So today I have a message from another author in my personal FB inbox — you know, that weird secondary box they give us where people who are not our friends can message us. (FB calls it message requests, so check it out, I’m sure you’ll be amused.) In all fairness, the person didn’t actually say he was an author, but I’m gonna go out on a limb and assume he was because I can’t imagine why anyone in any other profession would be worried about how many Facebook fans I have or how many of my fans are actually buying my books due to Facebook.However, the individual brought up a few questions that inspired me to post, so here ya go!
FAQ: Does Facebook really help sell books?
Sure it does. Or it doesn’t. Yes, I know that’s not a straight answer, but it’s the best I’ve got. Ask me something that I can answer, because when authors ask me that question I truly cringe. I can’t tell you that if you post your book ten time a day on Facebook that you’ll sell more books. I can’t tell you that if you spend $5/day on Facebook ads that you’ll sell books. I can’t even assure you anyone will want your books if you give them away for free on Facebook.
What I can tell you is what has worked for me and why I consider Facebook one of my top marketing tools — with or without running ads.
When I started this gig, I was already very active on Facebook with my personal account HERE. So when I started my Fan Page HERE, I already had some idea of what sort of online presence I wanted to have. I made some decisions early on that have affected how I interact on social media, and if you are just starting out, I suggest you consider these questions as well:
- Am I using a pen name, or my real name?
- Do I care if fans discover my real name and connect it to my personal page?
- Will I allow fans to friend me or follow me on my personal page?
- Am I going to be myself online, or am I going to project a different persona to my fans? (And why would I want to do that?)
- Will I use my fan page to only connect with readers about my books, or will I interact with readers and use it the same as I would my personal page?
- Do I have a professional image that might conflict with my author image?
- Would I care if my co-workers found out I am an author, or if they follow me on social media or want to read my books?
- Would my behavior on social media impact my family or my job?
It’s a good idea to think about these things before you begin. If you have a career outside of writing (and pretty much all of us do, at least when we start out), you need to consider how your new life as a writer will impact your current professional status. You need to decide if you are fine with both worlds colliding, or if you’d rather they remain completely separate. It is possible to have a pen name and keep it hidden from anyone until the end of time; however, this is the age of the internet and just be aware that curious fans are the best detectives. If you want to be anonymous under your pen name with no ties to your personal life, be mindful of how easy it is to link email addresses and social profiles, and how things like pictures you post can become a link. You might be surprised how a simple Google search will link it all together for anyone on the web to see.
In my case, I decided that I was going to treat my fan page pretty much the same way as my personal page, minus a few of the swear words. Yeah, I do tend to swear a bit in real life, and people who know me in real life know that part of me. I tend to laugh at inappropriate things, I make stupid jokes, I am like an emotional boomerang most days, and I’m always wearing this pathetic excuse for a heart like a banner on my sleeve. Those who know me already know that. Yet how exactly was that going to translate to my author profile? Well, I’m too lazy to be anything except myself, so I carried on my usual hi-jinks and it just works. I already enjoyed Facebook and loved chatting and being silly with my friends. My fan page is just an extension of that — and a very valuable extension to my business.
FAQ: So how does goofing around on the internet help you sell books?
It doesn’t help me directly sell books. What my FB presence (and any social media presence) does do, however, is lead people to my door. I’m not any different or any more fabulous than any other author out there. I don’t have a secret ingredient, I’m not writing some blockbuster NYT bestseller, and I’m not the best writer in the world. But the reason I write books is because I love doing it, and I want to get paid for doing what I love. Getting paid for doing what I love means getting people to buy my books. Getting people to buy my books means finding a way to get noticed by strangers. (‘Cause let’s face it, my mom buying my book is not helping me pay my bills!) How do we get noticed by strangers? Use the internet.
Leading them to my door is not always a direct sale, but the impact of every connection is more complicated than that. So I keep trying to have fun on my pages and new people like a silly post or picture. Maybe they share that picture, and then a half dozen of their friends share it. Maybe some of them click on my page, wondering, “Who the hell is this EB Brown chick and why are people sharing her stuff?”. It’s the cascade of connections that matter here, not just the initial interaction. On my pages, you will see a wide variety of inspirational quotes, funny pictures, political musings, personal rants, relationship woes, and weekend party escapades (with pictures, until I delete them the next morning). I talk about my Great Danes and my past as a BMX champion. I post pics from when I rode horses and pics of all my travels. Why? Because someone who likes Great Danes will click that pic and become a fan. Because someone who used to race BMX bikes will get a kick out of that pics & tell their mother to read my books. I’ve attracted people within those niches who’ve become some of my most loyal fans. It’s all part of the big picture. Someone might hate a political post and complain about me to ten friends, and then maybe one echoes the complaint to a friend who gets curious and buys a book. Another person might love the hell out of every inspirational post I put up, share it with hundreds, and send more readers my way.
It’s the organic reach that I look at when I’m checking my Facebook stats. I want to see how many people are sharing, liking, and interacting. It just tickles my jimmies when I get a notification from two years ago from a post of mine that is still circulating, and someone new comments (on that 2 year old post!) that they just picked up my book — and that’s what a cascade of connections is all about. Sure, I run FB ads when I need to promote, but if you don’t yet have organic reach, I think your time is much better spent cultivating that before throwing money at ads.
I don’t have anything too enlightening to share regarding social media, but there is one thing I know for sure — I’d rather be really loved, or really hated. No one remembers mediocre people. As an author, I want people to tell their friends how bad my stuff sucks, or rave about how my book changed their life. That’s how I lead people to my door. If you like it, you are welcome to stick around. If not, well, don’t let the door hit ya in the arse!
So have fun, be yourself, and build your little army fan by fan. Post pics of your dog or funny cat memes. Makes jokes. Vent. Be human. Soon you’ll see that like minded people gravitate towards you, and you’ll be well on your way to building your own loyal fan base.
Thanks for reading. Sometimes I write books, too. If you’d like to be notified of my new releases, sign up for my mailing list at http://www.ebbrown.net/vip-list or follow me on my Amazon Author Page HERE.