Nathan Bransford, Author

Monday, February 28, 2011

Facebook for Authors - How to Get Started

A thousand fans isn't cool. You know what's cool? A MILLION FANS. Or a billion. What's that line from "The Social Network" again?

Anyway! The Facebook is kind of a big deal. And authors must be thinking about how they should be on The Facebook. First step: don't call it The Facebook.

On second thought, do call it The Facebook.

Now, this post isn't about promoting your book or building up your audience or how to become friends with Zuck himself, that all comes later.

The first step: getting yourself started. Here are some tips.

Create a Fan Page

UPDATE: My advice on this changed because of new Facebook developments. See this post to first decide if you want to use subscriptions or whether you want to create a page. If you want to create a page, here you go:

When fan pages were first created, I think people were kind of nervous to get started on them due to the whole "fan" thing. It seemed a bit presumptuous to have a fan page when one wasn't a celebrity. But Facebook pages are increasingly how people distinguish between their private and public networks. So even if you aren't (yet) a published author, I would definitely consider creating a page for yourself.

Facebook pages are a bit different than traditional accounts because people don't need to be approved to Like the page and they're public by default, and thus they are a good way to keep your personal account personal and your public account public. You can tailor your posts accordingly. Here's my page.

How to create one? It's a piece of cake. Go here, click "Artist, Band, Public Figure," choose Author and follow the easy instructions. There you have it.

Degree of difficulty: Extremely easy

When to do this: You know, I feel like there's no time like the present. The earlier you start building up those likes the bigger your head start when prime time arrives. 

Create a Book Page

For a long time I wasn't sure about creating a book page for Jacob Wonderbar, because there are definite pros and cons to having both an author page and a book page.

Basically, if you have people who Like the author page and other people who Like the book page, you are splitting your audience. If you post updates to the people following your author page you might miss the people following your book page. You can post to both, but you might annoy the fans who follow both pages.


Here's what swayed me. When someone goes to enter your book as one of their favorites, Facebook knows there's a Book Page and links that page to the person's profile:

I found this very exciting.

Also, it's better to create one yourself rather than having one created for you that you don't control. So now I have a Facebook page for JACOB WONDERBAR.

To create one, go here, then choose Entertainment, then Book. You're on your way.

Degree of Difficulty: Extremely easy.

When to do this: When you have a cover.

Optimize Your Blog or Website for the New "Like" Button

I don't know how you spent your weekend, but I went through and adjusted all of my Facebook "Like" buttons on my blog and added Facebook meta tags for optimal sharing. Yeah, it was pretty rock and roll.

Facebook recently introduced a new version of Like buttons that make them more prominent in someone's News Feed.

They went from this:
To this:

They just got much more important.

Now, adding Like buttons to your blog is not the easiest of endeavors by any means. It involves some coding, especially if you want to change the image and text in the share box. And if you want to give people an opportunity to comment when they "Like" the post you have to use the XFBML version of the Like buttons, which is a bit more complicated.

As I was figuring all this out, I found this post to be a really helpful resource. Please note, however, that it's geared toward WordPress blogs and if you have a Blogger-based blog like I do you'll need to find a separate post that explains how to do it. I drew upon this post for some Blogger-specific wrinkles.

But hey, after adding some code I managed to add new Like buttons and didn't even break the blog! Try them out!

Degree of difficulty: Tricky

When to do this: Yesterday

Stick Like Buttons Everywhere

If your eyes glazed over when faced with the earlier task, never fear, there are easier things you can tackle.

For instance, it's easy to add a Like Box to your blog like this one:

Just go to this page, adjust the style according to your preferences, and then copy the code into a blog widget or post.

And when you have Pages you can put Like buttons everywhere, including posts! Creating a basic Like button is really easy. Just go to this page, enter the URL for the page you want the button to share, adjust the style, and then voila, you have code.

Then you can put them wherever you want!

Here's a Like button for my page:

Here's a Like button for Jacob Wonderbar:

Here's a Like button for corndogs:

It gets addicting.

