Friday, January 17, 2014

Thou Shalt Nots on Facebook for authors.

I hear authors, usually newer authors, complaining about Facebook all the time. Either their page got shut down, or they were kicked from a group, or whatever. Sometimes, yes, there is no logical explanation.


Frequently, I've seen authors who run afoul of Facebook and other Facebook users for the following "infractions." Some are violations of Facebook's TOS, and some are just violations of basic etiquette. And so I present to you "the list" of the most common things you SHOULD NOT FUCKING DO on Facebook.

Note: It DOES NOT MATTER that Facebook allows you/gives you the ability/encourages you to do some of these things. It's one thing to be an average person using Facebook. You're an AUTHOR. Grow the fuck up and take some personal responsibility and quit whining about getting spanked in the bad way for violating what are pretty basic guidelines for acceptable behavior as an author.

  1. Do NOT add people to a Facebook group without asking them first. Using the "invite" feature actually adds them. (The proper way? Post a LINK to the group to your page/profile and let people opt-in.)
  2. Do NOT go through other people's friends lists and send out masses of friend requests.
  3. Do NOT send out mass invites for people to like your pages. (The proper way? Post a LINK for the page to your page or to your profile and let people opt-in.)
  4. Do NOT go to the profile of someone who just accepted your friend request/friended you and post a link -- ANY LINK -- to your book/page/profile/crap. That's RUDE. Do not private message them, either. I don't care what excuse you're using, STOP IT. Do NOT ask them to go visit your page/profile/book listing/website and ask them to like something. (The proper way? Send them a thank you -- NO LINKS -- for the friend connection. That's IT.)
  5. Do NOT go to someone's profile or page and post links to YOUR crap without getting permission FIRST. That's the equivalent of going and slapping a billboard on someone's house without asking permission. STOP IT.
  6. Do NOT get pissy if someone doesn't immediately go and like something you posted.
  7. Do NOT ask for or expect reciprocal likes/links to your crap.
  8. Do NOT join a group and immediately begin posting promo. (Make SURE you look through any pinned posts or files to see if they have rules about promo.) Obviously, this doesn't apply if the group invites people to promote, but make SURE you clarify that FIRST.
  9. Do NOT post stuff without proofreading it first. No one wants to buy a book from an author whose social media page looks like a third-grader runs it.
  10. Do NOT use your profile to heavily promote your crap. Use a page. (Facebook is now frequently coming down on authors with pen names whose profiles are set up under their pen names and not their real names, which means you lose that platform if they shut down your profile.) Set up your page and have at least two full admins on it, such as your pen name profile and your private profile. (I blogged about another reason for it here.)
  11. Do NOT post non-stop promo (yes, ties in with #10). Post at least 75% (or more) NON-promo stuff. Humor. Writing quotes. Recipes. What you had for dinner. Pictures of your cats. Pictures of your dogs. Whatever. Post no more (preferably less than) 25% promo-ish (pimping your crap) stuff. (Facebook is seriously cracking down on people who use their profiles to sell stuff.)
  12. Do NOT post raging diatribes when you get kicked out of a group/unfriended by someone. It makes you look like a seriously deranged whacko.
  13. Do NOT post diatribes against fellow authors/publishers, especially not by name. Again, makes you look like the crazy one.
  14. Do NOT post negative reviews about other authors/books. Readers hate that, it makes you look petty, and it will adversely impact your sales.
  15. Do NOT sit there and keep track of who is or isn't in your group (if you have one) or who has/hasn't liked your page. Seriously, don't you have better things to do with your time?
  16. Do NOT send out mass invites to events. (The proper way? As with pages and groups, post a LINK to your page/profile.)
  17. Do NOT send out game invites from your author profile. Stop it. Just FUCKING STOP IT. A lot of people do NOT play games. Are you there to be an author or play games? Save the games for your private profile and personal friends/family.
  18. Do NOT get pissy with someone if they don't share your stuff when you shared theirs. Just quietly remember it and stop sharing their stuff. It's NOT a contest. Grow up.
  19. Do NOT flounce. In other words, if you need to leave a group or unfriend someone, just fucking do it and be an adult. Don't go all ragey or preachy and explain WHY you're leaving/unfriending someone. Just fucking unfriend them. Giving them a sermon as to why you're doing it, honestly, will likely just piss them off more. (And keep in mind, you might NOT be in the right, and if you realize that at some point in the future, it makes it harder to refriend/rejoin while you're shoveling down that mountain of crow pie you have to eat at the same time.)
  20. Do NOT stay a member of groups/friends with people who negatively impact your experience. You are NOT required to friend anyone or stay in a group. If someone asks, you're not required to explain. If you feel a need to explain, use the, "Sorry, time/family/job constraints" excuse, and Let. It. Go.
  21. Do NOT sit there and like your own stuff. That makes you look needy and pathetic. Despite a popular myth making the rounds, it does NOT make your stuff hit the Facebook algorithm better if you like your own posts. If you find people aren't liking your stuff, guess what? Maybe it's because you haven't given them a REASON TO LIKE IT, or you.
  22. Do NOT hijack other people's threads with links to your page/crap. If they didn't invite promo in the thread, it's RUDE to post your promo.
  23. Do NOT hit people up out of thin air to promo your crap on their page/profile/website. Get to know them first. Ask them if they have promo opps, and if you can do reciprocal promo. If they say no, thank them POLITELY, and walk away. Do NOT be a pissy asshole about it, do NOT bug them about it. You don't know why they said no, it could be for ANY number of reasons NOT relating to you. (If a lot of people tell you no, however, be honest with yourself that it MIGHT be you and re-examine what you're doing.)
  24. Do NOT bitch how pissy Facebook is if your profile keeps getting shut down. Chances are, YOU are doing something wrong. Own it, face up to it, and QUIT DOING IT. Biggest offenses? Spamming groups, mass-adding people to groups, posting questionable pics (just because you don't think it's porn doesn't mean other people won't think that).

