Over at The Facebook there are now many different options for authors who wish to have a presence there.
Should you have a public Facebook profile? Should you create a dedicated author page? Should you create a dedicated page for your books too? Should you throw up your hands until Mark Zuckerberg gives you some personal guidance?
First, some definitions. A profile is a personal profile, e.g. what your friends became Facebook friends with, uh, on Facebook. It’s the thing you had all along.
If you are going to use a profile to promote your book stuff, you should turn on subscriptions, which allow people to subscribe to your public posts. This way you don’t have to accept friend requests from people you don’t know — they can just subscribe to your updates.
Your profile can be almost completely private or almost completely public depending on how you post. Just be sure and be careful about whether you’re posting publicly, just to friends, or to a smaller group.
A page is a public page that people can Like. You can create a page as a public figure, and you can create pages for your individual books. When people like your page they receive updates from that page in their News Feed.
So. You’re an author. What should you do? Profile with subscriptions or page? Well, it depends.
Here are the pros of having a profile with subscriptions turned on:
- You only have to maintain one presence on Facebook rather than both a profile and a page
- If you befriended thousands of people you didn’t know before Facebook had pages, you can unfriend these people and they stay subscribed to your updates.
- Also, if someone sends you a friend request and you don’t accept it, they also stay subscribed to your updates.
- Thus, utilizing a public profile can help you take back a crowded Facebook profile and manage it a bit more carefully.
- It allows you to maintain separate presences. If you want to avoid spamming your friends with all your book stuff or your blog, it can be helpful to have a place that’s just book stuff and save your other personal posts for your personal profile.
- Like buttons are easier to stick on your website than Subscribe buttons.
- Pages have access to analytics that profiles don’t.
- If your Facebook presence is going to be maintained by more than one person, pages are way easier to manage that.
(Note: You probably can’t see it via e-mail or an RSS reader. Click through!)
Dorine White says
I like having an author "page", that way I can keep my personal stuff for friends and family.
An author really should have one or the other though. Self publicity is a must.
I was one of the first to use facebook when it started and I've built a presence there that combines my work as a published author and a person…someone I hope is a real "friend."
I've had an author page for about four years and I have trouble updating it and dealing with it because most of my social networking on facebook is on my real page…my timeline.
In other words, I post about publishing, my books, other books and authors, with updates daily on my timeline because I enjoy doing it. If I were to do that with my author page, too, I think it would become annoying. I'm a published author and a career writer. I look at what I do realistically. I'm not ultra famous and not sure I even want to be. I just want to write and enjoy what I'm doing.
The one thing that turns me off is an author page of someone who isn't well known and they start hocking people to "like" them for no other reason than they asked for this. You don't earn fame on facebook just because you can set up a page and people can click like. You earn fame from writing a good book, selling a few books, and building a web presence. This is the reason I have all notifications turned off at this point. I'm just tired of them, and so tired of pushing unknown authors.
Roni Loren says
This debate always makes me wish FB allowed people to have more that one personal profile. I'm still not sure why that's against their TOS. I prefer the flexibility of the profile because you can comment on other's profile pages and such. There aren't so many restrictions on what you can and can't do. There's nothing more frustrating than a reader mentioning/tagging you on their profile page and you can't even interact with them b/c you're a "page" instead of a "profile."
But I have a pen name and my personal profile is under my real name and is for family and friends. It's two totally different audiences, so I've had to go with a fan page for my author self even though it's not an ideal solution.
Nathan Bransford says
You can actually comment on other people's profiles as your page. Click on the arrow in the top right, then click "Use Facebook as" and choose your page. Then you can interact people via your page, just be sure to switch back when you're done.
Sandy Williams says
Do you have an opinion on FB's recent changes that require pages to pay to promote their posts? UF author, Kevin Hearne, wrote about it here: https://www.kevinhearne.com/a-bit-more-on-posts
Basically, to reach everyone who "likes" your page, you now how to pay. FB has long been my favorite social networking site, but I have to say that this new change is extremely annoying. I can't afford to pay to have my fans (who have already taken steps to like my page) to see my updates. Many other authors I know are also annoyed by these changes, and are considering a move to another social network – maybe Tumblr or Google+.
