No, You Don’t Need Facebook to Promote Your Book

© Can Stock Photo / Curioso_Travel_Photo

For the past few months I’ve had issues with Facebook over censorship and their flagrant privacy violations, both of which remain  ongoing.

It’s no secret that Facebook has become a data mining platform pursuing its own political agenda. But I’ve been told, over and over again by all the so-called experts, that because I’m an author, I had no choice but to put up with Facebook’s crap. If I wasn’t on Facebook, my books would surely languish on the shelf. Well, after being on Facebook for nearly a decade, I have to tell you that as usual, the experts are wrong.

Most, if not all, of my Facebook friends know I’m an author. Many have liked my Facebook author pages. Whenever I posted something about my books, they’d hit the like button. Wanna know how many of them actually followed through and bought my books? Well, I know of one who did. Maybe one or two others might have, but I’m not sure. I could probably count the total number of Facebook friends who actually purchased my books on one hand.

Likewise, I had hundreds likes for my author pages. Yet whenever I posted on those pages, I would, on a good day, maybe get twenty people who actually saw the post. And out of those twenty, maybe one or two engaged with it. Wow. If I were a betting person, I’d bet that out of all the people who liked my author pages, the number who actually purchased a book is close to zero. 

I stopped advertising on Facebook several months ago. My ads no longer had the reach they once had. It’s been well documented that fewer people are on Facebook these days. And those who haven’t left the platform spend less time there. But even before all the Facebook controversy, I wasn’t getting a good return on my investment for my ads because people weren’t purchasing my books. And that’s the bottom line.

The other morning I read a news article about how Steve Wozniak, one of the founders of Apple, is saying that people need to delete their Facebook accounts. Wow. That’s coming from a credible source. An insider who knows more about cyber spying than the average Joe or Jane. So I’ve deactivated my account, which, to be honest, is something I’ve wanted to do for sometime now.

Yes, social media is a good tool for promoting your books. However, a presence on Facebook doesn’t mean you’ll sell more books. We want people reading our books, not just hitting a like button. So please, if you’re concerned about Facebook and its complete lack of ethics, and if you don’t want third parties spying on your every move without your knowledge and consent, then please don’t feel that you have to stay on Facebook to promote your books, because you don’t. It’s okay to shut down your Facebook account. And if you do, you’ll probably be better off for it.

In recent months I’ve an uptick in book sales. It started when I stopped wasting my time on Facebook. I got back into blogging. I’ve updated and optimized my websites and blogs. I’ve also started up a newsletter. Coincidence? Well, you tell me.

GM

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One of the Pitfalls of Social Media

© CanStockPhoto/ShutterM

As writers we’ve all been told that social media is an essential marketing tool, and it truly is. I’ve made fans and sold books on social media. However, social media can be a double-edged sword. It must be treated with respect. Let me give you an example of something that happened to me a few years ago.


After commenting on a friend’s Facebook post, I started engaging with another of her friends on the same thread. We were talking about jazz music, something we both enjoyed. During our online conversation she mentioned that she was a book editor. At the time I was publishing books for other authors, so I told her I was a publisher. I then asked her to please send me a friendship request so I could include her on my referral list. She was more than happy to oblige. 


She posted frequently Facebook. However, I found her content troubling. She often ranted about her hatred of children, her dislike of men, and her belief that interpersonal relationships were a complete waste of time. She also posted about her hatred of churches and of people of faith. Anyone who disagreed was told to “go f— themselves.” No matter how respectful they were, they got the same hateful, vulgar, response.


I soon realized that I could NEVER refer this woman to any of my authors. If she was that mean spirited and disrespectful on Facebook, I could only imagine how badly she would have treated them. So, instead of sending her referrals, I blocked her.


Use caution when posting on social media. It really can come back and bite you. In this instance, it cost someone potential business.


GM

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I’m Done with Facebook

Photo and meme by Gayle Martin.

Once upon a time Facebook was a lot of fun. I could catch up with friends, reconnect with family members, share blog posts and even promote my books. However, nothing good lasts forever. Facebook has become mean and hostile, and I’m not the only one who thinks this way. Many of the friends I once engaged with on Facebook have stopped posting. Some have even closed out their accounts. 


I think the reason this is happening is obvious. Everytime you turn around, here’s another scandal involving Facebook. Oftentimes it has to do with breaching people’s privacy and sharing their personal information without their knowledge and consent. That’s a big deal for most of us. Then there’s the other problem. Censorship.

At one time Facebook was all about free speech, but not anymore. Facebook has become Big Brother. Nearly everyone has landed in “Facebook jail” for such “crimes” as sharing too many blog posts about crocheting. Or they they posted about their belief in the Bible. Fact of the matter is that Libertarians, Christians, and Americans who believe in freedom of speech, as guaranteed by our Constitution, are no longer welcome on Facebook. Facebook has not only targeted these people for censorship, they’re even shutting down their accounts. Facebook destests anyone who isn’t a leftist progressive. They even deleted a post I started about a flour sifter. Silly me. I had no idea that talking about baking is now considered hate speech on Facebook.