Degree of Difficulty: Moderate

When to do this: When you create your author page

In future posts: what to do with all these pages and Like buttons and widgets! On The Facebook!

Meanwhile, anyone have any other tips for getting yourself started?


D. U. Okonkwo said...

Very informative as always - thanks, Nathan.

C.L. Moyer said...

OMG!My name appeared in your blog, all because I "liked" your page!!
(Social networking DOES work!! LOL)

Ted Fox said...

Nathan, it sounds like we had strikingly similar weekends. I just created a fan page for my blog yesterday. I resisted for a long time, but I have to say, I think it will be a cool resource.

I also appreciate the links to the information on how to incorporate "Like" buttons in Blogger. Messing around in my blog's code didn't get me anywhere, so I ended up settling on a homemade remedy using a screenshot of the Facebook page. I may have to give it another shot now.

Munk said...

I find that when I post to both my page and my book page The Facebook consolidates them into one post, so that my friends don't get hit twice.

RobynBradley said...

Facebook marketing is a favorite topic of mine. One thing I would recommend is setting a welcome page for first-time visitors. Otherwise, the "landing" page is your Wall, which can be confusing and overwhelming for people. It's easy to set: Go to "edit page" and then "Manage Permissions." The fifth item in the list is the default landing tab. Now, what you should do, ideally, is create a CUSTOM landing tab (with a call to action on why the person should "like" the page). This is actually a little trickier to do now since Facebook is moving to iFrames (and away from FBML). Here's a good tutorial from HubSpot on how to do it.

Porter Anderson said...

Heard a woman at a restaurant the other night discussing with her friends how easy it was to get on "Facebooks." Everybody at her table really Liked her knowledge of the Internets.

Anita Saxena said...

This is so helpful! I was always wondered how to keep my personal Facebook presence separate from my writing presence. These are some great tips. Thank you!

Matthew Rush said...

Wow. Lots of great advice NB. Maybe someday I'll have time to look into it. I have a separate FB profile for myself as an author/writer, not sure which one we are friends on, but no fan page yet. I feel I should land an agent before I go there.

Mr. D said...

I'm still getting used to blogging everyday. I admit to neglecting Facebook, although I do have it. Where does everyone get the time for all this?

Emlyn Chand said...

Hey Nathan. It looks like you and I are on the same page when it comes to choosing blog topics.

I recently wrote-up a 20-step detailed guide about how one can build an author page on Facebook and get people to "like" it. Perhaps some of your readers will find it useful.

I must admit, it's a bit more basic than your coverage--the main goal is to get authors to take that leap of faith and create those beautiful pages!

Here's the link to my Facebook article:

You rock,
Emlyn Chand
President, Novel Publicity

Carol Riggs said...

Ok, I am definitely saving this info, but my head will blow up if I do this anytime soon--because I finally succumbed to Twitter this weekend. I know. I can't believe it either. Found you to follow, too! Anyway, my mind is boggled enough with just Twittering right now. Thanks for the further GREAT info!

Debs Riccio said...

I wish there was a *like* icon for Porter's comment!

K. C. Blake said...

I am totally inept when it comes to computers. I created a page for my upcoming book, but adding the like button is totally different. I don't get it, but I will try again.

Shawn Lamb said...

The problem with changing over is the people who are following must re-up and can't be transferred. I'd like to consolidate by personal and book pages, but don't want to lose followers.

Stasia said...

I can see how adding those like buttons could become totally addictive! Thanks for the great information. My novel pubs in October and I've earmarked your page as my "marketing homework" for next week!

Zan Marie said...

Thanks, Nathan. I've been wondering how to do this and now you provide the steps. I'll have to get busy this afternoon. I foresee a long Facebook session. ; )

Richard Gibson said...

I could hardly believe this, as I got up this morning intending to do exactly this. Thanks for the help - and it's already all done (well, there's always tweaking to do!).

Many thanks!

MBee said...

Cross promote! Don't forget to Tweet about new posts to the Fan page!

Sean said...