The DO list:

  1. DO try to go through the birthday list on the home feed page every day and send at least a simple "Happy Birthday!" message to people. They really appreciate it when their favorite authors do stuff like that.
  2. DO feel free to share other authors' new releases, good news, etc. IF YOU WANT TO. (You are NOT obligated to do so.)
  3. DO try to post some positive things, even if it's only sharing a funny picture or positive quote.
  4. DO be human. You're not a robot. Yes, if you have a bad day and need to vent about something, do it, but do it in a way that doesn't make you look like an asshole. If you have a day job, keep in mind they might be monitoring your profile/page, so never post anything that would reflect badly on them and jeopardize your job.
  5. DO set your friends list to private, viewable only by you. This keeps trolls from trolling your friends list.
  6. DO engage with your readers. Ask them how they are. Get into discussions.
  7. DO feel free to pimp out stuff/books/TV shows/movies you genuinely enjoyed.
  8. DO remember that you are on Facebook first to SOCIALIZE. If you forget that, and make selling your priority, you will find your sales will fall.
  9. DO remember that there are REAL people on the other end of the computer connection.
  10. DO unfriend/block people/leave groups who are negatively impacting your experience on Facebook. (For example, if they post political stuff you don't agree with all the time, or are always bitching about others, etc.) You are not required to stay friends with someone.
  11. DO have fun. Why would a reader want to connect with someone who does nothing but the equivalent of scream, "Buy my book!" at them all the time?
  12. DO make friends with readers. They are NOT sales commodities, they are PEOPLE. They will be far more likely to buy your book and pimp your book for you if they LIKE YOU. Do you pimp businesses that you hate? No? Would you do business with someone trying to force-sell you something when you've never heard of them before and aren't even sure you need their services? NO? Well WHY WOULD YOU DO IT TO PEOPLE WITH YOUR BOOK??? (Yes, that was screaming.)
  13. DO be a good online neighbor. Be chatty and friendly. Not saying you have to be on there every day for hours every day, but if you look at your feed over time and see little but negativity, guess what? Others WILL notice that. So take the time to be nice. Be friendly. Give kudos to others. Take a few steps back from the promo and post something other than "BUY MY SHIT" kinds of posts.
  14. DO thank people when they tag you, or at least try to "like" what they tagged you in. Especially if it's readers tagging you/your books.
  15. DO have a private profile that's separate from your author profile and ONLY for friends/family/real-world coworkers, and ONLY friend people you actually know on that profile. This is for your protection, as well as the protection of your family. There are crazy people out there now.
  16. DO use a page as your main "author page," set the page custom URL to your pen name, and direct people THERE with all your links. Be careful with friending people on your author profile, especially if you write romance/erotica. There are a LOT of people now trolling romance/erotica authors, friending them, and then reporting their profiles as "offensive." You can set pages to over 18 years of age to keep minors off them, and there's more leniency for pages than there is for profiles in terms of promoting things for sale. Also, there are no limits to "likes" on pages, whereas there is an arbitrary 5k cap on friends for profiles.
If you have any other DO or DO NOT tips for Facebook, feel free to post them in the comments.

Kristen Lamb is a social media GURU for authors. You absolutely MUST read her book Rise of the Machines: Human Authors in a Digital World. And her blog is located here. Why have you not subscribed yet???


  1. Excellent lists. Would that all authors (and others) would read and abide.

  2. Awesome advice for anyone on Facebook!

  3. Very good list! You've hit on things that annoy me as a reader. I'm sharing this with my author friends.

  4. Very nice post, and well-written! These needed to be said and listed. And I followed this link over from FB...done correctly by J. Keller Ford. :)

    M.L. Swift, Writer

  5. Readers do pay attention. I was pleasantly surprised, after being quiet for a bit due to feeling down, when a reader IM'd me to say how pleased she was to see my posts again. I thanked her, and took it as a lesson.


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