03 Nov Episode 183: #FacebookforWriters
Writers need a page, a profile and a whole lot of patience and persistence to even feel like we’re close to getting Facebook “right.”
The question first appeared, as these things do, in the #AmWriting Facebook group. A book is coming! I’m on Facebook (obviously), but do I need an author page in addition to my profile? Why—and what should I do with one once I’ve got one?
Our answer is yes, but of course it doesn’t stop there. In this episode, we talk the ins and outs of Facebook for writers of all kinds, with a primer on the basics and then a few ninja-level tips from Sarina.
Episode links and a transcript follow—but first, a preview of the #WritersTopFive that will be dropping into #AmWriting supporter inboxes on Monday, November 4, 2019: Top 5 Things You Don’t Need to Be a “Real” Writer. We’d love your support, and we hope you’ll love our Top 5s. Join in for actionable advice you can use for just $7 a month.
As always, this episode (and every episode) will appear for all subscribers in your usual podcast listening places, totally free as the #AmWriting Podcast has always been. This shownotes email is free, too, so please—forward it to a friend, and if you haven’t already, join our email list and be on top of it with the shownotes and a transcript every time there’s a new episode.
LINKS FROM THE PODCAST
Grown and Flown on Facebook
Sarendipity (Sarina’s Facebook Fan Group)
KJ’s Facebook Page, which she didn’t even remember existed but will now tend as directed by Sarina.
#AmReading (Watching, Listening)
KJ: Kitchens of the Great Midwest, J. Ryan Stradal
Sarina: Ninth House, Leigh Bardugo
Gibson’s, Concord NH
This episode was sponsored by Author Accelerator, the book coaching program that helps you get your work DONE. Visit https://www.authoraccelerator.com/amwritingfor details, special offers and Jennie Nash’s Inside-Outline template.
If you enjoyed this episode, we suggest you check out Marginally, a podcast about writing, work and friendship.
The image in our podcast illustration is by TK
Transcript (We use an AI service for transcription, and while we do clean it up a bit, some errors are the price of admission here. We hope it’s still helpful.)
KJ: 00:01 Hello listeners, KJ here. If you’re in with us every week, you’re what I like to call “people of the book.’ And some of us book people discover somewhere along the way that not only we writers, we’re people with a gift for encouraging other writers. For some of us, that comes out in small ways, but for others it’s a calling and an opportunity to build a career doing work you love. Our sponsor, Author Accelerator, provides book coaching to authors (like me) but also needs and trains book coaches. If that’s got your ears perked up, head to https://www.authoraccelerator.com and click on “become a book coach.” Is it recording?
Jess: 00:02 Now it’s recording, go ahead.
KJ: 00:45 This is the part where I stare blankly at the microphone like I don’t remember what I was supposed to be doing.
Jess: 00:45 Alright, let’s start over.
KJ: 00:45 Awkward pause, I’m going to rustle some papers.
Jess: 00:45 Okay.
KJ: 00:54 Now one, two, three. Hey all, I’m KJ Dell’Antonia and this is #AmWriting. #AmWriting is your podcast, your weekly podcast, our podcast, about writing all the things. Fiction, nonfiction, pitches, proposals, essays you know what? All the things, except poetry. None of us do that. But we did have a poet on once. I dunno, I just was thinking that the other day like, wait a minute, it’s not quite all the things. Alright, back to the regularly scheduled introduction. #AmWriting is the podcast about sitting down and getting your work, whatever it is, done.
Jess: 01:40 KJ, before I introduce myself, speaking of the intro changing up, we got an email this week from someone who said, ‘Wait, you changed the pattern at the beginning of the episode and I don’t know what to do with that.’ It was very, very funny.
KJ: 01:54 I love that people go back and listen to all the episodes. It brings me incredible joy.
Jess: 01:58 Yes, it does. I am Jess Lahey, I’m the author of the Gift of Failure and a forthcoming book about preventing substance abuse in kids. And I write at various places including the New York Times, Washington Post and the Atlantic.
Sarina: 02:13 And I’m Sarina Bowen, the author of 30 plus contemporary romance novels. And you can find more of me at sarinabowen.com.
