Friday, September 9, 2016

Indie Publishing Success- Facebook Pages for Indie Authors


Facebook author pages is a subject that is frequently discussed in author circles. Publishing houses
often push their authors to establish a dedicated author page, yet the author doesn't know how to best utilize it. Meanwhile, many indie authors are questioning the value of these pages due to decreased engagement with their posts. I believe these pages are still of great value for a few reasons:

The Value of Facebook to Authors

Opportunities for genuine interaction with readers.
Comment threads can develop into conversations, which allows the author to build connections with her or his readership in a way that a newsletter, tweet, or blog post does not.

Easy sharing of information.
Word of mouth (yes, virtual/cyber word of mouth counts) is critical in book marketing. When a dedicated reader shares your post about your latest release, that implicit endorsement carries weight with her/his Facebook friends who are also readers, particularly if they read in your genre. If these readers are not familiar with your work, there's a good chance they'd never have heard about your book if your announcement was limited to your website and newsletter.

It's more active than a website.
Active marketing strategies are critical. It's the rare author who can rely exclusively on passive strategies, like putting up a post on her/his website and waiting for the sales to roll in. Yes, a non-sponsored Facebook post is still a passive post, but for people reading it, the opportunity is there to share it, thus putting it in front of new and different readers. That sharing of information makes it active, and it gets you and your work out in front of new people.

Building a support network.
Some of the nicest people I know are people I've met through my author presence on Facebook. Some are readers who love my work, seem to like me, and are always happy to go the extra mile to help me out in a variety of ways. Some became the core of my "street team" (which is a topic for another day). I've also developed friendships and professional relationships with authors, editors, cover designers, and audiobook narrators. I don't know where I'd be without those connections.

Facebook is huge.
Despite its shortcomings, Facebook is still the big dog in social media. (Or, at least 'a' big dog). Not having a presence there is a missed opportunity.

How Should I Utilize My Author Page?

Don't just advertise your works for sale.
You can't, and shouldn't, keep up an active Facebook author presence if all you do is post new release announcements, "buy" links, and news of sales and giveaways. You need more, and it needs to be interesting. Some of the things I include:

-Snippets from my work in progress. (Preferably something funny. If a character makes me laugh while I'm writing him/her, there's a good chance my readers will get a chuckle out of it too.)
- Interesting things I learn during my research.
- Photographs from my research trips.
- Other interesting photos, for example, if I meet up with a fellow author or another industry professional.
- Cover reveals
- Updates on my writing progress.
- Celebrations
- Freebies
 -Content to draw readers to my website

Remember it's "Social" Media
Try to be interactive. Reply to their comments. Be open to questions. Solicit their opinions and suggestions. Always remember to say thank-you. Without readers, we don't have a career.

Newsletter Signup and Other Features
Facebook's author page makes it easy to set up a newsletter signup form on your author page. Use it. Visitors to my page also see things like: "Author App", which provides cover images, synopses, and links to my books for sale; a link to Authorgraph, an app which allows authors to e-sign Kindle books; a link to my website, and info about me. All of it is very easy to set up.

Pay Attention to the "Insights" Tab
"Insights"will give you information on views and interactions with your posts, so you can see what is most interesting to your page visitors.

Frequently Asked Questions

Facebook changed the way they handle news feeds, and now my post views are low. Can I do anything about it?

Yes, many of your posts will have low views, but not if they're interesting. For example, I have a little over 700 likes on my Facebook author page. Some only get 20% engagement, but some do very well. I posted a link to a free audio short story, and it has over 1,400 views. I did a cover reveal for a forthcoming book and it has about 1,300 views. So, it is possible to get solid engagement. Things to consider:

-Likes tend to snowball on Facebook. The more people who "like" your post right away, the more likely it is to turn up  in other feeds. Thus, if there's something you really want people to see, you might want to post it at a time that most of your audience is likely to be on Facebook. For me, it's after 5:00 US Eastern time.

-Posts with a picture or video tend to get better engagement than a post without.

-Be interesting. Post things on your author page that are exclusive to that page. 

I've tried that and I'm still getting a low percentage of engagement. Should I keep my author page?
-Yes. Stop thinking about who isn't viewing your posts and focus on who is. Every person who engages with you on your author page is someone you might not have reached otherwise. Consider them your foundation and look for ways to build up rather than excuses to tear down. Also, it's a good look to have a professional Facebook presence independent of your personal page, and, as mentioned above, it's something many prospective agents and publishers look for.

How can I get more "likes" on my Facebook page?
The most engaged segment of your audience will probably be the readers who like your books and then seek out your Facebook page. Be sure to put the Facebook link in a place on your website that's easy to find. Also, most mailing list templates have spots for quick links to social media. You can use your author bio (in your books and ebooks, on your Amazon page, on your website) to invite people to connect with you on Facebook. Finally, you can use a Facebook ad targeted at readers in your genre to bring new readers to your page.

How else can I use Facebook?
We'll elaborate in future podcasts, but Facebook ads, parties, and launch events can be effective ways to market your works and your brand.

As always, feel free to comment or contact me with question, thoughts, added info, or disagreements.

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