Facebook marketing for authors (why getting more “likes” is a waste of time)…

One of the things I see a lot of authors doing, is asking people to “like” their Facebook page.

That’s an immense waste of effort.

First – you’re asking for a favor, something you should never do. Even if it’s “I’ll like your page if you like mine.”

Second – getting other random authors or friends to like your page doesn’t help you market your book or find your real fans. They liked your page because you asked them to, not because they’re actually interested in your books.

Third – having a lot of fans is kind of meaningless, because Facebook won’t show your content to them: only a tiny fraction, maybe 5%, will even see your posts on Facebook, which means you spent all your time getting people to like your page and you’re still invisible.

What to do instead

First of all, it’s fine to have an author page but having less than 1000 likes actually hurts you because you look unpopular; it’s really only good for social proof, so you do need likes, if you want to have an author page.

But I still don’t recommend creating one. If you have a personal author page for your author persona, you need to get people to actually like your writing first, and then like your page (getting people to like first will not help you sell books!).

People aren’t going to like some random page by some author they’ve never heard of, even if it posts a lot of great content. People like pages that say something about themselves.

You do need a Facebook page though, because it lets you boost posts and connect with your Facebook ads – which can be a great way to gain new readers.

For me, instead of “Derek Murphy, Author” I made a page for my fiction brand, Urban Epics, with the tagline, “Free books for YA readers.”

Instead of an author page for my writing, I set up a “brand” –https://www.facebook.com/urbanepics.

Then I ran book giveaways; giving away bestselling books in my genre. That page has over 1000 likes and gets more without promotion, because I set it up as a site for benefits (free books for YA readers) instead of a personal fanpage. Later, once I have more real fans, I can transition it into a real fanpage for people who like my writing.

Basically, you don’t want to do anything that takes effort, like convince people to like your page, especially if you can’t reach them anyway. Social proof is important, but instead of asking people to like your page, make a page that is likeable. Write a tagline that defines your target readers. Then post great content related to your genre.

  • Quotes from bestselling books, or famous authors, in your genre.
  • News or interesting stuff your readers will love.
  • Ask questions for engagement.

Giveaways are amazing for likes, even if you choose a small prize (like giving away one book a month – but giveaway a bestselling new release that fans of your genre already want). I use Gleam for giveaways, and even though they’ve removed the “like” on Facebook feature, you can still set up your own feature, telling people to like your page to enter, and linking to your Facebook page.

NOTE: people will say, “giveaways are terrible for likes because you don’t get any engagement.” But you have to understand how Facebook works: 95% of your followers don’t see your posts anyway unless you pay to be seen. The only people who see your content are the ones who likes and comment – that’s why you keep seeing the same people engage and nobody else, because nobody else is even seeing your posts… hence, why Facebook is a waste of time. With email marketing, at least everybody is seeing your email, whether or not they choose to open. With Facebook, you’re not even being seen by your followers. And yes, you’ll get more engaged followers if they’ve actually read your books, signed up to your newsletter, and really do like you: so why are you going around asking strangers or other authors to like your page? Those likes aren’t your fans, they aren’t likely to be seen, so it’s just 1 more unengaged follower.

Check out how I’ve done it on this Gleam contest I set up: http://urbanepics.com/giveaway-for-mermaid-lovers/

A giveaway is a good way to get a lot of likes quickly… for my page, liking wasn’t even part of the giveaway; people liked it because I was running paid ads on Facebook for the free books giveaway, and a lot of people liked the without being asked to (because, again, it was “free books for YA readers” – not “Derek Murphy, Author”.

It’s much easier with an interest than a personal author page.

Never ask people to like your Facebook page.

Unless they are already your fans and really love your writing, in which case, you should get them on your email list first, and then ask them to like your page after. How do you get them on your email list?

Giveaway a book for free, and make an offer in the front and back of the book. Giving away a book = you’ll reach 40X as many readers, and get so many more signups, than with a paid book. If you want to get Facebook likes, so your fans can share your content, which brings in new fans, having a free book is the most powerful thing.

If you don’t want to do that, you probably don’t have a very big list (unless you’re selling tons of books – if so, good on you!).

If you have a big list, you can run a contest or giveaway to get people to like your Facebook page. Then it starts to be good marketing, because your fans can repost your news and content. But getting all your friends and family, or random authors, to like your Facebook page as a favor, is a waste of time.

You can do better.

Post giveaways and great content. Pay $10 to “boost your post” and fine tune your targeting so your ideal readers will see it (you should read this post about the new changes in Facebook advertising that let you target much more effectively). Get your content in front of your ideal readers. Run contests to build your email list. Then get your email list to like your page.

PS) I have about 10 Facebook pages and groups, but I’m going to start posting all my best book marking advice in this one: Marketing for Writers. If you don’t want to miss something that will help you sell more books, you should check it out.

I also post a lot of stuff on the Creativindie Facebook page.

About Derek Murphy

I help authors and artists turn their passions into full-time businesses, make a bigger impact, and blaze a luminous trail of creative independence. Right now I'm in Taiwan finishing a PHD in Literature, writing several books, and managing a handful of online businesses. Find me

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