5 Facebook Marketing Tips for Authors

| Posted in Social Media |


Month after month, Facebook and Twitter are the top sources of traffic for my site (after the Big G and its search engine, of course). If we consider that I spend much less time on Facebook than Twitter (I usually post to my FB author page 3 or 4 times a week, versus using Twitter incessantly throughout the day, because I’m become a tweet-happy addict), then Facebook is the clear winner when it comes to time spent versus results delivered. I should also point out that I don’t post links to my site on Facebook very often, so all of this traffic (1,000+ visitors in January out of about 23,000 total) comes via two or three updates a month.

And is getting traffic to my site a win insofar as book sales goes? It’s hard to say if the folks who come in via social media outlets are buyers (I suspect many have already bought), but it’s a rare day that I don’t have at least a couple of sales at Amazon (monitored via the affiliate links I provide to my own books) that originate on my blog. Sales aside, I believe that having an oft-visited Facebook page gives you a lot of brand-building benefits that aren’t easily quantifiable.

So, what’s the trick to doing well with Facebook as an author?

I’m not a guru (though am I dorky enough to listen to social media marketing podcasts), but here are a few things that work for me:

  1. Create a Facebook “Page — This is different from your personal FB account, which requires you “friending” people (and perhaps revealing more of your life than you’d wish to relative strangers) so that they can follow you fully. Pages are specifically for businesses, organizations, artists, bands, authors, etc. and can be followed simply by giving a thumb’s up. Once someone “likes” your page, you can keep in touch with them, letting them know about new releases, updates to stories, character interviews or other extras you’ve posted on your blog, etc. (Note: because of something called EdgeRank — see the infographic below — less than 20% of the people who like your page will see all of your updates, but you can pay a few dollars to “promote a post” that you want everyone to see, such as the announcement of a book release. There are also things you can do — keep reading! — to increase the number of people who naturally see your updates.)
  2. Include the link to your page in the backs of your books (especially useful for ebooks, where people can click directly from their e-readers) and ask readers to click like — As an author, this is really the only place you should be asking for likes. These are the people who have already enjoyed your stories, so these are the ones you want following you, thus allowing them to easily learn when you have more books out for them to grab. Many authors get this backward, believing that lots of Facebook likes will translate into lots of new people buying their books. I get lobbied for likes often from authors I’ve never heard of — a like from me would be meaningless because I have no relationship with you or your work. In short, you don’t want likes from people who never plan to visit your page again — due to the way Facebook’s algorithms judge share-worthy updates, this could even negatively affect your promotion efforts. (For those who are trying to figure out how to get more people to buy their books to start with, I’ve done lots of other posts on that topic; try 7 Reasons You’re You’re Not Selling Many Books for starters)
  3. Update regularly — This one’s fairly obvious. If you abandon your Page for months and only start making posts again two weeks before a book release, it’ll be as if you’re starting over from scratch. Because people haven’t interacted with your page in ages, they’ll no longer be seeing your updates. You don’t have to post a lot, but shoot for a couple of entries a week. If you’re already blogging about things that are of interest to your readers, some of your Facebook updates can simply be links to your blog. Here’s my author page if you want to take a look at how I roll.
  4. Make sure some of your updates encourage interaction — More people will see your updates in the future if you get more likes and (especially) comments on your existing updates. You can encourage interaction by ending your post with a question. For example, I got 78 comments last month on a quick question asking people what they were reading. (I got some ideas for new books to check out too!) I won’t do a question every time, as I figure it’s good to mix things up, but this is a great way to get comments, encourage conversations, and start to build a community (sometimes your visitors will start interacting with each other). All of these things make people more likely to visit again.
  5. Keep things interesting for people who have already read your book(s) — Because so many authors are trying to use Facebook as a place to sell their books to new people (I’ve already discussed why I don’t think this is that practical), they often post reviews or sales-pitchy tidbits from their existing book(s). Hey, there’s nothing wrong with throwing a character quotation or something in once in a while, but you should assume that the people who are most likely to follow you on Facebook are already familiar with your work. Think about the types of cool things you can post for fans who’ve already read everything that you have out. They may be hoping for teasers from the next book, links to author/character interviews, updates on how the next book is coming along, etc.

At the end of the day, you want to make your Facebook page a cool destination for existing fans, not a marketplace stall where all you’re trying to do is sell the books you have out. (Don’t worry, if you make your page a fun destination with an active community, the word will spread — i.e. people will share your updates — and new folks will be exposed to your online presence in a way that makes them want to check out your books.)

Bonus material for marketing geeks who really want to get Facebook:

What is EdgeRank?

Source: CopyPress

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Comments (20)

VERY helpful tips, Lindsay! I’ll certainly be taking these to heart! I have a Facebook page but I haven’t gotten a ton of interaction with readers from it yet. I’ll keep on keepin’ on, though! Your posts, as always, are extremely worthwhile to me in my journey as an author! Thanks so much for your hard work!

