Breaking Facebook rules…

Facebook Pages are an easy, cheap and relatively efficient way of reaching a local, target audience, assuming, of course, that you fall on the right side of completely annoying.

Every self publishing author will tell you, Facebook, Twitter, blogger, these are the routes to getting about your presence and the book you’ve just published. Tell people, engage people, make them want to read your book…these are the usual mantras, humming through the ether. Your friends are the first to feel the impact of this charm and smarm campaign; first, by email, text and messenger service and then, by direct confrontation, pleading, short of outright begging and then rage, guilt, denial and acceptance. Or, was that something else?

The point is, if you’re self publishing, you’re selling; get used to it. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. On the one hand, you could bury yourself in the multitude of online guides to self publishing, most of them written by people who’ve become best sellers, selling ebooks on how to sell a successful ebook. You might, also, join the many ebook ‘writer’ sites on the internet, who will assure you that while joining them may not guarantee million plus sales of your book, it might help and it certainly won’t harm you. On the other hand, you could ‘upgrade’ your membership to ‘full’ or ‘premium’ and take advantage of the online marketing tools they provide and to which you can only get a fleeting glimpse, with their ‘free’ membership.

One of the most insidious of these, I believe, is the ‘facilitator’ companies that provide formatting tools and e-vetting roles for the big, non-Amazon, epub retailers. In reality, they’re buffer zones, housed by middle men and, like agents and publishing houses, they’ll take a chunk out of you for doing very little.

Trying to do everything on your own, exactly what you’re encouraged to do, will leave you hung up in traps and pitfalls you could never imagine.

To write my two e-books, Postcard from a Pigeon and Other Stories and Tito’s Dead, I set out to find a software package that would allow me to format my book in multiple online formats. There’s a whole bunch of them about but I settled on Scrivener because, for one, it’s good value and two, it does everything I needed and can format .mobis for Kindle, .epubs for iTunes, Sony, Nook, Barnes & Noble and the ever growing, legions of online libraries. I registered with Nielsen Book Data and bought a bunch of ISBNs. Then I got myself a simple publishing design app for my iPad, to help me design the book’s cover.

I’ve taken to blogging more frequently than I used, although, having worked as a journalist for more than twenty years, I’m no stranger to deadlines. I try to ‘twit’, but I find it almost debilitating, from a moral and morale, perspective. Face it, the majority of the aptly named ‘twits’ to be read, at any given moment, are, quite frankly, moronic.

So I set up a Facebook PAGE called Tito’s Dead – – to propagate news of my book’s publication. It’s my first novel and I’m very excited about it, unfortunately, in direct and inverse proportion to the number of people who are aware of it, have any interest in it or who may become even vaguely curious about it. I could use my own Facebook page to ‘plug’ my book but I haven’t. Not much, anyway and certainly, not anything like the cloying, annoying self promotion engaged in by some of my contemporaries. One person, in particular, writes obscenely frequent, cloying and puke inducing self promos, he’s a classic example of the phrase, ‘if he were a lollipop, he’d lick himself.’

Facebook Pages are a moneymaker for the global social networking site. You can ‘boost’ your Page to gain more ‘likes.’ Of course, as everyone knows, this is the insidious, deep and not so furtive, penetration ploy that gets your foot in the door of everyone else’s contacts and opens the potential exposure of your book. Boosting individual posts, I’ve found, is far more effective.

A post should take an attitude, inform, entertain and, in the most subtle fashion possible, sell, too. Of course, there are rules regarding the words and content of the pictures you use. If you want to post a picture, then do that and that alone, saving the verbal, not for the picture but for the comment slot that says, ‘write something about this post…’


with this simple message…TITO’S DEAD is now available for download from Amazon Kindle, as a .mobi and from Smashwords, as a .epub…download the free Kindle app to your phone, iPad, Tablet or laptop, download the book, and you’re away, ENJOY.

I also did a Page promotion which, though it ‘reached’ more than 10,000 people, only garnered 14 ‘likes’ in the three days that it ran while my own, direct promotion brought me 150 ‘likes’ in two days.

So I decided on something different. I would ‘post’ a chapter of my book by way of a ‘free sample’ induction. This is the short description of the book, ‘Tito’s Dead is a fast paced crime mystery set in Sarajevo and Dublin and follows undercover, Europol cop, Bernard Nolan, on a manhunt to find a killer and expose a crime syndicate that stretches across a continent and into high office, against a backdrop of treachery and double dealing, where he can trust no-one and time is running out…’

Now let’s assume that if there’s a killer, there must be a murder, right? The chapter I chose to post is called ‘Ivan” and it’s the third chapter in the book when they body of a young man is found, shot dead, in a dark alleyway in Sarajevo, by Bosnian detective, Ivan Toscic. So, I boosted the post. It was paused and rejected by the Facebook Ads team. This is what they told me, ‘Your ad was rejected because it violates the language policy of the Ad Guidelines. The title and body of your ad may not be insulting, harassing or threatening to other people. You may not use profane, vulgar, or threatening words in the body or title of your ad. Additionally, you can’t use any words that mentions or targets someone’s personal characteristics (ex: age, gender, race, etc.).
To resubmit your ad, edit the text from your ads manager.’

I questioned this, adding, ‘It is a sample chapter from a new novel. There is no intentional profanity. It is clearly introduced as a piece of fiction. I will not censor my own writing.’ To which they replied, again, ‘Your Post wasn’t boosted because it violates Facebook’s ad guidelines by including profanity or language that refers to a person’s age, gender, name, race, physical condition or sexual orientation. The post is still published, but it is not running as an ad.’ To which I countered, ‘Ridiculous.’

I added, ‘Facebook’s advertising manager has replied to my query of their decision to block my promoting or ‘boosting’ a Page post because it broke rules about language and identifying someone by age, dress and ethnicity. The post in question is a sample chapter of my book, Tito’s Dead and the chapter describes the discovery of Tito’s body by a Bosnian detective.
It’s fiction, I argued, and how else can you describe a dead body, except by age, dress and ethnicity?

So Facebook had second thoughts about the whole thing. They wrote, ‘Thanks for following up on this. It appears your ads were mistakenly disapproved. However, they’ve now been re-reviewed and approved. Sorry for any inconvenience.
Please note that although we approved your ads, these ads may remain paused until you resume them. You can access your ads and change their status at any time by clicking the Ads Manager or “Ads” tab in the Applications menu when you are logged in to your account. Then, to reactivate an ad:
(1) Click on the name of the campaign that contains the ad you’d like to reactivate.
(2) Under the “Status” column, slide the bar into active mode. ‘

Of course, I had another ‘go’ at it. And, unfortunately, if inevitably, the promotion had ‘timed out’ and ‘boosting’ was no longer an option. Not unless, that is, i return to my first step and then post the chapter, again before ‘boosting’ it. Then, of course, there’d be the pause and rejection stage, but at least I’ll know most of the pitfalls this time, unless they come up with some new ones.

Franz Kafka would’ve had a heyday in this age of online vetting and form-filling. It’s like The Trial, Online.


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