Why And How To Create A Facebook Group As A Self-Published Author
“Sure, I know the author of that book. We’re in a group together on Facebook.”
Be honest. How many of you would love to say that about your favorite author?
As a self-published author, chances are good there is someone out there (or a bunch of someones) who would love to say that about you, too.
You may be asking, “Who has time for that?” The answer is simple: self-publishing authors who are building a platform, increasing their following, and growing their income.
Creating a Facebook group is easy and only takes a moment of your time (we’ll get to that in a minute). Keeping it going—and growing—is the tricky part.
This is where you must invest a little time; it doesn’t have to be very much if you plan correctly.
Like any good marketing strategy, you’ll need to spend your time on social media wisely. Put a plan in place and stick to it so you don’t get sidetracked from your writing.
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You may feel the business page you created for your book is plenty, but creating a group to work in conjunction with it will give you better organic reach.
As mentioned earlier, there are three main reasons for creating a Facebook group.
1. Build Relationships
Readers love to feel connected to their favorite authors. Being able to say, “He gets me,” or “She understands,” are the biggest reasons people recommend books to their friends. Your readers want to know you’re human:
Understanding: You know some of the troubles your readers face because you’ve been there. (This is why you are so helpful!) You can offer sympathy, empathy, and a listening ear.71 Insanely Useful Book Marketing Ideas For Self-Publishers
Mindful: Knowing that you actually listen and understand, and form thoughtful posts and comments, helps your readers connect with you.
Accessible: Readers love to interact with their favorite authors. Being accessible on a regular basis lets your readers know they can count on you. That reliability creates familiarity, and people recommend the books of authors they know and trust.
Normal: You’re a regular person, just like they are. By interacting with a group, you show you do not look down on your readers, nor do you feel you don’t have time for them. You are as normal as “the guy/girl next door.” Being helpful, understanding, mindful and accessible—being normal—is a great way to build trust. And, again, people buy from those they trust.
2. Grow Your List
When your readers feel they can relate to you, they’ll naturally talk to their friends about you, your books, and your Facebook group.
As you present helpful info and stimulating conversations in the group, word of mouth will cause the group popularity to spread, and more people will want to join.
As a prerequisite to joining, you can require that people submit a valid email address before you approve their membership. (More about that later.)
3. Promote Your Book(s)
Groups are a great place to pre-sell your next book. Teasers about the characters, the setting, and the plot can all be posted.
Suggestions for the title and subtitle can be voted on. And cover art input can be gleaned. Once the book is released, special deals can be offered for group members (submit a copy of your receipt to receive a family tree poster of the main characters, for example).
Posts made to your business page can be shared in groups as well. In fact, creating the post on your business page and then sharing it and asking for interaction goes a long way toward Facebook algorithms.
More people will see your Page posts if they are shared in a group.
Okay, I’m convinced.
But, how do you create a Facebook group?
I’m so glad you asked!
Or, go to any group you are currently a member of and on the right, below the members and the description, you can click the blue Create Group button.
A box will pop open and walk you through setting up your group.
The slider at the top will offer a few suggestions for the creation of your group. If you’ve never done this before, take a moment to scroll (sideways) through those graphics.
Name Your Group
The first thing you need to do is name your group.
Will it be specifically for the promotion of one book or a series of books? Use the name of the book/series in the group name.
Will it focus more on promoting you as an author (and multiple books)? Use your name in the group name.
Next, you need to add at least one other person to create the group. (Once you’ve created the group you can remove this person, so go ahead and ask a friend to help you out. There’s no obligation!)
Start typing the name of the person you wish to add and when it pops up, click on it. Be sure you ask permission before adding people randomly.
I’m sure there’s a huge list somewhere in Facebook’s files that keep track of who is adding people to groups only to have those people say they don’t want to be in the group.
Adding your whole Friends list to your group will look like spamming, especially if people start removing themselves right away. Don’t do it. It’s not good business practice.
The next step is choosing a privacy level.
- Public – Anyone can see the group, the members, and the posts.
- Closed – Anyone can see the group and members; only members see the posts.
- Secret – Only members can find the group, see who is in it and the posts.
In any group, only members can post and comment on posts.
Pin to Shortcuts
And finally, you are given the option of pinning the group to your shortcuts. Checking this box makes it easy to find your group in the list of shortcuts at the left side of your screen when on a computer.
It’s recommended that you check this box when you create a group if for no other reason than to make your life easier.
A large part of Facebook’s algorithm relies on interaction. The more you interact with a group, the more group posts will appear in your newsfeed.
However, you are following the group by default when you create it, which also causes the posts to appear in your newsfeed.
Also, the default settings for Notifications (when you create a group) is All Posts. So, even if you don’t get a chance to interact over a few days, you’ll still be notified (the little earth icon at the top of the screen that gets the red box with a number in it) when someone posts in the group.
But, I would still recommend checking the little box to pin your new group to your shortcut list. As I said, it will make your life easier.
Choosing An Icon
After you click “Create Group” you’ll see a new popup.
You’re given the option of choosing an icon to represent your group. If you don’t want to pick one at this point, just click Skip at the bottom left and move onto personalizing your group.
Personalizing Your Group
At the top of your group page, you have the option of adding a photo.
Since the group is about your book—or about you as an author of books—you probably want to put a graphic of your book (or books) up there. Maybe include your logo, if you have one, or a photo of yourself.
