You’re an indie author. You heard someone talking about building a reader base, so off you go and create your author page on Facebook. Facebook, by the way, barely even has a page category for authors. “Writer” and “Author” are there, but there is no way to let people know what genre you write, or even that you write novels and not cookbooks, or road signs.
There you are with your author page, you’ve picked a nice mug shot and, I’m guessing, the cover art from your latest book for page background. A couple memes and a dozen Amazon links.
And of course you invite all your friends and family. And then you sit and stare at your page stats. 38 page likes in one day.
And the number stays the same the next day and the day after that. Damn relatives and friends, betraying you and not inviting the thousands you deserve. So you look at the competition, and see they have followers in the tens of thousands. What do they do that you don’t? Well money, of course! They must be spending shazillions in Facebook ads. You timidly check the promotion options and hey, that’s not so bad…Facebook promises to get your page out to the world and only charges you a few pennies for each actual like!
Ready to start your first page campaign?
Don’t even start down that path. I am not saying it won’t work. Believe me it will. I tried it on my first author page and it worked wonders. In a week I had three thousand likes. I felt so famous. Now my posts and especially my Amazon links would reach my trusted readers.
I went on for a few months like that, thinking I would be getting incredible sales anytime now. I didn’t.
None of my posts were getting much engagement. Not even my absolutely hilarious memes. (I have a very high opinion of my sense of humor. The mere thought makes me laugh every time.)
Three thousand followers and maybe five thumbs up for my awesome posts. Not a single link click on “buy my book” posts. Not even when I had a freebie giveaway.
What was happening was that I was not targeting people interested in me as an author or in my books. Despite spending hours refining my audience and reach, I was not reaching the people who click on something they like.
I was reaching a lot of click farms. Click farms are batches of accounts which, through affiliate marketing, get a small portion of money back for liking paid links.
When I realized that, I deleted my page and started from scratch. This time I vowed to never use Facebook page ads again. Instead, I created a second page dedicated to people who like famous authors and genres close to my own writing style. A page dedicated not to buyers, but to fans. I write sci-fi and fantasy humor, so I made a page called “The BookLover’s Guide to the Galaxy” or “BLG2G”. I dedicated some time to that page and watched it grow quickly, from a few dozen to nearly two thousand followers. I never spent a single cent on it.
Oh, and I never invited any of my family members in there either. Those who liked the page simply discovered it because I shared some of the stuff on my personal page.
In the meantime I created my new page, and started sharing some of my material (never buy-me links) to BLG2G. Some followers trickled from there to my author page, where they were able to “discover” my writing style. Just a few dozen, that’s true, but their response to my posts was amazing. Their shares brought a few more likes. I looked at the profiles and saw they were active in many groups dedicated to sci-fi, fantasy and funny stuff.
And here’s the next move: I joined those groups. As my author page where possible.
Whenever I posted something which was in line with the topic of one of those groups, I shared it there. If you are careful and pick the right content, usually a meme, a quote or an interesting link, you have a 99% chance of getting your post approved.
What happens next is better than any Facebook boost: I got likes, hundreds of likes, and next to them, a little button saying “invite”.
That’s right. If you share as your page and someone likes the post, you can invite them to like your page. About 20% – 30% of the people who liked your post will be inclined to accept the invitation. You usually retain 80% of those likes.
I now have about 1,500 page likes on facebook.com/authorlahey, about half of what I originally had with paid likes. But the response is absolutely incredible. Each one of my posts gets hundreds of likes and tens of shares. My average post reach easily hits the thousand mark, and I’ve had a few posts go viral and exceed 300’000 views.
In exchange for this, as a sign of respect for my tribe, I don’t flood them with “buy my book” Amazon links, also because good ‘ole Facebook catches those posts and throttles their visibility. Instead I give insights on my writing, share my absolutely outrageous sense of humor hahahaha, and, of course, some of my free short stories from my author website. As a result, when I’m not reaping invites from the groups I get a steady flow of new followers every day.
In conclusion, fewer is better, get engaged followers, not paid clicks, but make sure your content is worth their attention. Your tribe will reward by liking, sharing and, yes, actually buying your books.
If, while doing all this, you actually remembered to write some.
The basis for this article comes from the Rule 300 concept. You can find more about Rule 300 here.