As authors and bloggers, we’re sold a bit of a lie, I think. It seems like many authors get the message, “Build up a huge Facebook following and you’ll sell a million books!” or, “Create an active Facebook Page to build up your traffic.” Unfortunately, I have seen this lead to an unacceptable (in my opinion) sense of entitlement by some authors, even anger, towards social media fans.
Recently, an author in my same homesteading vertical released a book, and her frustration at the lack of sales to her Facebook fans came out in a conversation. She shared her frustration, (paraphrasing) “I hate my Facebook fans. I have spent two years coddling these people and building up this page to so many fans. Is it too much to ask that they all go buy my book!?”
Short answer? Yes. It is too much to ask and expect that they all go buy your book. I’m sure your book is great, and you worked really hard, and you know what you’re talking about, but maybe they liked your page and don’t want to buy your book. Maybe they have twenty books about growing tomatoes already and their husband has threatened to divorce them if they buy another. Maybe they liked your page because they aren’t allowed to homestead in their neighborhood. Maybe they are facing a foreclosure right now and literally cannot spare the $14 to pick up your book. Maybe they just liked your page during a giveaway a year ago and couldn’t care less about anything you have to say.
The bottom line is this: Your Facebook fans do not owe you anything. They aren’t there to line your pockets. In fact, they are living human beings who deserve to be treated and thought of as more than a stepping stone on your career path or a dollar to line your pocket.
I get the desire for a book to do well. I get it! Backyard Farming on an Acre (More or Less) was my first print book, and I wanted it to do well, of course. I hoped it would sell well. I knew that the platform I had built up with Untrained Housewife and my social networks would help boost initial sales and reviews. But I never for one second took that for granted.
Not one review. Not one share. Not one post linking to my book. Not one opportunity from a friend’s email introduction. Not one thing my friends and colleagues and readers did to promote my book was something I felt entitled to.
And I know there were people who couldn’t afford to buy the book during this season of life. I encouraged them to ask their local library to stock the book so they could still enjoy my message of empowerment and encouragement for free – and maybe bless others in their community as well. I had something important about food and lifestyle and cruelty and choices to say!
Yes, of course, I was glad to pay off some bills and take my family on vacation and attend a conference for professional development with money from the book. Yes, I worked strategically to promote the book and spread the word and write some magazine articles, etc. But was I entitled to think that all my newsletter subscribers or Facebook fans or Twitter followers would have to buy my book because “I’d invested three years of my life in them”? Never.
I encourage authors and bloggers to flip this around. Those are busy people with busy lives and a lot going on. Yet in their busy-ness, they have invested a week, or a month, or a year, in YOU. In your message. In your social platforms or visiting your blog. The fact that they took ten minutes from their busy schedule to read your post is an honor.
And if – IF – they are able to take $14 and put down on your book? That’s a true blessing and something you should feel humbly grateful for. Not entitled to.
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