When Spammers and Trolls Take Over – Authors Innovate – Facebook Groups (WANA Class Excerpt)

By Jay Donovan
Hi everyone,

Kristen is recovering from a couple of all-nighters spent caring for a loved one. I’m sure she’ll have plenty to say about it over the coming weeks. She should be back tomorrow. I take that back, she will be back tomorrow,even if I have to drive to TX and make her write a blog post Weekend-at-Bernie’s style.

Today’s post is an excerpt from a bonus lesson from Lisa Hall Wilson’s six week Facebook course. Lisa is a fantastic teacher and one of my favorite online people. She is currently teaching four classes at WANA Intl:

Building A Tribe Using A Facebook Profile
Using Your Facebook Profile to Build Platform
How To Write In Deep Point Of View (POV)
How To Get Them Talking – Interview Like A Journalist

Thanks Lisa for giving us a sneak preview at this new lesson!

WANA Facebook Maven Lisa-Hall Wilson

WANA Facebook Maven Lisa-Hall Wilson

Facebook Groups

Indie authors especially are very good at innovating and finding creative solutions to problems they face trying to connect with their readers/fans. Recently, former lit agent Nathan Bransford posted about the ongoing bully/gang-mentality that’s become prevalent over on Goodreads. People were leaving bad reviews of books they’d never read, or just didn’t like the title or subject matter of. (Read the post here.)

Authors had no way of policing their Goodreads pages, and real fans were turning away because of the bullies and bad reviews.

So they innovated.

How Authors Are Using FB Groups

I often get people inviting me (or force adding me) to closed groups which are really just book launch announcements. Not cool. That’s just spam. Don’t do that. However, some authors are using groups the proper way with amazing success.

Growing a tribe or community around your writing is usually a common goal for all writers regardless of their genre. Easier said than done. Building a community or tribe takes time, effort and intentionality.

To combat the lack of control over on Goodreads, authors have turned to closed FB groups instead.


Street Teams

When an author is about to launch a book, they may create (or fans create for them) a street team. I’ve seen these used as incentive to pre-order books. These are the most dedicated and enthusiastic fans you can have. They are your mavens, they generate word of mouth enthusiasm, share your work, post reviews, buy copies for family and friends. This is marketing gold you can’t buy.

Author Strategies

These closed groups are well organized and only genuine fans of the books are accepted as members. Some authors use these groups to send out information to join a street team, help get the message out about their books, events, coming soon and cover reveals, help name the book, etc. Some of these groups have tens of thousands of members. It’s a vibrant hidden community free of trolls because the author admin has the power to turf those who break the rules of the group. There’s no spamming, and readers find it a much safer environment than Goodreads right now.

Authors show up daily to talk to fans, to give that glimpse behind the curtain – they want to see Oz. Authors are growing these groups by placing links to them in the back of their books – as opposed to their websites. It’s an insider club.

Benefit of Closed Group

The big benefit for a closed group is that you have to be a member to see the content. It may show up in your news feed because you’re a member, but your friends won’t see it unless they’re also members. This way members can also share inspiration photos of guys (etc.) and it doesn’t show up on their walls or their friend’s news feeds. You can’t use a group with your Page though, only your Profile. Many Indie authors have what I call a place-holder Page but are only active on their Profile.

Book Promotion

Authors are inviting fellow Indies into these groups to help promote the upcoming book launch often. So XYZ author is invited to participate. The group members are alerted that “XYZ author will be here to spend time with you all. She’s giving away a copy of her… book.”

The author admin creates a thread linking to the free giveaway. The protocol is that XYZ author never mentions their own books. They talk about their favorite heroes/heroines in author admin’s books, etc. This helps promote author admin’s books and helps XYZ author get new readers – and nobody gets spammed!

Author Cooperatives

Authors are teaming up with others who write in their genres, etc. to offer book promos together, boxed sets, etc. This is all being done in closed FB groups.  Authors are sharing info and insights into marketing, promotions and ads. They’re working together to support each other. That’s the WANA way.