Wow. With the time it will take to consistently Facebook, Twitter and blog I may have to start focusing on six word flash fiction again.

But great info!

Lee Thompson said...

Wow! That's awesome info, Nathan! Thanks for sharing and spelling it out so well!

Caitlin said...

I made my Facebook fan page shortly after creating my blog, and I am so glad that I did! I actually have more "fans" on my fan page than I have followers on my blog.

It seemed like a good starting point for me, a way to continuously put myself out there and hope that people would decide to click that wonderful little "like" button and share it with their own friends.

Thanks for the information for the like button on the actual blog posts. Can't wait to try it!

Cathy Yardley said...

Thanks for this! I have just created fan pages for my writing blog and my author blog, and while it was easier than I thought, I used some FBML for the welcome page, as well. I do need to add the "like" code, though, on my revamped author site... good reminder.

Any tips on how to maintain the page? That's been my biggest issue -- how to update, and run a giveaway or contest, or whatever beyond simply linking blog posts to the notes.

Sierra McConnell said...

The only problem is...when will it stop? Facebook is great right now, but yesterday it was MySpace. What's next?

It's ridiculous. People are always sheeping for the current thing. And I hate being a sheep.

Besides. No one would /like/ me anyway because I'm too honest. XD

Carrie said...

Thanks for these tips.

Sommer Leigh said...

We had similar weekends Nathan. I spent most of Saturday searching and trying out new Wordpress plugins to optimize my blog. It wasn't exactly party central in the Leigh house. But I did find some plugins that I totally fell in love with, so I was pleased.

I have a private Facebook for friends and family that I don't use very often. I haven't quite made the jump to use it for a public space in connection with my blog. I will eventually, I'm just not there yet. I think I need a clone to run my Facebook and Twitter account for me.

Loree Huebner said...

Nathan, thanks for this post. I've been wondering about this very topic. I have a personal fb that I would not want to share with the world. It's a place for me to get away with friends and family. I can see having an author page in the future. Thanks again for the how-to-do-it.

Rahma Krambo said...

Great post Nathan. I created a 'like' page about a year ago and gave it the name of my book, Guardian Cats.

At this point in time, I have almost 2000 fans who love cats and libraries and are waiting for my book to get published!

So now I'm going to follow your instructions and put all those little thumbs up buttons where ever I can.


Rachel Giesel said...

Hey Nathan - Awesome how-to post for facebook. Very descriptive and informative which is greatly appreciated.

But a quick question: What do you suggest for younger writers, who are unpublished? If there isn't any work to show, and there's not any people to know, wouldn't the only people who Liked the page be family and friends? Perhaps creating a page for their blog would be better? Thoughts?


Margo Lerwill said...

Okay, I am going to have to bookmark this blog entry for later use. Incredibly helpful!

'Cept for one thing. I see the like button for corn dogs. Where is the OMGLOVE button for corn dogs?

Nathan Bransford said...


I don't know that I'd recommend setting up a page for your blog. It's easy to post your blog articles to your personal page, whether manually or automatically. If you create one for your blog you could have a situation where you have a personal account, a personal page, a book page, and a blog page, and that could get unwieldy. I would create an author page and direct your blog readers there.

Kathryn Magendie said...

I'm one of those nervous about creating a "fan" page - I have three novels out and another on the way and you could say that could put me in the "novelist/author" category who could have a "fan" page, but, still, I've just kept my regular old Facebook page and kept it for my professional/personal life, which is all mixed up together it seems! :-D

What you said about creating a page for our books before someone else did is interesting, since one day I stumbled onto where someone had created a "like" page for my books! I have no idea who, but there wasn't much on there (yet?). So, I don't know - though I do appreciate whomever took the time and interest to do it.

Now I have some thinking to do - ung . . . thanks a lot Nathan, know you've made me have to think about all this! :-D *laughing*

Lisa Desrochers said...

Somehow in the Facebook re-design they messed things up. There used to be a drop-down menu in "My Acct" which made managing pages easy. It's gone. Also, in Brand or Product, "book" is not an option. I ended up setting up my book page as a "community" because there was nothing else appropriate. I'll have to go look at which option you chose.

