By Jennifer Bardsley
Preparing for a book launch takes guts, grit, and gumption. Hopefully you can count on your friends to purchase your book, but what about the thousands of total strangers you need to attract as readers? The answer may be as simple as your presence on Facebook.
When it comes to social media heft, there is no contest. Facebook has 1.591 billion monthly active users. Twitter only has 120 million. (Source: DMR Digital Statistics.) The numbers are clear: pay attention to Facebook and learn to use it effectively.
After my book deal was announced in fall of 2014 I started a Facebook page called “The YA Gal.” In January of 2016, over 18,000 people were following me. Why is my page growing so fast? The number one reason is its name. If I attempted to draw followers using my own name, Jennifer Bardsley, it would be a challenge because readers don’t know me yet. But through my Facebook page, I build a reputation as somebody who loves YA books.
The rules that govern Facebook can shift at any moment, but currently Facebook allows page operators to change their page’s name one time, and one time only. After Genesis Girl debuts in September of 2016, I might change my Facebook page over to “Jennifer Bardsley Author.” Or, I might decide to continue building my brand as The YA Gal.
Another way I help my page grow is by following other pages. Operating as your author page, “like” a bunch of related pages operated by publishers, writers, or bloggers. Then when you click “home” all of those feeds will pull up. Every day spend five minutes clicking through your home feed. Comment on anything that seems appropriate. Likes are good, but comments are better because then your name stands out. Often time if a page operator sees you leave comments for several weeks they will follow you back.
The fastest way to build up your Facebook page is by creating content that is so clever that lots of people share your posts to their personal feeds. The first time this happened to me in a major way was when I designed a meme that said “Rory Gilmore-ing It: When you carry a book in your purse just in case the evening turns out boring.” 771 people shared this post causing it to be viewed over 60,000 times. My follower count spiked overnight. I became a meme-making expert using an app called Textgram.
Sometimes authors complain that Facebook won’t let all of their followers see their posts. With 18,000 followers I generally have between 800 and 12,000 people viewing my posts each day. But Facebook also offers the potential for thousands of people who have never heard of you to see your content if you strike upon the magic combination of luck and wit.
The final way I’ve built up my Facebook page is through paid advertisements. If you use this option, proceed with caution. I have wasted at least fifty dollars experimenting with demographics, landing pages, timing, and user interest. There is no magic formula, but if there was, it would be different for every author.
Some people describe Facebook pages as “crop sharing” because you could invest time and money into building up a page, break one rule, (like the governance codes for raffles), and have your page deleted. That is no way to launch a book! Thankfully, likes, comments, and memes are free.
Whatever your genre, you can find readers on Facebook who will appreciate you. Have fun, make friends, and share.
Jennifer Bardsley is represented by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Her debut novel, Genesis Girl, comes out September 27, 2016 from Month9Books. Jennifer lives in Edmonds, Washington, and writes a parenting column for The Everett Daily Herald.