Does Facebook Work For Authors?

I’ve met the most wonderful people on my self-publishing journey, and indie author Susan Salluce is one of them. In this guest post, she’s agreed to share her success with book promotion on Facebook, a platform I know little about. Enjoy!

Ah, Facebook. Just take a minute and reflect on what that brings up for you. Fun? Time waster? Connecting with friends? A way to stalk – I mean – snoop around and see what your high school sweetheart is up to?

If you are a writer, Facebook can be an incredible tool to market your book, but questions lurk in the dark corners of the anxious author’s mind: Does Facebook marketing really work? Do sales go up with all the time one spends “Liking” the multitude of pages devoted to authors and readers? When we do a tit-for-tat review or “share” of one another’s books, blogs, articles, and comments, does this actually drive traffic to sell our novels?

The answer is an unequivocal, “Maybe.” Here’s my experience.

I’m an Indie author who published a Psychological/Contemporary fiction novel, Out of Breath, in 2011, not knowing A-N-Y-T-H-I-N-G about book promotion or the business side of writing. I’m a counselor by trade. After learning about marketing at a writer’s conference, I feared that I’d come across inauthentic and look like a charlatan. It all felt, just…yuck. At the same time, I also knew that I had some strong messages in my book that I wanted people to hear: grief is survivable, people make mistakes, redemption is possible. So, I put on my proverbial work boots, opened a Facebook “Fan” page, and got busy. I was pleasantly surprised, and met some amazing Indie authors on my journey.

Fast forward to thirteen months of interfacing with authors, using free Facebook networking as my primary source of marketing, and giving away my book for free one time only, in November of 2011: Out of Breath is on Amazon’s Top 100 of Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers > Psychological Thrillers,  and is in the top 5,000 of all e-books. So, perhaps the answer to my earlier question is … Yes, Facebook is a GREAT tool for authors.

I’ve made my share of mistakes, but from those, and along with perusing other author pages, I’ve compiled a list of “Do’s” and “Don’ts” for Facebook marketing. Here they are:

Say YES To These Facebook Marketing Tactics 🙂
Set up a Fan page that is Public. Make sure that the photo you use is YOUR photo. If you go to my page you’ll see that I used my book cover- huge mistake – I can’t change it. I’ve tried.
√ Make sure you install the “Like” button, and then invite all of your contacts, friends, associates, etc., to “Like” your page. This felt so narcissistic to me, I almost died of shame.
√ Post flattering photos of your events: book signings, visits to book clubs, fans holding your book, pointing to your novel, your novel at the beach…you get what I’m saying. Encourage fans to send you their photos with your novel as well!
√ Update your comments frequently – at least once a week. It’s appropriate to post your stats once in a while. Your fans will be excited. However, throw out a question, ask for an opinion, give some inspiration. In other words, make yourself a little vulnerable. People like to know about you, the person.
√ If a “fan” comments on your work, take the time to respond.
√ Look for Facebook groups to join that are devoted to authors/readers who will allow you to advertise. Some are VERY strict about posting, others not at all. The e-Reader House is a great example of a page that helps new authors get known. I had immediate results after joining this page!
√ Take the time to find authors who are new. Offer to read their books, review them, and then promote them on Facebook. When I interview someone on my blog, I always link my interview to Facebook where I receive many comments, and the author gets a great deal of exposure.

Avoid These Facebook Mistakes 🙁 
If you must party on Friday night, I recommend that any comments stay on your iPhone. I truly believe that this is your business page. Treat it as such. Remember, you’re trying to attract a wide variety of readers.
When an author reaches out to you, take the time to return the favor. What if you don’t like his or her work? It’s tricky. You don’t have to lie, but you can say something that IS truth without trashing the author’s work. If you must critique, I believe a personal email is the venue for this.
Short of a death in the family, illness, and such, don’t forget about your fan page. Remember, it’s part of your job.
Don’t be one of those authors who self-promotes to the point that when one of us comes across your photo or name, we want to shut down the computer. There’s self-promotion, and then there’s, “Look at me! Don’t look at anyone else but me!” I fear that this tarnishes the reputation of authors on Facebook.
Be prepared: If you feel very passionate about, say, composting, and you make a comment about composting with lots of exclamation points!!!! explaining that anyone who DOES NOT COMPOST is certainly (A) Going to die a horrible death surrounded by plastic, or (B) wind up on a Carnival cruise swirling in the plastic waste that is the size of Texas … then, you may lose a reader (or twenty). You get what I’m saying. It’s your call. I stay pretty neutral in my comments, such as, “Oh, fall is here! The colors are so amazing …” Then, I await the responses and smiley faces.

Clearly, none of my information about marketing novels on Facebook is based on statistics, empirical evidence, or science. But, when I wrote Out of Breath, I didn’t know if I would sell one book or twenty, and something has helped me sell over 15,000 to date. I am beyond humbled. I believe that networking with my Indie community has been SO helpful, most of whom I met on Facebook.

If you decide to join the Facebook frenzy, I will “Like” you, and I hope you “Like” me. I rarely turn down a chance to read and review. I’m honored to promote new authors, and believe that we are all here to help one another, rather than journeying back to 7th grade, and restoring the pecking order of who is the hottest thing in Dittos and driving a 280 Z (and if you are under 30, you will have to Google what that means!).

About Susan: Susan Salluce, MA, CT, holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology and is a Certified Thanatologist–a death, dying, and bereavement specialist. With a passion for writing, impacting the bereaved, and having experienced her own sense of compassion fatigue, she wrote Out of Breath, which is available on all E-readers and in traditional book form in a variety of local book stores, and soon available on Amazon.

Susan continues to contribute to the field of bereavement through her writing, consultant work, and her work with Friends for Survival, a non-profit dedicated to those affected by a suicide death. She is currently at work on her next novel, No Ordinary Girl. When Susan is not working on her novels, you can find her either in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada’s or on the beaches of Aptos, Ca. What she truly calls home is anywhere she is with her amazing, loyal, and fun children, Kellen and Marina, and with her best friend/husband of twenty-four years, John.

Visit her website, check her out on Amazon follow her on Twitter, and like her on Facebook!

About Out of Breath: On a drizzly October night in the coastal town of Santa Cruz, California, seventeen-month-old Nevaeh drowns. Her mother, Alyssa Buchanan, is wild with rage and regret for placing her trust in her husband Seth, a former pro surfer who has a drug problem. Seth is adamant that he was clean the night of Nevaeh’s death, yet a dirty drug test contradicts his story. His parental rights stripped and criminal charges looming, he battles to prove his innocence, love, and family devotion. Adding to the couple’s grief, their five-year-old daughter Daisy hasn’t uttered a word since her sister’s death. Into this fragile scene steps therapist Katherine Middlebrook.

An award winner in the South West Writer’s Contest for literary and mainstream novel, Out of Breath is an exploration of parental grief, addiction, compassion fatigue, and suicide; it’s the prodigal story of grace undeserved. Salluce’s expertise as a psychotherapist and grief specialist enables her to create dynamic characters that will leave you breathless as you jeer their shadow sides and cheer their heroic journeys.

Additional Resources
Facebook Advertising: Does It Work for Indie Authors? by John R. Phythyon. Jr.

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28 Responses to Does Facebook Work For Authors?

  1. Jodi @ Heal Now and Forever October 30, 2012 at 7:59 am #

    Susan’s book sounds awesome! A book doing that well, have to be excellent. So happy for her!

  2. Jack Bushell October 30, 2012 at 10:23 am #

    I am very anti-Facebook and I had hoped that I could read this article and point out valid disagreements with everything you would rave about the social networking giant. I’m not a troll, even though I am biased, and so gave your article a chance and read through it twice.

    I enjoyed the article and you have very good tips for those who wish to use Facebook as a marketing tool and I have zero disagreement about anything you said. Ah, well. I would also like to note that I read a lot of blogs and I love people like you because you write like a regular person and don’t come off all stuffy. Never change. I am also reviewing posts today and will be providing a link back to this article as I found it very well written and informative. If you’d rather I not then please contact me via e-mail.

