Authors are becoming more aware that they need to be using social media. Hearing tales of other authors missing out on publishing deals because the publishing house wanted them to have a loyal following not to mention hearing of writers increasing their sales of books because of their social media presence must evoke many different feelings in writers. Some may feel inspired to start using social media when they hear of such success stories, others may feel daunted and overwhelmed with a ‘where do I start?’ terror coursing through them. I can totally understand why hearing that writers should be blogging, using twitter, creating a facebook page, using linkedin groups and using pinterest at the very least, can be intimidating. It’s not a case of starting with all of them at once but mastering one at a time, finding out which one works best and learning how to use it effectively.
I’m going to write a series of posts – showing examples of how authors are using the various social media tools effectively so that hopefully, writers will feel inspired to start, rather than feeling overwhelmed. I hope you will return each week to read each one. I’m going to start with Facebook. Most people have a facebook profile so they tend to find it to be the easiest platform to use from a professional basis.
1. Create a Facebook Page
You must have a personal profile on facebook before you can create a facebook page, for example, my personal profile is under my own name Lorna Sixsmith, and it’s where I share news with many friends. It is relatively straightforward to create. Sign up at www.facebook.com by following the steps and facebook will even help you to locate some of your friends.
To create a page, you need to visit this link, choose ‘brand or product’ and follow the steps to create a facebook page. Most authors names their facebook pages as their own name and add ‘books’ or ‘author’. You will need to upload two photographs. One is your avatar and will be resized to 180 x 180. Many authors use a photo of themselves, sometimes reading a book or holding their own book. The cover photo is a wide landscape photo with the dimensions of 851 by 315. Many authors use a collage of their books or a picture from their launch for this image.
As you can see from this image, Hazel Gaynor has an image from a book signing as her avatar and is using her front cover as the cover image – complete with a quote from a well known author.
2. What Do I Use As Content?
Nobody likes a facebook page that is ‘sell, sell, sell’, there has to be an element of engagement with readers as well as providing them with information they want to see.
Many authors use facebook to inform fans about upcoming events such as book readings, signings and launches. People love good news stories and they love to see you share your successes occasionally with them too.
Carmel Harrington is using facebook effectively to spread the word about a book signing. By using an image with text, the information can be seen instantly and will be easily visible when others shared it. It has worked – 12 people have shared this image for Carmel, thereby spreading the word further.
I shared some good news with my own facebook fans this morning as I was interviewed for a national magazine. People do like to see the good news stories and if they have liked the book, they almost feel part of the journey too.
Sharing images with an update can be very powerful – whether it is an image of the book, an image of an event or perhaps a photo of where the book is set.
Felicity Hayes-McCoy shares extracts from her book ‘The House on the Irish Hillside’ frequently, always making it sound poetic and beautiful and always teaming it with a photograph of beautiful Kerry, where the book is set. See how effective this is – 62 shares of this particular update.
You can create anticipation for a book and the launch on your facebook page too. Louise Phillips has been telling fans about the film trailer for her upcoming book, showing us images from the shoot and also of the lipsticks that will be available at the launch – all tie in with the killer in her book The Last Kiss. Louise has also used facebook to create a launch event so she can increase interest and gauge the number of attendees.
I can’t wait to go to the launch, let alone read the book!
Reward your fans too – give them sneak peeks of the front cover, ask their opinion on something, host a competition for a signed copy of your book or another prize. This will raise their enthusiasm for reading the book and telling their friends about it too.
How Often Should I Update My Page
It takes time to build up a good following on facebook so don’t leave it until the book is on the bookshelves. If you have content to share three or four times a week (spreading it out across the week), that will be plenty. Once a day is definitely sufficient. The trick is to share content that educates, informs, entertains or amuses your fans. Engagement on your page in the form of likes, comments or shares means that more and more people will see your content in their news feed and your brand awareness will increase.
How Will A Facebook Page Impress A Publisher?
I started off this post by mentioning that authors have had their books turned away at almost the last minute when the publishing house discovered a low social media presence. If you are in discussions with a publisher or even in your opening letter to them (or to a wholesaler if you have self published your book), you should highlight your following on social media. Apart from the fact that you have a means for communicating with your audience, you know the demographic that is interested in your book.
On my own ‘book’ page, I can see from my ‘Insights’ that the majority of my fans are female. This has an influence on the content I share but it would also influence my decisions regarding the publications I might try for press coverage or for advertising. The publisher will now know who the future buyers of the book will be – and where they live.
You can also use facebook to attract people to subscribe to your email newsletter by using an app – if they like your content on facebook, they are likely to sign up for more updates and invites. Facebook will increase brand awareness and it will probably encourage readers to choose your book over another one when they recognise it on a bookshop shelf or if buying online.
Have you any other suggestions on how authors can use facebook that I may have missed?