Authors on Facebook

August 23, 2011

A few days ago I stumbled on a fascinating tweet-chat using the hashtag #bookmarket. While I’m not an active participant of that chat (I work at that time) I happen to hop on and join the conversation.

The theme was authors using social media to sell books and the question asked was whether or not authors should have a Facebook page. Public relations extraordinaire Ruth Seeley (@ruthseeley) was on hand to give advice and discuss options.

I put in my two cents saying that in my opinion Facebook pages for authors help them connect with readers who already read their books (most likely potential customers for their next one) than to pick up new customers.

The power of social media, in my opinion, is more conversational than a sales pitch. Authors who have a conversation with their fans are most likely to keep them (I know they keep me).

Several authors which I follow on Facebook are:
Steven Pressfield – interaction with his fans, not only pumping up his new book but blogs about writing, research (even on older books) and most importantly, interacts with his audience.

Ace Atkins – Again, not only posts about his new book, but pictures from book tours, writing process, blog posts of interests and interaction with his fans.

Daniel Silva – I’m not really sure if Mr. Silva is behind the computer, but the interaction is great and there is actually a community of Mr. Siva’s fans ready to answer any question. Mostly are pictures from Mr. Silva’s novel setting which start an active discussion, as well as teasers of new novels.

Steven Saylor – Not only is Mr. Saylor active on his page when he can, he actually takes the time to answer questions, post comments and not only be reactive, but active. I’ve seen readers ask Mr. Saylor a question about a novel they are reading which was published a year or two ago.

And of course, the social media grand daddy of them all, Neil Gaiman – there is a reason he’s a fan favorite, ‘nuff said.

However, I only started following these authors after I read at least one of their books, never before.

So tell me, which authors do you follow on Facebook and hwy?, What impresses you? What disappointed you?

Zohar – Man of la Book

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23 Comments

  • Courtney Rene August 23, 2011 at 9:54 am

    I am not a big follower on Facebook. I have a few author “friends” that I have liked, but I haven’t actually hunted down anyone else. I have also been told I need an author page, but I can’t decide. I am not on facebook enough as it is and I am leary of strangers stalking my every move. This is a discussion I am following though.

    ctny

    • zohar August 23, 2011 at 11:20 am

      Courtney, I don’t think you “need” one, it’s up to you. An author page is great, in my opinion, to keep the conversation going and to interact with your readers.

  • Patricia Parsons August 23, 2011 at 10:59 am

    I’ve written eleven books (mostly health & business) and have never had a FB page as an author (I do have a personal one, though). That said, as I research the book-buying habits of the online crowd, I’ve been told that authors today need FB pages so I’m working on it, but not sure I’ll actually launch it.

    I think you nailed it when you suggest that the conversation with fans you already have is what keeps them. It’s a bit like the FB phenomenon in its infancy anyway: a way for people who already know each other to connect. There are no studies with hard stats on the effectiveness of SM sites for marketing, but if authors want to connect with readers, it’s probably a good idea.

    • zohar August 23, 2011 at 11:19 am

      Thanks for the comment Patricia. I don’t know if we’ll ever see how effective social media sites are for marketing. How would you even measure that?

      • PaulDail August 27, 2011 at 4:38 pm

        Well, you can at least see how many people link to your site (you’re with WordPress, I believe?) from Facebook… or at least the ones who click through from your status updates. It certainly isn’t completely accurate (given that some will just go to your bookmarked page or type the url into the address field).

        Having said, I’m not crazy about the idea. I kind of like keeping Facebook social. Do I put out weekly status updates of my blog? You betcha. And occasionally mass message all my friends? Yup. But I can’t imagine spending any more time than I already do on Facebook dealing with a separate account.

        And while I’m on Twitter, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing there and probably not very effective at it. Again though, time constraints force priority.

        And I choose to read your blog. But I have “look into facebook page for my book” on my list.

        Paul D. Dail
        http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

        • zohar August 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm

          Paul, yes it’s not a science and certainly takes loads of time to be active on social media. That is one of the most popular complaints.

          However, the generations which are now in their mid 20’s do not want to be marketed to. They have iPods, eReaders, tablets etc.

          They don’t watch TV because they stream shows from websites, illegal downloads or Netflix.

          They don’t listen to the radio because of podcasts and MP3s.

          I know they read, but it’s difficult to get on their radar unless you to to where they go to.

          • PaulDail September 1, 2011 at 9:59 am

            Ah, yes. I feel fortunate that in addition to writing, I’m a high school teacher and can have a few select students do “whisper campaigns” for me. One of the few reasons I feel fortunate that I’m teaching high school. ha ha… ha?

            The millenials are indeed a fascinating generation.

            Damn kids! *shakes fist*

            Paul D. Dail
            http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  • Harvee Lau August 23, 2011 at 11:41 am

    Most of the people on my facebook are authors I’ve read and liked. Some talk about their other lives too – hobbies, etc., as well as promote their books.

    • zohar August 23, 2011 at 11:42 am

      Right, same here. That what I was saying, you follow authors you already read.

  • Ruth Seeley August 23, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Ah, the limits of the 140-character chat. I encourage the authors I work with create Facebook pages for themselves as authors or for their individual books (depending on the situation). It makes sense for them to have a page merely for the sake of claiming it and their personalized URL on Facebook.

    However, in terms of marketing books, I’d much rather see authors focus their social media efforts on Twitter and Goodreads, where communities of readers already exist. Facebook has discontinued its Living Social books app, and the feedback I get from publishers who’ve used Facebook and Goodreads ads is that the Goodreads ones are far more effective. There are certainly exceptions I can imagine: if you’ve written a book on local history, targeting those with an interest in that area on FB could work, as could ads for specific interests (SPIN gardening or Shaker furniture).