Nice post! I recently created a facebook fan page and putting up book covers and such there. I was actually searching for your link on how to get more ‘likes’ on facebook but looks like the dreaded 404. Will you be reposting that blog?

have you ever thought about integrating your blog posts, newsletters into facebook as well?

Cheers Lindsay, your blog is always a goldmine of info.

Hm, sorry about the broken link. Here’s the post I think you’re talking about (it goes over a lot of the same ground as this one):

I used to have a newsletter signup on my FB page, but one of the updates broke it. I definitely need to get that working again. Most of my blog posts are more for writers than the readers of my books so I rarely link to them on my FB page, but I definitely do when I post a character interview or some sort of book extra that would be of interest to readers.

I don’t, however, like the tools that automatically post blog updates, Twitter tweets, etc. on a FB page — I think they come across as impersonal and robotic, so people are less likely to engage.

I recently decided to cut down on the time I spend online because it was cutting into my creativity. This is one blog I’m going to continue to read.

You are a font of wisdom and advice, Lindsay. Thank you from the bottom of my inkwell.

Thanks for sticking with me, Elissa!

Yes, following a lot of blogs can be a time sink. Don’t tell the other bloggers this, but I actually do most of my learning — or keeping up with industry news — through podcasts and audiobooks. I can listen to ’em during times when I wouldn’t be able to be writing anyway.

Thanks, Lindsay. The facebook chart is especially helpful. I don’t know that I’m going to massage every little factor, but it’s nice to know what gets weighted more. If people need a reason to do video for their book, this might be it.

Thanks for the tips and especially that chart. I knew there had to be some fancy algorithm but it always seemed so arbitrary. Now I know some areas to focus on to get more page views (which hopefully will transfer to sales).

You’re welcome, Ed! I was glad to find the chart (and permission to re-post it), as it’s a better explanation of Edgerank than I’ve ever managed. 😛

Hi Lindsay,

Exactly what sort of Facebook page do you think an author should create? There are different types for businesses, products etc.

If you have more than one series of books, do you think you should have a different page for each series?



Heya Darrell,

I’d do “Artist, Band or Public Figure” (author is one of the choices under there) and just do one page under your name. Then you can talk about everything you’re working on and don’t have to worry about people trying to keep up with multiple pages (not to mention the extra work you’d have maintaining multiple Facebook pages). An exception would be if you’re writing under multiple pen names and want to build two (or more) different brands.

Good luck!

Love the infographic/ cartoon

Thanks for this very helpful and informative post. My problem is that none of my fans are facebook users. In fact I’m pretty sure they’re both living in a cave somewhere 🙂

Thanks so much for this–particularly including that infographic as what gets shown on Facebook has always been annoying mystifying.

Question though… while I have a good backlog of illustration I’m continuing to build and I am blogging fairly regularly now, I’m still in the process of actually finishing my first novel. Do you think there’s value in building a web presence/personal brand ahead of the release of the novel? Posting things about the writing effort alongside my other more general “creative” type updates. I’m thinking it’ll probably be at least eight months to a year before the novel will be ready for publication.

Hey Athena,

It’s definitely worth trying to build a fan base as early as possible (so you’ll have someone to buy that first book when it comes out!), though I think it’s best to get people who have tried and enjoyed your work — maybe you could post some samples on Wattpad or one of the other community sites with lots of readers. If you’re doing your own illustrations, there’s pinterest and too.

As for blogging, it never hurts to start early (and start getting links to your site), as it takes a good six months to a year to start getting noticeable traffic from the search engines.

I’d worry less about being on Facebook and Twitter ahead of time unless you simply enjoy using those sites. An exception would be if you’re hoping to attract an agent and a traditional publisher, as they apparently like to see that an author has done something to “build a platform” ahead of time.

Hope that helps. Good luck!

Hey Lindsay–what’s your position on interacting on others’ FB pages? Do you do a lot of that as well? Curious . . .

I don’t do that at all, Ilana, though I don’t think there’s anything wrong with it, and it’s certainly possible some random person might click on your name and check out your work. I’d still probably only do it if I really dug the author and their updates happened to appear on my phone, heh.

Cool beans. I’m also wondering if you’ve ever used FB ads and if so, what the results were. Also, I’ve heard you shouldn’t announce a sale of your books as an “event on FB.” Yea or nay–what says Lindsay Buroker?

And thank you for sharing these–and all–your thoughts. As an author and publisher, you are made of awesome!

Hey Ilana,

I’ve never done the events, mostly because I haven’t seen the point when I’ve seen others do them. I only lost money trying the PPC Facebook ads last year, but I may try it again when I launch a new series, just to see if anything’s changed. I do occasionally pay for a “promoted post” because it’s inexpensive, and I think it’s a good way to get your status updates (i.e. news of a new book release) into the feeds of people who have liked you in the past but don’t check your FB page regularly.

Thank you, Lindsay! This is all fascinating stuff. I’m in the process of tinkering w/my FB page, so it’s very, very helpful. 🙂

I’m a facebook newbie and I’ve been googling and searching. Then I decided to search your blog specifically. This cleared up *so* much for me. Thank you!

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