Analysis of 9 Facebook Pages & Profiles by Famous Writers

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FacebookIncreasingly, I find myself telling writers, “Facebook is tough.” Specifically, I am referring to Facebook pages.

Like It or Not, Your Posts Reach 10% of Your Fans News Feeds

In a study by Group M Next, and reported at Social Media Today, Facebook brand pages (also called fan pages or author pages) have seen the penetration from organic posts (posts not supported by advertising) drop from 38% to as low as 9.62%.

What this means that of the number of people who have liked your Facebook page, about 10% of them see your posts. This also means that if you want more of your fans to see your posts, you need to consistently provide great content and plan to have a Facebook advertising budget.

You don’t need to budget thousands of dollars for your advertising, but you should plan on allocating at least $400 a year for those times when you promote certain items, such as the sale price on your book or webinar you will be teaching.

My Analysis of 9 Facebook Pages & Profiles

Considering the grim state of Facebook reach these days, I thought I would analyze the Facebook pages and profiles of famous authors to see whether they can penetrate their fans’ news feeds and if so, how well they perform. Here’s my analysis:

Doris Kearns Goodwin 14,051 Likes

Pulitzer prize-winning nonfiction writer Doris Kearns Goodwin has a huge fan base offline. I read her book No Ordinary Time about Eleanor and Franklin D. Roosevelt during World War II, and it was a dynamic and thoroughly researched masterpiece of nonfiction. She’s a regular commentator on news programs and is widely respected. In contrast, her Facebook page is disappointing. It appears to be managed by her publisher and is used primarily to promote her books and her appearances. In fact, the posts that I viewed were entirely promotion in nature. She receives few Likes or comments, and there wasn’t any engagement between the author and her fans that I could see. You might want to use this Facebook page as a guide to learning what not to do on your own Facebook page.

Christopher W. Gortner 1,440 Friends

Christopher W. Gortner has a Facebook page, but it’s his profile that rocks. He regularly posts a great mix of information, interacting with friends and readers, and sharing information about rescued animals, a topic dear to his heart. There’s no doubt that he manages the page himself. He responds to readers’ comments quickly and is fully engaged. When I met him a year ago, he recognized me from my Facebook comments and struck up a conversation with me. That’s how personal he is on his profile and in his life. He adores his readers, and they love him back. You may not be impressed by his Friends count (I don’t agree with that assessment but I’ve heard this criticism by others.), but you will admire how he handles this profile.

EL James (50 Shades of Grey) 1.8 Million Likes

With 1.8 million Likes, the page is a great mix of fun, seasonal and personal posts. She does some marketing but in a fun way, such as showing a pint of beer with the number 50 on it or posting images of different covers for her books printed abroad. However, she doesn’t respond to comments. When she shared a video about a time lapse of a pregnancy, her fans shared it a staggering 17,699 times. She recently posted an image of the setting sun and the word “this ….” That post earned 143 shares and 13,137 Likes. If she would only respond to comments it would almost be perfect. Clearly, her fans don’t seem to mind.

Nina Amir 1,253 friends

Nina Amir includes a mix of business with fun videos, posts on Jewish holidays, inspirational quotes, and photos from the conferences where she speaks. It’s a great mix, and her posts always receive comments and Likes and she quickly responds to them. You will learn a lot about Nina when you send her a friend request; she’s not bashful about sharing her feelings, and when she does, her friends come out in force to cheer her on. Nina also has a Facebook page, Inspiration to Creation, where she shares inspirational messages, publishing tidbits, and information about her books. If you want to learn how to become profitable as a writer, you’ll want to Like her page and keep up with those posts.

Writers Digest 113,000 Likes

What I found interesting about this page (Okay, technically it’s not a writer’s page but it’s a page important to writers so I decided to include it.) that there are very few comments considering the number of page Likes, yet its information is widely shared. For example, a reference to an article titled Avoid Rip-Offs and Publishing Sharks received 120 Likes, 61 shares and four comments. A reference to an article about self-editing received 110 shares, 152 Likes and six comments. The best post I found shared a link to an article titled How to Write a Book: 3 Practical Tips. That post received 325 shares and 582 Likes, and generated 18 comments. This page is an excellent example of the power of sharing content that your demographic craves. When you anticipate the content your fans want to read, they will share it freely and widen your exposure. My only criticism is that whoever manages the page doesn’t respond to comments.