    But for the authors with whom I tend to work – those who write literary fiction and science-based non-fiction? Facebook isn’t the place to be at the outset of their marketing campaigns. I start with those who are interested in the kinds of books they write, and then try to expand the circle outwards to more general public interest.

    • zohar August 23, 2011 at 2:43 pm

      Thanks for checking out the post you inspired 🙂

      I was a web developer for many years and worked mostly with marketing folks. I’ve learned many things but the main thing was that nothing worked by itself, marketing is a package. Facebook, as you mentioned, does have its place in marketing books.

  • Jennifer Minar-Jaynes August 23, 2011 at 9:03 pm

    @barryeisler and @DonovanCreed (AKA John Locke).

    John Locke (I’m sure you already know) actually sold over 1 million ebooks in 5 months. He attributed a lot of these sales to Twitter relationships.

    These sales were across several titles, though–so I wonder how much Twitter helped him “retain” folks who had already read him… and how many were actually folks who decided to buy their first titles due to the Twitter relationship.

    It would be interesting info to know.

    Anyway, great post, Zohar. =)

    – Jennifer

    • zohar August 24, 2011 at 7:50 am

      Thanks for the comment, it will take time to figure out how to get the ROI from social media, if we could ever be able to come out with such formula.

  • Felicia Rogers August 26, 2011 at 7:52 am

    I am a relatively new author and I do have a Facebook fanpage. I also frequent Goodreads, but so far have not entered into the Twittering arena.

    For me personally I use my fanpage as a way to connect with readers. Lots of people are there who will NEVER buy my book, I know this. While some are there because they’ve read my book and wish to “interact”.

    As far as sales increasing because of Facebook, I’m not sure. I do know that Facebook has been a great way to get people to come to my blog/website to get more information but that is about all.

    However, I do know of one fellow author who sold 1200 copies of their book on Amazon alone within the past month. When asked what avenues they’d taken to promote their book, they said they’d used Facebook and Twitter nothing more. So I guess for some people there is something to it.

    Thanks for the post!

    • zohar August 26, 2011 at 8:10 am

      Thanks for the comment Felicia and good luck with your book.

      I believe that using only one avenue of social media marketing (or any type of marketing) will not do much. Using many avenues as an encompassing marketing program makes, to me, more sense.

  • SweetMarie83 August 28, 2011 at 6:03 pm

    Because I’m a social media addict, one of the first things I do when I discover a new author I like is look for them on Facebook on Twitter. I like to get to know the people behind the books, and learn a bit about them, plus keep up with news about books. I like authors who interact with their fans, appreciate their fans and actually take time to act like human beings and don’t sit on their high horse and think they’re wonderful just because they’re kind of famous. There’s one author I follow who’s like that and I keep wondering why I even follow her because she seems like such a snob and she doesn’t seem to actually care about her fans. That’s completely turned me off and I haven’t read any more of her books since I discovered what she’s really like. Some of my favorites who are really nice and interact with their fans are Sarah Jio and Maddy Hunter. I think it’s important for authors to be accessible to their fans – I know that for me, if I can’t find info about an author online, I tend to lose interest.

    • PaulDail September 8, 2011 at 10:04 am

      SweetMarie83,
      Fascinating response. I’m curious what you think about this blogging form of getting to know an author. Obvious “Man” replies to most of his comments, as do I. Do you consider that a possible alternative to getting to know an author without having to go through Facebook?

      Paul D. Dail
      http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

      • SweetMarie83 September 8, 2011 at 11:07 am

        @Paul, absolutely. I tend to look for author’s websites/blogs when I discover them, too. I think with blogs, we get to see even more from an author, because they’re not limited by a certain character number like with Twitter and Facebook. I’ve discovered quite a few big authors lately who blog, and who say that as much as they appreciate their fans, they can’t answer every comment, or email everyone who emails them, or be friends with everyone who wants to be friends with them, as much as they’d like to. That’s understandable – these days, being a writer feels more like being a publicist and having to deal with your own promotion and marketing, etc, but I think if genuine comments/questions are answered (something more than ‘hey, I love your books’), or if authors just make an effort, it makes a difference to readers, and if they feel that connection, they’re more likely to become a loyal fan.

        • PaulDail September 14, 2011 at 7:10 pm

          Thanks for the follow-up. I know what I feel, but it’s good to hear another reader’s point of view on these issues. I agree that it’s important to make that connection with my readers.

          Paul D. Dail
          http://www.pauldail.com- A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

  • Ruth Seeley August 29, 2011 at 12:06 pm

    I saw my first Facebook ad from a Canadian publisher today – for a book in which I have absolutely no interest. However, it now occurs to me that because of the pages I’ve liked and the groups I’ve joined, there *is* a way to target my kind of reader via Facebook ads. So think I might just try it for my next literary fiction PR project…. Pondering, pondering – and so sorry I wasn’t following you on Twitter – I was sure I was – think I’ve been the victim of that mysterious ‘Twitter unfollows people for you’ thing that happens every once in a while.

    • zohar August 29, 2011 at 6:50 pm

      Thanks for the follow Ruth. I think the great thing about Facebook ads, as you mentioned, is that they can be targeted to a specific audience.

  • vBulletin Styles March 20, 2012 at 12:40 am

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  • Marilyn Johnson April 14, 2015 at 8:31 am

    Thanks for this post. I have a Facebook author page, a Twitter account, and I’m on Goodreads, mainly because I like giving readers and potential readers various places to find out about my books. I particularly like having a place to post news about archaeologists (the subject of my latest book, Lives in Ruins) and let people know about my appearances. I don’t know if the Facebook page and Twitter feed sell many books, but they do bring readers to me, and I enjoy the connection.

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