Social media is powerful for connecting us (our books) with the very people we wrote them for to begin with. But, we are wise to appreciate that creating a brand and cultivating genuine and passionate fans is not going to happen overnight. The deeper the roots, the stronger the brand and the platform.
Why that is important is if we keep chasing the newest shiny, we fail to ever gain compounding results. We are chasing fad after fad. Thus a saner approach is to build places that are the most stable.
***Yes, we can build on Instagram and SnapChat and the like, but that will come with more risk and possibly devour time we need to write more books.
The blog is still the strongest and most resilient form of social media. Blogs have been around since the 90s and unless the Internet goes down? Blogs will remain.
But other than a blog (at least for the moment) Facebook is the next strongest and most resilient. I recommend Facebook because I come from sales and in sales we had a saying: Fish where the fish are.
readers fish are schooling on Facebook.
But here is where I often get a disconnect with writers. The first thing I often hear is Facebook doesn’t sell books!
And this statement is both correct and incorrect.
ALL social media is horrible for direct sales. Why?
It isn’t the place for it.
Trying to conduct direct sales on social media is akin to me showing up to a friend’s BBQ and toting in a portable table, boxes of books and a cash box then setting up shop next to the potato salad.
It’s rude. I would be invading that social space with a selfish agenda.
However, this doesn’t mean that going to the BBQ is completely useless for book sales. As I talk and chat with people and they find out I am a writer, they get to know me (hopefully like me) and this sparks curiosity and interest that could likely turn into a sale.
Additionally, if the person likes my book, there is a far deeper loyalty because I am the author they are “friends” with.
Doesn’t Does Work
Facebook, like a hairdryer, a screw driver or a jack hammer is a tool. Just because we are not getting the results we want doesn’t mean there is something wrong with the tool. We have to know how it works and how to use it for the results we desire.
We first need to understand the purpose of the fan page and this is where it can get sticky.
I do not recommend brand new authors with nothing yet for sale to have a fan page. First you don’t need one since you are not yet conducting any business. Secondly, it’s a formula to want to overdose on tequila and cookie dough when the only “fans” you have after three months are your mother and ten friends from your kids’ Aqua Tot class.
Building a fan page this way is excruciatingly difficult. This is why I recommend building your personal page first.
Your personal page is the foundation that will later support the fan page.
It can help you get to know people, and they get to know you and that you are a writer. Once you hit a couple thousand “friends” you can then build your fan page OFF your personal page.
This holds many advantages.
First, it makes navigation simple. You can simply switch back and forth across the two pages. Here is the view from the top of my personal page. I can switch easily and see if I have messages, etc.
Also, because folks have spent months getting to know us on the personal page, it is far easier to post a message:
Hey, finally getting an author page. Would you mind giving it a “like”?
The personal page has a lot more ability to socialize with others and this is the place you do the bulk of your initial networking.
Of course, you might now be asking, “Then why do we need a fan page at all?” Good question.
Why DO We Need a Fan Page?
YES. And the reason is that Facebook is very strict about keeping business and socialization separate. Now, this doesn’t mean we are the “all-selling-books-all-the-time-channel” on the fan page, then we only act like a human being on the personal page.
It only means that we cannot conduct commerce on a personal page without risking Facebook deleting our profile for violating the Terms of Service.
We CAN, however, post about books or classes for sale and promote them on a fan page. That is the purpose of the fan page.
Additionally, as your platform and fan following grows, eventually you will need a page that can accommodate over 5,000 people. A great problem to have, btw 😉 .
We DO NOT Need to Pay to Promote
A few months ago I attended a conference where I was not speaking, but I do enjoy learning from others so I attended the social media class.
*bangs head on wall*
This particular “expert” was busy scaring the bejeezus out of authors and telling them they needed to go to LinkedIn instead because no one sees your content unless you fork out cash to Facebook.
That was patently false.
We have to understand how Facebook chooses what goes in anyone’s newsfeed. Facebook runs the same way search engines do. They use algorithms to make sense of our behavior and give us more of what we interact with and less of what we ignore (because it assumes it is of no interest).
This holds true for the personal page and the fan page.
Recently, I posted a picture of my nephew on my personal page. I then got a distraught message from my aunt. All the other family members had gotten the image in their newsfeeds, but she did not. She was worried she’d offended me and I’d somehow blocked her.
I assured her it was not the case.
What happened was this aunt was very passive on Facebook. She never hit the like button or shared anything I posted (unlike other family members). Over time, FB assumed she was not interested so it no longer offered my content in her feed.
I told her that all she had to do to fix this was go to my Timeline and click like on a few things and maybe leave a comment or two and the algorithm should correct.
So Why Do Some Have to Pay?