Lisa Desrochers said...

Just found "book." It's in Entertainment.

Nathan Bransford said...

Whoops! Thanks, Lisa.

Gregory K. said...

Another tip is to think about what you're going to do with these pages before you create them. Facebook is littered with glum, deserted pages... or author pages that are never updated (while personal profiles are). I'm curious, Nathan, if you have examples of pages that you think work really well and/or have proven really effective for the authors in question.

I do think a page is important, particularly for those authors who might start picking up teenaged fans who you wouldn't want as "friends" (in Facebook vernacular). I also agree that Facebook is a great way for your book/your "brand" to appear a lot. And with 600 million members and counting, Facebook can't be ignored. Still, I worry about the "noise" factor - streams are flooded with "likes" already - and look forward to seeing your ideas on how to make the pages effective and interesting. I think that's the key, even more than setting them up.

M.P. McDonald said...

Thanks for all the timely info. I already had a book page, then I recently went with an author page when I uploaded my second book. I wasn't going to do a page for that one too, but maybe I will now, or one for the series.

Anyway, I didn't know about all the other little things like the 'Like' buttons. I can't wait to try it all out tomorrow.

Nicole McInnes said...

Oy. Head hurting.

abc said...

I wish you could have been the one to teach me Algebra (then perhaps I would have learned it). Informative and easy to follow!

I'll admit it, I'm a fan of The Facebook!

Mira said...

I won't be using Facebook for quite awhile - it should be a few years before I have something even close to publication - but I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post.

I love how you start with basics and then move on to more complicated stuff - something for everyone. And with such a light touch, it's easy to follow.

You're a good teacher, Nathan. :)

Stephanie@thecrackedslipper said...

You rock, Nathan. This is way useful.

Ashley said...

Nathan I like you on the facebook. :)

Austin James said...

Cool information... I created a fan page a couple months ago, but have yet to utilize it.

I'm not sure how I feel about it - but for now, I still want to stick with just utilizing my regular Facebook account. It just seems easier. Plus, the list option makes it easy for me to keep personal stuff separate from private. But I would like to use my fan page... eventually.

Nice post.

D.G. Hudson said...

I'm with Mira on this one, it's something I'll do in the near future. At least I'm considering it now.

I do like the idea of linking to my blog, but I've had problems with harassment and like to keep a 'private face' for the time being. I'd be interested to find out what security measures are in place for Facebook before I commit. (more research, I know)

Your instructions are clear, and seem easy to follow. I'll keep this info for future reference.
Thanks, Nathan.

Miles said...

Outstanding tutorial, Nate.

Anonymous said...

To get a FB like button at the bottom of each post on blogger, I found this very simple.

Rebecca Stroud said...

Well, now I know what I'll be doing tomorrow...and I thank you immensely, Nathan, for this info because - to date - Mark Zuckerberg and I are not on virtual speaking terms (as in: I must have a disconnected 'social media' wire as Facebook has been driving me batty. But now that I have step-by-step instructions, if I screw it up...oh hell, I'll still blame MZ...:-))

Anonymous said...

It will be interesting to see how many books you actually sell. Collecting Facebook "Likes" is one thing, but it doesn't always correlate with book sales. Turns out that a literary agent who doesn't do any of this has negotiated some of the highest advances in recent years. And there are authors who do none of this and are consistently on best-seller lists.

Anonymous said...

Have the people who "Liked" JACOB WONDERBAR actually read it? If not, this seems very similar to writers automatically giving the highest number of stars on Amazon to books by their writer friends. Customers eventually caught on to that trick.

Nathan Bransford said...


"Like" means a lot of different things on Facebook, it can mean follow, share, I'm interested, I want to keep track of... etc. It's not the same thing as "I like this" and definitely not a review.

For instance, you can Like an article on the situation in Libya because it's informative not because you Like what's happening.

Chuck H. said...