I used to think that I had to put up Facebook’s abuse with because I advertised my books there. However, my Facebook ads no longer have the reach they once had, due to the reasons listed above. So why should I continue placing ads that fewer and fewer people are seeing.? And why would I do business with people who hate and despise me because I don’t share their political beliefs? I’m Libertarian. I believe that freedom of speech is for everyone. Not just those who agree with you. Facebook, however, believes that saying free speech is for everyone is hate speech.


So, instead of posting on Facebook, I’ve gone back to posting on my own blogs. My blogs belong to me and me alone. They’re where the First Amendment actually means something and where I can speak my mind without Facebook telling me what I can and cannot say. As a writer, my life is all about freedom of speech.

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GM

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So Who’s Responsible for Marketing Your Book?

From time to time I get into some rather interesting conversations with authors lamenting the fact that their book isn’t selling they way they expected. So, I ask them what they’ve done to market their book. Oftentimes they haven’t done anything. Many authors, especially newbies, honestly think all they have to do was list their book on Amazon, and people would come along and buy it.


“Build it and they will come,” may have worked in the movie Field of Dreams. However, that mindset doesn’t apply when selling books. Nor is your publisher responsible for selling your book for you. They distribute it, not market it. So, unless you, the author, go out and do some marketing, your book won’t sell. Fortunately, there are many things that you can and should be doing to help promote your book. 

How authors can promote their books

  • Have a website or a blog, or both, about your book.
  • Promote your book on social media, such as Twitter and Facebook.
  • List your book on other websites such as Goodreads.
  • Book signings.
  • Newsletters
  • Contests and giveaways.
  • Book Trailers.
  • Advertising.

If you only do one item on this list, make it a website. If you’re on a tight budget, you can do a simple, do it yourself blog on platforms such as Blogger, virtually for free. And if you have the means, you can hire a webmaster and have a state of the art website will all the bells and whistles. Either way, however, it’s up to you to promote your blog or website.


Social media is an absolute must as well. It costs nothing to open account on most social media platforms. Keep in mind, however, that it takes time to build a following on social media, so don’t expect instant results. I’ve also found contests and giveaways to be a nice marketing tool. You can do giveaways on Amazon, through social media, or in newsletters.


If your budget allows it you can hire a publicist. If you do, be sure that he or she has experience in book promotion, as book promotion is different from other kinds of public relations. Also be sure to talk to him or her about the cost. Some firms may charge as much as $3000 a month for their services. Others may charge much less, and may do just as good of a job as the higher-priced publicists.


No one ever said marketing a book would be easy, especially in a time when anyone with a computer and access to the Internet can upload a Word file onto Amazon Kindle and call themselves an author. However, unless your name is Stephen King, James Patterson or J.K. Rowling, don’t expect people bust down the doors to buy your book just because you’ve listed it on Amazon. You really do have to get there and do some work.

GM

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Blogs vs Social Media

© Can Stock Photo / gunnar3000

As authors we’ve all been told, dozens upon dozens of times, to use social media to promote our books. Good advice. Social media is an essential marketing tool. However, just like anything else, it can also be overrated, if not overused.

Some authors go on social media and post nothing but, “Buy my book! Buy my book! Buy my book!” To which I say, “Enough already!” We all want people to buy our books, but social media was never intended to be a vehicle for free advertising.

So, how does an author use social media? Well, this author uses it to drive traffic to her blogs, but I post about other things too. You know. The weather. Pictures of my dog, that sort of thing. I actually have a life outside of writing, but a word of caution here. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites can be extremely distracting and they can easily take up too much of your valuable time. Try not to spend more than ten to fifteen minutes per day on any one platform, and don’t feel that you have to post something everyday. Log in, write your post, put a couple of likes on friend’s posts, check and see if you have any private messages, and then log out. Better yet, use Hootsuite, and you can post to multiple social media accounts at the same time. 

Why I think the blog is still king

No Trolls Allowed. Trolls are people who apparently have nothing better to do with their time than to harass others or even destroy an author’s career. They’ve done some serious damage to Goodreads, and they can be a problem on other social media sites as well. However, with a blog, you can eliminate trolls completely. All you have to do is set up your comments so they cannot be posted without your prior approval, and bye-bye trolls. You’ve just created a place where people can feel safe engaging with you, and with each other.

You Can Engage One on One with Your ReadersA blog allows you to connect with your readers on a more personal level. You can share ideas, have contests and promotions, and build your following. And yes, a blog is a form of social media, as long as you allow comments. Both Blogger and WordPress allow multiple pages, so one of my other blogs, Marina Martindale’s Musings, uses those other pages for sample chapters. That’s a whole lot more than I’m able to do with my Facebook fan page.

Not Everyone Uses Social Media. Many people have either shut down or no longer use their social media accounts due to privacy concerns and other issues, while others never signed up for them in the first place. However, anyone with an Internet connection can read your blog, and you have the option of allowing anyone to post a comment. This makes you more accessible to your readers, especially if you include your blog address in your books. 

So there you have it. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media, when used properly, can certainly help you publicize your books, but, in my opinion, there simply is no substitute for a blog.

GM

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