Should You Create a Facebook Page?

Facebook offers a unique tool for artists, writers, businesses, and anyone looking for an audience. This is the feature of a ‘Page’. The difference between your personal timeline and a Facebook page is, you don’t have to be friends with everyone on your page in order for them to see the content you put out. They ‘Like’ your page, and poof! They’re part of your audience. You can post whatever you want without worrying about what others may say or think because, honestly, there isn’t much interaction on the pages. People who’ve liked your page are your captive audience until they decide to unlike it.

Now, of course, there’s always a catch, and the catch here is that you can have 500+ likes, but only 25 of those people will ever see your content on their News Feed. Why? Because Facebook is like that. Facebook tries to encourage more interaction by telling people, “If you like, comment, or share posts from the pages you’re on, you will see more content from those pages.” Otherwise, you, as the creator of the page, can pay to have your content boasted in order to reach a wider audience.

So, why all this talk about Facebook Pages here on my blog? Because a lot of writers ask, “I’m not published yet. Should I create a Facebook Page?” Despite all its flaws and inconsistencies, my answer would be, “Yes.” Why? Consider a Page as the first steppingstone in building your online presence. It’s easy. It’s relatively simple, and you don’t have to worry about breaking some kind of rule (as you might in a group or so) when posting your content. Consider this as your place to discover who you are online, how you like to present yourself, and how you’re going to promote yourself. It’s like the playground to marketing. Yeah, whatever you post, real people will see, and some might respond. You get to learn how to flex your marketing muscles, “Okay, this works…and that doesn’t work. People like this, so I should do more of it.” And so forth.

Not only that, but a lot of times publishers these days will ask you if you’ve established a platform (aka fan base). If they see your page with over five hundred or a few thousand Likes, that will make you look better to them because they can see that even before you finish your book, you were working the market.

Okay, so you got yourself a page now, and you’re probably staring at it asking a few questions:

  1. What am I supposed to post?
  2. How often am I supposed to post?
  3. How do I get people to like my page?

To answer the first question, “What am I supposed to post?” you need to determine what the Page is specifically about. Is it about you and your journey as a writer, or is it about a specific book you’re writing? I highly recommend you make the page about You as a writer because in that way it will be all-encompassing of your work, so you won’t have to host multiple Pages to cover all your books.

Now, once you’ve decided what it is about, you can begin posting. You have a captive audience, but you want to keep it in mind with the general theme of your page. Here are common things people post on their Pages:

  • Photos (things that inspire)
  • Quotes
  • Snippets from your story
  • Tidbits of your day regarding writing (e.g. “My characters have go COMPLETELY off the outline!!!”)
  • Share other people’s work to promote and help them
  • If you have a blog, post link to the blog posts
  • If you’re posting a story online, post links to the story
  • Do giveaways
  • Ask questions
  • Share your accomplishments, fears, and tears with your followers
  • And so much more.

Now, on to the second question, “How often should I post?” The answer is simple: every day—multiple times a day if you can. You see, the more you post, the more visible you are to your followers, and the more chances they have to interact with you, and that, in turn, can bring you even more followers. But don’t stress out if you can’t find a lot to post about. Post as things come to you, and try to make it natural.

The third question asks, “How do I get people to like my page?” First off, make sure your page is attractive to people. Give your page a unique, eye-catching banner (sometimes called a ‘cover’).  Make sure the banner is something that will catch people’s attention rather than deter them. Once I saw a banner that was covered in roaches, and I’m sorry, but no–I don’t do bugs. Just seeing that banner guaranteed that I wouldn’t click ‘Like’ on that page. So make sure your banner is something a bit more warm and inviting.

How do you create a banner? If you know an artist who’d create one for you, approach them with the request, but be willing to pay because that’s the courteous thing to do. If you want to try creating a simple one yourself, try this link: Timeline Cover. It’s nothing fancy, but it’s free, it has all the right dimensions, and they don’t include a watermark on the final product. I always click on ‘Start Designing a Facebook cover’ (upper right hand corner), and then select the blank background option, so I can just work from scratch although you can use whatever they have to offer. Just know you’re not going to get absolutely high quality work from this because it’s extremely limited with tools, but it’s an affordable alternative when you don’t have the personal artistic skills and can’t afford an artist to create it for you. When creating your own banner though, be sure you have the rights to the pictures just to be safe. To do this, look up stock photos.

