A lot of authors I’ve talked to have poured money into their author websites. The cost of building a website varies widely and can run anywhere from $800 to $10,000. One author I know complained bitterly to me at a dinner party that he put up an expensive website a couple of years ago, spent hours creating content for it, and over the lifetime of the site, it’s only had 900 visits.
It’s really no wonder. How is your audience supposed to find you buried under a mountain of SEO’ed websites and other garbage on the internet. As Dee Dee likes to say, building a regular website these days is like opening a bricks and mortar store in the middle of the woods.
There is an answer to this problem. Put up a very simple website (with a blog) and plow the real money into a custom Facebook page.
In a previous post I mentioned that social media is safe haven in an ocean of risk. Facebook is probably the most important tool for first-time authors but it’s also crucial for authors who want to have a robust career going forward. We’ll show you what we mean.
We recently put up our custom Facebook page for February Media. It has links to some of the books we worked on, a link to our blog, a link to our mailing list, and a link to our contact information. You can scroll through testimonials from some of our authors. We have a modest 44 likes at the moment (it’s a business page which is very different from a personal page. We don’t have to accept friend requests or worry about getting strange messages).
Now when we post to our blog, it can feed out to the News Feeds of those 44 people who like us. Those 44 people have, say, a low ball number of 100 friends each. Which means that if any of those people “like” or comment on the post, it will enter their newsfeeds and be seen by their friends. So now, I’ve amplified my reach just a little bit more. I don’t expect to get everybody’s attention (I’m not Charlie Sheen) but I may get some new fans that way. So it’s a way to build on what you have. Hopefully, you have a lot of friends (or acquaintances, or friends of friends) and they will be excited for you and want to help you spread the word about your new book. Most of us have more than we think. (And now Facebook has created a new tool that allows you to convert your Facebook Profile page until a Facebook Fan page. You can read more about how to migrate your page on Mashable.)
So I’ve shown that Facebook is a good tool for first time authors but what about established authors? You’d be surprised at how many dollars are being left on the table at large publishing houses with big name authors. I’ll use a current New York Times bestseller as an example. Sue Monk Kidd is the author of the hugely successful The Secret Life of Bees. If you search her on Facebook you’ll see that she has no author page and no book pages for either Secret Life or her most recent book The Mermaid Chair. Yet, Secret Life has 140,000 people who self-identify as fans, Sue has 5,500 fans, and The Mermaid Chair has 7,775 fans. All of those pages pull information from Wikipedia and none of them are controlled by the author or the publisher.
So what? So Sue has missed out on the opportunity to communicate directly with her SELF-IDENTIFIED fans to let them know “I have a new book coming” or “Buy my paperback” or “Watch me on The Today Show”. She and her publisher are relying on the fickle traditional media funnel or even expensive advertising to get the word out about her books and grow her audience. I’ll bet you dollars to donuts that Sue and her agent have asked her publisher, Viking, to buy print ads in the New York Times and The New Yorker at $60,000-100,000 a pop.
The result is that when Sue comes out with her next book, the publisher will look at the P&L, see how much they spent on her last book that didn’t sell as many copies as her first book, and balk at either the big advance or at a big spend on marketing.
So, call us, Sue. We’ll help you out.