Why authors end up having to pay to promote is they are failing to appreciate how algorithms work and are choosing content that does not work in their favor.
They are using the fan page for direct sales and people don’t want that. They post a lot of BUY MY BOOK and talk about upcoming releases and book covers and events which is all fine within reason, but that is ALL they are sharing.
Most people will just scroll past and they aren’t likely to interact with that kind of content, let alone share it.
The fan page is still supposed to be social. The only difference is that we are allowed a book table at the back of the room without offending anyone.
What happens though is that writers keep posting content no one is interested in engaging with. How Facebook tries to help is it offers us the ability to pay to alter the algorithm back in our favor.
But mind you, we can do this for FREE on our own simply by engaging and acting much the same way as we did on our personal page. I regularly get over 80% engagement and I have never paid Facebook a dime.
NYTBSA Lisa Gardner has an excellent fan page. Yes, she talks about her books, has everything easy to see and buy but she also talks about all kinds of other things that gets people talking and sharing and engaging. Ann Rice is another author who ROCKS the fan page. Same with Jonathan Maberry.
By the time we are spending the lion’s share of our time on our fan page, we really are there for true fans so we get more leeway how much we mention books. But notice even ANN RICE still talks about ballet and recipes and feel-good stories. She isn’t the BUY MY BOOK channel.
There is a lot more to using Facebook for advantage, but we have to get these basics first or we will just end up frustrated. Once we understand how Facebook gets content in front of our audience, we can then adjust our behaviors to offer us the advantage.
Does this help? Were you getting frustrated with your fan page? For the newer writers, are you happy you don’t have to rush out and get a fan page today? I recommend looking at authors who do the fan page well and learning from them. No need to reinvent the wheel!
I LOVE hearing from you!
To prove it and show my love, for the month of SEPTEMBER, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).
Check out the other NEW classes below! Including How to Write the Dreaded Synopsis/Query Letter!
All W.A.N.A. classes are on-line and all you need is an internet connection. Recordings are included in the class price.
You’ve written a novel and now are faced with the two most terrifying challenges all writers face. The query and the synopsis.
Query letters can be daunting. How do you sell yourself? Your work? How can you stand apart without including glitter in your letter?
***NOTE: DO NOT PUT GLITTER IN YOUR QUERY.
Good question. We will cover that and more!
But sometimes the query is not enough.
Most writers would rather cut their wrists with a spork than be forced to write the dreaded…synopsis. Yet, this is a valuable skills all writers should learn.
Sign up early for $10 OFF!!!
Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist September 2nd–September 16th
All fiction must have a core antagonist. The antagonist is the reason for the story problem, but the term “antagonist” can be highly confusing. Without a proper grasp of how to use antagonists, the plot can become a wandering nightmare for the author and the reader.
This class will help you understand how to create solid story problems (even those writing literary fiction) and then give you the skills to layer conflict internally and externally.
Bullies & Baddies—Understanding the Antagonist Gold
This is a personal workshop to make sure you have a clear story problem. And, if you don’t? I’ll help you create one and tell the story you want to tell. This is done by phone/virtual classroom and by appointment. Expect to block off at least a couple hours.
Log-lines are crucial for understanding the most important detail, “WHAT is the story ABOUT?” If we can’t answer this question in a single sentence? Brain surgery with a spork will be easier than writing a synopsis. Pitching? Querying? A nightmare. Revisions will also take far longer and can be grossly ineffective.
As authors, we tend to think that EVERY detail is important or others won’t “get” our story. Not the case.
If we aren’t pitching an agent, the log-line is incredibly beneficial for staying on track with a novel or even diagnosing serious flaws within the story before we’ve written an 80,000 word disaster. Perhaps the protagonist has no goal or a weak goal. Maybe the antagonist needs to be stronger or the story problem clearer.
In this one-hour workshop, I will walk you through how to encapsulate even the most epic of tales into that dreadful “elevator pitch.” We will cover the components of a strong log-line and learn red flags telling us when we need to dig deeper. The last hour of class we will workshop log-lines.
The first ten signups will be used as examples that we will workshop in the second hour of class. So get your log-line fixed for FREE by signing up ASAP.
Blogging is one of the most powerful forms of social media. Twitter could flitter and Facebook could fold but the blog will remain so long as we have an Internet. The blog has been going strong since the 90s and it’s one of the best ways to establish a brand and then harness the power of that brand to drive book sales.
The best part is, done properly, a blog plays to a writer’s strengths. Writers write.
The problem is too many writers don’t approach a blog properly and make all kinds of mistakes that eventually lead to blog abandonment. Many authors fail to understand that bloggers and author bloggers are two completely different creatures.
For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook.