Monday, August 22, 2011

Is FaceBook Worthless for Marketing Your Book (and other related questions)?

My friend, J.S. Chancellor, once asked me if I have ever purchased a book from another author I met on FaceBook. I thought it was a good question and one I should open up to everyone.

For my answer, I have to say, rarely. I have so many books waiting to be read and so much writing that I still need to do, I don't have a chance to check out everyone's work. On occasion, I'll buy a book from someone I have made a personal connection with during FB chats, but I never buy a book just because someone friended me and then posted a link to their book on my wall. Maybe some of you have, which is why I'm asking the question. Hey, I'm not knocking trying such a tactic, as we have to do everything we can to sell books, I'm just wondering if it ever works.

After all, I post links to my book and book-related stuff all of the time. But does it actually sell books?

Even with my earlier answer of rarely, as to the question of buying books from new FB friends, I have to say that overall, it doesn't work. Wait a minute, you say. I said rarely, so that must mean it works sometimes, right? Well, not exactly. I have 900+ friends on FaceBook. Out of those 900 friends, I'm guessing 50-100 of them are friends of mine from the "real" world. Then, another 30-40 have become people I enjoy talking with on FaceBook because we've taken the time to engage in conversation for whatever reason. That leaves a lot of authors that have friended me or I have friended who are simply promoting their work, which is the same thing I have done. But out of all of those numbers, I'd say I've purchased 3 books. Yeah. Three.

Does that make me a jerk? Or selfish? I sure hope not. When I started acquiring friends here on FB, I had every intention of checking out their stuff while hoping to find avenues of promoting my own work. I do share other author's stuff on occasion, but only if I was particularly interested in what they had said or if they had made some kind of personal connection with me.

So, that brings me to my next set of questions. In saying all of this, does it mean that FaceBook is worthless for authors? That answer for me is still a resounding "no way." First and foremost, I have made friends on FaceBook and I enjoy chatting with them quite a bit. Second, and more to the point, I do think things I have written have spread by this medium. Blogs, for example. This blog, even. If you are here participating in this debate, I am willing to bet you found it from Facebook, Twitter, or through some other social media. Does that mean you are going to rush out and buy my book now? No, of course not. I've learned that everything doesn't have to be about selling books. I am happy you are here regardless of whether you read fantasy or have any interest in ever paying for what I've written.

The fact that you're reading this and (hopefully) commenting, hint, hint, is enough for me to continue being active on FaceBook and Twitter and such.

Really, I wish I could buy all of your books and you could all buy mine, but that just isn't reality.

Which brings me to my final series of questions today. What is your purpose for using FaceBook as a way to market your work? Is it simply to throw your latest book at the FaceBook wall and hope something catches on? Is it to make friends and build relationships with other authors? How about name recognition? For example, if you've seen my book title a few times and then you are searching WalMart or Barnes and Noble or wherever for something to read and you come across my book again, will you give it a try? Does that ever work?
I'd love to hear your opinion. Have you found something different in your FB marketing? Have you found a place where actual readers go looking for your stuff to read? Like Goodreads, for instance? Maybe you have a different goal or maybe you ARE one of the ones who uses FaceBook to find your next read. I'd like to hear your take.

Oh yeah, and if you are using FB to find your next read, do I have a suggestion for you ;)


  1. I use FB for all of the above! LOL I use it to promote my stuff, books and blogs of other authors, keep in touch with fellow writers and readers by chatting in various groups. And the Goodreads is a must for authors! I have had several people find and read my stuff through doing giveaways :D

  2. I'm a big believer that great books with great covers sell themselves, and your front list sells your backlist.

    So if you want to sell more books, write more books. :)

  3. While I´m not an author, but on your friendslist too, I feel tempted to comment. Facebook is more about connections then about promotion. I am artist and have it by far easier to look at other artists work, but it is a good thing to be picky, I can have a look at around 20k images a day, but do I want that?. Yesterday I stumbled about a kind-of etiquette for artists on facebook and I think it applies to anyone who wants to promote their work: I think that, plus the wise words from Amber are a good combination:)

  4. Doug, I primarily use FB for making contacts and for interacting with people I'd never normally meet. I also use it for finding out interesting stuff (mostly about writing but other stuff too). I also find posts about blogs which I like because I never seem to get notifications about blogs, no matter how many people's blogs I "follow" or "join". I wouldn't have found yours here if not for FB.
    Yes, I do promote my books and my blog on FB but I doubt many people have bought King's Envoy because of FB. (I'd *love* to be proved wrong here!). I have been persuaded to look at another author's work through reading their posts but I wouldn't use FB primarily as a resource for finding new reading material. I look at it mostly as a way of connecting with other authors and readers. Hopefully, as all our books begin to take off, we will find ourselves speaking with more and more "fans" and less with other self-promoting authors!

