I wrote about Facebook and their unfair policy some weeks ago, and I'm getting back to this apparently hot topic today. It has become apparent that Facebook doesn't want to give book authors, artists, business owners, etc, any free visibility. Until literally a few weeks ago, by simply posting content (like this blog post, for instance) on my author page and sharing it on my timeline, I could count on reaching a few hundred people. Today I'm lucky if I reach fifty.
At the same time, I keep getting more and more aggressive marketing messages from Facebook itself, urging me to boost posts - for money, of course, and it's getting more and more expensive, too. Big businesses and big publishers can afford to pay, but most indie authors can't, not on a regular basis. Bottom line: the value of Facebook as a social media platform for the indie writer is shrinking. I'm not saying it's gone. I still enjoy participating in group discussions and catching up with friends on my newsfeed (though it had become muddled as well), but it's more difficult to get exposure for our books through Facebook these days.
I think Facebook will be penalized for their greed, and the pendulum might swing again, but it might take a while, and in the meantime, I and other authors are following the golden principle of not putting all our eggs in one basket. For those who have been heavily leaning on Facebook until now and find themselves at a loss, here are some suggestions for diverse online presence:
* I have started using Twitter (@hannahrossbooks), and though for a long, long time I have said that "this isn't for me" and "it's too superficial" I'm enjoying it more than I thought I would, and the #hashtag feature allows me to reach a wider audience.
* Goodreads is a huge platform for writers and readers, with many useful and interesting groups. Goodreads reviews are a fantastic way to increase both your visibility and your credibility.
* Wattpad, while cluttered with a lot of junky writing from 13-year-old fangirls, is still a great place to receive feedback on your work, gain readers and followers, and meet fellow authors in the forums.
* Your independent platform - your website or blog - is a place no one can take away from you, and you can also connect with other bloggers for interviews, reviews and spotlights.
* If you haven't started a mailing list yet, now is a good time to begin. Warning: don't be spammy and don't abuse your list with frequent hard sales emails, because people will unsubscribe. Add some value to your newsletter, other than "buy my book", like a freebie, a discount coupon, or some useful information.
There are also Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube, podcasting, and more, but one cannot do everything. Consistency is the key here. There's no point starting a blog if you only write a post once in a few months, or open a Twitter account if you don't log in for weeks. So pick a few channels that suit you and go along with them on a regular basis. And remember: social media isn't about fast sales, it's about slowly building a presence and a following that will be massively useful in the long run.