I've been fine through most of FB's changes over the years, but this one is seriously making me rethink my FB love.
Roni Loren says
Thanks. I'm going to have to dig into it further because for some reason when I go to some places, even if I click Use As it takes away the comment box if I'm on my page and it reappears if I'm using as my profile. I'm sure it's something simple that I'm missing. But good to know that's not the case across the board.
@Roni…I have two profiles on FB with the same name. One for family and the other for book related or work related things. It's my real name, not a pen name, and my real identity, so I don't think I'm doing anything wrong. I'm just keeping work and family separated.
And, I know two other people on FB who have my same exact name. You have to open the other account with a different e-mail address and password. If that's against the TOS of FB, Zuckerberg needs to look into all the sockpuppet accounts and fake identities they include in their multi-million user base when they report to Wall Street 🙂
Lori A. Goldstein (@_lagold) says
I've been searching for such a post for about a year now. Thanks Nathan! Seems like the biggest downside of subscriptions is annoying friends and family….!
Interesting comment from Sandy though. I just read an article yesterday about Marc Cuban defecting from FB for this reason, I believe.
Sandy Williams says
@Anonymous – Yes, having two profiles is against FB's TOS. I know a lot of people do it, though. FB doesn't police it, but I suppose if you did something that raised flags, that might shut down one of your profiles.
@Lori I read the same Mark Cuban article. I hope FB will rethink this change. I'm sure they don't care about a few authors fleeing, but if Cuban and his 70 companies are going to leave, I think it's likely other companies will do the same. Maybe FB will listen to its users and undo the promote a post?
Karen A. Chase says
When I help writers with their marketing, I suggest setting up online resources as an author. Twitter, Facebook (FB), and even websites should be built for the author, not the individual books. Each of those places should have the ultimate goal of driving viewers to one final destination. If you have FB and Twitter, the ideal place to send everyone is to your website. There you can share all your work, really showcase your personality and provide links to your blog, trailers and retailers.
Maintaining FB pages and other platforms for each book (for anyone who is not planning to be a one-hit wonder) is cumbersome and fans and readers need one place to go. Simplifying with one FB page for fans, means writers can get back to writing, too.
That being said, I think smart authors also buy URL addresses for all their book titles, and point those URLs to their main author website.
Jenn Crowell says
Thanks for this, Nathan. It's all very confusing, especially with Facebook changing its policies and features every five minutes.
I keep my personal profile on Facebook just that — personal, for friends and family, with no public posts. I will occasionally post writing-related info on there, but only if it's big news I'd like everyone to know, like an award I've won or something.
I then also have a public fan page with the title of "Jenn Crowell, Author," so my posts there can be differentiated. I can't imagine having a third and fourth profile for my books as well — seems just too complicated. (I can, however, see having a separate website for a book, with its title as the URL.)
Rebecca Kiel says
Sound advice, as always, Nathan!
Peter Dudley says
Anyone who might have stopped reading your blog when you left agenting is missing out on a whole huge world of useful, valuable, actionable content. Thanks for keeping it real every day.
Kristin Laughtin says
Another thing to keep in mind is that profiles have friend limits. This might not matter to you too much if you enable subscriptions, but one should be prepared for the occasional fan that will be upset you didn't accept their friend request, etc. Also, as you mentioned, one would have to be very careful to keep anything private just that.
I think I'll prefer having a separate personal profile from my writing work, and would advocate for pages. The only thing that makes me wary is the promotion deal for pages that Sandy Williams mentioned. There's been a lot of backlash against it, though, and I'm hoping that Facebook will eventually think of some other way to go about this.
P.S. All updates from a page will show up if the fan adds the page to an "interest list", but really, why should we expect our fans to do that? It's putting extra work on them when it's supposed to be easy.