KJ: 02:22 And I am KJ Dell’Antonia, a novelist and also the author of the nonfiction book How to Be a Happier Parent, first novel will be out next summer, more to come I hope. You’ll sometimes still find my work at the New York Times and in a variety of other places. So that’s it, that’s who we are. We know some things and today our plan is to talk about what we know about Facebook. But before we do, I just want to thank everyone who has gone in and subscribed to our weekly emails that come out every week about the podcast. That is a new thing that we’re doing and I love that people are finding it useful. Every week we send you little something about what the episode is, all the links, and a way to see a transcript, which is pretty cool. And also huge shout out and thanks to those of you who have signed up to support the podcast and get our weekly top fives for writers. It’s huge, we feel so grateful and excited that you guys want to support us, and want to be a part of it, and want to get our top fives, which we’re having a great time doing. So you know, thanks to everyone for that. And if you’re looking to do either of those things, head over to amwritingpodcast.com and you’ll find all the links there.
Jess: 03:42 Alright, let’s do it. You said our topic is Facebook. What do you mean about this Facebook thing?
KJ: 03:54 Well, it’s a great place to put up pictures of your kids and offend all your relatives on your political views. But as a writer, people have questions like, ‘Should you have an author page and a personal page? Should you do everything from your personal page? How has this evolved over the years? And I have wrestled with it. Sarina has come to some pretty good terms with it and I’ll just also throw out there that back in 2013 when I started with the Times, they actually said to me, ‘We do not want to create a Facebook page for the Motherlode blog, which doesn’t exist anymore anyway. So just use your own. It was one of the best gifts that they gave me. I don’t think it was actually the right choice for them, but well, and here and today I’m sitting here with no author page, but the AmWriting page and everything I do professionally ends up on my personal page and I’m not sure that’s where I should be.
Jess: 05:01 I’m a mess. Sarina, you go cause you’ve got a whole thing. You use it beautifully.
Sarina: 05:07 Well, thank you. But we have to talk about vocabulary for a second. Because people have a profile, not a page. And we just want to be careful to use that vocabulary correctly because if listeners go and try to untangle our suggestions, they might run into a little trouble. So every person, like the way that we would define a person has the right under the Facebook terms of service, to have one profile. So, if you use a pseudonym for your writing, you may find yourself in the awkward position of trying to fake it to Facebook that you can have two profiles. And yeah, so that’s a good time. But the profile is the main way that most people look at Facebook, you login with your profile. Now a page, you can have as many pages as you want. A page is meant to be representing something that’s not a person. Like a brand or a business or it can be a person, like a personality. So I have a profile under Sarina White Bowen, it’s three words. And then I have a Sarina Bowen page. And pages and profiles have different things that they can do, they’re not identical in their functionality. And that’s why we get into these tricky discussions because the way that pages and profiles behave is not identical and that’s where some of the weird fun comes in.
Jess: 06:54 Well and honestly that’s where most of my apathy/confusion lies. Mainly because for me, my profile, Jessica Lahey. Actually, I think my profile is Jessica Potts Lahey because my maiden name is Potts. So that’s my personal profile, the thing I originally signed up for Facebook with. That has long since gone out the window as a private, personal thing. Like I get 30 friend requests a day and I accept some and don’t. But most of them are people I don’t even know. I’ve just long since given up the ghost on that. But it is how I keep in touch with childhood friends and high school acquaintances and things like that. Then I also have a page as Jessica Lahey and that was something my publisher wanted and it was important to them. But see, here’s the problem – if you’re accepting any old person out there to your profile, and I’m posting things to my page and to my profile and honestly, there’s a lot of overlap between the two. I wish I’d been more strategic about this from the beginning. And I somehow had a profile that was really just personal stuff and then shuttled everyone else over to my page, like put up kind of some kind of like, ‘No, I will not friend you, but here’s my page.’ I wish I’d been more strategic about that, but I didn’t and so now I have a mess. I have, two things, neither of which is personal, and both kind of get duplicate posts.
