a great way to party if you ask me.

If you want to join us at Small Town Hearts, we’d love to welcome you to the fun! Check us out! You could be our next lucky winner and you’ll certainly be treated like a friend.   



Leah St. James said...

Great idea, Chris! Sounds like you've turned what could be a daunting task into a ton of fun! I know your readers must be having a great time, too.

Diane Burton said...

Many (four) hands make the work light. It sounds like you and Amanda have worked out a great method of handling your group. Best wishes to you both.

Margo Hoornstra said...

Nothing like turning those dreaded promo tasks into fun times. Congrats on your growing success. Does sound like a blast.

Jannine Gallant said...

A couple of questions (are you surprised?) to clarify. It isn't a reading group that chooses a book to read together and discuss? It's more of a chat about books in general group? Just curious. It sounds like you're having a good time and engaging readers. That's always a huge plus!

Rolynn Anderson said...

Way to go, Chris (and Amanda). We are told when we find 'our readers,' never let go, but fan readers are kind of a mystery to me. I've never been focused on an author in that way. Maybe later you can tell us more about the profile of a reader who likes interacting with authors of their genre. I think we have to know them to find them. Good work!

Vonnie Davis, Author said...

What an awesome idea. I love small town stories, both reading and writing them. You can create some quirky characters that add a special layer of reality to the story. Go you!!

Christine DePetrillo said...

Jannine, a reader group comprised of readers who like small town romances and have read our books.

Christine DePetrillo said...

Jannine, a reader group comprised of readers who like small town romances and have read our books.

Barbara Edwards said...

What a wonderful idea! Let us know how it goes over the next few months. I bet its very popular.

Alicia Dean said...

Love this idea!! Sounds like you two have done a spectacular job. Who doesn't love small town romances? :D