How Authors Can Leverage Facebook to Grow Their Reader Base

As an independently published author, you have to rely heavily on social media to grow your business and gain readers. Without one of The Big Five publishers or their imprints backing you, getting into books stores, hitting the bestsellers lists, and having your book made into a movie can be difficult to nearly impossible. However, authors that understand how to leverage social media platforms can make their career skyrocket, gain a huge following, and be able to live comfortably off their book sales.

One of the first social media platforms that new authors should be sure to master is Facebook. The online book community is larger on Facebook than any other platform thanks to the ability to create groups. Facebook also has the best metrics for measuring return on investment and giving you real-time demographics of the people who are interacting with your author page.

Facebook also offers to advertise and, yes, it is proven to work! Facebook is also becoming a vast search engine where consumers are going to find more information about their favorite authors, celebrities, icons, and more. Let's not forget that there are more than two BILLION active users. If you want to be a successful author, you have to build relationships with your readers and Facebook is the place to do it.

Facebook Profile Vs. Facebook Author Page

The first thing you need to know about Facebook is that it is against the terms of service for anyone to use their Facebook profile as a business. Many authors are getting put in "Facebook jail" for sharing buy links, tagging too many people, or even commenting too often from their profiles. In recent months, Facebook has been cracking down on authors particularly, and Amazon will also ban book reviewers that have social media connections, such as being Facebook friends, with authors that they review for. This is why having an author page is so important.

A business page is set up through your profile. Your profile will be the admin of the page. You can use the business page to share information about your business as an author. This includes buy links, events, and promotional materials. You can share your author page to your profile or in your groups and encourage your readers and followers to "like" your author page in order to stay up to date about your newest releases.

Why is an Author Page Important?

Not only will posting to your author page keep you within your terms of service with Facebook, but an author page enables you to get your books into the hands of people you know will want to read them. Facebook allows business pages to create ads that will show up on profile timelines. As an author, you have many options when setting up your target audience ‐ or, the people who will see the ad. You can customize it so that only the people who have liked your page see your ad. This is great for if you are running a contest, and you want to make sure all of your loyal readers that follow your page see it, or you're offering exclusive material through your newsletter signup, and you want your page followers to sign up first.

You can also create ads that target people who like your page and their friends or customize the demographics. You can set the age, gender, country, language, and interests of the people who will see your ad. If you're releasing a new fantasy young adult book, you may want to set your target audience to people in the United States, Canada, and United Kingdom who are under 30 and have "liked" J.K. Rowling. This is a great tool to ensure that the people most likely to read your books are seeing your ads. Facebook also offers in-depth metrics on your advertisement's performance.

Getting Past the Algorithms

One of the things that infuriate authors the most about using Facebook is that they change their algorithms. As soon as you think you've got the secret sauce made for high engagement and click through rate on your page, Mark Zuckerberg goes and changes it up again.

The new Facebook algorithms were instated so that users would see the content, pages, and profiles that they engage with actively and most often on their timelines. This means that authors must have active engagement with their pages in order for their page to show up on their follower's timeline.

Active engagement is commenting, sharing, and reacting while passive engagement is clicking, watching, or hovering (not scrolling). Facebook will tell you how many people saw your post (passive engagement) and how many people interacted with your post (active engagement). You want to create posts that will stimulate a conversation, evoke a response from people.

Many people will scroll right past teasers and other promotional materials because they follow so many authors, that their timelines are filled with the same type of content. However, posts that have a call to action for the reader to participate in the conversation actively will garner engagement. Create posts that ask a question or opinion. Post a poll that invites readers to choose their favorite book of yours, or what your next character name should be, or what signing you should attend next. When your readers feel like they are welcome to respond to and influence you, they will offer their engagement more often.

One More Thing…

Go through the settings on your author page frequently. Depending on your business, you may have to keep it up to date and in check:

  • Category - You page can be listed under three categories. These three categories are your three main business keywords. Most authors use "author", "writer", "publisher." People will find your page through categories.
  • Interests - Readers love to see what your interests are. The more they feel like they know you and can connect with you, and be your Facebook "friend," the more they will engage. List books or authors that inspire you, the music you listen to, what you do in your free time, and any other information you are comfortable sharing.
  • Website - Don't forget to add your website to your author page.
  • About - This section can be short and sweet, like a meta description or long like a biography. Most authors use the same bio that is in their book backmatter or Amazon author page. Make sure that you update your bio often and that you use the same one across all platforms for consistency. You can list awards your books or you as an author has won. Don't forget to update this information on your author page so that it's all current. If you choose to link your website to your Facebook page, you must also include the privacy policy - you can post the link in the "About" section.

Growing your reader base can be easily done through leveraging your Facebook author page. Try setting up your Facebook page today and experimenting with getting your readers engaged.