Sarina: 08:28 Well, I could make you feel better by telling you that we’re all in the same mess, honestly. Because Facebook has treated the two things differently over time. So, it used to be that in the glory days of 2010 you could make a page and even if you’d gotten this right from the very first day…
Jess: 08:53 If I could have seen the future…
Sarina: 08:55 Well, that’s the thing. You would have still not been able to do it exactly right because the behavior that would have been optimized at the time would have changed. So back in the glory days, you could’ve made that page that you were just talking about and kept your profile private and you could have posted the things you were writing and thinking about it on this page and people would see it and they would interact with you and your page would grow, and grow, and grow. And you might have like 30,000 followers. However, Facebook has very much become a pay to play platform and now they would want you to pay every time you put up a post on your page that you wanted more than say 5% of your followers to see. So the fact that when you share meaningful things on your profile, at least there’s some chance that the people who are connected to you will see it. So it’s not entirely clear to me that you wouldn’t be a very sad owner of a highly followed page by this point. But everybody who relies upon Facebook to push content into the world has been increasingly unhappy with their results because it’s not just that Facebook wants your money (and they absolutely do want it), but also just the number of pages in the world grew at such an exponential rate that they can’t actually show everybody all the stuff that they’re following anymore. Like if you liked your dentist’s office in 2013, then you know, the odds of you actually seeing a post from the dentist are really bad. Like the pages who you might actually see are the people who have been out there working it so hard since the very beginning, with a nice pace of content release, and a good interaction that…it’s very few pages that are still getting that kind of play. You mentioned that you get a lot of friend requests. Facebook actually caps the number of friends you can have at 5,000.
Jess: 11:05 Early on I think it was like 2000 or something. But yeah, it’s definitely 5,000. I’m getting close and that worries me. Because what if someone I really want to follow, that’s why I don’t accept all of them or even real people…
KJ: 11:19 People don’t know you didn’t accept them. And probably most of their goals is just to follow you, which is what happens if someone puts in a friend request and you say no, they end up following you.
Jess: 11:32 That’s right. Yeah, I forgot about that.
KJ: 11:35 At least you’ve got that going for you.
Sarina: 11:36 So, another factor is that now Messenger is tied in with the people you’re friends with on Facebook. So I have stopped accepting friend requests completely, unless of course I met the person.
KJ: 11:51 Unless it’s your friend.
Sarina: 11:53 Or, but I got some friend requests after that retreat we went to in Maine and I accepted those. But I don’t accept random requests anymore because I’ve discovered it’s just a way for readers to bug me. Like when is such and such a thing coming out and you know, there just aren’t enough hours in the day for me to do a good job answering those messages.
Jess: 12:16 Actually, I’m so glad you said that because that has been a source of anxiety and frustration for me in that the number of direct messages I’m getting via various apps has gone through the roof and it’s a lot of people asking very personal questions about their own children. I got one the other day and she sent me this long, long, long message about what she’s going through with her child. And she wrote the word please and she sent a picture of herself with her child.
KJ: 12:48 I wish you could auto reply from Messenger. Because if you had that that said, ‘I’m sorry, I can’t…’ I suppose you could just type one. Okay, we’re going to get back to how everyone should use Facebook in a second, but just to solve this particular problem with which I am somewhat familiar, type something up, and imagine yourself as your assistant. ‘I’m sorry, Mrs. Lahey can’t respond to all.’ And you know you’re gonna feel like a jerk, but Mrs. Lahey can’t respond personally to everyone and that leaves you the freedom to do it. To take a step back, we have people on our Facebook group page, which is a whole other thing, and is a great tool for various kinds of authors, particularly I think in nonfiction. Someone was saying, ‘Here I am and my first book is coming out and should I create an author page?’ And there are reasons to say yes to that, I think.
