social media for writers

Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make on Facebook and How to Avoid Them

Lisa Hall-WilsonI have a very special guest to introduce to you today. My long-time friend, critique partner, and co-writer on my Amazon novel is here to talk to you about Facebook.

Lisa Hall-Wilson is passionate about making the world a better place one get-off-your-butt-and-do-something article at a time. She’s a call-it-as-she-sees-it truth teller and freelance writer, history nut, and dog-owning cat lover. She writes dark fantasy, makes Facebook a happy place for writers, and blogs Through The Fire because no experience is wasted when you share it to help others. She tweets, but Facebook is where she hangs out (

Take it away, Lisa…


I can’t believe I’ve never guest-posted here before. *waves* If you hang out with Marcy at all, you know she loves Twitter. Twitter is her happy place. If I need to get a message to Marcy fast, I send her a Tweet. Facebook is my happy place.

How are your Facebook manners?

There are a number of unwritten rules about using Facebook to build author platform that writers indiscriminately break and abuse all the time. And they’re not trying to be rude, they just don’t know–they’ve been listening to traditional marketers, but I want to suggest a different way. A lot of the methods authors use to sell their books on Facebook feel like spam, are annoying, and aren’t effective. Here are my top 5 Facebook etiquette rules writers break (and yes, these have all been done to me):

#5 – Sending out mass private messages to all of your friends to announce your new book. After all 300 of your friends have congratulated you on your book release, your ego is puffed up and I’m ready to hurt somebody because my message box has exploded. If people have notifications from Facebook sent to their email, you’ve also inundated their email as well. And the only thing they can do is leave the conversation, and that action is made visible to everyone. Seriously, this is what a status update is for.

But not all my friends will see that status update. No, but here’s the reality. Not all of your friends WANT to read your book. Hard to believe, I know. Spamming them won’t help your cause.

#4 – Posting the same link to your Amazon page over and over. The squeaky wheel does not get the grease–they get ignored. Create a custom tab, write blog posts that offer value, and mention your book at the bottom of post. Facebook is not a great place to sell books. For writers, Facebook offers the most value in driving traffic to a blog or website, in building brand awareness, and creating community/tribe.

#3 – Requesting to be added as a friend indiscriminately. Privacy is super important to Facebook users, and getting friend requests from people they’ve barely connected with online is akin to what happened to poor Bilbo in The Hobbit when he opened the door and dwarves kept falling uninvited into his quiet, ordered, everything-makes-sense life.

If you send a friend request to someone who doesn’t have any, or many, mutual friends, Facebook will ask if they know you. They’ll honestly say they don’t know you, and you’ll be reported for spam, because to everyone on Facebook who isn’t a writer, friends are people they’ve met face to face. And I get how extroverts see this as just being friendly, but consider Facebook your shy, has-five-locks-on-the-front-door neighbor. Build a relationship first in groups, on blogs, and on public status updates. Don’t be that first date who suddenly grows an extra pair of hands on the dance floor.

And you know what? No one wants to feel like they’ve been friended just so you can sell them something. They’re looking for genuine, authentic interactions.

#2 – Creating a fake event about your book, and then force-inviting all your friends. It doesn’t really matter how subtle or crafty you think you’re being. It’s transparent what’s actually going on, and it’s spam. Force-inviting all your friends to someone else’s fake book event is also spam (and yes, this has also happened to me).

But wait, it gets worse. Events with no end date are my personal pet peeve because the spam just keeps coming…forever. Keeping those who have declined visible isn’t cool. You can’t even sneak out the back door to avoid hurting feelings. Traditional marketing says this is how you promote an event. Facebook users call this intrusive, annoying, and report you for spam. I get force-invited to fake events weekly. WEEKLY!

#1 – Posting too often. Blitz posting on Facebook is like having dinner with friends and there’s that one guy who keeps interrupting everybody and monopolizing the conversation. Yeah, annoying, right? How long before you just ignore them? Or worse, you avoid gatherings where that guy will be. Don’t be that guy. Sharing photos seems to be the worst offender, but it happens with status updates too.

Sharing too frequently monopolizes newsfeeds and hurts your Edgerank. When you post a dozen photos in a short period of time and you get 3 likes on each photo, it is less effective than if you posted the best one and got two dozen likes and comments. You’re undercutting your Edgerank.

Posting too often is a one-way highway to Facebook hinterland. Once you’ve been hidden, how do you reach that person and let them know you’ve reformed your ways? You can’t.

What other annoying marketing ploys do writers use on Facebook?

I’m doing a Facebook blitz this week to help promote my six-week class, Using Facebook to Build Author Platform. Yesterday I was on Jenny Hansen’s More Cowbell blog posting about how to drive more traffic to your blog with Facebook, and tomorrow I’m over at Jami Gold’s blog talking about whether you should have a page or use your profile to build platform.

