4 Reasons Why Facebook Is Not Useful for Authors

facebookLet’s face it.

Authors, especially independent authors, need to promote themselves.

However, there are ways to promote and ways not to promote.  Social media is a way to promote yourself as a writer, but it can also be a double-edged sword.  Of course, Delilah S. Dawson wrote a fantastic article about the misuse of social media to promote books, and I recommend that all indie writers read it.

One of the most useless social media for writers currently is Facebook.  Here are the reasons, to be blunt:

  1. Only 30% of Followers See Posts – This percentage is diminishing yearly as Facebook has started charging users for more exposure.  It’s pretty expensive, too.  I currently have over 600 Facebook followers and I am only guaranteed to reach 180 or so with an announcement about my new book.  This is kind of dismal really, and as a high school teacher in Oklahoma (49th in teacher pay nationwide) I cannot afford to pay Facebook to reach everyone.
  2. Facebook is Death by Scroll – Most people only scroll through their feed on Facebook looking for the funny video or the sycophantic rant.  They will usually scroll by anything that is an ad or even looks like an ad.  Trying to sell your book on Facebook is a pointless exercise as most people do not buy things they find on Facebook unless it’s a cool t-shirt.
  3. Facebook Wastes Writing Time – I gave my iPad mini to my wife because I was constantly scrolling Facebook whenever I had a spare ten minutes.  It cut into my productivity as a writer.  Facebook has become more and more mindless, filled with fake articles, useless videos and even some people who use it to sell drugs.  If you are a writer who uses social media (and you should) you shouldn’t spend any time on Facebook because it is not helping your writing career.  At least Twitter has hashtags like #amwriting and #writetip to follow where you can interact with other writers.  I would rather be writing.
  4. Facebook is the Trailer Park of Social Media – Many critics have said since last year that Facebook is headed the way of MySpace.  On those rare occasions that I scroll Facebook (usually when sitting in the doctor’s office with one of my kids) I find it to be nothing but shares, click-bait and satire articles taken as reality by the poor sap who posted it.  I personally think that Facebook could be responsible for the anti-vaccer debacle.  This pile of internet detritus is mounting by the click, and I feel that the sooner I can remove myself from the ash heap the better.

Authors are better off building a Twitter following, really communicating and interacting with that Twitter following, and above all building an e-mail list to get the word out about book signings and appearances.  Podcasting is another way to promote, and I have had great success with it.  It has allowed me to be a guest panelist at a local science fiction/fantasy convention, the biggest one in the state (I count the small victories).

If you have other ideas about promoting yourself as a writer, post them below.

Published by Roger Colby, Novelist, Editor

Roger Colby is a novelist and teacher who has taught English for nearly two decades. He is also an avid reader of science fiction who feels, like many other sci-fi readers, that he has read everything. He writes science fiction for the reader who is looking for the next best thing, something to excite them into reading again. This blog is his journey as a writer and his musings about writing. He also edits manuscripts for a fee and is an expert at helping you reach your full potential as a writer.

11 thoughts on “4 Reasons Why Facebook Is Not Useful for Authors

  1. These are great remarks, both in the post and the comments. I agree with various points. Most of my traffic actually comes through Facebook. I have a Twitter account and I’ve learned 3 things:
    I have to be passionate about the site if I’m going to spend much time on there. I’m trying to be more involved on Twitter, but the truth is, I’m not that comfortable there. Facebook actually fits me better. I think the results I’ve seen reflect the passion behind it.
    I can get more followers outside of my circle on Twitter than I can on Facebook. Facebook seems to center around friends and family so it’s harder for me to build a following outside my personal circle on Facebook.
    However, few of my Twitter followers engage me. I try to keep the “selling ads” to a minimum, but even the conversational posts see little to no traffic.

    What I’ve learned most since I started writing, is that every author is different. What works best for one author doesn’t always work best for the next.

    Thanks for sharing your experience! I’m always looking for ways to make more out of my social media time.

  2. OK, Roger. You know I like you and all; but you can’t write this … and then include a Facebook Share icon at the bottom! 😉

    Remember that social media is a reflection of self. Each person is responsible for who they Friend, Follow, etc. It’s done one click at a time, never in bulk (it’s not allowed). So if a person’s newsfeed is “filled with fake articles, useless videos and even some people who use it to sell drugs” — it is because that person chose to Friend gullible people and drug dealers. I have never seen a drug deal come across my own newsfeed, for instance.

    As a blogger with an active Facebook account (two actually — one personal and one professional) and an active Twitter account, in looking at my blog traffic analytics, 92 – 95% of my reads and shares actually happen through Facebook (the rest via Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ and search engines combined).

    Now, I do agree with you that social media can be a personal time waster. I also agree with you that social media, to be used properly, needs to be about real connections, not numbers (which prompts people to accept all Friend and Follow requests to up their numbers, and thus, invite nonsense and drug deals). But again, these come down to individual choice, as so much in life does.

    The problem is rarely with the tool, nearly always with the person. A butter knife can be used to butter your toast — or stab someone in the eye. The knife isn’t the problem.

    Don’t hate me, Roger! Presenting varying viewpoints is often the best means to assuring that real thinking occurs (which you already know as a teacher).

    1. Well said. I, like you, get 95% of my traffic from FB. On the other hand, my fellow writing buddies are on twitter, but they don’t really engage with my site.

      Because my blog is NOT about writing, that may explain the discrepancy. Looking at your site (nicely done, by the way!) it seems we’re in a the same boat (we have non-writing websites).

      1. Thanks, Dustin. Since the time I dropped that comment, I’ve actually seen a shift in where my visitors are coming from (and the numbers are increasing all around). Facebook is still in the lead, but other WP sites are sending a lot of traffic now (I do join in on the communities of many other blogs); and I’m actually seeing the organic search numbers increasing noticeably, which is really cool.

      2. Very cool. I’ve been seeing a very slow increase in organic too, but I’m new enough that I’m thinking I won’t see much of a bump for a while now.

        As someone else said, with FB it’s hard to break out of the “bubble” of family and friends, so it’s definitely worth exploring other avenues.

  3. I really am not a fan of Facebook, and yet I keep finding myself glued to it. It really bugs me. I have an author page, but to be honest, I don’t think I’ve posted to it (other than automated messages from my blog) all year. Twitter is so much easier for me to navigate/promote on as a writer.

    1. J.D., you bring up a good point here. Social media is only effective if it remains truly social. It will never work if it’s about pumping out our own ads and agenda. We have to engage, find out what’s important to others, comment on THEIR important things (not the crappy video shares, necessarily), and add real value to their experience. Most experts will tell you that the most effective approach is to spend 80% of your social media words engaging with others about what is important to THEM — and only 20% on your own advertising.

      But I am agreed that social media is hard to navigate and to keep in check, and it is not an effective tool for all personality types or schedules!

      1. You are not alone. People are leaving Facebook as fast as they are signing up on it. Most of the Facebook users I know are over the age of 40. I don’t see any of the kids on there.

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