Sarina: 14:07 Yes, there are. One of the reasons you might need an author page is if you want to advertise something, you can’t advertise from a profile, you have to advertise from a page. So, the main reason that the Sarina Bowen author page continues to grow a following is because of paid advertising. And when you use paid advertising you collect likes sort of by accident. So you should never run the kind of ad that just gets likes because that’s pointless. But if you have something to advertise like ‘Look, this is my new book. Here is the link at Apple books.’ Then that is something I advertise and the page does grow its following that way. So I would say that if you have even a 20% chance of ever wanting to advertise something, you should set up that author page. But then you should not obsess about how many followers it has. You should post only often enough so that it looks like the lights are on. And you don’t need to worry about it. It needs to be set up so that there’s somewhere people can find this kind of information, like the link to join your newsletter, and the link for your own personal webpage. So you need to be listed there because a lot of people will use Facebook as like a global directory. So you need to be find-able, but you do not need to obsess about how many people are following you there. So you can really put it as one of those things on your Sunday promo calendar where you’re like, ‘Oh, time to stop by the neighborhood of my Facebook page and maybe update something. You know, a book I’m reading or an article I put out this week.’
Jess: 16:05 I use it for my speaking calendar, too. Like you know, ‘Oh I’m going to be in the next week or month or whatever I’m going to be in so-and-so.’ One thing I would like to add is that so early on in my promotion plan for Gift of Failure, my publisher very much wanted me to have a Facebook page because one of the things they did during my pub week was that I added my publisher as an administrator to my Facebook page and they posted a couple of ads. So that was wonderful and helpful.
KJ: 16:37 That’s really nice. I have not heard of a publisher doing that, which just means I haven’t heard of it. I advertised my book personally a couple of times. But I actually did it from the #AmWriting page, I think, because we have a page and I don’t remember if I have a page.
Jess: 17:00 I think they did two or three ads just during pub week itself. And that was nice. They wanted to know as part of my original, the fact that I had one was what interested them. So I don’t think they actually care that much about my followers. Who knows. Anyway, I want to make sure that was in there.
KJ: 17:22 When you pay to place a Facebook ad from your page, that has nothing to do with how many followers your page has. It goes to that subset of people that you hopefully carefully create within the Facebook ad maker.
Sarina: 17:40 That’s right. The ad engine is a vast thing. There are entire podcasts about the Facebook ad engine. So, we won’t cover that today but it does give you access to basically everyone on Facebook and Instagram.
Jess: 17:58 And you can target very carefully and all that sort of thing?
Sarina: 18:00 Yes, sort of carefully. But yes.
Jess: 18:03 Okay. Anything else here?
Sarina: 18:06 I do have a page and I do have a group, cause you mentioned groups, and groups are lovely and for a couple of reasons. One is that they gel with what Mark Zuckerberg claims to be his new idea for what Facebook should be, which is groups of like-minded people talking to each other. So I actually have a fan group on Facebook.
Jess: 18:41 I belong and I love it. I love your fan group and it is so much fun to go in there and look at what’s being posted. I love your fan group.
Sarina: 18:51 It’s called Sarendipity and I’m deeply uncomfortable with the idea of having a fandom. I don’t like to use the word fan, I’m not saying that I don’t use it, but I don’t really want to be that person. It’s kind of like there’s always a party that I’m hosting and I have to show up, you know. But what happens is that people tend to go there to talk about things that come up in my books and it really takes the pressure off of me. So in May, I had this book where one of the characters, who was known as lobster shorts, that was his avatar on an app. And one of the central conceits of the book is that the other person in the book doesn’t know that lobster shorts is really his neighbor. So they have this whole conversation and I swear there are still people posting various lobster clothing in my group, you know, five months later I’m still seeing, look at this lobster shirt I found. So that’s super fun because then the discussion doesn’t have to be about whether or not you liked the book or what I’m having for lunch. It’s like a commonality. This thing that we’ve all found funny and here’s a little more of it. So my group is full of posts about apples because of one of my series.
Jess: 20:21 Your group also, I have to say, there was one thread that was posted by one of your fans and it was a question and it was, ‘How did you discover Sarina Bowen?’ And it was one of the most and incredibly fascinating look at how readers find authors. Some of them were, ‘I discovered her through Elle Kennedy, I was an Elle Kennedy reader.’ Some were, ‘Amazon recommended Sarina because I read X’. It was fascinating and it was a wealth of information about how people stumble upon new authors. I loved reading that thread.