Lisa has been using Facebook since 2007, and has been a paid administrator, content creator, and consultant for more than three years. She manages Pages for non-profits and small businesses in Canada and the United States. She’s a freelance journalist with nearly 100 articles published, and has counted non-profits such as World Vision Canada as clients. You can find her hanging out on the WANA Intl Facebook Page most days or at her website.


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  1. #1 by Lanette Kauten on October 31, 2013 - 7:49 am

    Great tips. I shared on Twitter.

  2. #2 by Tasha Turner Lennhoff on October 31, 2013 - 8:24 am

    Fantastic ideas Lisa. Thanks for sharing. I’m on a couple of groups described above and they really can be amazing. In some of the closed groups I’m in conversations happen with bestselling authors – trad, indie, hybrid so you can learn so much.

    On the author strategies I’ve seen hit or miss. It’s really important that authors remember that while the group is closed you are still “public”. What you say may be shared elsewhere. This is not the group to gripe about bad reviews you’ve received, problems with a publisher, hating your editor, or issues you have with other writers. This space should be positive to keep fans excited and talking about you and your books.

  3. #3 by Lisa Hall-Wilson on October 31, 2013 - 8:28 am

    Thanks for reading! I’ll be hanging out here most of the day if anyone has a Facebook question — of course, I’d love to hear what success you’re having using Facebook to build relationships and community with your readers.

  4. #4 by lynnecantwell7 on October 31, 2013 - 10:23 am

    This is great info, Lisa — thanks! I didn’t think I was doing any of this until I got to your section on author cooperatives. That’s when I realized it’s exactly how we organized our horror anthology. I think I might set up a closed group for my new series.

  5. #5 by sharonhughson on October 31, 2013 - 2:59 pm

    How close to a book release would you want to create this sort of closed group? Also, it sounds like something that works only after you have at least one book in print that people would want to talk about.
    I know very little about Facebook since I just “gave in” and built a profile after I read Kristen’s latest book. You say “use your profile” for building a group and I have no idea what that means. Feeling utterly clueless here😞

  6. #6 by Lisa Hall-Wilson on October 31, 2013 - 6:21 pm

    I don’t personally have a lot of experience with groups to promote book launches or street teams. I joined one street team and that got going about 6 weeks before launch. The author was giving away hard cover copies of the book so they needed time to come in the mail. You need to use a profile to start or use a group. That feature isn’t available when you’re using Facebook as your page.

  7. #7 by Alex Hurst on November 3, 2013 - 5:07 am

    I moderate a FB closed writers’ group and we are always fighting self-promotion spammers, as are other groups recently. It got so bad that Writers Unboxed (one of the “top 100 sites for writers”, as awarded by Writers’ Digest) recently switched from closed to secret (meaning no one can find them unless they have a direct invitation).

    We, also, had to take some drastic changes to limit the spam; we capped our membership at 4,000, because we could no longer keep up with the trolls, or spammers. I’m still a little sad about it, because I don’t like having the community “closed”.

    In essence, I guess all I’m saying is: be careful about trying to promote a book on Facebook. Unless it’s your personal group, you will probably get flamed in writer/reader circles. Make sure you read the rules, and YES, I totally agree, don’t add people to a group without asking them first.

  8. #8 by Eli Pacheco on November 3, 2013 - 12:36 pm

    There is definitely a right and wrong way to go about using social media. Generally, taking your time and making it genuine will give you the best results. Thanks for this guideline!

  9. #9 by DonelRourke on November 3, 2013 - 1:32 pm

    The sad thing is that for one reason or another we all have a reason to be a part of a group. To learn, to teach, to offer something others don’t have. But most of all I pray you want to be a blessing to someone

  10. #10 by Raani York on November 4, 2013 - 7:18 am

    Thank you for these useful tips!!

  11. #11 by D.G. Kaye on November 4, 2013 - 12:21 pm

    Great tips. As an almost first time published author, I have recently got my author FB page and to be quite truthful I don’t know what to do with it except put my blog posts there and book cover, how do we make closed groups?

  12. #12 by On The Air TV on November 13, 2013 - 10:08 am

    Reblogged this on On The Air TV and commented:
    good report on social media

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