Sites like Canva allow you to create graphics that will fit the top of a Facebook group perfectly. Use your creativity to make a mural for your group wall!
Edit Group Settings
The next step is to click on “More” located just below the top graphic and then choose Edit Group Settings.
The Settings page looks daunting, but most of it is already chosen by default. Look it over anyway, to be sure the group is set up to your liking.
Add a Description
Will you allow other people to promote their books or links to services or other groups?
Do you want people to treat each other kindly?
Write it up and place it in the description.
As noted, this will be viewable to potential members; if you have requirements for joining, such as emailing you a snapshot of their receipt after purchasing your book, place those directions in the description.
Tags and locations are optional.
Linked Pages is the place where you can connect your business page to the group. If you don’t yet have a business page, select “Create New Linked Page” and get one set up.
Web and Email Address
This is a nice feature that allows you to put the name of the group right in the address (facebook.com/groups/nameofyourgroup).
The privacy settings were set back in the first popup window, but if you have changed your mind in the few minutes since creating the group, this is where you can adjust it.
This should be set to “Only admins and moderators.” This is especially important if you have a group that is only for those who have purchased your book.
This allows you to ask for proof via email, and then to approve only those who have actually purchased. If you let anyone do it (as it’s set in the graphic), you may end up with people who have no interest in your book but want to be in your group so they can advertise their book or service.
If you have more than one group set up, consider using the “Automatic Membership Approval” option.
For example, say you run a restricted membership group (must purchase the book to get in), and you also have a general audience type of group.
If they’re already in the restricted group, you can be pretty sure they are safe for the general audience group.
This next section is where you can set up questions that must be answered before membership is approved.
This is a great place to ask potential members for their email address. You should also state that by joining the group they are giving permission to be placed on your email list—and if the address they provide bounces, you will be removing them from the group.
Answers are limited to 250 characters, so keep that in mind when you formulate your questions. Only Admins and Mods can see the answers, and at this time they are not stored anywhere.
If you need the info they are providing, for any reason, you’ll want to start a file and copy/paste the answers.
For most groups, this will be set to anyone in the group. “Post Approval” will be left unchecked unless you have a reason for monitoring every single post.
While this can come in handy during heated conversations, it can get overwhelming if you are the only Admin. There are other ways to quell debates, which we’ll touch on next.
Stories in Groups
These are much like group chats, except you can send photos and videos to it.
Unless you know your group members (or you are prepared to monitor what’s posted), you may want to keep permissions set at “Only Admins,” or at least check the box stating all story posts must be approved.
Be sure to hit “Save” before you leave the page or your changes will be lost.
A Few Extra Features You Should Know About
Sometimes a side conversation can begin within a thread. Usually, this takes place as a reply to a comment.
For the most part, no one will know the conversation is happening except for the person who made the initial comment and those involved in the conversation.
This is referred to as hijacking a thread. When this happens, you have two options.
- Mute the member who is being confrontational. Do this by clicking on the three dots to the right of the comment/reply and then choose Mute Member.
- Turn off commenting. Do this by clicking on the three dots at the top right of the original thread and then choose Turn Off Commenting.
If you have a member who is always causing problems or just doesn’t follow the rules, you may want to remove them from the group entirely.
This is done by clicking on the three dots to the right of any of their comments/replies and choosing “Delete Comment” and “Remove Member.”
You’ll notice there is an ellipsis after that; clicking this option gives you a popup that allows you to delete posts/comments from that member for the last seven days and decline pending members invited by this person in the last seven days.
This option is so nice when the offensive member is new and just there to troll—then any troll-friends will be removed as well.
You’ll also have the option (only available when the person starts the thread, not when they comment/reply) of blocking the member. Just check that box before hitting confirm, and they won’t be able to find, see, or join the group.
Ideas for Using Your Group
Share posts from your business page and encourage members to share it on their Timeline and on other social media platforms. The more your page’s posts are shared, the more Facebook will show them to people. This is the best form of organic reach.
Hold a monthly giveaway. By using your insights, you can see who is the most active in the group each month. Reward that person with an Amazon or Starbucks gift card.
Ask members to leave reviews on Amazon. Take screenshots of the reviews left by members to give a virtual ‘pat on the back’ to them. Who doesn’t love being singled out by their favorite author?
For non-fiction books, hold monthly live chats and answer questions about the book topic. For fiction books, the monthly live chats can be a backstory about the characters (a different one each month).
Use your group like a book club, with weekly check-ins to discuss each chapter.
Use your group as a meeting place for your Street Team. Discuss strategy for spreading the word about your next book, ideas for promoting your last book, and suggestions for launching future books.
Encourage discussion about your books, and be sure you are interacting in those discussions on a regular basis. Always be H.U.M.A.N.! (See above.)
Use group insights. Your group insights are going to be your best tool for measuring how the group is developing and evolving.
Insights help you see how the group is growing, how the members are using the group (active members, which days are the most active, which posts get the most interaction, etc.), and the demographics of the group.
Starting a Facebook group can seem daunting, but with a little ingenuity, a group can be a great way to promote yourself and your books.
Using the steps outlined above, you can have your group set up and ready for fans to join in about 10 minutes or less. Connect it to your business page to get the word out, and then start interacting as members join.
Do you have a Facebook group for your book? What is your most effective way to use it? Leave a comment and let us know!