Sarina: 20:56 You’re right, that was fascinating. But you also said that I didn’t post it. There are lots of authors who do ask that question, who are able to ask questions about themselves without wanting to jump off something high. And, but I can’t, it’s just not me to do that. There’s also other romance authors who posts like Towel Tuesday. And so on Tuesday there’ll be some photo of a guy in a towel and the other romance readers are like, ‘Ooh, good one.’
KJ: 21:23 I thought it was going to be the author and a towel. That’s brave.
Sarina: 21:29 Well now you’re really scaring me. That’s not me either. And I really struggle with what is my role in that group. And there are so many ways to do it. And if you are a person, as an author, who is comfortable hosting that kind of party all the time, then the group is probably your greatest asset.
KJ: 21:54 Alternatively, if you are a person who, as an author, wants to generally answer those kinds of questions that Jess is getting by Messenger, who has a nonfiction platform, which is self-help or that kind of thing you could create… Yeah. Ron Lieber does it really well, that’s what you were going to say.
Jess: 22:26 No, I was going to say Grown and Flown, Lisa Heffernan and Mary Dell Harrington, they do that incredibly well. They use those questions as fodder for posts on their massive, massive group for Grown and Flown.
KJ: 22:42 Right, but they started out as a group and a blog and only later became a book. I guess what I’m saying is if you are Lori Gottlieb, or you, or Ron Lieber, you could use Facebook to start a group in which people discuss the topic of your book. But, I think that there would be a pretty high maintenance requirement there. I mean, at a certain point it would probably become somewhat self sustaining, but for a while I feel like it would be really demanding that you find and put up questions, and respond to things, and keep track. I think that’d be a pretty big time investment, but it might be a worthwhile one.
Jess: 23:30 It would be a big investment.
KJ: 23:31 I’m not suggesting you do it, this is a general. Let me just say, I don’t think that’s you, you need to write books. But there might be people for whom it would be a great strategy. For example, the author of Quiet, Susan Cain has said, ‘I thought about writing another book and then I realized, no, my mission is to keep talking about this one.’ She does it in a different forum. But if that’s where you are, if your mission for the next few years is to talk about the topic of your nonfiction probably. Then that could be good.
Jess: 24:15 As a speaker, I have to say, reader questions are incredible fodder for either articles, new chapters, blog posts, things to talk about on stage. I have this sort of wealth of stories and many of them came from readers who wrote me, or posted, or messaged, or whatever and said, ‘Here’s what’s going on and here’s how I’ve used the things you wrote about.’ So that can be an incredibly valuable thing and if you want to mine that for all it’s worth, a little bit of effort could pay off big time.
KJ: 24:47 Right. All right, so we got the basics. You’ve probably already got your profile. Certainly there’s no one in our Facebook group asking questions about how to use Facebook that doesn’t already have a profile. You’re gonna need a page, but you don’t need to do anything more there besides keep the lights on. You could contemplate a group, you need to think about how you use Messenger, and what else? What am I missing in terms of the basics?
Sarina: 25:14 Well, we definitely covered the basics, but I could give you a couple of ninja level things. So my page has an auto-responder that is hosted by a service called ManyChat. So if you go to the Sarina Bowen page and you hit the button there to send a message, you will immediately get a reply from a bot and it says something like, ‘Hello. And then insert first name of person. Thank you for reaching out. The best place to find information about upcoming Sarina Bowen books is this link right here.’
Jess: 26:09 Brilliant.
KJ: 26:13 That’s for Messenger messages or posts
Sarina: 26:17 Messenger, but it’s Messenger to the page, not the profile. So it also says, ‘And if you are a man who just wants to chat or show me your photo, you will not like my response.’
KJ: 26:35 Even if you’re wearing a towel. Especially if you’re wearing a towel.
Jess: 26:39 I do like that when I get messages like that, like gross, disgusting, stuff like that. Often for example, in Instagram it will shield it from your view. And so in order to see whatever picture someone has sent you, you have to actually click on it. And I have decided not to click on a few things that I receive via the messaging part of Instagram.