So, you’ve made your page attractive with a brilliant banner, but how do you get people to your page to like it? The easiest way to get likes is to announce to your FB friends and family that you have a page, and that you’d appreciate anyone and everyone who heads over to it and gives it a like. Outside of that, you shouldn’t go to someone else’s page and say, “I liked your page, so go like mine.” That is rude, and 99.9% of people won’t return the favor.

Now, a tactic some people have used with me is private messaging me a sincere, personalized note in which they really appreciate the content of my page, and they’ve liked it, and they ask that I take a look at theirs. They may or may not ask me to return the like. However, because they’re sincere and took the time to really look at my page to see what it was about in order to craft a personalized message, I’m more prone to go to their page and like it. This only works if it’s an honest message and not something vague like, “Hey, I like your page a lot. Would you mind liking mine?” While that’s nice (because you didn’t demand a like), taking a moment longer on the person’s page to discover what it’s really about and putting that in the message goes a lot further: “Hey, I just love the pictures you share on your page! Very inspirational! I’ve given your page a like. Would you mind checking out my page? <insert link>” This is one way to get some likes.

Another way to get more likes is to join groups that are related to your craft (if you’re a writer, writing groups, artist—artist groups, etc). There may be some marketing or promotional groups you can join as well. Remember: always follow the rules of the groups because you don’t want to spam and get kicked out. If you’re uncertain of the rules, contact an admin and ask for permission to share your page. Many groups will have a specific day set aside for such promotion because they don’t want the group spammed all the time by people constantly sharing their work.

Now, once you find these groups, if you jump out and say, “Hey! Like my page!”, don’t expect many likes. Why? They don’t know you. You need to establish a presence within the groups before expecting anyone to follow you. To find out more of how to do this, take a look at my earlier blog post about The Etiquette of Self-Promotion.

Remember though, your page is nor your personal Facebook Timeline. The page is not where you post pictures of your pets, children, or anything personal—unless it’s directly related to your craft. Keep your private life private…unless you want everyone to know about every element of your life.

So, should you create a Facebook Page right now even if you’ve never published a book and haven’t even completed the book you want to publish? If you want to create one, then yes—go ahead. Even if you’re unsure, remember that you don’t have to share your page immediately. It’s not like people all over the internet will see it as soon as you create it. You can take your time molding it into what you want before inviting anyone to view it.

Creating a Page is easy. Building a following takes more time, so you need to be patient and dedicated to it. Might as well start now.

If you’d like to see my Facebook Page, you may find it here: www.facebook.com/AuthorKellyBlanchard. I post a lot of pictures that could inspire settings or characters for stories. Occasionally I post quotes as I come across them, and I talk about my own writing experience when something thought-provoking or humorous or exciting happens. It would be good to see you there!

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What is Wattpad?

For the last month I’ve been posting a medieval fantasy story of mine on Wattpad, and it seems to be working well for me. A lot of my followers on Facebook ask me what exactly Wattpad is, and though I’ve only been using it for a month, here’s a simple explanation: it is a safe place to post your work, build a fan base, and get feedback. Of course, there are precautions you should consider.

The first question on everyone’s mind is, “If I post it online, can someone steal it?” And the answer is ‘yes’. If anything is online, then someone somewhere will get creative enough to figure out how to steal whatever they want. No amount of protection will prevent it. However, having said that, your work is protected by copyright on Wattpad, and if you find someone stealing your work, you can report it to Wattpad. Also, I’ve learned that you cannot select any text of a story in order to copy and paste it elsewhere (I was trying to point out an editorial error to an author when I discovered this). This means if someone really wanted to steal your story, they’re going to have to type it up word-for-word or get creative some other way. As the saying goes, “Where there is a will, there is a way,” and unfortunately that goes with theft and plagiarism as well. This may frighten many of you away from ever posting anything online, and that is your decision.

