What Indie Authors Could Learn from the Instagram + Facebook Outage

Today, October 4, 2021 Facebook and Instagram went down in the US.

This is nothing new. Facebook and Instagram have had outages before. I have no doubt everyone will be back online soon.

That linked article said this happened this morning, but I was on Instagram and Facebook, and it was working fine, so the outage is relatively recent. (I noticed it afternoon-ish.)

The interesting thing about all of this is it wasn’t until I sent my fourth quarter email out to my list that I noticed these platforms were down. I got an alert from the news app on my phone just as soon as I pressed send.

“Oh. Okay.”

Short story: I wasn’t panicked.

This message is simple:

It would be best to have other ways of engaging with your readers outside of these two major platforms. Instagram and Facebook might be the most popular, but they are not the only social networking sites available, nor are they the only places authors should look to when engaging an audience.

If anything permanent happened to these social media sites, I’d like people to know they can still visit me online at yecheilyahysrayl.com, contact me using my contact form and sign up to my email list and blog for updates.

Many Indie Authors depend solely on Instagram and Facebook for sharing content. This isn’t even just for Authors. Many new entrepreneurs operate solely by way of Facebook pages and Cash App. 

Not good. 

If Instagram and Facebook were to be down indefinitely, people would lose contact with most of their audience.

How so?

Well, my language is poetry so to quote Najwa Zebian: “The biggest mistake that we make is that we build our homes in other people.”

Indie Authors and new entrepreneurs make a mistake when they build their businesses solely on temporary social media platforms with no means of staying in contact with people beyond that social media site.

Consider:

You have 8,000 Instagram followers, but someone hacks you or Instagram dies. You have 12,000 Facebook followers, but FB’s dead too. Now thousands of potentially eager clients no longer exist. Well, they exist, but they have no idea how to contact you because:

  • You don’t have a website they can visit to support you. 
  • You don’t have an email marketing strategy for them to keep up with you. 
  • You don’t have a blog to continue to share your content. You know, the content you usually share on the Instagram that no longer exists.

Heartbreaking stuff.

Other Ways of Connecting / Interacting with Your Readers Outside of Facebook and Instagram

Every Author Should Have a Website

Not to beat a dead horse here, but you should really have an author website. We’ve talked about this guys. Your website is your home. It is where people can go to learn more about you, buy your books/services, and contact you. This is your main hub, a summary of all things you, the author. Websites demonstrate professionalism, and every professional business has one. Serious Indie Authors should have one too.

Blog

Your blog (which should be easily accessible from your website) is where you provide content. Blogs perform better traffic-wise than static websites because they are updated regularly with new material. I think having a blog and static website is a great balance.

Email

Your email list (which should be easily accessible from your website) is a way of nurturing relationships with new readers who aren’t following your blog but bought your book and providing updates to loyal readers who want to engage with you more deeply. 

Collecting emails to a list is important for Indie Authors because POD services like Amazon’s KDP do not tell you who the people are who bought your book. You see the sale, but not the name or anything else about the customer. This means if I buy your book from Amazon, you won’t know unless I tell you. This makes it challenging to keep track of me as a new reader and build a stronger relationship with me.

This is also why you should be pushing book sales from your author website too because you have a better connection to the people buying your books. Oh, wait, you don’t have a website. See how that works?

Some readers will do you the favor of posting about your book on Facebook and Instagram. But, wait, there is no FB and IG in this scenario.

Other Social Sites

Believe it or not, other social media sites exist. Places like Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube for video, and maybe even LinkedIn can be good alternatives to communicate with your audience if the others are gone.

The point is, there are other ways of being visible online outside of Facebook and Instagram.

I hope this outage helps us to rethink our social media strategy and develop ways of moving those loyal Insta-friends over to our own platforms.

Update: All those random emails ya’ll sent out the blue yesterday to people who probably forgot they signed up to your list is like rushing out to the grocery store to buy food during a shortage rather than just stocking up before the shortage happens.

Moral: Just having an email list is not enough if you don’t use it. It can hurt you more than help you.


Meet and Greet Book Signing 11/13

On 11/13, I am hosting my first book signing since Covid. My last signing was in 2019, so I am nervous and excited to be around people again.

Please be advised we are still fighting this virus, so there is very limited space and vaccinated or not, you must wear your mask. I am also not putting in a large order of books, so first come, first served. COME EARLY.

Author Caution: Be Careful Linking to Pirate Sites

STOP: Authors, Be Careful

Photo by Isaiah Rustad on Unsplash

I’ve been sitting on this article since February (See screenshot below) and had almost decided not to publish it.