Mina Burrows says
Great post. I didn't understand the subscriptions for FB so thanks for that. 🙂
The thing that's frustrating for me with FB and all of social media, frankly, are the constant changes. I don't mind change it's just with FB it feels like smoke and mirrors.
Taylor Napolsky says
Do you recommend ditching our author pages, and just doing everything via our profile page with subscriptions enabled?
I have both but I didn't know there was a way to do it with just a profile page. I'm not sure what to do.
Nathan Bransford says
I'd hold onto it for now. I was able to merge mine, which was kind of an invite-only thing, but it's something I wouldn't be surprised to be rolled out to everyone at some point.
Richard Thomas says
I have had almost 5000 friends for a long time now, have to trim it down now and then. But I CAN NOT get people to migrate over to my Fan Page. What gives? How can I do that, or do people not want to do both due to the repetition? And if I can't get my "friends" to migrate over, how do I get more people to like my Fan Page besides sharing and Tweeting about it?
I'm a total FB junkie. I've had my author page for two years and love engaging with people this way (and yes, I've sold books through FB, and I've had fans seek out my FB page after reading my books).
A few comments/observations:
1. Another reason to consider an FB page: the advertising options. While FB is rolling out the option to pay and promote posts on your personal profile, with a business page, you can run ads, sponsored stories, and promote posts. I've had luck using ads (to sell books), and I'll pay to promote my posts to increase my reach (I realize the fact we have to "pay" to reach everyone is irksome…more on this below).
2. Regarding "EdgeRank," which is the much-maligned algorithm FB uses to determine which status updates show up in people's newsfeeds…the good news is that people like Cuban and George Takei have helped FB understand business page owners are frustrated. FB is now rolling out a way for people to make sure they receive all the updates from pages they like. If you hover over the "Like" button (it's not avail on all FB pages yet), you'll see options: Get Notifications, Show in Newsfeed, and Add to Interest Lists. It will take some time before everyone understands what these options mean (and what's right for them), but it's a step in the right direction. (Just the other day, George Takei did a status update asking people to go to his page and hover over the "like" button and choose the option that makes sense for them…so we're starting to see the word get out.)
3.You can schedule posts on your business page. I'll sit down and schedule 30 days' worth of posts in one sitting. It's incredibly convenient.
The key with social media is it needs to be social…you need to like doing it (otherwise, it shows). 🙂
Caroline Starr Rose says
I have a page for my book, but now I'm not sure this was the smartest move. Do you plan on creating a page for every book you release?
Nathan Bransford says
Naja Tau says
George Takei rocks. 🙂
There is another FB option–starting a FB group. You have to choose whether the group is open or closed. Comments?
Taylor Napolsky says
"I was able to merge mine, which was kind of an invite-only thing, but it's something I wouldn't be surprised to be rolled out to everyone at some point."
Interesting. Thanks for the info!
nathan, do you think it's ok to have one fb page for all one's books, or a page for each book?
thanks so much!
Nathan Bransford says
I don't know anyone who likes to be added to a group that's used to promote someone's book.
One for every book.
G. B. Miller says
I just have the personal profile with a subscription button for my Facebook page.
I'm not too particularly worried about what I post since I've been pimping the details of my life in one form or another in cyberspace since 2007, so whatever I post is simply new ways of covering old ground (except for the writing, that's relatively fresh).
About the only pleasure I get with my FB page (and to a lesser degree, my blog), is that I can have fun posting stuff about work because almost everyone at work knows I have either a blog or I'm on Facebook.
Interesting topic. One of the 'experts' in my professional blogger group has suggested that if your brand is your name, then using the FB profile may be better. Her reason though is very specific – traffic. As anyone who is knowledgable about FB knows, just because you have 100 fans doesn't mean they all see your posts. In fact, the average is 30% – sometimes as little as 10%. It's actually much easier to ramp up engagement on your profile page than it is on a business page where FB is going to "encourage" you to pay for more exposure.
Sandra Beckwith says
This was helpful — thanks. You've convinced me to stay with my profile page. Migrating all of my author "friends" over to a fan page just doesn't seem to make sense right now.
