Use Your Facebook Profile To Market Your Writing

People hate it when Facebook changes anything – but not all change is bad. I posted a series about Facebook for writers in June, but decided that with the new Timeline profile rolling out this week, it was time for an update.

If you missed my earlier posts about Facebook, you can find them here:

Top 5 Reasons For Authors To Join Facebook
Pimp Out Your Facebook Page – Tips and Tricks for creating an author fan page
Carpooling With Fans On The Facebook Freeway – Attracting fans, and keeping them interested

What changes affect you as a writer?Lots.


Because of a number of factors, like Facebook limiting personal profiles to 5000 friends, authors/writers were advised to get a Fan Page where marketing tools and stats were built in. And this is still true. But, a few weeks ago, Facebook rolled out a subscribe feature on personal profiles.

This is super! For people, like me, who like to share things and have conversations but don’t really have anything to sell yet or the interest in managing another page, allowing subscribers is the perfect work around. Anyone can subscribe to your public posts without affecting your 5000 friend limit, comment and share your statuses as they pop up in their newsfeeds – but depending on your privacy settings don’t have access to everything on your profile. I think this is a more authentic way of demonstrating the ‘level’ of relationship instead of friending everyone.

3 Principles of Facebook Fan Pages via Jane Friedman

Should you use your personal profile to attract readers? A little dated, written in January of 2011 – but still lots of great stuff (this was written before you could subscribe to profiles)

To learn more about the subscribe feature, check out this post from Facebook.


Facebook has always had a list feature where you can organize your friends into various lists and set the privacy for each list. Rumors say Facebook has made this feature much easier to navigate due to G+ *shrug* – don’t know that it matters. Now, with built-in list suggestions such as close friends, acquaintances, and family, this is a fairly painless process. I had a strict friends only policy for my profile, but when people I’d connected with online started friending me, I created lists and tweaked the privacy for each list. Now, I can post to everyone, friends (close friends and acquaintances), close friends (excluding acquaintances), just family, public, etc. This is a time consuming prospect, I won’t lie to you, but worthwhile. (Have I started reorganizing my G+ circles? Not a chance 🙂


For those who have allowed subscribers, you’re faced with tweaking your locked down privacy settings. Changing your default privacy setting to public makes everything you’ve ever posted or been tagged in public. Instead, keep your default setting at friends only, and choose which statuses to make public going forward.

*It just makes good sense to double check your privacy settings every 6 months or so with Facebook.*

6 Must-Do Facebook Privacy Tweaks via PC World

Timeline – The New Profile

About 6 months ago, Facebook rolled out a new profile and page look with the photo banner across the top. Timeline is the newest profile overhaul, with a forced roll-out this week. Facebook is very visual. According to Mashable, 250million photos are shared on Facebook every day making it the largest photo sharing site. Timeline, with its magazine blog style, caters to this visual audience in a big way.

Timeline catalogs every status update, photo share and tag, and places it on a linear timeline. So all those photo tags, and status updates you’ve been glad cycled out of everyone’s newsfeeds are about to revisit your profile in a big splashy way. If there is anything there that doesn’t put your best foot forward, you may be wise to update to Timeline early and sort through it all because lurkers everywhere are ecstatic about Timeline (future employers among them).

For a great example of how an author is utilizing Facebook’s new Timeline profile and the subscribe feature check out YA author/former editor Nathan Bransford.

Timeline Tips and Tricks – A quick survey of the different features new to Timeline.

GalleyCat does it again with this fabulous post on how writers can utilize the new Timeline to promote their work.

Timeline features that benefit writers

Cover Photos

The cover photo is a really great opportunity to showcase what you’re about. Be aware that the cover photo does not replace your profile photo, and if you have your profile privacy locked down it won’t be visible to the public. Why not use the cover photo space to highlight your blog or website address, your twitter handle, your facebook vanity url? Share a favorite quote, or use Photoshop to create something that really reflects you as a writer – or an upcoming project?

5 Sites to help design a cover photo

Creative uses for cover photo designs – Some of these are truly clever – fabulous art.

And here’s a post that gives you all the exact dimensions for creating your own custom cover image.

Life Events

In the status bar, you can now add life events under a few different categories. This is optional. You don’t have to add any life events if you don’t want to, (the Facebook police won’t care) but why not post the articles or books you’ve published? Been to a conference, why not put that on your timeline? Shortlisted or won a contest – add that too. If agents and editors are lurking anyway (and if they’re interested in you they are) – give them something worthwhile to look at. Life events are automatically highlighted by Timeline so anyone scrolling through your history will be sure to see it.