You know, way back in the age of dinosaurs, when I bought that cute little Timex-Sinclair with the membrane keyboard and 16K memory, I had no idea what I was settin' myself up for. Now I'm startin' to wonder if it's worth all the trouble. Maybe I'll just disconnect and write for my own entertainment.

Anonymous said...

Nathan, that's what I thought. So the "Like" means nothing as to whether or not a book is worth buying. It's just another time-consuming fad. It will be interesting to see if a significant number of books are actually bought as a result of "Likes".

- Anon from 12:53 PM

lexcade said...

LOL my name's on your bloooog....

okay, enough of that.

I know that this needs to be done, but I feel seriously awkward even making an author page. I still consider myself a "writer" until I get published, either in the near future or years from now...

Hmm. Maybe it's just time for me to grow up.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Gregory K. about the noise factor. Those "Like" buttons have started popping up all over the Internet. I've started ignoring them, the same way I completely ignore Internet ads.

Nicole said...

When I was in college, I vowed never to get on Facebook.

That was 6 years ago.

I'm still not on it.

I'm not published yet either, so I admit, there's a small part of me that hopes Facebook will fade away by the time I do get published. Yep. I'm one of those people who thinks it's a complete waste of time (I understand the marketing part about it, which is handy, but ultimately I find Facebook to be pointless).

Even so, perhaps when I get published I'll just hire someone to handle the Facebook thing for me. Then I'll technically be on it, but I don't ever have to bother with it. HA! ;D


Im also interested in know what Nathan thinks about unpublished authors building a fan base via Facebook. What say you, oh great one?

Nathan Bransford said...


Basically, I don't think there's any such thing as too early.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...
"Have the people who "Liked" JACOB WONDERBAR actually read it? If not, this seems very similar to writers automatically giving the highest number of stars on Amazon to books by their writer friends. Customers eventually caught on to that trick."

Off topic, I know. And Nathan answered this doesn't mean you have to really like something. It's a gesture with different meanings.

But I hope this anon knows that along with the people who have friends giving out five stars on amazon there are also saboteurs giving out one star reviews just as often. It's a vicious system, with many flaws. I hope no one pays attention to any amazon reviews. They aren't very trustworthy.


Seriously, you got back to me in about 30 minutes. You are the Blog God! Thanks! Darn, I wish you were still an agent! Who wouldn't want to work with you?

Karen Tyrrell said...

Hi Nathan,
I discovered your Blog today... Amazing...I'll be back !!

Shari said...

Excellent information! Thank you!!!

Anonymous said...

Anon @4:03 PM - Yes, I do know about the low ratings on Amazon. The stars are useless when they're from friends or detractors. But those star ratings were once the rage among writers, recommended on many blogs as a way to get publicity for your book. I think it's wise to be careful how much time a writer puts into new fads, until they can gauge if it helps book sales to any significant degree.

- Anon from 12:53 PM

Kristi Helvig said...

My brain started hurting halfway through this post, but it's amazing info. I have a FB page, but no need yet for a fan page (though I think my blog Sister set up a FB fan page for our blog). Figuring out html code makes me want to bang my head against a wall, but I'll bookmark this for when I'm feeling smarter. :)

Minnette Meador said...

Thanks for the article, Nathan. I shared it with my FB writer's group and gave them your link. Great stuff! :o)

typefasterblog said...

Also, if you've got a tumblr, this post is helpful.

Just be sure you get the first slice of code from FB directly, as when I copied and pasted his, the 'like' buttons didn't show up.

Marti said...

Thank you for this, Nathan! I thought a person had to understand Facebook's very special code language to create a page. Much appreciated!

Jeannie said...

Um... I'd really rather spend my afternoon cleaning out an all-winter mucked-up chicken coop than get on Facebook. Or MySpace. Or Twitter.


Lynne Quintana said...

Thanks for this great tool for Facebook Marketing. Im not really active in facebook marketing because as of now Im on the process of learning more about it. And this article is really a must-read on how to get started. :)

Pen and Ink said...