Sarina: 27:05 Weirdly, the what to blur out trigger is really strange, though. Because I click on them all the time and it’s usually like just a photo of a book on a table and it’s like my book, you know. So that’s one thing that you can hook up. Now, this is the ninja super top secret thing is that also ManyChat, will collect the identities of everyone who ever messages you.
Jess: 27:34 To what end, Sarina? To what end?
Sarina: 27:40 I will tell you. A page can also always message whomever has messaged the page before. So if you run a contest where to enter the contest, you send the page a message, then ManyChat can retain that list of hundreds of people and then randomly messaged them when you decide. So I could right now just blanket message, all the whatever thousand people who’ve ever messaged my page before with, ‘Hey, guess what? I have a new book.’.
Jess: 28:16 Oh my gosh, you’re so brilliant.
Sarina: 28:17 I don’t actually use it, though. Because I find that people are very confused about whether I’m messaging them personally this way. Like it’s not common enough a thing to break down that wall. And I don’t actually want people to think that I’m messaging them. So, it’s not a useful tool for me, but it does exist. And the other Ninja level thing is about the page itself and how nobody sees them anymore. So I do keep track. My page has either 14 or 17,000 followers. I can’t remember right now. And the average post is seen by like 1200 people. So it’s less than 10%. But if I didn’t do certain things, then it would drop even further because the Facebook algorithm looks carefully at each post to decide if it’s going to love you or not. So if you’re always posting Amazon links then it hates that. But if you’re always posting to your own website, it hates that less. And if you’re posting text with no links or pictures at all, it loves that because that seems really genuine to Facebook. Like if you just have a haiku to share or something.
Jess: 29:53 Is that why people started doing that thing where they started posting in the first comment instead of in the post itself?
Sarina: 29:59 The link? Yeah, the link in the comments. Yeah. I’m not sure. I think Facebook caught onto that immediately, though.
KJ: 30:05 So, interesting, completely random side note, Facebook doesn’t want you to sell animals anymore. And of course Facebook is actually the largest place to advertise horses. So our barn manager, I just turned her on to go ahead and put a picture, but you put the link or you put the ad in the comments. Because if you put an ad they throw it off and it’s got to do with puppy mills and that kind of thing, which I’m totally supportive of. But Facebook killed all the sites upon which people once sold horses and they have not yet been replaced with anything. And it’s a problem. But, that does still work to some extent I think. The link in the comments.
Sarina: 30:57 Okay, well this is how I handle it. A page can also have what are called top fans. That is Facebook’s word for it. So if you turn this feature on to your page, you might have to have a certain number of followers, I don’t know what it is. You turn on the top fan badge and then Facebook will actually track for you who it considers to be your top fans. I believe I have, I don’t know, a couple hundred of them. And top fan badges are earned by commenting on things and liking things. So I actually run a giveaway like once a month we pick a random top fan and they get to have a prize of their choosing and the prizes are a signed book shipped anywhere, an item from the Sarina Bowen swag store, or a bad, but flattering poem in your honor.
Jess: 31:56 While we’re on the topic and because I have helped you with some of this in the past and I have had to deal with it myself, when you run these sorts of things and you say shipped anywhere, just keep in mind how much it costs to ship to Australia. Just keep it in mind. Just think about it when you do it.
KJ: 32:14 There’s a reason people do U.S. only and apologies to those who can’t participate, but whoa.
Sarina: 32:23 Yeah, one book to Australia is $22.50 and yesterday I shipped a box to France for $57 50. Ouch., right?
KJ: 32:35 Groups have a similar thing to the top fan, which is the conversation starters.
Jess: 32:40 Yeah, I love that. And there’s also like a visual storyteller. We have it in our group and, according to our group, I’m an administrator, but I’m also a visual storyteller because I post a lot of pictures to our group.
KJ: 32:53 Well, no prizes for you. I’m sorry.
Sarina: 32:55 Well, the point of giving prizes to top fans is to give an incentive to comment. If you were to go look at my page right now (and I have no idea what the last thing we posted), but you’ll see like ‘Can’t wait’ and just people chiming in and the chiming in tells the Facebook algorithm that that piece of content is valuable or interesting. So Facebook will give it a little more love. I mean there are days when it feels like my entire job is to try to outwit the Facebook algorithm and not everybody needs to think like this or operate like this, but it’s quite the rabbit hole.