Anne Lamott 189,473 Likes

A recent post by her was nearly the length of a short story yet her fans shared it a whopping 13,245 times and wrote more comments that I could easily count. It was a personal post about her feelings about turning 60. Even when she doesn’t post for a week or so, she apologizes, and those posts can receive more than a thousand shares, thousands of Likes and more comments than I’ve ever seen on a Facebook page. She is deeply personal, and when she does promote her books, her fans come out in force, liking and sharing her updates. If you want to learn how to connect with your demographic on a Facebook page, this is one of the Facebook pages you need to watch very closely.

Mary Oliver 65,944 Likes

Mary Oliver has a simple banner image and a picture of herself that hasn’t been photo-shopped – something I appreciate. However, the Facebook page seems to exist for the sole purpose of promoting her books, readings and similar pursuits. She also shares sketched images of dogs and specials on her books. One recently published update simply included a link to a New York Times article about her and an image – no explanation whatsoever – yet it earned 1,877 Likes, 64 comments, and 492 shares. That’s impressive. The page appears to managed by someone other than the author who doesn’t take the time to engage with her fans, but they still love Mary.

Jane Friedman 827 friends

Jane Friedman is a megastar in the writing and publishing field. The former publisher at Writers Digest, she teaches digital publishing and online writing at the University of Virginia, is the web editor of the Virginia Quarterly Review and is the founder of Scratch Magazine, a digital quarterly about the “intersection of writing and money.” Her blog receives more than 60,000 unique visitors every month. Don’t be unimpressed by the number of Facebook friends. She is very connected; on Twitter she has 188,000 followers and follows just 286 users. On Facebook, Jane Friedman is actively involved with her profile, sharing information about her keynotes, articles she discovers, and even a more personal tidbit about her affinity for the Sherlock Holmes series on Masterpiece Theater. Her profile shows active engagement and plenty of shares, comments and Likes from her friends. I know that I’ll be keeping an eye on her profile to continue my learning curve about Facebook and marketing.

Isabel Allende 1,072,187 Likes

Isabel Allende, a native of Chile, writes her posts in both English and Spanish. (Spanish-speaking social media users tend to outnumber other demographics.) She shares historical images, birthday messages to the likes of Gloria Steinem, and information about nonprofits. Her tribute to Flamenco artist Paco de Lucía following his death garnered 15,555 Likes, and 1,438 shares. Her page is at times deeply personal, celebratory, and gracious and expresses her commitment to social justice and causes that are important to her. Very little promotion appears here and her fans seem to like it that way. We can all learn from her.

 Post by Social Media Just for Writers.

Avoid Social Media Time SuckAbout the Author: Frances Caballo is a social media manager for writers and author of  Avoid Social Media Time Suck: A Blueprint for Writers to Create Online Buzz for Their Books and Still Have Time to Write, Social Media Just for Writers: The Best Online Marketing Tips for Selling Your Books and Blogging Just for Writers. Presently, she is the Social Media Manager for the Women’s National Book Association-SF Chapter, the San Francisco Writers Conference, and the Bay Area Independent Publishers Association. You can find her on FacebookTwitterLinkedInPinterest, and Google+. 

Practical Tips for Marketing Your Books on the Social Web


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  1. Thanks so much for including me amongst these fabulous writers and authors (and sites), Frances! I have loved using Facebook but find the page more of a challenge. I often tell writers to get a page early to encourage their followers to go there, otherwise they will lock in on a profile. I’m better with my profile than my page, but I was excited to cross the 700 likes mark on my page recently.

    I learned a lot from this post, and I’ll be putting it to use. Thanks for your help and advice as I move forward with my social media.

  2. mimi schroeder says


    I’m enjoying your book, Avoid Social Media Time Suck, and love the title. I have a question on behalf of the authors everywhere. Should they use their name or book title as the basis for their social media presence? Some of my authors prefer to keep their facebook pages known by their name as personal or private. Will fans find them if they use their book title on facebook? Thanks!

    • You ask a great question. When I first created my Facebook page, I named it Social Media Just for Writers because that was the title of my book. Fortunately, that is now the name of my business. If I were new to Facebook pages, I would create a Facebook page based on my name, such as: Frances Caballo, Author. Some SEO experts advise authors to create a Facebook page for each of their books but I think that managing several Facebook pages can become unwieldy and expensive. I’ll be interested in knowing what you did.

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