Full circle moment.
Our guest blogger today on WFW is Ferris Robinson, who was one of the first, if not THE first subscriber to this blog! Ferris’s novel, Making Arrangements, was part of Kindle Scout, and she won a publishing contract with Kindle Press! Way to go, Ferris!
Please welcome Ferris to “the other side” of the blog.
Tell us how you feel about book promo in general!
How I Promoted My Book On Facebook Without Losing Friends
Obnoxious. Overbearing. Self serving.
These are three things my mother raised me not to be. She wasn’t too far from the “aside from her marriage, her obituary is the only time a lady’s name should appear in the paper” philosophy.
Like any other author, I spend most of my free time trying to get my name, or at least my book, in the paper, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, etc. I don’t think I’m the only person who hates seeing the same pictures from the same people from the same vacation/event/cause posted numerous times on social media. When people ask me to play a game or Like something or share something over and over, I get bored. Strike that. I get downright irritated.
I scroll through my feeds to be entertained and informed. But who likes to hear the same joke twice, and see the same info repeatedly? How is an author supposed to promote her book, and keep her friends?
There is a very small window between the release of a book and when it is old news, and I knew I didn’t have much time to get the word out with my debut novel. I decided that if I was going to be obnoxious, overbearing and self-serving, I better damn well be entertaining. So, in my effort to ‘inform’ folks about my debut novel (not sure anyone actually appreciated that information), I tried to make my posts as amusing as possible, or at least varied.
I started out with a book cover contest before the book was published, mainly because I couldn’t decide which one to use. I designed something with both cover choices in Canva (canva.com is free but addicting) and posted it on Facebook. And folks responded. They didn’t just click the Like button, they discussed the covers, mentioning what they liked and disliked, and how the two covers made them feel. When someone said “the one on the left is serene but the one on the right has lots of chaos going on in the background,” I knew I’d found my cover. What was surprising was how invested the people were who had commented. They wanted to know which cover “won,” and many people have proudly told me the cover I ended up with was the one they had chosen.
After “Making Arrangements” was released, my sister-in-law sent a picture of herself reading it on the beach. And that was the beginning of my ‘Where are YOU reading Making Arrangements’ campaign. I emailed friends and family and acquaintances and asked them to take my book with them on vacation and send pictures. And they did! I have posts from San Francisco, Bermuda, Maine, Wisconsin and scores of beaches. My son sent a (staged) picture of himself reading while he sat on the potty, and five friends all curled up together on the sofa and read different passages at the same time. Someone made a video of herself reading the book while rocking a baby (doll), telling the baby it better go to sleep because she had to go to my book signing.
When I tagged the people who sent them, the pictures of my book in front of Telegraph Hill or beside azure blue water went in their feeds as well, so folks I’d never even heard of saw my book cover and hopefully weren’t that irritated because of the setting in the picture.
A mute little stray dog is a character in my book, and I posted a few pictures of my own mute little dog (all characters are fictional, I swear) “reading” the book. These pictures seemed to hit a nerve, so I asked these same friends and family members to send pictures of their dogs with the book. These friends and family members are a lot more creative than I am. Their dogs wear reading glasses and look thoughtful. Folks seemed to get a kick out of these dog-reading-a-book pictures, and began posting more on my wall, unsolicited.
I heard about an app, mytalkingpet, and really, it’s the only thing that got me off Canva. I made everything talk, from dogs to chickens to mules, and they did everything from reading Amazon reviews (only positive ones) to critiquing the characters, depending on the expressions of the particular animal. And again, even if they are hesitant to post about themselves, folks love sharing pictures of their own pets, and it just happened those pets were saying amusing things while “reading” my book.
The most popular post was probably my friend’s video of one of my more colorful characters. She dressed up as the grammar-butchering fashion plate AJ Cole and talked about my book in an affected southern accent. Folks went nuts because she was really funny. So then I made my mother (the same one who believes ladies should not be in the paper) don a wig and make a couple of videos portraying different characters. And again, people loved these videos. The “actresses” didn’t drone on about the book details, but portrayed a character that was entertaining, or at least their portrayal was entertaining. I wouldn’t say these particular posts went viral, but they spread organically to just under 2K views each, many more than my paid posts.
I keep a copy of my book in my purse, and video anyone who’s willing to read a quick passage or give their critique in a few seconds. If someone mentions my book, I whip out my cell phone, hand them the book and ask them to repeat themselves. Folks don’t seem as happy to see me as they used to, but the window will be closed soon.
I knew I was on to something when a woman came to one of my book signings dressed as AJ Cole, and no, she wasn’t my mother. She was a Facebook friend who apparently hadn’t tired of my posts. She wore a pink boa and a blond wig, was draped in jewels and used double negatives – and didn’t get out of character the entire night.
“Are you going to have a contest for all your posts?” she asked on Facebook.
And that gave me an idea …
Ferris Robinson is the author of “Making Arrangements” and “Dogs and Love – Sixteen Stories of Fidelity” as well as “The Gorgeless Gourmet’s Cookbook.” She is the editor of the Lookout Mountain Mirror and the Signal Mountain Mirror, and lives near Chattanooga, Tennessee, with her husband and dogs. Her three grown sons and daughter-in-law don’t live nearly close enough. Find her on Facebook or Twitter as fkrobinson, or at ferrisrobinson.com.