By Caroline O’Connell & Joe Wehinger
Facebook offers authors a simple, yet multi-faceted, platform to reach a worldwide audience and sell their books. We’ve come a long way from the days of being dependent on a publisher for distribution and sales. Thank goodness. It is now incumbent on authors to learn the basics of promotion and advertising. This article covers setting up your Facebook business Page, posting content, Facebook ads, and analytics.
Creating Your Book’s Page
Note: Facebook calls the personal page a Facebook Profile and refers to the business page as a Facebook Page.
To set up your Page, you’ll want a good graphic of your book jacket, a flattering headshot, other “action” photos if you have them, and a short bio/book description (which will go in the About section). The goal is to fill in as much tantalizing information as you can to generate interest from those who delve into the About section. Definitely include the book’s website and an email to reach you (in case a member of the media wants to contact you for a related story).
Under the Category box at the top, you’ll want to put Author. In the Story section, on the top right, you can include your book’s tagline, a quote from a positive review, and the book website. The goal is to look polished and professional, to make a good impression, and to appeal to new visitors.
Pro Tip #1: Populate your Facebook Page with a handful of posts before you announce to others that it’s up. This offers viewers content to engage with right away.
There are a few different kinds of posts: i.e., a short post that links to a full blog entry on your website or a complete post on Facebook (that ideally doesn’t run longer than about four paragraphs and links to your site at the end). Most posts should have a photo or graphic to grab attention. It’s also important to start with a short, catchy title or opening line.
If you have a topic that’s newsworthy, take advantage by discussing your take and expertise on the current “buzz” to get more visibility (and possible media attention). Posts can be text, photo, or video-based. The goal is to create engagement and earn Likes, Comments, and Shares.
Pro Tip #2: Invite your friends, family, and everyone you know to “Like” your Page as soon as the first batch of posts have gone up. When “strangers” come upon your Page, you want them to see a party going on that they feel compelled to join.
Note: When someone Likes your Page, they are also opted into Following it. If a person just hits Follow, they will not show up in your Likes category.
How frequently should you post?
As often as possible. Yes, that means at least daily, if you can. The more often you post, the more opportunities you’re creating for interaction. (Right now, Joe is posting for clients a minimum of three times per day, because his clients love seeing big engagement numbers, and that’s how to earn them.) If that’s too ambitious, stick to what you can do consistently (i.e., twice per week, and increase from there).
After you’re up and running, one or two out of every ten posts could include a soft sell on your book. That’s when advertising also kicks in.
Now the fun begins. Most Facebook ad campaigns bring some results within a few hours, even with a small budget. To get started, click Create Ad (at the bottom of the page), and start filling in the boxes:
- To focus on Likes to build your audience, click on Consideration, Engagement, and Page Likes.
- Use a Nickname for the Campaign Name. This will make it easier to remember and refer to later.
- Pick a geographic location (if not sure in the beginning, you might stick with U.S.).
- Choose age range and gender (again, this could be a rough guess for now).
- Interests is the most important category. Make sure this is narrow enough to reach your target audience, especially since you won’t be spending much money on your initial ads.
How long would you like your ad campaign to run? The daily estimates chart for how many people will see your ad are based on the targeting (location, age/gender, interests), the budget amount, and the duration.
Pro Tip #3: The default ad rate starts higher than we recommend. Click on the box to put a lower dollar amount, i.e. $5 or $10. Then set the time frame for one or two days (depending on how much you’re spending). At this point, you’re experimenting to see what works.
Now it’s time to create your ad. Ideally, you have a trove of photos and visuals related to your book or you can check out the stock photos in Facebook’s image library (search them by keyword). Facebook requires that photos not contain much text (i.e., in less than 30% of the photo).
Pro Tip #4: Consider putting a “watermark” on your photos that have your website URL, so if the photo gets separated from the text, viewers know how to find you (and you get credit for the photo).
The Text box to go along with the photo is very succinct – we’re talking under a dozen words. This will test your authorial abilities to describe your Page and lure people to view it. One example is, “Love to Cook? Our Kitchen has Recipes, Cooking Tips and more!”
Be sure to check everything before you click Confirm. That launches your ad.
Note: Facebook Ads are different than “boosting” a Facebook post. Some of the same theory applies, except that Ads offer many more categories and options. A boosted post is promoting that specific post to the audience you target.
If you’re getting 50+ new Likes in the first twelve hours, that’s awesome! Congrats! If your numbers are smaller, don’t fret. Initially, you’ll be using trial and error until you figure out your targets. There are several websites and companies that offer analytics. For now, why not try the free version, Facebook Insights. It shows Actions on Page, Page Views, Page Likes, and more.
The most important category to check is People to see the demographic your Page is reaching – what age, gender, location, etc. Secondly, who is engaging? Is your message reaching the target audience? How are they responding? Take those answers to fine-tune your next ad campaign.
Final Pro Tip: It’s rare that meaningful results are easy, cheap, or fast. While digital marketing is the fastest and most affordable method out there, expect this to realistically take time, a budget, and patience. As for easy, if you follow the directions above, that will make it easier and more effective.
Please keep us posted on your progress. And feel free to send us questions in the Comments section below. We’ll reply to all of them.
CAROLINE O’CONNELL founded her author publicity firm 25 years ago, so, naturally, she’s steeped in traditional media pitches and has booked her clients on every major national TV show and print outlet. She is also a travel guidebook author, so she understands an author’s priorities.
JOE WEHINGER was hired by one of Caroline’s clients ten years ago to set up his social media platform. In no time, Joe had thousands of engaged followers interacting on that client’s Facebook and Twitter platforms, and buying lots of books. Joe and Caroline have been collaborating ever since. Joe’s company, United Digital and Associates, specializes in creating a remarkable web presence — including social media marketing, digital advertising, website design, and SEO — for brands worldwide.
(Their website is AuthorSurvivalGuide.com)
Chris Hayden has been working at City Book Review since 2012, so that makes him the keeper of knowledge. He manages the office and book reviewers (all 200 of them!), which is no small feat. If you’re looking at the book reviews here, you’re seeing them because he sent the books out for review. Without him, this place would fall apart, because no one else in the office knows how to use the postage machine. Two words: job security.