Bless you!!! I will start tomorrow. I have one for my book Earthquake.
It even has the trailer. I update that one regularly. But I need to do a fan page and the other books.
Thanks for the tips!

MaryAnn said...

I don't understand the reason for a fan page, if you're not already published?

Who will look at it?

How will anyone even know to look at it (other than friends or family)?

Anonymous said...

Hmmm... tried to share this from the feed email I got but it did not work. Not sure why but you might want to look into that!

jenniferkoliver said...

Thanks for the tips, Nathan! I've just set up a Facebook account, so this advice is golden. :)

Yaniv Kessler said...


I'm happy that my blog helped you :) can you provide feedback about what was tricky in your integration? maybe I could clarify things more for future visitors.


Yaniv Kessler

Anonymous said...

Nathan, I really appreciate the information . . . what a gift. You said fan pages are public by default, people don't need to be approved, etc. One person has already commented regarding "harrassment." What do you do if you have a crazy cousin out there who is apt to say anything on your fan page for all to read? Sorry to be so serious, but--um, it is a serious concern for some of us. Thanks Again...

Mia Marlowe said...

Hi Nathan.
I followed your instructions and got the code for my "recommend" button for my page. How do I put it on my regular FB profile? Since they changed the format, I can't seem to do a thing with it.

Thanks for your help!

misa101 said...

I had to like this post because when you showed who liked your page both me and a friend of mine were the names showing. I feel all famous now

Nathan Bransford said...


As far as I know there's not a super easy way to connect individual and Fan pages, but you can alert your friends that your fan page is up and running.

Cyndi Tefft said...

Definitely adding this post to my favorites so I can come back and follow your instructions step by step. Perfect timing, too, as I have been kicking around a fan page. You rock!

And, I must admit, it totally threw me to see my name on your blog because I'd "liked" the page. Coolness!


sharonj said...

Awesome information (especially for us newbies out there!)
I already made my "author page" but not quite ready for the book page. Hopefully that will happen this year!
Thanks for all the great ideas!
You Rock! (said the grandma)
Sharon :)

Word-Smith said...

Nathan, yes, thanx for the useful tips. A friend and I are co-authoring a book and are both on FB. Can you advise on how we would share a Fan Page for the book? Would we each create one from our own account, as we have done for ourselves as authors, or, should one of us do the book Page? I'm not getting yet the connectivity of all of this. Thanks

sharonj said...

I just wanted to let you know I posted a link to your "Facebook for Authors-How to Get Started" post in my newest blog. Hope you get a bunch of new "friends/connections" through it!
Thanks again for your great post!
Sharon :)

Stefanie said...

Thanks man,great information and written out in the simplest way I have seen yet.

pamela said...

Love your posts, Nathan. Very informative. I've bookmarked for future reference. Like others, I made my landing page static for my book. I have little programming knowledge, but was able to create it through FB tutorial. For those who want to see what it looks like, here is the link:

Andrea said...

Hi Nathan,

I went to set up the Book page on Facebook, but the image has to be 180 pixels wide. I'm having difficulty getting beyond that point. Any suggestions? (Yes, the image is small, I downloaded it both from Chapters and Amazon but neither meets the width criteria.) Help!

rachelventura said...

I've been thinking it'll be impossible to have any FB friends as I do not currently have any IRL friends at the moment. :(

Or could this be a "plus one" for me, since I wouldn't have to worry about friends/family looking at it because I don't have them?

LOL, Mr. Bransford, I wish you did videoconferencing in addition to all the other stuff too. :)

johndebell1 said...

I'm not just 'liking' this blog for the hell of it - I really do LIKE this blog! Why? Because it's simple, straight-forward and happy. Wish mine looked like this!

Anonymous said...

I'm not just 'liking' this blog for the hell of it - I really do LIKE this blog! Why? Because it's simple, straight-forward and happy. Wish mine looked like this!

Trish said...


I'm in the process of putting an anthology together. I started a facebook page for it, but I'm wondering what to put on it...

I have a facebook page for my website, and it includes links to facebook pages I like & that are related to it.

What else do you put on it besides your own updates?



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