Jess: 33:37 Well, and we’ve talked about this in the past, is that certain social media platforms are great for certain things. And for me it’s Twitter and for you it’s Facebook. And we’ve talked about this in the past and partially it’s a self-perpetuating thing. But when Sarina goes on my webpage (which I let her do from time to time and look at where my traffic’s coming from) you know, mine’s coming from Twitter and hers overwhelmingly comes from Facebook. So if you know that the genre that you write in is Facebook oriented, then this is really helpful information. For me, I’m trying to figure out how to best use Facebook. And it may be different for nonfiction authors, but I think when you know that that’s where your fans are it’s worth spending a little bit extra time and effort, as you do, to engage that audience. It’s all about decision making.
Sarina: 34:27 And in order to remove some of the emotion from it. So yesterday I got very depressed because I have a book launch coming up and I realized just how much I hate launching. Like it’s a kind of a popularity contest that I don’t really want to enter. I don’t enjoy that week of share me, share me, love me, buy me. So one of the ways that I get around this is that every two months I take note of where the growth in my social media following is happening. So I’ll just note the totals of how many followers are on the page, how many people in the group, how many on Instagram, how many on BookBub and how many on my newsletter list. Not because I’m obsessed with the totals, but because I want to know which thing is growing the fastest?
KJ: 35:23 Where should you invest your time?
Sarina: 35:25 Right? Where is the heat? So that I don’t obsess about my Facebook page if that’s not obsessable this week.
KJ: 35:34 Well, my loose take on what Facebook is good for is nonfiction of the kind that I have written and that Jess writes, parenting stuff, family oriented stuff, self-help style stuff. Basically, probably nonfiction with more of a female audience. I don’t know what I mean, Facebook is definitely both genders. Does it skew female? Do we know?
Jess: 36:07 I don’t know, but I do know that parenting stuff, at least from my perspective, does incredibly well on Facebook. And then the added bonus is that some of the outfits I write for like the New York Times and the Atlantic and Washington Post have very active Facebook pages. And when they post my stuff to Facebook, holy moly, the shares for those articles go through the roof. And then of course other Facebook pages pick up those articles. And I’m very lucky in that some of my more evergreen content the Atlantic will repost from time to time, thus revitalizing an article I wrote four years ago, which is lovely. Yeah. So from that perspective it’s really useful.
KJ: 36:47 Well, I often think of it is Twitter for serious nonfiction, Facebook for lighter nonfiction, Instagram for fiction. But I think that is just a gross, gross oversimplification as evidenced by the fact that Sarina makes a really good use of Facebook. And Facebook’s ads for fiction, especially independently published fiction, are kind of I think without parallel. And there’s no barrier to entry like there is on Instagram. You can’t advertise on Instagram. You can’t even link on Instagram. You can’t advertise either, can you? Am I right, Sarina?
Sarina: 37:23 You could advertise on Instagram.
KJ: 37:25 Oh you can still advertise, okay. Alright, fine. Well, this is good. Okay.
Jess: 37:31 This is really helpful.
KJ: 37:32 We’ve laid out some useful basics, given me some ideas. I hope we’ve given some of the rest of you guys ideas. Oh my gosh. Books.
Jess: 37:56 Yeah, do we want to talk about what we’ve been reading? I have a new author that I’ve recently discovered that’s fun to read. You know there are certain really popular authors that are sort of are in the periphery of your awareness and yet you never actually listened to them. I finally listened to a Harlan Coben book recently. So I listened to Harlan Coben because a narrator that I really, really enjoy – Steven Weber, he played one half of the duo on the show Wings in the 80s, and he’s still out there doing some great stuff. He’s an audio book narrator and I happen to love his audio narration voice. You can click not only on authors in a lot of apps, but you can click on the narrator, too. So if you really like a narrator, try other things they’ve narrated. And that’s what I did. And I’ve been listening to a Harlan Coben book. I listened to one called Home that was kind of interesting, but now I’m listening to one called Run Away (it’s two separate words). I think it’s his newest one. The opening was so beautifully done – and what’s really fun about Harlan Coben is that he’s funny without trying to be comic. Like he’s just a witty writer and it’s really fun in a way that I don’t get to read a lot. And so he’s highly prolific. There’s tons out there. He has series. He has stand alones and so it’s nice to have a new author to be able to dip into and learn new things from. So that’s Harlan Coben Run Away so far I’m loving it. Home was really, really interesting. I like that one, too.
