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REACHING READERS ON FACEBOOK

February 14, 2018

I think I’ve talked about this before and the success, or rather lack of it I’ve had by using Facebook to market my books, at least so far.

First off, the inspiration for this article came from multiple sources. On one of the Facebook forums, someone asked the question (in so many words), what’s the one thing you like the least about writing, or what thing about writing gives you the most stress.

My answer was simple. “Nothing, except marketing.”

That’s not exactly what I said, but something like that.

I love everything about writing, from sitting down at the computer with a fresh idea, to editing the “mess” in the end and making it a final product, to tweaking the back cover blurb. I love it all.

Except…

Begging for people to buy it. That’s kind of how I feel a lot of the time when it comes to busking these stories to the public.

HAVING A REAL JOB

Since I’m not a full-time author who is making money hand-over-fist, or is retired and has the luxury of being able to drop everything to go off on book tours, or can afford to hire publicity teams, I have to rely on the down and dirty ways to push my book. For the most part, I’m restricted to the Las Vegas area and what I can do on line.

Facebook seems, or seemed like a great potential possibility.

Well, at least it did until I tried it and seen what it’s done for others.

FACEBOOK

With the advent of e-book sales and a new book launch, I invested a sizeable amount (over $100) into a publicity blast for both of my current novels on Facebook. I blasted first the west coast states, and then the entire You Ess And A. Then, I even blasted the UK, Ireland, Germany, Holland, France and Spain.

I have Facebook pages for both my books and of course, an author page on Amazon as well as both books not only on Amazon, but Barnes & Noble, Create Space and on my publisher’s web site, Mystic Publishers.

In a nutshell, given my rather meager income and what I invested in this publicity blast, I at best, generated a modest amount of likes to both my Facebook book pages, zero reviews and little sales as a result. I found out when I got my latest royalty check.

I did get one nasty note from some guy saying not to harass him with spam.

Ever since I did my publicity blast, my slow-but-steady hit rate on both of my Facebook book sites has remained about the same as before and after. In other words, outside of a slight tweak in numbers, my rate of hits on either page has remained almost unchanged.

I do get steady hits here and there. When I post something, my hits go up, then die off to an occasional like or new click. When I just did a recent promotion for my upcoming book signing on 24 February, I got more hits, but ran across another “maybe” complication, which I’ll explain further down.

WHAT I SEE

Lately, more than before, I’m getting more and more author book blasts. I politely click “like” on them to help them out, but only if the book really intrigues me do I ever take it further. If the books are something in a genre I’d actually read, sure, I’ll dig deeper, but so far, none of them have been anything I read. I’m all for stuff that I’m interested in. On the other hand, if I have to order it on line, and not find it in a bookstore, I have to hesitate, because I much prefer to touch it and feel it before I buy. On the other hand, that’s not to say I won’t buy it on line. I only read paper books but save for mass on-line orders of those books and don’t do it that often.

Unfortunately, that’s my own predicament with my book. It’s not in stores because I’m under a small publisher. I can well understand why others may be just as reluctant to purchase my book when they can’t go down to the local bookstore and find it on the shelf.

So, I see an increasing amount of book blasts on Facebook and I do check each and every one of them out and like them all, even if I’m not interested in the actual book. I believe in supporting all authors, at least initially. However, I have yet to purchase any that I’ve seen on Facebook simply because they’re not my genres. Maybe one day.

LATEST ATTEMPT

As I said above, I’m having a book signing coming up at the local bookstore. For that, I invested in a local Las Vegas/Henderson/Boulder City blast, specific to just those three cities (a fifty mile radius). I was hoping to generate some interest. Then, it’d be up to me once they show up at the store.

The result so far was not something I could’ve predicted, given what happened before.

I got this warning that I “wasn’t reaching enough people because my image contained too much text.”

Say what?

It’s a frigging book, for crying out loud! It has a title and my name! How am I supposed to display the book cover without the title and name? What’s up with Facebook and some arbitrary stupid rule about too much text in the image?

After much research I found out that “supposedly,” book covers are exempt from this rule. I mean, I get blasted with book adverts full of book covers all the time. Somehow they’re circumnavigating this rule all the time. I figure I’m okay, but I still keep getting this warning. Is it affecting my reach?

As of today, as I edit and post this, which is still pretty early in the game, I’ve reached 276 people and engaged 31. I’ve got 31 clicks, 26 likes and 3 comments and 2 shares. Folks, that’s some activity so I can’t complain, but it’s blasting to supposedly several million people. I’ve spent $25 to run it until the 24th. I don’t know how Facebook limits who they send it to, or if that image limitation is really exempt.

SUMMARY

Facebook could and should be a great marketing tool yet it isn’t. At least not for everyone.

For the small-time author, it’s a real struggle. With the potential to reach millions, we’re lucky to reach tens, or so it seems. We may be reaching a lot more than that, but getting a reaction from them is like getting blood out of a turnip, and no apologies for the cliché. No matter how well written, how good our graphics are, when you’re an unknown and don’t have a book on the shelf, you have an uphill struggle. It’s hard for any amount of money or blasting to overcome that. Plus, Facebook is a big mystery as to how they really function and whether they’re worth the bother.

I wish I knew the magic key to fixing all that without going broke.

Happy writing!

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