    Best of luck to you and keep up the writing!

    • Molly Greene October 30, 2012 at 11:00 am #

      Jack, would love a link back to the blog, thank you so much. Susan did a fabulous job on this article and we both appreciate your thoughtful comment!

  3. Laura Zera October 30, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Susan, like the person who commented above, I thought this was a very fair and balanced piece, and full of common sense. It also helps that you have a great book, and your readers are sincere in their praise of it. And any method of communication takes time to build (along with the commitment and consistency you mentioned). Congratulations on your success with Out of Breath!

    • Molly Greene October 30, 2012 at 11:01 am #

      Hi Laura! You know this blog is all about common sense. Hopefully presented in an uncommonly great way :-O Thanks so much!

  4. Rolando October 31, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    Thanks for your post Susan and thanks for having her here Molly. I have a question Susan. You say you did one KDP-Select free giveaway. I am curious how well that went? Thrillers are a very popular category. If you gained traction there as a result of your free promotion, that is a huge driver of book sales. I am just trying to gauge how much of your book sales you can assign to your Facebook experience as opposed to your free promotion.

    • Susan Salluce November 1, 2012 at 8:58 am #

      Hi Rolando. Just to clarify, I didn’t do a giveaway through KDP-Select, as I did not upload my book that way, which makes changing my price point a bit tricky. I uploaded through Bookbaby, which, by the way, have the most lovely group of people 🙂 Anyway, I was involved in a blog-hop last Veteran’s Day, and every time someone made a post on my blog, that individual received a copy of my book. Because I could not change my price to be free due to uploading with Bookbaby (it can take several days), I issued a copy of Out of Breath via PDF. It was risky, because people could simply forward it to others, but I was a new writer, and took that chance. I gave out appx. 160 copies, which is not really that many compared to other giveaways. What it DID do was connect me with a HUGE number of Indie authors. In fact, I believe that is where I met Molly, Terri Giuliano Long, and Rachel Thompson, other well-established and wonderful Indie authors who have become part of my “tribe”. Hope that helps!

      • Rolando November 1, 2012 at 9:24 am #

        Thanks for the clarification Susan. You are right that 160 is not a large number as giveaways go, so I think the reason behind the success of your book is a steady buildup through word of mouth, and you achieved that with Facebook. Thanks for sharing your experience here! : ^ )

        • Molly Greene November 1, 2012 at 10:21 am #

          Thanks Rolando and Susan! I’ll weigh in and add that Susan’s novel won an important contest, which also helped Out of Breath get the attention it deserves!

  5. Jennifer Slater November 1, 2012 at 7:40 am #

    Molly, thanks for sharing Susan’s tips. I am a new author with only one book self-published so far and I am struggling with ways to promote/market my book so every bit of advice helps. The article was written very well and is informative. I will definitely try some of these with my FB author page.

    • Molly Greene November 1, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      Jennifer, book promotion is challenging and methods change all the time. Best practices remain the same, though – engaging readers in a positive way wherever you can find them. I’m so glad you found my blog, thanks so much for commenting!

  6. Frankie Blooding November 1, 2012 at 10:33 am #

    This is a very fair article! The things you mentioned are very good. It can kind of seem like they’re time wasters especially when there aren’t immediate results, but they all help! The big difference I noticed between Twitter and Facebook is that people are more likely to actually comment or respond on Facebook. Twitter moves too quickly for a lot of people, I think. I know it does for me!! Great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • Molly Greene November 1, 2012 at 10:38 am #

      Hey Frankie! Thanks so much for the read and thoughtful comment!

  7. Julie Anne Grasso November 1, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    Thank you Susan and Molly for a great article.
    I love the fact that it can be done. It gives me such a hope to know that Indie authors can find their way into the readers hearts despite our odds and minus the big publishing house budget and exposure. As an author of middle grade science fiction, I have chosen possibly the most difficult target audience to market to, but anything is possible and I intend to adopt the pay it forward attitude, regardless of my success. Best wishes, Julie Anne Grasso

  8. Alan Rhodes November 6, 2012 at 2:33 am #

    Hi Susan

    Thanks for an excellent article and for the kind comment about The e-reader House. Actually I saw the article after I noticed, from our Page Insights, that recently had become the biggest ‘external referrer’ of traffic to our page with nearly 3 times as many people as any other external site.

