Last week I blogged about a Facebook marketing seminar given by Cindy Ratzlaff that I attended at BEA. One of the topics Cindy covered was customizing your author page to make it a more effective tool for reaching readers and selling books. Recently I’ve been trying to implement some of the things I learned on my own author page. Keep in mind that I’m not putting my author page forth as the new paradigm of author pages. I’m just trying to implement some of the thing I’ve learned, and hopefully learning some new things along the way.
Changing your header image
The first thing I did with my author page was to upload an eye-catching new header image. The ideal image size for the header is 851 x 315. You can use a different image size, but you will end up resizing or cropping it to fit. To change it, just hover over the image and click Change Cover.
A few things to keep in mind with your header image: part of the image is going to get obscured by your profile photo, the name of the page and Facebook buttons, so you shouldn’t put any text or other vital parts of the image in those areas. You should also be aware that Facebook will not allow more than 20% of the image to be taken up by text.
You should also select an image for your author page’s profile. I chose a picture of me looking happy (with my motorcycle, on the beach!), because I don’t want to scare people away with my ordinary surly appearance (I’ve been diagnosed with a condition known as “resting Terminator face”). I chose to use a different image than my personal profile avatar, because it’s a reminder to me (and others) that I’m posting in my capacity as an author, not as my personal profile.
Short description, bio and website
Next I updated my short description, bio and website. There’s a bunch more info you can add, but I’m not sure what the point of any of it is, other than giving more data for Facebook to use. Your short description should be a short (duh), pithy statement of what your page is about, and should mention one or two of your books.
Customizing your tabs
After you’ve done the basis, you can focus on customizing the tabs that appear at the top of the page. By default, they will look something like this:
Note: as I write this, Facebook is in the middle of switching over to a new format for fan pages. The above menu is the new format. It’s possible that yours still looks something like this:
The above image is from the fan page for my book, Schrodinger’s Gat. For whatever reason, Facebook hasn’t switched this page to the new format yet. If your page looks like the Schrodinger’s Gat page, don’t worry; it should be converted to the new format soon. (I have individual pages for several of my books, but I plan to consolidate them all into my author page soon).
I wanted visitors to be able to do two things from the tabs on my author page: Buy my books and subscribe to my newsletter.
A tab for displaying your books
The best way I’ve found to allow visitors to buy my books directly from Facebook is by using an Amazon Associates Program widget in conjunction with a static HTML tab. There are Facebook apps that are designed to help you sell books from Facebook, but in my opinion none of them are very good. The best one I’ve found is the Author App, but it’s got a lot of features I don’t care for. I opted for the static HTML tab + Amazon widget method.
The first thing you’ll have to do is to create an Amazon Associates Account by going here: https://affiliate-program.amazon.com/gp/associates/network/main.html. (You should do this anyway, because it can help you make more money off books you sell from your own website as well.) Once you’ve done that, create a widget featuring the books you want to sell.
Then go here: https://apps.facebook.com/static_html_plus/. Install the app, and select your author page as the page to install it to. This will add a new tab to your page with the default title “Welcome” (you may have to click the More tab to see it). Click the tab and then click the Edit Tab–> button.
Copy the source code for the widget from the Amazon Associates page
Then click Save & Publish. Now return to your Facebook author page and click the Welcome tab. This time, click the View as Visitor button to see your widget embedded in the page.
Reordering and renaming tabs
By the way, if you want to reorder your tabs, click More and then Manage Tabs, and drag the tabs into the desired order. You can only display four tabs, and the first and last ones (About and More) can’t be moved. Facebook doesn’t want you to get too crazy moving all sorts of things around!
If you want to rename any of your custom tabs, you need to click Settings at the very top of the page and then click Apps on the left. You can then click Edit Settings for any of your apps to edit that app’s settings, including the tab name. For example, you will probably want to change the name of the “Welcome” tab to something like “Buy My Books!”
A tab for your mailing list
The first thing you need to do is create an account at Mailchimp.com. Mailchimp is a free email list service that’s very full-featured and easy to use. Once you’ve created an account and at least one list, go get the Mailchimp Facebook app. Install it for your author page. Then go back to your Mailchimp account and get your API key. To do this, click on your account name in Mailchimp, then on Account Settings. Click Extras=>API Keys. Copy your API key and go back to the Mailchimp Facebook app and paste it in the appropriate box there. This will connect your Facebook page with your Mailchimp account. Save the settings and you’re good to go. I changed my Mailchimp tab text to “Newsletter”, so it looks like this:
Now visitors can subscribe to your email list right from Facebook!
These are a few things I’ve done to make my Facebook author a page a more effective marketing tool. How much difference will these changes make? By themselves, probably not much. That’s because my page still doesn’t get much traffic, and few of the visitors I do get are going to click on those tabs. But now I feel better about trying to send more traffic to that page, because it’s a destination that actually allows visitors to easily do what I want them to do: buy my books, stay in contact, and learn more about me and my writing.