How having fun on FB can make an impact on your marketing

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.

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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 612q9obgkhl-_sy600_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.

Readers can find E.B. online at:
FACEBOOK: facebook.com/ebbrownauthor
TWITTER: @ebbrown_
GOODREADS: http://www.goodreads.com/EBBrown
OFFICIAL WEBSITE: www.ebbrown.net

 

 

 

7 Tips for discoverability that you might be missing

“All authors need a website.”

“All authors need a mailing list.”

“Authors need a Facebook account (or Twitter or whatever!)”

Sure, all of the above is good advice, but are you utilizing those tools in the most effective way? I really think many authors miss the boat with websites, mailing lists, & social media accounts.  The purpose of spending all that time online is to ultimately sell books. Yet I can’t count how many times I’ve went looking for more info on an author or wanted to sign up for a mailing list, and I simply could not find it. If I’ve had to click more than four or five times, you’ve already lost me….I’m moving on to another author who makes it easy for me to find what I’m looking for.

Discoverability means making it easy for readers to find out about you & your work.

1. Make sure your mailing list landing page states WHO you are (a blank landing page with just boxes to fill out makes the reader wonder if they’re in the right place and less likely to sign up) Check out my mailing list sign up HERE
2. Put your mailing list link (CLICKABLE) in the back matter of all your books in your “About the Author” section. If you have a list of books to your name, you can also add your mailing list link to the end of your book list.
3. Put your mailing list link in your Author Central profile, along with links to your social media sites. AC is one of the first places readers will look to find out more about you, so make sure you pack it with everything a reader might be looking for. See example HERE: AUTHOR CENTRAL PROFILE.
4. Put your mailing list link in the “About” section on your Facebook Fan Page, if you have one. SEE EXAMPLE HERE: FACEBOOK
5. Put your mailing list link in a prominent spot on your website. Look in the upper right hand corner HERE, and it is also a pull down on the main menu (VIP List).
6. On your website, make sure readers don’t need to look too hard for what they want. The less clicks, the better. Make sure a list of your book and vendors you sell them on is easily accessible via the first page or directly on the menu bar.
7. On your website, make every book cover image CLICKABLE with either a direct link to Amazon, or redirect link to your page where all your book vendors are listed. When you click on BUY BOOKS on my webpage, you’ll see each vendor listed as a clickable image; in addition, I link all the covers direct to Amazon.

Make it easy for fans to find you by maximizing the effect of your online presence. Part of being an indie author is not only having an online presence, but utilizing it in the most effective way.

Now, go fix your website and your Author Central profile. And for Pete’s sake, please add something to your blank mailing list sign up form!

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About mailing lists & stuff

I would like to take a few minutes to go over mailing list compliance tips and how mailing lists are valuable resources to authors. I’ve received questions asking why I do not provide a total list of all the readers who sign up for my giveaways so that all the authors can put them on their mailings lists. The straight answer is that I can’t do that because of things like the CAN-SPAM Act found HERE.
Readers need to opt-in to your list. If you are adding emails manually to your list, you are dancing with trouble.

Many of you have been around long enough to know how to manage your email list without getting into hot water. We also have a great bunch of new authors who may not be up to speed on how it all works and how your mailing list is a powerful tool for your career. This post is aimed at those who are just starting out so that (hopefully) you can build a quality list without having to experience the stumbling blocks lots of us have already been through.

Ideally, you want your list to be full of readers eager to read your next book. The best way to encourage sign ups organically is to put a link to your mailing list in the back matter of your books, include it on your website and all your social media accounts. Make it super easy for readers to find. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried to find a list sign up for an author and simply gave up because it was just not accessible. Check out my website, and you will see that my mailing list sign up is in the upper right hand corner along with my ARC sign up; it is also listed in the menu bar for even easier access. (See HERE for example.) On my FB Fan Page, I use the “sign up” button which is right at the top of the page. (See MY FB PAGE HERE for example.) The point is that you need to make is super easy for readers to find information; the more clicks a reader has to make, the more likely the reader is to give up. **As an aside, that goes for links to buying your books on your website as well. Make your book covers clickable straight to Amazon, or make a landing page with all your retailers. (example: EB Brown landing page)**

Back to lists. As I said above, readers need to opt-in to your list. This means they need to sign up voluntariliy. If you are purchasing mailing lists or manually adding to your lists, you can end up in big trouble with your mailing list service, including having your account shut down until you can PROVE that all those people opted-in to your list. Can you see where I’m going with this? If you’ve manually imported emails to your list, how exactly will you prove they signed up? You can’t. That’s why all the major list services provide opt-in confirmation prompts.

So you’re new and you want your mailing list to be huge RIGHT NOW. Well, I say hold your horses. This is one of those things where it is not the just quantity that counts – quality of your list should be an equal consideration. Your list ideally will be filled with people who want your books. Signs of a good performing list are many: high open & click rates, minimal unsubscribes, and no spam reports. Many successful authors go through and prune non-performing emails in their lists on a regular basis. You really do not want people to sign up if they aren’t interested in your books. That leads to unsubs and spam reports, and it’s a big waste of your time. Cultivate your list carefully and soon you will be able to estimate how many books you can sell on a release day, or how many readers will share your posts, or how many on your ARC list will write a review. When you know your readers, you can start to plan your career rather than throw everything out and hope something sticks.

So how does the mailing list promotion come into play? Well, I started doing mailing list promotions because I participated in one that was successful. It was full of authors I knew were popular in my genre, who I knew had fabulous fan bases. I ended up with new list members (who stuck around!) and ended up selling books and moving lots of copies of my freebie. What confirmed to me that it worked was the sell-through — I not only moved a bunch of freebies, but the rest of the books in that series sold as well. I took note of the way the promo was managed and I made a few changes, and that’s how I came up with the method I use. It’s actually funny that I ended up doing this, because I’m not a fan of inorganic methods of attracting sign-ups.

I hope that all makes sense. Any questions, ask away.

A few other links to check out:
10 Email marketing spam laws you need to know

Examples of compliant & non-compliant lists

Guidelines for List Compliance