A Facebook Success Story

Charles J. Orlando, author of The Problem with Women Is Men, has used Facebook and has gotten great results.

“When I released my agent and respectfully declined a book deal with a major press, I was faced with the standard dilemma facing all authors: how to effectively promote myself and my writing. I began testing a variety of avenues: blogging, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube—but the medium that paid off was Facebook. It’s really a natural fit, in that the forum lends itself to creating vertical communities and enabling interactive and engaging threaded discussion. Moreover, it was very rewarding for me personally, in that part of what was so gratifying in writing my book was the interaction I had with the participants in my research—something that was missing for me as I began promoting it. Facebook assisted me in rekindling that.”

Orlando’s site has more than six hundred thousand fans, has led him to appear on more than forty TV and radio shows, and has helped him sell thousands and thousands of books. How much does all of this cost? Orlando says he spends only about $100 per month on website hosting and social media apps. Not half bad, huh?

“In order for an author to be successful using social media, it has to be genuine (read: the actual person, not their ‘marketing rep’ or publicist),” he explains. “Moreover, what’s written has to be original/unique to the medium, and it has to have a solid opinion—meaning it reflects the thoughts of the writer and doesn’t concern itself with trying to please everyone. But, it’s not for everyone, in that unless you have a message, you might not be able to engage and retain an interactive audience.”

Want to learn more? Check out The Independent Publisher: How to Build and Promote Your Best-selling Book.



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Facebook 101

Using Facebook to Promote Your Book

We all know that social media can be an incredible (and cheap) tool when it comes to promoting and selling your book. But if you don’t have a strong online presence before you publish and your book doesn’t make it on the bestseller lists, it can be difficult to get the results you want.

Personal Pages vs. Fan Pages

If you’re like most people, your personal Facebook page is home to your photos, statuses, and the occasional game score. You are connected to friends, family, and acquaintances with a colleague or two in the mix. While this type of page is a great way to stay in touch and keep your pals up to date, it is not a viable business platform. Your friends will quickly tire of seeing post after post about your book(s) and you don’t want your readers (aka strangers) to have such an intimate look into your life.

Enter the author Facebook page. Creating a separate page for yourself as an author allows you to dedicate that space to promoting your book(s). You can schedule events—giveaways, book tours, release dates—connect to your readers in a professional space, and use the page to link to your website and/or blog. If you gain enough “likes,” you can also use Facebooks ads and their business page metrics.

How to Get Likes

Every author can count on a handful of likes to get started—family, friends, colleagues, and perhaps a few fellow writers. But to get your like count into the hundreds or thousands, follow these simple steps.

1.     Write a good book. (But that’s a given.)

2.     Create your book or author page before you publish. Include your new Facebook address in the “About the Author” section of your book. E.g. “To learn more, visit so-and-so’s Facebook page at Facebook.com/YourNameorBook.”

3.     Post your link to your website, blog, LinkedIn, Twitter, and personal Facebook page. Also include it in your email signature. If you’re making business cards, you can throw it on there too.

4.     Now that your page is up and running, invite your personal Facebook friends to like your new page.

5.     Send an email to select groups of people from your contacts. (Try not to email your entire address book—you’ll want to pick and choose to make sure you don’t accidentally email your ex or an estranged client.)

6.     Once you start to get some traction, you can offer promos like book giveaways, freebie chapters of your next book, merchandise, and more.

7.     Stay active. The more time and effort you invest in your page, the better your results. Be sure to engage with your fans to keep them coming back and to encourage them to spread the word. In the book business, word of mouth is the biggest key to success.

Using Facebook Ads—Q&A Style

Q. How do I create an ad?

A. Start here: Facebook for Business. Read through the info, then click “Create an Ad” at the top or bottom of the page. Spend a bit of time crafting the title and body of the ad—you’ll want something punchy and eye catching to make people click on your info. You can link your ad to your Facebook author/book page, your website, your blog, or almost anywhere else you’d like. Try to make sure that readers have the simplest route to learning about and then buying your book. Linking to a merchandise page of a website is often successful.

Q. How much does it cost?

A. The more you spend, the more often your ad will appear. Most people start small, spending about $10 and running an ad for a couple of weeks. This way you can track your results and see if your book and your ad work well in the social media space. If you’re having trouble getting likes and selling books, you can work with tech marketing companies like Qwaya to make the most of your Facebook ad experience.

Q. How many people will I reach?

A. Again, this is a bit dependent on your budget. Facebook charges per click, called CPM (cost per impression). You will never have to pay more than you budgeted, and when you create your ad, you can enter info on demographics to make sure you reach your targeted audience.

Check out the resources on Facebook to learn more about how to use ads to your advantage.

Final Advice

Everyone’s Facebook experience is different, and this is especially true for new authors. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have a million likes overnight. Budget your time and money appropriately, and be realistic about your goals. You may have to have a book or two under your belt before you really start to see the fans start pouring in.

Also, keep in mind that some books perform very well on social media, especially those that have interactive qualities or build a community (think relationship advice books—see our sidebar). If your book is on a more serious or academic subject, think of ways to make your Facebook site exciting and engaging. Make sure your page is updated regularly and that you communicate with your readers and fans as often as possible.

Lastly, remember that there are tons of people, sites, and articles out there that can help you get the most out of Facebook and other social media sites. A quick Amazon search of “social media marketing” books gives you almost 7,000 results. That makes it easy to do your research and create the best possible Facebook page you can.


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Jillian Bergsma Manning is a contributing editor for Independent Publisher. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in English. She welcomes any questions or comments on her articles at jbergsma (at) bookpublishing.com. Follow her at @LillianJaine.