In September of 2014 I started a Facebook page called The YA Gal. Now, seven months later it has over 6,000 followers. By fall of 2016 when my debut YA novel is published by Month9Books my goal is to hit 20,000. In the meantime I enjoy talking books and building relationships with YA readers.
Why is my page growing so fast? The number one reason is its name, The YA Gal. If I attempted to attract followers using my own name, Jennifer Bardsley, it would be a challenge because YA readers don’t know me yet. But through my FB page, I can make a name for myself as somebody who reads and writes YA books.
The rules that govern FB can shift at any moment, but at the time of this posting FB allows page operators to change their page’s name one time, and one time only. After my book comes out I might change my FB page over to Jennifer Bardsley Author. Or, I might decide to keep posting as The YA Gal. I’m not certain what I’ll decide.
Another way I help my page grow is by following other pages. Go into your FB dashboard and click the icon that lets you be your author page, not yourself. In my dashboard you can see that I manage four pages: Cybersafe Kids, Edmonds United Methodist Church, Teaching My Baby to Read, and The YA Gal. (I’ve applied my FB growth strategies to the last two.)
Operating as your author page, “like” a bunch of related pages. Authors, publishers, blog tour companies, relevant teenage TV shows etc. Then when you click “home” all of those feeds will pull up.
Every other day I spend about five minutes clicking through the home feed. I leave comments on anything that seems appropriate. Likes are good, but comments are better because your name really stands out. Often time if an author sees you leave comments for several weeks they will follow you back.
What’s different between your author page and your personal page is that on your author page not everyone will see your posts. FB lets you pay to boost your post, but I almost never do this. I did this for my book announcement and that’s it. Next year I’ll do it several times during my cover reveal and launch because it will be worth it to reach my whole list.
The more people like, comment on, and share your posts, the more people will see them. Other pages will really appreciate you leaving a comment. They will definitely notice you, and might follow you back.
I also try to share books about other publishing companies besides my own. My thinking is “If Katie likes book from publishing house x, she might also like my book from publishing house y.”
If you really want to become analytical about FB, try determining which days and times of the week your posts get the most views. For me it’s weekdays at around 8am Pacific Time. You can use this to your advantage by scheduling posts. Nobody but you will know that those posts are scheduled. It’ll make your life easier because you can write a post the night before, and have it run in the morning while you drive your kids to school.
The final way you might choose to build up your page is by paid FB advertisements. Is this worth it? I have no idea. Will FB followers someday buy books? That’s a very good question. Some people describe FB pages as “crop sharing” because you could invest a lot of money into building up a page, break one rule (like the governance codes for raffles), and have your page deleted. That is no way to launch a book! When it comes to paid advertisements, I would advise to proceed with great caution.
Luckily, likes and comments don’t cost any money at all. Whatever your genre, you can find readers on FB who will appreciate you. Have fun, make friends, and share!
Jennifer Bardsley writes the parenting column “I Brake for Moms” for The Everett Daily Herald. Her debut YA novel, BLANK SLATE will be published by Month9Books in 2016, with the sequel releasing in 2017. You can find Jennifer on Twitter or on her Facebook page The YA Gal. Jennifer is also a member of SCBWI and The Sweet Sixteens debut author group, and was recently a judge in the Pitch Plus One writing contest sponsored by Adventures in YA Publishing. An alumna of Stanford University, Jennifer lives near Seattle, WA. http://JenniferBardsley.net