Fan Page Rabbit Trail

Developers are constantly creating new apps for marketing on Facebook. Odyl has a specialized app to promote your books on Facebook – they claim some Big 6 publishers, and best-selling authors like Janet Evanovich , Bret Easton Ellis, James Rollins, and Ted Dekker as clients. This app helps promote books by offering interactive puzzles, quizzes, polls, sneak peaks, excerpts and other things. (don’t know if it costs anything)

What do you think of the new Timeline look? Have you already upgraded? What creative ideas do you have to make use of this to help market yourself as a writer/author?


**We’ve moved! Please join us at our new permanent homes. You can find Marcy at her website and Lisa at her website.

15 comments on “Use Your Facebook Profile To Market Your Writing

  1. Thanks for the info! I am still behind on the FB. I never had a profile at all until the end of this past summer, and changes keep rolling by me. I know I need to take some time to look into the subscriber option, but a part of me wonders that once I get all that settled are they just going to change it again? 🙂

    • Change is inevitable – but Facebook is innovative. And the reality is that there are… what? 500million people on FB. Hard to ignore that. People on average spend more than 7 hours a month on Facebook. Lots of potential market there.

    • But G+ has had its share of change, and if G+ never makes any changes, the platform becomes stagnant and will lose people IMHO. I think it may partly be your audience too. The majority of readers I’ve met on G+ seem into fantasy/sci fi/steampunk/horror – so if that’s your thing then concentrate your effort there. G+ is here to stay, I think. Google is pouring a lot of resources into it, and integrating it into everything they do – which I like.

      • It has changed, and I do expect it to change, but not to something that brings up all my past posts and makes me go through each one to say whether or not I actually want it there anymore. I really don’t need it to dredge up every past complaint about how I need coffee or how much I hate my job (now I’m even more glad I finally stopped posting things like that in the first place).

        I wish you could opt-out of the Timeline. I don’t need my online life to be that invasive.

      • And yes, I think you are right. It’s a completely different audience on G+, and it does seem to be a lot of genre authors there. I think it’s easier for me to get a sense of community over there. FB is so huge and the pages of most authors *coughs* mine included *coughs* are so impersonal that I just get the sense of people screaming into the dark. Except for you guys, of course. You do a great job of making a little FB community on your page 🙂

  2. Wow, this is a lot of helpful information. Thanks for sharing. Now all I have to do is figure out how to implement all of the fun magical tools! Wish I had more skills in this area.

    Now I’m off to FB for some fan page tool editing. Dash away, dash away, dash way all!

    Patricia Rickrode
    w/a Jansen Schmidt

  3. I’m a big fan of the timeline flip, myself. I like knowing when I became friends with certain people, and being able to share that. I think that as this progresses and my writing career trundles down the track, it will be an awesome way to connect with readers — “Mrs. Twinklepants, thanks for spending the last three years with me!”

  4. Thanks for this. I haven’t changed mine to the timeline flip. I thought it wasn’t available to everyone yet? A few months ago I integrated my personal page with writing, broadening my friends list, etc. Then recently I was encouraged to do an author page, so I did, but I’m not sure it’s necessary or how to promote it verses the other…

    • It’s available now for anyone who wants it early, but otherwise it will be forced on everyone in the next week or so (if rumors hold true). You can get Timeline here:
      Fan pages are designed with marketing in mind, so you can create welcome pages, link to mailchimp for newsletter signups, get traffic insights, like buttons for websites and blogs, etc. Lots of great stuff like that – but for it to work you have to create a community – and communities need people who participate. That’s the tricky part for authors who don’t have large followings. I’m holding off on an author page until I have enough content to do it right, have a readership interested in what I have to say/write, etc. The subscribe feature on my personal profile is all I need right now, and is a lot less work than another page would be.

  5. Fantastic information! I keep two Facebook accounts (I know, I’m technically not supposed to do that under FB’s rules, but whatevs), and while I enjoy Timeline for my author account, I’m not so thrilled about it for my personal account. I’ve spent hours wading through all 7 years of FB history that’s suddenly view-able, and while there’s some nice nostalgia involved, there’s also a lot of yucky memories that I have to relive in order to clean things up. A lot of the new ‘events’ that can be published feel pretty TMI (first word? first kiss?), but I can see how Timeline can be useful for marketing one’s writing. Still, I’ve got pretty mixed feelings about these new changes.

    • Yeah, that’s been a big complaint about Timeline. I think it’s important for everyone to remember that all that stuff was out there anyway if anyone wanted to scroll through and keep hitting ‘view older posts’ long enough. I’ve had some strange Facebook statuses pop up in Google searches and things – so I’ve taken the view that it’s a positive because it’s easier now to go back through and get rid of anything I don’t really want out there (if you can ever really delete something from the web) 🙂

  6. Pingback: 6 Social Media Platforms – Which is best for you? - Lisa Hall-Wilson | Lisa Hall-Wilson

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