How did I grow my Facebook author page by 1227% in one year?

How did I grow my Facebook author page by 1227% in one year?

Today, for probably the tenth time in the last week, I came across a post in a writer’s group on Facebook asking if an author page on Facebook is even worth it or they want to how can they grow their page. Each time, I give a brief answer regarding what worked for me. When I mention that my reach has hit one million organically, I get challenged or questioned on how.

In late 2015, shortly after publishing my first book, I started my Facebook author page because a reader suggested it. I didn’t think it was necessary because wouldn’t people just buy my books anyway? Why did I need to be present on social media as an author? But I did it. I named it The Fragile Line Series because that’s what I called my book series. I invited all my Facebook friends to follow my page and about a third of them did. But I didn’t know what to do with that page. Like, do I just post about my book? I had no idea. My memories for the page pop up sporadically, few and far between. One of the main characters in The Fragile Line Series battles addiction and alcoholism, so I posted things about substance abuse. The other main character fights against depression, so I shared things about mental health. I’d get a few likes here and there. If something got more than five likes, I felt I’d won the lottery.

At some point, I changed the name of the page to Sarah Dawson Powell because I planned to publish more than just The Fragile Line Series. For years, I didn’t know what to do with the page. It didn’t grow. Posts weren’t being seen. I didn’t see the point.

Fast forward to November 2022 when I decided I needed to stop talking about finishing The Fragile Line Series and actually finish it. The last book published had been Damaged in April 2016. Periodically, people would message me and ask me if there would be more books or if the series was done, so I knew people hadn’t forgotten me or my characters. At this time, my Facebook page had about 350 followers.

Fast forward to present day (November 2023). As I am typing this, I have 4,645 followers.

So how did I grow my following by 1227% in a year? Here are the things I’ve done:

  • Posting regularly. I do not let a day go by without posting. Most days I post at least three times.
  • Post about more than just my books. While my ultimate goal is to gain readers and sell more books, I am essentially an unknown indie author. You never know who you will reach with your posts. Here are my basic categories for posting and the reason for them:
    • Encouragement- Everyone loves being encouraged. Positivity and kindness never grow old. It’s perfectly fine to share from other pages or even save images shared by others and share them yourself (just be sure to give credit to the original source). You can also make your own content using websites like Canva.
    • Posts about writing in general- I am followed by a lot of indie authors and aspiring writers. (The writing community on social media is AMAZING.) I will post things about writing- whether it be humorous, helpful tips, or whatever.
    • Memes about things that are widely relatable- I share about parenting, housework, work struggles, being tired or busy, being lonely, my love of coffee, cats, and tacos, etc.
    • Things that pertain to the topics of my books- The Fragile Line Series has three heavy themes throughout all the books- domestic violence, substance abuse, and mental health. My coming-of-age novels deal with other deep issues like self-harm, eating disorders, teen pregnancy, suicide, etc. This is the stuff no one wants to talk about. When I post about domestic violence, I get crickets. Substance abuse posts get slightly more interaction than domestic violence ones. General mental health posts get the most. The issue here is that these topics are all so stigmatized that people are afraid that if they interact with these posts, others may make assumptions about them. It breaks my heart because these posts are so important. Once I interacted with a post about being in a relationship with a narcissist and an old co-worker saw this and reached out to me because she needed someone to talk to about the relationship she was in. Though I wasn’t dealing with what she was dealing with, because I had liked that post, she knew I was someone safe she could reach out to.
    • Updates about what I’m working on- Self-explanatory but get as personal as you’re comfortable with. Word counts, struggles with your WIP (work in progress), ask for advice, share snippets.
    • Obviously posts about my books- I am TERRIBLE at self-promotion. I’ve read articles, watched YouTube videos, and taken tips from others and try to weed through everything out there to figure out what works for me.
    • Share the work of other authors! Even if it’s the same genre as you! Authors supporting authors is a wonderful thing!
  • Interact with other authors- React and comment on their posts. Follow them. Share their work. Other authors are not your competitors, but your allies.
  • Join groups- Find Facebook groups that will connect you with other writers and with readers. Be sure to check self-promo rules. There are so so many groups. One of my favorites is Writer’s Haven. And if you're from Illinois or the surrounding areas, I recently started a group specifically for that geographic area called Illinois Writers 2.0.
  • Be in your own comments- I always try to react to as many comments as I can. It’s my way of thanking people for interacting with me. Now, I have had some posts blow up where they have thousands of comments and there is no way possible I could react to all of them. But for the first day or so of a post, I will try to react at a minimum. I will also reply to comments as I see fit.
  • Use Meta Business Suite- Here you can schedule posts ahead of time which is literally a lifesaver! Trust me when I say that I am not ever posting anything live before noon. Yes, this requires planning on my part, but it’s worth it. With Business Suite you can also invite people who’ve interacted with your posts to follow your page and set up auto reply for messages sent to you directly. There are other features to this as well but these are the highlights for me. You can also double up by posting the same content to Instagram on here.

Things I don’t do on Facebook but should:

  • Reels and Stories- This is something I need to work on.

Things I absolutely never do on my Facebook author page:

  • Argue with anyone about anything- It’s just not worth my energy or brain space.
  • Demean or talk down to anyone- Like I said above, positivity and kindness never grow old.
  • Post about sales or lack of sales in an exact number- There are a few reasons for this:
    • It’s no one’s business except mine.
    • I am not in competition with anyone but myself.
    • Numbers are subjective based on what you’re accustomed to seeing and may not apply the same way to others. For example, let’s say I only sold twenty books today and I’m sad about it. My author friend who hasn’t sold twenty books all year sees this and feels like quitting now. Completely unnecessary. Whether you’ve sold one book or one million books, present yourself on social media with the confidence of someone who's sold two million.
  • Post pictures of my minor children’s (current) faces- personal preference I guess. I will post their baby pics, however.

Essentially, it’s your page and you can post whatever you want to post. This is what’s worked for me. I do not even pretend to be in expert in this or anything else. It’s definitely been a labor of love to grow my page, but I have zero regrets. More than once, I have wondered where I’d be now if I had stuck with it with the same intensity I have now back in 2016 when I basically gave up. Given that I grew 1227% in one year, wouldn’t that be, like, two million followers? I don’t know. I had to ask my Facebook friends to help me come up with the 1227% because math is not my thing. But the key is definitely consistency. I think I paid for a Facebook ad once in 2016, but maybe that was Amazon. I have had a few posts go viral which I’m sure helped my numbers a lot. But I still don’t know what it was about those posts that makes them any more shareable than other posts and I am not even going to pretend to understand algorithm.

I hope you’ve found something useful in this post. If you have, or even if you haven’t, it would be much appreciated if you could share it with others!