I grew up fantasizing about writing and publishing books. That was as far as the fantasy went. I naively assumed that once a book was written and published, it just floated into the universe and magically fell into the hands of its audience. Meanwhile, I associated words like ‘marketing’ and ‘publicity’ with ‘cubicles’ and ‘suits’ and ‘over my dead body’.
By the time I started editing professionally in 2008, the status quo for author success had changed. The proliferation of e-books and self-published authors meant that there could be hundreds or even thousands of titles similar to yours, that someone finding your book without good marketing was like finding a needle in a haystack, and that you were driving your marketing bus. It was the wild west of publishing and while some things have changed –the quality of self-published books is on par with traditional publishers, freelance editors are more common than in-house editors, and some traditional authors are bailing on big publishers to DIY their careers (and seeing success). The west is wilder. The elbow room is less, and the necessity for you to be as good of a marketer as you are an author is unavoidable. So, let’s get started.
Creating Your Author Page on Facebook
Facebook is one of the biggest social media platforms for those in the 25-55-age-range. With 2.07 billion users, the chances that a huge chunk of your audience is hanging out on Facebook are high. While you might have a personal Facebook page, you also need an author page. You can easily create a page for your author persona. Just:
- Click the down arrow on the top right of your screen
- Select the option, ‘create page’
- Select artist, brand, or public figure
- Add photos, information, links to your website and other social platforms, etc. that make you an accessible author.
What to Put on Your Facebook Author Page
When you are first growing you page, keep the focus of your author page on your author identity. In other words, if you also love sharing recipes, photos of your kids, or your political opinion, your author Facebook page isn’t the place for it…at least not at first.
Instead, think about what your fans are into. For example, let’s say you’re a romance author (ooh la la!). What do romance readers like? A big part of romance is about fantasy and escapism, right? Let’s brainstorm.
- Your books
- Beautiful photos of fantasy settings like Turks & Caicos, impossibly attractive Australian firemen (this is a thing, people), sensual food imagery (like champagne on silk sheets, but not spilled…that’s just upsetting)
- Information about events and promos –when your book’s price temporarily drops on Amazon or when you’re hosting an online party with fun sponsored giveaways (I’ll do another post later that gives details on this), when you’re doing an author signing, etc.
- Funny or romantic memes—things that affirm your audience’s value and that make them feel as special and beautiful as your protagonist, the landowner's ingénue daughter, Penelope, who’s caught the eye of the strapping young farmhand who’s perfect in every way (except he’s poor, y’all).
- Tips for romance –this could be comical, serious, sexy…whatever…use your writing as a guide. If you write erotica, then your audience might be interested in a listicle of ways to spice up life in the bedroom.
The one thing you don’t want to put on your Facebook author page is a bunch of desperate “buy my book!” content. That’s the worst and a bigger turnoff than your protagonist’s lover having cheese breath.
Create a Facebook Group or Book Club
Once you’ve established your author persona, considering –down the road, creating a Facebook group or book club. This is fun if you’re an avid reader or if you have a series with a big fandom. Groups are forecasted to become the next big thing in 2018 and are fun because once they get going, they put your audience in the driver’s seat. To create a group, go from your author page to ‘groups’ on the left side of the screen. Click group, and then select the option to ‘create group’. Come up with a name for your group, choose your settings, and viola. Group.
You do want your group to have a theme or a focus. Think of what kind of group you’d want to join or what you’d have fun moderating and go from there. Here are two ideas:
- A romance reader’s club where you all share what you’re reading and talk about the books. The benefit to you is that you get to stay on top of what your readers are reading, and it helps you get to know who they are more (which in turns shapes the content for your author page).
- A club dedicated to your series. Incentives for joining might be discounts and such, but this creates a place for your niche audience to have fun talking about your book, making and sharing memes, analyzing the characters, etc. See previous RE: benefits.
You get to interact more closely with your group because you’re not the only one creating the content. It’s also really fun to be one-on-one with your biggest fans and to learn from them.
Promoting Your Facebook Page
So, you’ve created your author Facebook page, and you’ve created a group and the crickets are just chirping. The axiom is “if you build it, they will come”; however, you should amend that to “if you advertise it, they will come.” When I created the Creative Editing Services webpage, I was so excited. Having been in content creation and content marketing curation for years, I knew that a tried and true digital marketing strategy focused on quality, targeted content would help me build an audience like that (snaps fingers).
I suffered the same delusions of success and grandeur that help me write books (you know, the ones where you imagine your writing being as blaze-amazeballs as it is in your head and people just getting it. You imagine how you’ll handle your J.K. Rowling level of fame, possibly the outfit you’ll wear to the red carpet premier of the movie version of your book (because it will be that good). I imagined my humble page rocketing to viral status in no time.
I launched and nothing happened. If romance authors wrote realistically about sex for the first time, that’s pretty much what it would sound like. Oh, all of that hype…and that was it. Huh. Look at him just laying there…snoring. The duke wouldn’t snore. **Picks up copy of The Damsel’s Secret, a book I just made up**. Of course, that’s why we need romance novels.
I’m getting off track. I ran a paid ad. I was at 47 “likes / follows” and that number stayed there. Of course, I was also only posting content every so often. It was hard to get on Facebook on a truly consistent basis to post content because I was busy writing, editing, and creating content…oh, and raising my kids. Whatever.
A blogger & influencer friend (at Eat, Drink, & Save Money) who I’ve known for over a decade was achieving some pretty good success with her blog. She’d taken some strategy courses including Rachel Miller’s Moolah Marketing course. At $500, the course wasn’t cheap. I joined the free Facebook group and watched a few free videos by Rachel. I liked her over-the-top bubbly personality and her infectious laugh. I also found that by implementing a few of her free tips, I was able to grow my page some more.
I signed up for the course and took it at my convenience. Just by implementing a few tips in the first few weeks, I was able to start growing my Facebook audience. For you as an author, this is important because it means you’re getting the word out there about your book. Here’s what to do:
- Click the right down arrow on the top of your screen to find the ad manger tool
- Use the as manager tool to create an ad
- You can choose engagement, brand awareness, reach, likes, etc.
- Build your ad. Be specific about picking your target audience. If you’re a romance author, you don’t need to pick “readers” in general. Find readers who love romance or target readers who are fans of an author who are similar to you.
- Run the ad for a limited time frame. I run my ads for no more than $5.00 a day and for one week at a time. I turn off the Instagram ads, too (recommended by Rachel) because prior to that, I’d boosted posts and they’d run on Instagram, gotten a ton of ‘likes’, but none resulted in new follows on Facebook or Instagram).
- After you see how well each ad does, adjust the audience, image, and text accordingly. Run the ad again. Rachel has a system for testing each of these things at once to create the perfect targeted ad.
While your ad gathers audience members to your author page, you can schedule content for your page. For a page under 50,000 likes / followers, Rachel recommends a combination of four posts per day –links, videos, photos, and original. Her course provides details on how to source content and how to know when to post it.
As your book gains traction and as your page grows, hopefully you’ll start seeing results in the form of sales and will have the option to hire a virtual assistant (VA) to manage your social media. They can handle your Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest accounts as well as your author website. Next week, I’ll write about growth-hacking Twitter and how to make the most of it as an author.
It’s one thing to write a book; it’s another thing to sell the book, and I know, it’s a pain when all you want to do is dance write. Use these tips to quickly establish your author brand and social media presence, so you can get back to the good stuff. Also, if you want to save yourself more time and effort, hire an editor to polish your book to perfection status. Visit my website to learn about my services and to get a free sample edit (500-1000 words) to see if we’d be a good fit.