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Many authors wonder whether Facebook is good for book marketing. There are at least eight reasons why the answer is “no.”

When I joined Facebook, it was only for college students. When I purchased my first Facebook ad, they were called “Campus Fliers.” I was the marketing coordinator for one of the first political campaigns to use Facebook for statewide political advertisements in Texas. I have run marketing companies, purchased tens of thousands of dollars of Facebook ads, and done dozens of hours of Facebook Live. I have taught at conferences on how Facebook’s EdgeRank algorithm works.

In short, I know what I am talking about when I say Facebook is nearly useless as a marketing platform for authors.

Facebook is overrated for the following reasons:

Reason #1: Sharecropping

The fundamental problem with building your platform on Facebook is that it works like digital sharecropping.

Sharecropping is when a wealthy landlord allows a poor person to farm his field in exchange for a share of the crops. The problem with sharecropping is that the poor farmer can be arbitrarily kicked off “his farm” since he doesn’t technically own it. Most of the economic advantages go to the landlord, and most of the risks go to the tenant. Sharecropping is a technique the rich have used to exploit the poor for millennia.

There is nothing new under the sun.

You don’t own Facebook. You sharecrop on Facebook’s digital land. Facebook gets nearly all of the economic advantages of your activity, and if you find a technique that works to your advantage, they will adjust their algorithm to stop you from using it.

Facebook groups used to be transcendent. When groups became too powerful, Facebook destroyed them in favor of pages. Now, pages are de-optimized in favor of groups, but only new groups, not the legacy groups. So the cycle continues.

As you can see, sharecropping on facebook is not good for book marketing.

Reason #2: State of Mind

Facebook is like a party where people talk about politics and show off photos of their grandchildren.

Trying to sell something on Facebook is like trying to sell Amway at a party. You’ll annoy the party goers and they’ll start avoiding you.

But if you throw a Tupperware party in your kitchen where people are in the mood to hear about the product, your guests will be thrilled. The medium is the message. Breaking into a conversation with a commercial is rarely a successful way to market your book in real life or on Facebook.

Throw your own party instead of interrupting a party that’s already happening.

Reason #3: EdgeRank

Facebook’s algorithm is called EdgeRank. I explain how EdgeRank works in this post. As we talked about what the new Facebook changes mean for authors now the algorithm has been tweaked in ways that hurt authors.

Currently, any post about something not on Facebook (like a book listed on Amazon for instance) gets hidden from about 96% of your followers depending on various EdgeRank factors. Only about 1% of the people who see your post about your book will go on buy it.

If you have 1,000 Facebook fans, only 4% of them (40 people) will see the post. Of those 40 people, only 1% will buy it. That means 0.4 people will buy your book, and that rounds down to zero. To sell a single book through a Facebook page with the current EdgeRank algorithm you need at least 2,500 fans.

Do you have 10,000 fans? Congratulations! You can expect to sell 4 books. The math tells us that Facebook is not good for book marketing.

Now some authors work long and hard to improve their EdgeRank score so they can sell maybe one book per 1,000 fans, but in reality most sales come from other channels.

Anyone who tells you otherwise is relying on pre-2018 data.

Reason #4 : Opportunity Cost

Some authors spend an hour per day on Facebook. The average person in 2022 spends more than two hours per day on social media platforms.

Opportunity cost is the cost of the next best alternative to Facebook. So what is your next best alternative? It depends on you.

An hour a day is about 300 hours each year, assuming you take Sundays and holidays off. In 300 hours you could write a book! Check out our interview with an author who did just that!

Time spent on Facebook will cost most authors about one book per year. That is an astronomical opportunity cost!

In 300 hours per year you could do any of the following:

  • Get better at speaking. In six hours per week you could attend three Toastmasters meetings. Then you could start speaking at small gatherings or start your own YouTube channel.
  • Podcasting. The fastest growing medium for book marketing. In fact, 90% of Top USA Today Bestselling Authors Have a Podcast Presence.
  • Blogging. Blogging gives your readers something to share on Facebook so you can have your cake and eat it too.
  • Write more books. The best way to sell a book is to write another book, especially for novelists.

Reason #5: Fake News Machines

Whenever there is an algorithm, people try to outsmart it. People have been trying to outsmart Google’s search results and Facebook’s EdgeRank for years.

Right now there are many state and privately funded “fake news machines” that use Facebook for various political and commercial reasons. Political groups are doing the same thing for both the red and blue teams. These organizations are spending hundreds of millions of dollars trying to outsmart the algorithm and get their news, whether fake or real, in front of the maximum number of viewers. Cambridge Analytica released an article about it, but they only covered the tip of the iceberg.

You cannot compete with a hundred million dollar budget by posting clever book cover images on Facebook. It’s like trying to knock over a skyscraper with your hands.

While Facebook is trying to fight fake news, their efforts are inadvertently hurting authors.

The battleground of mighty titans is not a good place to build a platform, which means Facebook is not good for book marketing.

Reason #6: Digital Bubbles

EdgeRank causes people to see only what they have liked in the past. As a result, people share, read and reshare the same kind of information in social bubbles that seldom break demographic boundaries. If you are a 50 year old middle class white woman, most of what you see on Facebook is probably from other people who are a lot like you.

In addition to digital social bubbles, people are further divided into three political camps: red, blue, and “please don’t talk about politics.” So the spread of an idea on Facebook is limited by faction as much as by demographics. In the current digital environment, it’s important for to learn How to Navigate the Splintering of Social Media.

Reason #7: Demographic Changes

Speaking of demographics, Facebook is getting grayer, which isn’t a bad thing if your book  targets retirees. But young people are spending less time on Facebook. My wife, who was once active on Facebook, now shows up just long enough to post some baby photos and then she leaves for a different social network.

Reason # 8: What Publishers Want

A huge Facebook following no longer impresses . Savvy publishers understand how social media is changing and that massive Facebook numbers and engagement don’t translate into massive book sales.

What do publishers want? Huge email lists. Great ideas. Great writing. In a recent Novel Marketing interview, Mary DeMuth revealed what publishers are seeking.

Why Do Authors Still Use Facebook?

So why do authors use a social network that has so many problems?

For several reasons:

  1. It used to work. In 2010, Facebook strategies worked. Ads were cheap and impressions were easy to get. In 2012, when Michael Hyatt wrote the book Platform (Affiliate Link), Facebook had already reached its zenith in terms of usability.
  2. It’s affirming. Some authors write because they have a psychological need for affirmation and acknowledgement. Getting “likes” on posts can make authors feel validated in the moment even of those “likes” ring hollow in the end. That’s just one reason studies show that Facebook makes people sad, but people use it anyway.
  3. It’s easy. Compared to building a website, blogging, or public speaking, Facebook feels easy. The problem with easy, is that a million other authors taking the easy path too. The road to success requires walking the hard path, now elbowing your way forward on the easy one.


Why should you avoid Facebook?


  • you don’t want to become a digital peasant farmer
  • it reaches people in the wrong state of mind
  • Facebook hides your content from 96% of your fans.
  • you could be doing something more valuable with your time
  • you are competing with multimillion-dollar shadow organizations that will outspend and out optimize you.


5 Year Plan to Become a Bestselling Author

I crafted this plan with bestselling and award-winning author James L. Rubart. The Five Year Plan is a step-by-step guide for your writing career. Learn what to do in each quarter of the year to avoid the mistakes that hijack success for most authors. Set yourself up for success. Learn more at

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