Fifteen or twenty years ago, if you wanted to tell your favourite author how much you loved their last book, you had to write a letter or send an email. I remember writing to some of my favourite romance authors. I was always so excited to get a reply.
Social media has forever changed the way authors and fans connect, engage and interact. Social is what the word implies: a fun community of friends or like-minded people. That’s why Facebook is a like an online coffee shop where writers can simply ‘hang out’ with their readers — it’s immediate, personal, interactive
Here are five things fans either Like or Ignore on your author page:
1. Ghost writer?
Like: Fans like it when the author takes time to talk them. It validates their investment in you and brings them closer to your brand. Truth is they don’t buy your books — they’re buy into you as an author.
Unfollow: Fans will unfollow the ‘ghost’ author who doesn’t update their page regularly. Yes, as an author, social can be a time suck — so decide if you want to do it twice daily or even weekly. Set a diary for your posts. Think of it as a date with friends and keep the appointment.
2. Who are you?
Like: Fans like it when you share your journey as a writer — the joys, the frustrations … the silly moments even. They want to feel engaged. So ask them their opinions. ‘My heroine just had the worst date in history — what was your most awkward moment on a date?’ Re-post or comment to as many as you can.
Unfollow: Fans will stop following you if all you’re doing is selling or pushing your product in their faces. Avoid the ‘Buy my book for 99c on Amazon today’ approach. Similarly, avoid telling fans how brilliant you are or re-posting good book reviews. One is enough.
3. Is anybody out there?
Like: Fans feel comfortable with you as an online persona when your posts are consistent. If you’re a thriller writer, they love hearing your thoughts on crime: your blogs on serial killers or women in the police force. If you’re writing chick lit, they like your links to articles on dating or your fashion boards on Pinterest.
Unfollow: Fans will unfollow you if your page is ‘schizophrenic’. If you’re a romance writer, they’ll feel confused if you suddenly start posting about the political strife in the Middle East. If you post your political or religious views, they may even be offended by your viewpoint and unfollow you. Permanently.
4. Here we are now. Entertain us.
Like: Fans like it when you give them content — when you entertain, inspire, or intrigue them. They especially like pictures — so share the cover mock-up of your new book, share the embarrassing dress or hairstyle of your high-school dance in a Throwback Thursday post.
Unfollow: Fans will unfollow you if you don’t give them a glimpse into your personal life or your writing days — nobody likes a standoffish friend or mystery figure. Your community will grow in line with the content you give them. Who doesn’t want more fans?
5. No Facebook page is an island.
Like: Fans like it when they have somewhere to go after engaging with you on Facebook — so give them your Twitter handle, or link to other social media sites you’re active on. They like to visit your blogs or your webpage. Make sure you have ‘buy links’ to your books. Or let them know when you’re appearing at a bookshop as part of your author tour.
Unfollow: Fans will become frustrated if all you have a ‘shop front’ with nothing behind it. Of course, not every Like translates into a sale — but most people want somewhere where they can have a browse and decide if they want to buy or not.
If you get it right, an author or fan page on social media can build a great platform for your brand as a writer. If you don’t, well, then all you’re left with is a stale, bitter cappuccino in that social coffee shop.
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