A text-only version of this article appeared in my GoodReads blog on March 25, 2011. The lessons still apply today — despite changes to Facebook’s algorithms and Operation eBook Drop coming to an end.
If I had a subtitle, it would be: Or, Some Things I Learned Along the Way
The other day, I dropped someone from my personal Facebook page. She’s a professional author whom I knew casually from another website, and she sent me a friend request — which I accepted.
Given the way that authors tend to network, I’m sure you’re wondering why I dropped her.
One hundred percent of her posts were billboarding about where to buy her books, sent via Tweetdeck. I started to feel as though the only reason she’d invited me to be her Facebook friend was so that she would make a sale!
There are lots of ways to rock on Facebook (in fact, I took a class by that name from Molly Burke, Queen of Confidence). The main thing comes down to building relationships. So, I’m going to share some things I learned from Molly — and some I learned from trial and error — when it comes to developing relationships with your fans/readers.
1. Keep your personal Facebook and your fan page separate — and don’t post identical material in both places. Invite all of your personal friends to join your fan page, sure … but make certain you aren’t spamming folks with duplicate information. The same thing goes for your personal blog and your professional blog.
2. The audience for Twitter is different from the audience for Facebook — or your blog. The good thing about Twitter is that each tweet has its own searchable URL. I admit that I was a reluctant adopter, but I have found Twitter to be a useful plank in my platform.
3. Keep things engaging. Readers already know that you’d like them to buy your book; they don’t need constant commercials. The theory goes that the ratio of content: billboarding should be approximately 9:1. So, what can you do?
I developed regular features for my fan page. In 2010, I had Facts From My Fiction (information about historical people, places or events that were discussed in my novel), Food From My Fiction (documented period recipes) and Saturday Night Musicale (a video or recording, usually a classical piece, pertinent to a writing project).
This year, I switched it up. I have Location, Location, Location, where I share information about a place discussed in one of my books. Every Friday, I ask what people are reading over the weekend. Saturday Night Musicale occasionally turns into Saturday Night Sing-Along when I provide music and lyrics.
In between, I provide quotes of the day, links to blog posts like this one — and sometimes I let people know where to get my books.
4. Give things away. Yep — give it away. I have two free eBooks and I give the others away periodically. I participate in a couple of annual promotions, like “Read an eBook Week,” and I also give eBooks to deployed service members via Operation eBook Drop. When it comes to the promotions, I’ve learned by trial and error that it’s best to give books for free. It drives your work up the bestseller list, which gets it more attention from new readers.
I’ve also given away paperbacks in contests, donated them to charity auctions and more. It’s definitely worth the goodwill to have freebies out there.
One of Molly’s excellent suggestions is to have a freebie that people get in exchange for joining your mailing list. Well worth considering.
I say all of that to say this: you need to develop a relationship with your readers that is about more than their pocketbooks. Keep them engaged and interested, and they’ll keep coming back.