Using Facebook Groups to Sell Books

A week after my very successful book launch, as I was finally starting to settle again from all the excitement, I sat down intending to write a blog titled “The anatomy of a bestseller.” So I put my hair up, as I do before every writing session, and opened a new Word document. But once I started typing out the subheadings to create an outline, I realized this is way more than only one blog. I need to write this as a series.

Let me start with a common suggestion by online marketers and my controversial statement:

Don’t bother creating a Facebook group.

I know a lot of business and marketing gurus tout the benefits of having your own Facebook group to have a captive audience, especially because so few followers see our posts on our Facebook business pages. It might be true that someone is marginally more likely to see your post in your group than on your business page, but there is a lot more to consider here. For example, do you have the time and energy to attract people into the group and then keep them engaged on a weekly basis? And how many people do you think you can gather in a group before your book launches?

Now, if you already have a Facebook group that you created years ago with 6,000 engaged members, by all means, entice them into buying your book if its message aligns with that audience. Or, if your book won’t be out for another year and you choose to spend the energy to create a Facebook group, be sure that you are offering value and engaging with them regularly and not just parking them there to sell to them one day. People don’t like being used.

Publicity is best done in public and not in private.

Another point to consider when creating your own Facebook group is privacy. If you have your group set to private to protect members and allow for frank discussions, then only the people in your group will see your posts. However, if you post on your business page instead, your posts can be seen by anyone on the internet, and you can also run Facebook ads from your business page, which I will discuss in a later blog in this series. 

Finally, all of business is a numbers game. And selling books is a business. No matter how wonderful the shoe store is, not every person who walks through their doors will buy a pair of shoes. The same applies to your book. As amazing as it can be, not everyone in your Facebook group will see your posts, not everyone will buy your book the first time they hear about it, and some may never buy it. Using averages here: if 30-50% of the group sees your post and only 10% purchase, and you only have 100 people in your group, you are lucky to sell ten books. Is that worth all that effort to create, curate, and engage a group? How many people do you need in a group to make the effort worthwhile?  

Do join Facebook groups related to your book’s topic.

And please join these groups for more reasons than to spam them with the link to buy your book! For example, if you are writing about dance studio start-up best practices, be part of groups of dance studio owners at various stages. You will better understand your ideal reader’s most frequently asked questions and get an idea of the gap in the industry in accessing those answers. If you’re writing about meditation, join some meditation for beginners groups. If you’re writing about parenting hacks, join parenting groups! You might think your book topic is too niche for a Facebook group to exist already, but you’d be wrong. My book Beyond Pronouns has a very specific audience, yet I belong to several groups of parents of transgender children—one has over 12,800 members another has over 8,700 members. Those are great numbers for such a niche topic!

You will want to know the group’s etiquette before sharing your book. Again, please be engaged and not only there to sell. Don’t only like posts but ask questions and answer questions. Give more than you take. You know, all those things we’re taught about being kind in kindergarten. Most groups have a no selling rule or a day of the week or month where you can post a link to something you want to sell. I specifically chose to only post a picture of my son and me at a book signing and genuinely shared how proud my son was to see his name in print as the author of the book’s forward. It was obvious by his smile in the picture. From there, many congratulated us and many more asked where they could buy the book. Other group members then shared the links to purchase it and sales skyrocketed.

And that’s it! The good from joining others’ Facebook groups is learning what your ideal reader needs you to cover in your book, even better is having them purchase your book when it releases, and the reality check of the time and effort involved in growing your own Facebook group.

If you are starting your book writing journey, we have a resource for outlining your book, and if you are near the end and looking for information on how to publish your book, we’ve got you covered here.