As thanks for hanging out, I’m giving away a free written critique of a Facebook author/writer page to one commenter on each blog. Leave a comment on each blog to triple your chances of winning! Winners will be selected on Friday.

Marcy here again: I hope you’ll check out the newly released mini-books in my Busy Writer’s Guides series–Strong Female Characters and How to Write Faster–both currently available for 99 cents.

I’d love to have you sign up to receive my posts by email. All you need to do is enter your email address below and hit the “Follow” button. You can also join me on my Facebook page.

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Five Benefits You’re Missing If You’re Not On Twitter

Twitter for WritersIf you’re not on Twitter already (or have an account you barely use), you probably have good reasons. You’re afraid it’s a black hole time suck. You don’t see the value it adds over Facebook. You’re worried about privacy. You’re not sure how to make the best use of it, it moves too fast, or it’s confusing.

While I agree those are valid concerns, they can all be fixed with a little time and training. And if you’re not on Twitter, there are five amazing benefits you’re missing out on.

(1) Twitter Has Over 100 Million Active Accounts

Whether you’re seeking traditional publication or plan to self-publish, whether you’re a non-fiction author, a novelist, a poet, or a short story writer, you need a platform to sell your work. Your audience is on Twitter. You just need to know how to tap in to them. This is true even if you write children’s books or YA. Your readers might not be on Twitter, but their parents and aunts and uncles and even grandparents are, and your books might just be the perfect gift they’re looking for. 

Because of the ability to participate in conversations through hashtags, Twitter also allows you to build a following faster than any other social networking site. People who find you on Facebook usually already know you. People who find you on Twitter are more likely to be complete strangers, and that’s a good thing because you’re expanding your friendships and your reach. I met some of my favorite writer friends on Twitter.

(2) Twitter Makes You a Better Writer

Twitter gives you 140 characters to work with. Not 140 letters or 140 words, but 140 characters. Spaces count, and so does punctuation. Links count as well.

Working within those constraints forces you to write tighter. No purple prose allowed. You need to figure out exactly what you’re trying to say. Twitter’s character limit also helps you value strong verbs and specific nouns over adverbs and adjectives. Both of those skills translate directly into better writing elsewhere.

(3) Twitter Brings You the News Faster than Any News Site Can

Twitter is real time, which means that while reporters are putting together their stories and getting approval from their editors, normal people on site are tweeting. Last August, Twitter lit up like a firefly on crack about the 5.8 earthquake in Virginia before the news stations could catch their balance. In the plague of tornadoes that rolled through Texas this spring, Twitter might have even saved lives.

(4) Twitter Allows You to Keep Your Finger on the Pulse of the Publishing Industry

Twitter is like a writer’s mecca because you can quickly find out about interesting and informative new blog posts (already vetted by others), get tips on writing and publishing from agents, editors, and bestselling authors, and keep up on industry trends and new releases. No searching involved. It comes to you in a bite-sized 140 character nugget. If you decide you want more, you click the link.

(5) Twitter Helps You Research

In her bestselling book We Are Not Alone: A Writer’s Guide to Social Media, Kristen Lamb tells the story of how she needed information on bounty hunters for her novel. Rather than wasting hours trying to sort through results on Google and still not coming up with what she needed, she tweeted about it and received replies from actual bounty hunters willing to answer her questions.

But it’s not only facts you can research on Twitter. If you’re not sure your main character’s name is a good fit for his personality and job, ask. If you want to know what writing software other writers actually trust, ask. In my co-written novel with Lisa Hall-Wilson, I mentioned Sodom and Gomorrah, and we debated whether enough people would know what we meant. So I asked, and we ended up leaving it in the book.

In August, I’ll be teaching a course to help people who aren’t on Twitter get started or people who are on Twitter but are struggling to improve. For eight months, I let Twitter intimidate me. I barely used it and only had five followers (two of which were my brother and sister-in-law). Then, in less than a year, I learned to love Twitter and went from five followers to over 3,600. This course will save you the wasted time, headaches, embarrassment, and learning curve I had starting out on Twitter, and show you how fun and helpful it can really be.

Learn more or sign up for this 4-week Twitter course here.

Twitter is where I hang out most days, so if you’re already on Twitter, I’d love to hear from you. My username is @MarcyKennedy (straightforward right – it’s very important on Twitter to use your name). And please help me spread this post not only on Twitter, but also on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ (where the folks who aren’t yet on Twitter are likely to be).

If you’re already on Twitter, what do you love best about it? If you’re not, what’s the biggest thing holding you back?

Sidenote: Since I know this is the busiest time of year for everyone, I’m going down to two posts a week for the rest of the summer. Starting in July, I’ll be doing my science fiction/fantasy themed posts on Mondays and the regular post for writers will move to Thursdays. I’ll be back to the three-day schedule come fall 🙂

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