Another question that is asked when I describe Wattpad is, “If I post my story on Wattpad, will I still be able to publish it with a publisher?” The answer to this is ‘yes’ and ‘no’. First of all, if you’re self-publishing, then you have nothing to worry about. You can publish it whenever you want. However, if you’re determined to go the traditional route with publishing, certain publishing houses may absolutely refuse anything you’ve posted online, but then again, other traditional publishers scour Wattpad for successful stories and sometimes offer the authors contracts based on the success of their stories on the site. Yes, this is extremely rare, and you shouldn’t aim for this. Instead, you should view your posting on Wattpad and gaining a following as proof to any publisher that you do have an audience and that your book will sell. A publisher may see this and be more prone to consider your work due to the backing it obviously has. You simply need to consider which publishing house you really want to publish with and determine if they have a requirement that bars any manuscripts that have been posted anywhere online.

Now with those questions out of the way, let’s discuss the pros and cons of Wattpad. Let’s talk about the downside first because I like ending a post on a more positive note.

Cons:

Due to the fact that Wattpad is open and free with no filter to sift through its content, stories posted there may be in any stage of writing. It could be the very first draft or close-to-the-last draft or anywhere in-between. Most people on Wattpad don’t have editors, so some stories are riddled with editorial errors while others are pretty clean. You’d just have to accept this and understand where they are in the stage of the story. You can always point out errors, but I recommend doing so privately just to be considerate. Sometimes at the beginning of a story, there will be a disclaimer, “This is the rough draft! I apologize for any errors you see!” This allows us, the readers, to be a bit more forgiving.

A second downfall of Wattpad is, because stories can be posted at any stage of the writing, a lot of the stories are works in progress. This is cool as the story continues and you interact with the writer because maybe you can influence the story. However, a lot of times the writer may lose interest in the story and stop writing altogether. This is a fate worse than our favorite character’s death—an incomplete story. What is the best way to counter this? Write the story beforehand—complete it—and then post it on Wattpad, chapter-by-chapter. It’s less stressful that way, and you can update it more regularly.

Pros:

To summarize the advantages of Wattpad in two main reasons: author/reader interaction and platform building.

When you publish a book, one of the things you encounter is the general feedback of your book as a whole, “It was a very intriguing story.” or “All the characters were very realistic. The struggle was difficult, and yet it was masterfully handled.” And then you could get a paragraph or two as a review, which is still a summary of your story. While all that is wonderful and much appreciative, Wattpad offers writers the unique opportunity to experience the story with the readers—chapter-by-chapter.

You see, with each chapter, you’ve poured a bit of yourself into it. You’ve struggled with the words, the sentences, maybe even argued with the characters and cried or shouted in glee when you’ve finished the chapter. You’ve snuck in little bits that tie in with the future of the story—foreshadowing, and you really want to know if anyone catches it. With Wattpad, you have the opportunity to get feedback from your readers throughout their journey through the story. They tell you their suspicions about characters, “I don’t think he’s bad, but he does have his own agenda…” Or they tell you how they had perceived a situation, “I thought he was hiding from his brothers because they were villains, but apparently not…” So on and so forth. As they discover more and uncover more about the different angles of the story, they share their excitement, and this is thrilling and makes the entire writing, revision, and editing process worthwhile. To me, it’s the best part of writing.

Throughout this, while you’re interacting with your readers, you are actually building a platform for your work—a fan base. These are people who will buy your book once you’ve published it because not only do they know your work, but they also know you, and that is unique.

Other than posting your story faithfully, there are other things you can do to broaden your scope, and that is reading others’ work, and commenting and voting on the chapters. Start dialogue with other authors. Get to know one another and come to support each other. You see, the ranking system is odd. While someone could get 100 views in a day and over 20 votes for their story, their ranking could sink into the 100s. However, the moment you begin viewing other stories and interacting with them, the ranking has a tendency to jump above 100. The higher your ranking is, the more exposure your story gets on Wattpad, so that means more people can see it, read it, enjoy it, and continue the cycle of goodwill. Is this a foolproof way of getting a higher ranking? No. The ranking system is very confusing, but due to the experiments I’ve done trying to figure out the system, this is the best way I’ve determined to at least keep the ranking above a hundred.

Will you automatically become a bestseller once you publish your book if you’re popular on Wattpad? Maybe—maybe not. I can’t guarantee that, but you do have better chances if you did participate with Wattpad than if you didn’t. Just keep in mind the risk you take when posting anything online.

So try it out, and feel free to follow me. You can find me here: http://www.wattpad.com/user/Kellannetta I tend to follow those who follow me. Whenever I want to read something on Wattpad, I usually go to my Followers first to see what they have, read, comment, and vote. Hope to see you on Wattpad!