After seeing Chris share the article on Piracy, Plagiarism and Impersonation however, I thought maybe it was time for me to open my mouth about this.

Back in February, information surfaced about a pirate website charging readers for a month of unlimited downloads of stolen books and many Indie Authors found their books listed (myself included). After hearing about this I was (obviously) concerned and have even shared the news on Twitter. Since then, I’ve seen more and more authors put the word out. But then…

After some observation, I deleted my Twitter retweet and stopped worrying about it. I had to take a step back and see what was really going on. This website popped up, seemingly out of nowhere and their website has been shared repeatedly over the internet.

Red flag.

Did you  read hear what I said? Their website has been shared repeatedly. They are getting more and more attention, more views and more clicks. You would think someone had just launched a new product. Personally, I am not going to post the link to that site on this blog but I am pretty sure you know which one I am talking about. While putting the word out is good, my caution is to be careful with those links.

When I first read about this, the only way to know if your book is listed was by searching for it on their website by typing your book title into their search box. I’ve even heard recommendations from people telling authors to type their name into the site to see if their book is there…errr…

Red flag.

In just one week from my initial viewing, I noticed that their website had been upgraded. It did not start off with a display of the book covers when I first *heard* about it. Today, it looks slightly more professional.

Red flag.

My warning is simple:

Be very careful linking pirate websites in any way, to your blog, of downloading your books from these sites, of typing anything into their search boxes, and of clicking on links or Ads on these websites whatsoever.

“Do not visit a pirate website to confirm whether your books are there, as this puts your computer at risk.” – Indie Author Self-Defense: Piracy, Plagiarism, and Impersonation

Do not blindly jump on the bandwagon but be cautious with your handling of those links and your promotion of them. It is also possible that many sites like this pull book covers and metadata from Amazon and Goodreads but they do not actually have the books. Instead, they are using the images to scam people by stealing their personal and financial information and then sending viruses to their computers.

“Piracy is the unlawful copying of your work, and it’s the most common form of content theft. However, there’s good news: only a tiny fraction of the piracy you find on the web is actually piracy. Most pirate websites don’t actually have stolen content. They use software to gather titles, covers, and descriptions from Amazon or other retailers to use as bait. Then they set up a convincing storefront on the web which claims to offer those books, usually free or for a ludicrously low “all you can eat” subscription.”

Source: Indie Author Self-Defense: Piracy, Plagiarism, and Impersonation

That’s why I said be cautious poking around. It’s not wrong to link to anything but with certain websites you don’t know if just clicking on something will give you a virus (or going to the website period.) It’s frustrating, I know, for people to take anything of yours but you can possibly do more harm than good linking those sites to your blogs.

The Hard Truth About Publishing—What Writers & Readers NEED to Know

OK, last reblog of the day lol. Most informative post. Quote: “But these days reviews are more important than ever. I am not going to put in a one or two star and tank the author’s overall ranking because fiction is subjective. That author just cannot please everyone.”

Kristen Lamb's Blog

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As we careen toward the New Year, many emerging writers have a goal to finally publish that novel and I hope you do! But the arts are kind of strange. We often get fixated on the creative side, without really understanding the business side of our business.

The publishing world is still in massive upheaval and it is a Digital Wild West. Old rules are falling away and new ones are emerging, but still? Knowledge is power.

In my book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World, I go into a LOT more detail and I highly recommend you get a copy if you don’t have one. I spend the first chapters of the book explaining how the various forms of publishing work so you can make an educated decision as you are building your brand.

All types of publishing have corresponding strengths and weaknesses and this is…

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Photography

My beautiful sister Pamela
My beautiful sister Pamela, Photo by EC

Honestly, I can’t teach your ways to anyone, nor do I know much about you. I don’t talk about you a lot either, or cough up revelations about how I came to enjoy the way your eyes capture and then freeze our lives. I do remember however our first real encounter. It was the 11th grade. Mrs. Luno coupled us for the school yearbook, and we walked the hallways of Harper High School like we had been together for years. You wrapped your arms around my neck and let my pupils kiss your face. Together we recorded, froze, and transformed time into memory. We followed Jesse Jackson and Arnie Duncan through interviews and meetings. You even let me choose what to see and hold you in my arms during assemblies, plays, and basketball games. Letting me control the way your body felt in my hands, and in seconds we created images both tangible and symbolic; both real and fantasy. It was the first time I came to appreciate this kind of relationship with technology. We had so much in common: Your shutter and my pupil, your film and my retina, and our capacity to record the past; your memory card, and my brain. I still don’t completely understand you, but goodness, don’t I love holding the camera!