Written by: Kevin Watson, Press 53 Publisher
Social Media is crowded with users who all seem to be screaming for attention. Reading your own newsfeed is like reading the stock market ticker that scrolls across the bottom of your TV: you see a post, consider it for a moment, and then move to the next item. Paying $20 to promote a post will get your number of views up, but the results can be disappointing. Yet, Press 53 has found a way to use Facebook to build a community and, therefore, marketing team to help us sell more books.
Press 53 publishes poetry and short fiction collections, and our authors have been publishing their individual poems and short stories widely in magazines and journals for years, building readership around the world. Few bookstores carry our books, so our sales often depend on the author getting out and meeting their readers. Our authors, out of necessity, expend a lot of energy, and we found a way to harness that energy.
A few years ago, I created a secret group on Facebook and called it “Press 53 Authors & Editors.” This group cannot be seen by the general public; only those invited into the group can see it and participate.
We have authors in 35 states, and staying in touch with each of them was difficult. If an author was traveling to San Francisco, I would get an email asking if I could help set up a reading. I would have to look up locations of my authors and email addresses and try to get these folks in touch. If Press 53 were attending a conference, like AWP, I would have to write to all 100-plus authors to ask if they were going too. It was an organizational mess. Our secret group solved this problem.
Once our secret group was set up (Google “Facebook secret group” to learn how), I found all of our authors on Facebook and brought them into the group (you have to be “friends” with them to do this). Once our group was assembled, I encouraged them to share news and ideas, and to get to know each other. I also invited them to use the secret group to reach out if they were traveling to help set up readings with their fellow Press 53 authors. The result was an active group of authors who felt more like family than individual authors who were out there on their own.
Our Facebook secret group is active and supportive. When we have a new book coming out, we place a post in the private group and ask our authors to share it on their own newsfeeds, and when Press 53 is traveling to a conference like AWP, where up to 30 of our authors will be, we are all able to discuss ideas on how we can make the best use of our booth and our time while we are there. The synergy created by this marketing team is remarkable, and the result is more book sales.