  5. Shay, I agree. Goodreads is great for meeting actual readers.
    Amber, Agree with both of your points. I can't wait until I hit 4 or 5 books. I'm anxious to see how things change.

    Oliver, The connections are what I have found were the most important. To be able to see your great art through FB is a great benefit. I wrote this post mostly because in a lot of the book marketing research that I've done, social media promotion ranks pretty high. As I said, I have author "friends" who have friended me and not said two words except for, "Here is my book, buy it." I've done that myself (not so blunt, but with the same intentions) in the early stages of my marketing. I have since stopped friending other authors, though I accept most any friend request, and that is because I found it too overwhelming to get to know each of them.
    Cas, I'm always impressed to see how often I come across you in different places on FB. I read a lot of posts, but don't always comment. When I see your comments, it always seems as though you are there as a friend to the people with whom you are commenting as opposed to just self-promotion. I think you are right on with your FB etiquette.

  6. I think building relationships is the best part of Facebook. I do some promotion, but really, the relationships I've built with authors and others in the business are priceless. Even if they never buy my book, they have given me something priceless, their advice, wisdom and friendship.

  7. Agreed, Maranda. I think it takes awhile for new authors to realize that. I know it took me awhile.

  8. This is encouraging...maybe I could use facebook a bit more! Thanks for the post; I'm beginning to realise all over again how much I still have to learn about making use of the various tools out there.

  9. I know as far as the writing aspect of facebook, I basically like to make contact with other like-minded people. I've acquired quite a few good writer friends through it. I like to talk about my work and experiences (most of my longtime friends from all walks of life know I basically post about what's going on with my writing and little else :p) and I like to listen to the same from others. As far as promoting, I have a web site with some samples and drafts. I've put the link up a couple times just to get some feedback, admittedly, but that's just my in regular newsfeeds for the most part. I don't just friend people and say, "hey, read this!" And even when I've got a novel published (or even a story or whatever) I wouldn't do that either. So whatever promotion I would/have done would be towards my friends, and in something like the Creative People group. That would be about it.


  10. Dude, I totally found your blog under the sofa cushion! LOL, just kidding ;)

    I'm using Facebook to strengthen my fan base and get my name out there so that when I do have a book, there just might be some people willing to buy the thing. I also enjoy meeting and networking with other writers, but that's not so much about hoping they'll buy my book or even read my blog. It's more about Not Being All Alone in This. My "regular" friends, as I think of them, are all well-meaning and nice and stuff, but they just don't really *get it,* you know?

    Per the convo we were having on Facebook, I have a feeling I'm going to sell more books to people I know IRL or have connected with online than to strangers, so the mission is -- MEET AS MANY PEOPLE AS POSSIBLE AND MAKE THEM LIKE ME.

    I hope you like me ;)

  11. Good post, Doug. I use facebook as a way for readers to find me and connect with me outside of other networks like Twitter or blogging. FB is very accessible, and I like that. I have an author page and then a private personal page where I only friend people I actually know. Every writer on there is someone I interact with and know. If I don't recognize someone at all, I can't friend them. That's what my author page is for, and maybe there I can make more friends! I like the interaction, and yes, it can be great for name recognition and for sharing things like blog posts, but mostly I just like feeling connected.

  12. Steven- Yeah, I don't see you on FB very often.
    Rachel- I think it is OK to promote as long as you are giving back to the FB community and not just promote, promote, promote.
    Marjorie- How in the world did my blog get in your couch. I'm going to have to be more careful since I keep losing it. And yes, I like you.
    Michelle- I would eventually like to move any of my promotional stuff to my Epertase fan page when more people sign up. I really like meeting people and I think people are so creative. It is great when someone you have never met says something funny or clever and if you weren't on FB, you may never have seen it.