    So to answer an alternative question – Does Blogging Work for Facebook Pages? the answer seems to be yes.

    Thanks again

    Alan (The e-reader House)

    • Molly Greene November 6, 2012 at 7:13 am #

      Alan, thanks so much for visiting, and I’m thrilled that my readers have flocked to check out e-reader House on Susan’s recommendation!

  9. Angela Shelton November 8, 2012 at 8:49 pm #

    Very good info, thank you. I promoted my documentary for years, along with my self help books but after venturing into fulfilling a dream of writing fantasy – I totally understand that tentative stepping into the promotion like ah… sorry.. but I’m going to share a link to my lovely book again. hehe

    Great post!

  10. Marilyn Levinson February 24, 2013 at 9:06 am #

    A wonderful article. I’m on Facebook with many other authors. Must set up an author page.

    • Molly Greene February 24, 2013 at 9:09 am #

      That’s next on my list too, Marilyn!

  11. Bill Kasal February 24, 2013 at 9:44 am #

    Thanks Susan (and Molly!) for this informative post! Good stuff…

  12. Carlie Lee March 12, 2013 at 3:09 pm #

    Hello Susan (and Molly),

    What a great article! I’m having a total mare collecting Facebook likes (although Twitter’s much easier). I think my main problem is lack of product – I’m on a challenge, rather than selling a book.

    I’d be very happy to swap likes with anyone, and I’m open to any advice.

    Anyway, thanks again, and very best wishes,


  13. Chrissa Reed June 14, 2013 at 5:49 am #

    Thanks so much for this article, Molly. I’ve been in a bit of dilemma in regards to how to use Facebook as a writer so you’ve really given me some food for thought!

  14. Lauren Rader June 14, 2013 at 7:41 am #

    Hello Molly & Susan –
    Thank you for the helpful article. Susan – I ‘liked’ your page – mine is… Something I really appreciated in your article is that we all need to support one another. That’s the best way, I think, in all ways in life.

    I’m an artist and art teacher – just finished a manuscript about the deeply personal journeys of Washington-area women who gather in my studio to venture together into the buried, revealing world of inner creativity. It speaks to everyone’s right to create, and the life changes that flow from the our creative encounters.

    Thank you for your thoughtful insights. Continued success to you, Lauren

  15. Lily Bishop June 18, 2013 at 5:46 am #

    Molly and Susan, thank you for the great tips. Molly, your blogs never disappoint. I have built a fan page, but still don’t have much of an idea of what to put on it. This gives me great information. I have not connected with other authors very much via Facebook because I’m not sure how to like someone’s page using my fan page. I would like to interact using my pen name, which is on my fan page, not my real name. While it’s not a secret that the two are linked, I plan to keep them separate for purposes of social media, etc. How do you like/comment on someone’s page, etc. as your author persona instead of yourself? Any tips would be appreciated. To clarify, I can post on my fan page as Lily, just now sure how to do that elsewhere.

    • Molly Greene June 18, 2013 at 7:08 am #

      I’m so sorry, but I have no idea how to do that! I’ll email Susan and see if she knows.

  16. Sakib Khan August 26, 2013 at 3:40 am #

    I have used Facebook since I was just of 16, and I have a page which is working well. We can use it as smart tool but we should know about basics of Facebook. There are lots of Page Apps that may be helpful – one of them is “Fan of the Week” and “Invite your friends.” Thank you for such a cool stuff.

  17. Garry Rodgers December 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm #

    Another winning post, Molly. Let me know if/when you set up a FB author page and how it goes for you. I’ve been thinking about doing one as well but don’t seem to have enough time to write books, never mind taking on another social media time-vulture. Betcha a lot of writers find the same thing.

    • Molly Greene December 8, 2014 at 7:27 am #

      Hey Garry, I need to do a follow-up to this post. Facebook is changing rules again as of Jan 1, and I believe advertising books will be “off the table” on the platform.