Friday, September 16, 2011

Facebook Friday: Don't be the newbie

Last week I told you how Facebook is like high school. It's really popularity we're talking about. This week I promised to tell you how this information relates to you as an author. And I am going to tell you. But I'd like to break this down into several posts. That means if you want the fullness of this subject, you're going to have to come back. (Wait, is that a marketing ploy? Hmm...)

First, we need to chat just a bit on why it's important that you're popular on Facebook. Because I know that many of us, particularly those of us who maybe weren't ever so popular in high school, have learned to not give a flying Frito about who likes us and who doesn't like us. Or we've learned to pretend anyway.

But here's the thing: Eventually we're going to have a book. We are. I know it. And when we do, we are going to have to work to sell our books so that we can have the fortunate experience of getting paid to write another. Whether we like it or not, that means we have to sell a little bit. Selling doesn't have to be painful. And it doesn't have to be pushy car salesman like either. The easiest sell is to people who already know and like you. So the more friends you have before you sell your book, the better. Hence, popularity is your friend.

And Facebook is where our focus of popularity is in this series of posts.

Now, back to last week's post:
The first way in which I likened Facebook to high school was that, just like in HS, FB doesn't like the newbie. Even if you manage to make a ton of friends overnight, FB won't put your posts in very many news streams until you have been around awhile.  (Remember, you need to be in people's news streams to be popular).

How do you counteract this?

Simple. Don't be new.

Of course you have to be new when you are new to FB, but don't be new when it counts. Establish an FB account, make friends, interact, LONG before your book gets published so that when it is published, you don't have to start then.

I have to give my usual disclaimer that you don't have to use FB to market your book and I won't judge you (too much) if you don't choose to participate. But it's free. And it's easy. And a lot of agent's expect it. So just think about it.

I've heard from a lot of you that you don't like Facebook.  Are you using it anyway? What do you dislike the most? I love hearing the whys from you.


Joanna said...

I love FB. I am definitely making new friends, but not yet convinced that as a picture book writer, I am really reaching those who will buy my books??

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I'm not on FB. All the privacy issues make me leery. Plus they have all that information on it.

Coleen Patrick said...

I just started with FB. I like it, but find Twitter easier, because I can just follow someone. That FB "warning" before requesting friendship--the one that asks if you know the person--makes it difficult. Probably because I'm such a "rule follower" I think, well no, i don't know them. OH well. :)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

I really like Face Book. It's easy enough that even I can use it :) The only thing I don't like is that when you make a post it's really only useful for about 10 minutes. After that, it drops right off the bottom of people's news feeds, especially if they have a lot of friends and like a lot of pages. Then, unless they happen to hop over and check you out (and who really does that?) they're going to miss your post. So what do you do? Post twelve times a day? I don't have that much to say!

Bethany Hagen said...

I think the forward thinkingness of web presence is such a hard and counterintuitive concept to grasp. I went ahead and paid for a website even though it feels like I'm light years away from even finding an agent...

Michelle Fayard said...

I can really relate to these comments: Are we reaching our audience? Is anyone seeing our posts (or tweets for that matter) with so much competing chatter? And, yes, what about the privacy issues?

FB makes me feel a little uncomfortable because, unlike tweeting and blogging, my wall has been spammed multiple times in just the last few weeks. Sometimes I also feel as if the information in our posts is not kept private but is being used to generate intel for business marketing plans. It's all those ads on the side and e-mails from FB that make me feel that way, I think.

It is sad that whether we FB, tweet or blog, we're reaching writers who are readers more than "reader" readers and book buyers (e.g., libraries, bookstores, etc.). Whoever solves this conundrum and writes a book about it will have a best seller. :)

Juliana L. Brandt said...

I dread having to get on facebook and honestly, I think it's solely because my family and friends are on there. At least with Google+ and blogs I'm surrounded by other writers (safety net!)

Laura Barnes said...

I have delayed responding to all these wonderful comments because of how many different issues you've all brought up! I have so much to say to each of you that I think I'll have to just give some quick comments here and then do full posts in the future on some of these subjects.

@Joanna - Picture books and social media is hard, but not impossible. I don't know where you are in your writing process, but after you are published you could create a "Sharing Time" atmosphere on your page where you invite readers to tell about (something related to how your book was used). Then you could hold monthly contests for those who post. This reaches people who have already read and probably bought, but you could gather info from that to find some ideas for future marketing.

@Michael and Michelle - I somewhat understand your privacy issues, and if they are truly a concern, then maybe FB isn't for you. On the other hand, if we are using FB to put ourselves out there and reach the public, then aren't we expecting less privacy just in that action? There are ways to limit what gets shared on FB and, yes, you have to be vigilant about making sure your settings are correct, but you can remain private even on FB.

@Coleen - ha ha. I think you'll like what FB has done with the new subscriber model. I'll talk about it in the future, but it really echoes the Twitter model and you no longer have to be friends with people you don't know!

@Susanna - it does seem like you have to post a lot, but if you stick with my blog I hope you will find some suggestions in the future to make your posts more meaningful without having to post 90 times a day. Have you read my post about RSS Graffiti? And also I recommend my Hootsuite post. Both those apps are helpful in limiting your actual time on FB while still filling your page with content.

Bethany - good for you. I read an agent post (and for the life of me I can't find it now) that said she always expects a website (or blog) for every writer that queries.

@Michelle again - I have been spammed a lot recently through Twitter. I guess it's the nature of the internet. I also agree that you are reaching writers more than readers. What I would challenge you to do is think about who will read your book. When you can picture that person, decide what that person might be interested in on the internet. Then create a place for them to go that is optimized for that info. You've written historical fiction. Perhaps you create a page on your blog or FB page - or create a new website - that is geared completely to sharing the history you gathered while reading your book. Optimize it so that people who search for the underground railroad will reach your page. Then have ads for your book. That would be something I would work toward as you get closer to publication.

Juliana - FB lists make it possible to post only to the people you want. FB's new subscriber model makes it even easier so you can choose to only post to your writer friends if you like. Read my post about FB lists if you haven't. I have a list that's only writer friends so I can read their updates and post only to them whenever I like. Hope that helps:)

Susanna Leonard Hill said...

Thanks Laura. I'm looking forward to your future posts on all these issues because many of them pertain to me. I am also a picture book writer and have struggled with how to reach my audience, and I also feel that I'm reaching writers more than readers and potential customers and would love to reach both. I will definitely check out the posts you recommended on graffiti and hootsuite.

Laura Barnes said...

Great, Susanna! You're published, aren't you? Feel free to email me at if you want some suggestions based on your personal situation. I'd love to help!

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