"I don't know anyone who likes to be added to a group that's used to promote someone's book."
This is so true. I just saw one of the most entertaining rants I've seen in ages where an author updated about how much she hates being placed in groups that no one actually told her she was going into in the first place.
If by chance anyone does get into one of those annoying groups without knowing it, turn off all notifications and hit leave group fast. You'll wind up getting slammed in your inbox if you don't.
"I have a page for my book, but now I'm not sure this was the smartest move. Do you plan on creating a page for every book you release?"
This could be debated. If you're a genre author and you write at least four published novels a year the books start to add up and having a single page for each book gets not only confusing, but annoying.
How much an author has published each year can vary according to many things, and authors who have more than fifty published works just couldn't keep track of that many facebook pages. I know I couldn't. So I had to condense everything into one FB page. And frankly, I find that goodreads is far more book-author-reader oriented and things are more organized over there for authors. If you have a book/books out and you're not on goodreads, get over there, join, and get that book up. The odds are someone else already did this for you. But if not the author should at least get it up there. And don't review or rate your own work. No one likes that. Let the readers do the reviews.
John Stanton says
Oh man, don’t get me started on Facebook!
For so many years, I fought against the currents sucking all known everything toward Facebook. Like a swirling blackhole, everyone I know is setting up on Facebook. Every business, every organization, every cause, even family pets, and fictional characters have Facebook pages or profiles. As Facebook’s event horizon expanded, swallowing more and more of the universe, friends would tell me that I need to be on Facebook. “Facebook is great! You can post stuff about yourself, you can post pictures,” they would say.
“Oh wow!” I would answer with my best sarcasm. “You can post pictures! Really! And post events! WOW! I wish I could do that on the four websites I run!”
But while I chided, Facebook continued to grow and now my websites are microbes before a colossus. Anything that exists is on Facebook and anything not on Facebook doesn’t exist. I had to set up a profile on Facebook lest I cease to exist.
So now, I’m, forced to learn its counterintuitive interfaces and become part of its bizarre world where you can’t like a person but you can poke them.
I could go on and on about Facebook but it’ll all be in the new book I’m planning, “4782 Reasons I Hate Facebook.”
“4782 Reasons I Hate Facebook.”
I think a lot of people would love to read a book like that.
Don't forget to put something in the book about how facebook brands people guilty before they are proven innocent. In other words, anyone can report a person on facebook for something against the TOS, and facebook will take down their page fast. It happened last week with a young woman in the middle east for posting a photo with her face exposed. It happens all the time to lgbt people when someone objects to the most innocent lgbt content. The bots at FB don't care and they just deactivate the account.
Of course FB will usually reactivate the account after you file an appeal. But that takes time and energy most people don't have, not to mention being branded as guilty before you even get a chance to speak up. It's a very flawed system at best. And I don't see how they make money based on ads that no one reads or cares about.
You know, I just want to know how to get on Facebook without the BIG grab of my address book. (THAT was embarrassing!)
I personally like the idea of the author page to keep things separate.
Nathan, quick unrelated question, but you seem to be the voice of reason on most things:
Should authors give their agents/editors a holiday gift? And if so, what sort of thing is appropriate?
Nathan Bransford says
Totally up to you but I do – something on the order of a bottle of wine (or the equivalent) is appropriate.
Melissa Wray says
I did not know the following two things.
•If you befriended thousands of people you didn't know before Facebook had pages, you can unfriend these people and they stay subscribed to your updates.
•Also, if someone sends you a friend request and you don't accept it, they also stay subscribed to your updates.
That is handy to know.
Not sure if you're checking these comments anymore but I have a question I cannot find addressed anywhere on line. I am not a FB user and have no desire to do it, but my first book is coming out and I think it's probably smart to do at least an author page where I can post events and reviews and point to my (developing) website. So I set up a profile and then an author page. But now there are two pages out there–how can I make the profile page not visible? I've heard you can make yourself private, or change the settings, but the only way I can find to do this is for the author page, not for the profile itself. Can you guide me as to how to basically take my profile off line (I have no desire to use it for personal anything and don't want an empty page with my name on it b/c it looks dead and is confusing when searching) while still keeping the author page visible? I know it's doable b/c I've seen other authors who have just one page when you search for them, but I can't figure out how to do it. Thanks for any input.