Sarina: 39:32 Well, Jess, I love Harlan Coben. And there’s a lot to learn there, also. One of his novels (my favorite one) was made into a movie in French.
Jess: 39:49 What’s the book?
Sarina: 39:51 I’m trying to figure that out right now. Tell No One. It’s a wonderful novel.
Jess: 39:56 I actually originally heard about him because Stephen King talks about him a lot. I think they’re buds or something or he just really likes his work, but I just never occurred to me to listen to any of his books or read any of his books. But I’m glad I am.
Sarina: 40:13 Yeah. So Tell No One, it’s a great read and it’s a lovely movie where they’ve changed in New York to Paris and you know, enjoy. The book I’m reading is Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. It’s a wonderful novel that is actually fantasy. I’m probably mis-genre-ing this novel right now. There’s magic in it, but I swear this book it’s probably going to do great, but it’s like written just for me. It takes place in New Haven and on the Yale campus and it supposes that the secret societies are actually each the holder of a special kind of magic. It’s hilarious and I have so many questions about – they basically didn’t bother changing the names of anything. They just went for it. And I’m fascinated.
KJ: 41:17 I love that. And yeah, there was just something on our Facebook page someone going, ‘Should I use a real town? Should I slightly change the town?’ And I think that is always an interesting question because we’re all sort of asking ourselves, ‘Well, do I have permission to use all the names of the secret societies at Yale? Do I need permission? Is there a secret society that will come after me if I failed to ask permission?’ Yeah, that’s really cool. It sounds like a fun book, too. Oh, mine. So two weeks ago, I think, I shouted out The Lager Queen of Minnesota by J. Ryan Stradal. And I also (because I loved The Lager Queen so much) grabbed his first book, which is Kitchens of the Great Midwest and similarly, it’s a lot of fun.
KJ: 42:08 It’s smart fiction. It’s very, very readable. And this is a fun example of something else we were talking about two weeks ago, which is following an author throughout their career. Now, J. Ryan Stradal (who is a man, at least based on his author picture) only has two books. And Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the first one and The Lager Queen is the second one. And Kitchens of the Great Midwest is good, I really enjoyed it. Lager Queen is better in a lot of technical, and also just sort of reader grabbing kinds of ways, and that is just fun to see. It’s fun to watch people evolve, but they’re both really fun books.
Jess: 42:49 Cool, excellent.
KJ: 42:52 Bookstore? I know we have a favorite Indie because we talked about it.
Jess: 42:52 Yes, we do. We did. We would like to talk about Gibsons. Gibsons is a bookstore in New Hampshire, in Concord, New Hampshire. And for me, it holds a place in my heart because it was one of the places I first spoke about Gift of Failure to an audience (unfortunately it was pouring rain that night) to an audience of I believe four. Two people who had come for the book talk and one person who was trying to get out of the rain and had no idea what they were doing there and a staff member of the bookstore. So despite that, is a fantastic bookstore. I love it there. They have great curation. I think, Sarina, you talked about really enjoying that bookstore, too.
Sarina: 43:37 I also did an event. For my, the women’s fiction novel failure that we don’t talk about anymore.
Jess: 43:46 And did you have more than four people?
Sarina: 43:47 I had 12. Well, for debut fiction it wasn’t bad at all. It was a lovely, engaged audience. And the staff is so lovely and I’ve been to other’s events there as well and they always just do a fabulous job.
Jess: 44:32 I have to get back to writing. And so until next week, everybody, keep your butts in the chair and your head in the game. This episode of #AmWriting with Jess and KJ was produced by Andrew Parilla. Our music, aptly titled unemployed Monday was written and performed by Max Cohen. Andrew and Max were paid for their services because everyone, even creatives should be paid.