If only someone would explain how to actually set up an author page.
Would love to know your thoughts, given the pages vs. profiles debate, about what you should do if you have a pen-name you write under, or will.
*Technically, it's a TOS problem to create a new profile.
*They recommend creating a new page–then, my question is: is a pen-name author self-publishing multple books, an organization, or a brand/product–if that latter, there's no 'books' category. If the former, I guess 'media/publishing'…
*One can also create a website/page off of one's profile–my only concern is that it's off my personal profile, not my author persona…
Nathan Bransford says
I would create a page, and fine to list yourself as an author. And it shouldn't be a problem to use your personal profile to create it because you're only publicly associated with your page if you want to be.
Nothing worse than setting up a Facebook page and having only a handful of "likes" – think I might just use my profile since I hate Facebook, never really post much, and have over 100 "friends" already. That way I don't have to start out at 0 and beg for "likes"!
I just found your site when I did a Google search on the topic of Facebook Pages / Groups. Love the dialogue here. I hope you are still monitoring because I could really use your advice/assistance. I am on an author's street team and she has asked me to start a group for her book series so her fans can openly discuss the books.
I know how to create a group I have several on my personal profile. However,can a group be started on a fan page? And is this the route to go? i see you recommend a page for every book. Hmmm.
So if I have this correct (and I may not) Author John Doe has a personal profile and decides to start a fan page. They can have more than one Page associated with their personal profile?
And basically what are the pros and cons of using a group as opposed to a page? Thank you!!
My question is, what should I call my page? Should it be my name with – "author" or "writer" after it? I am looking at releasing my first novel, however I am a published writer of website content, magazine articles and other projects.
Your input would be really helpful and appreciated. Sorry about the lack of profile information here, however google wouldn't let me sign on.
I believe it to be a choice of personal interest. For me I enjoy the ability of having new friends, feeling a certain connection to someone that may have read or is thinking of reading something I have wrote.
I hate going to a page where I "Only Follow" someone and all I can do is read what they have said and feel as though they have no care to hear what I might think. Makes me not feel very connected to them and causes me to lose interest in them all together.
People like closeness. They like to be part of something. Even if it is a "Celebrity" saying a word of thanks back on a comment. It reaches out and touches society in an entirely new way.
but as I said it's all a matter of choice.
Greta Jourdane says
I've also been convinced here to stay with just my profile page, I feel you can do just as much with that, and even more, thanks to everyone, very helpful 🙂
I am a published author and have created a FB profile page back in August 2014, when my book was launched, and since I have over 4000 friends. I know the max will be 5000; so, I'm looking into converting this profile page to a FB Business page. Now the question is, is it better to go for the Author under Artist category; or, Book under Entertainment category? Thank you in advance for you advice/suggestion/s.
Kim Van Kramer says
Thanks Nathan for your advice here. I have both a personal page and an authors page, but recently came to realize maybe both pages have their advantages. One thing I try to realize is more people are interested in a personal connection, to see me up close, while others (a lot fewer) view the authors page. A lot less traffic happens on my authors page. As I try to navigate my way through all this facebook "psychology" I almost shut off the personal page, because I just wasn't sure what was going on. After debating this for a few weeks I finally decided this would be a mistake.
I also studied other facebook profiles, and a couple of my connections who are very well known, (or a PR person who runs it) do tend to accept as many friendship requests as possible. I'm not famous or anything, but in the end I have come to the conclusion to keep both pages, and begin accepting these friend requests. I do have to be careful though to sift through what family sees vs. what the public sees which is work, but at the same time maintain a friendly yet professional image. Not an easy task. Mostly it is hard sometimes to see that the reasons for these connections are mostly well intended, and to keep myself open to positive connections.
Thanks again for your advice here. Really appreciate it.
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