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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Do You Want Friends or Fans? by James L. Rubart

"Do you prefer to follow an author's fan page to keep up with the latest, or would you rather become a "friend" and see what they're up to personally?"

Long time publishing veteran, Barbara Scott posted that question the other day on her Facebook profile and it immediately caught my attention. Since I have both a profile (Jim Rubart) and a page (James L. Rubart) I was curious how Barbara's friends would respond.

Before I tell you how readers answered, what would you say?

You'd rather be friends with a favorite author?

Me too. 

Same thing with 100% of Barbara's respondents. (There was a writer who said she'd rather share in what authors are doing in their careers, not their personal life, but I'm guessing that's one professional to another not the perspective of a fan to an author.)

This wasn't a big shock to me. Exactly what I expected. You probably feel the same.

Maybe that's why an extremely small percentage of friends will "like" an author's page when invited to do so.

People don't want to be a fan (which is why Facebook changed fans to likes) who is kept on the outside, they want to be a friend let into the inner circle.

So what does an author do if they want to have a profile where it's close friends and family only. Sorry, I don't have an answer, I'm truly asking the question.

What I Did

A couple years ago I transfered all my friends over to a Page (James L. Rubart) then created a new profile (Jim Rubart). For a long time I only accepted friend requests from family and very close friends. I made my profile as private as possible.

But you know what happened. Requests started coming in. I felt I had two choices:

1. Send a message to all those requests saying something I've seen other authors do: "Hey! Thanks for the friend request, but it's pretty quiet here on my profile, I'm not here much, the REAL action is happening over on my author page, so how 'bout you like it!" But people would have still seen me commenting on friends of friends profiles, and I'm not real big on the lying thing. So I looked at option # 2

2. Ignore the friend requests. Hmmmm. Not working for me either. Just doesn't sit right.

In the end, I had to answer the question that's the title of my post. Do I want friends or fans? I want friends. Having "fans" has always felt strange to me and probably always will. Frankly, I feel incredibly blessed that a few people are reading my novels and I want to be accessible if someone wants to be my friend.

Once I hit 5,000 friends, I'll have to re-think things again. But heck, maybe by that time Facebook will have done so much of their constantly changing the rules thing that all of us will dump them (my sons and their friends are already have) and jump to the next Social Media craze.

If you're an author, do you have both a profile and a page? Do you try to keep your profile lean and mean?

If you're a reader, would you rather be a friend or a fan? Are some of you both friends with an author and also part of their Page?

James L. Rubart is the best-selling and Christy award winning author of ROOMS, BOOK OF DAYS, THE CHAIR, SOUL’S GATE, and MEMORY’S DOOR. He’s also a professional speaker and owner of Barefoot Marketing which helps businesses and authors make more coin of the realm. In his free time he dirt bikes, hikes, golfs, takes photos, and occasionally does sleight of hand. No, he doesn’t sleep much. He lives with his amazing wife and two sons in the Pacific Northwest and still thinks he’s young enough to water ski like a madman. More at


Ane Mulligan said...

I started an author page, but I tend to post more on my profile page. But I'm se near my limit on friends, I'm not sure what I'll do. I suppose Facebook will force the issue.

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Nicole said...

I have a tendency to want true friends, not just those who want to attach themselves to as many people as possilbe. And while you (and others here) have established yourself as known authors, I doubt I have "fans" period. I haven't done an author page because I use my blog for that. "Friends" on Facebook get to know who I am fast with my abundant political postings. I'm sure I've alienated some, but my conviction outweighs my desire for "approval". So much depends on what you need to do to keep your publisher satisfied with your efforts to market and publicize. I don't have your fan base or a publisher so, although not ideal for most authors, I do have my freedom.

Ron Estrada said...

I love being "friends" with my favorite authors. The fan page always seems impersonal, no matter how often you respond. Facebook also allows people to follow you on your personal page. Once you hit 5000, that's an option as well. If you hit the big leagues, I suppose the fan page is your only option, but I'd alway keep a lot of my original fans.

Jim Rubart said...

Indeed they will. You'll have to keep us posted, Ane.

DiAnn said...

I love having friends as readers or readers as friends. Isn't that what life is all about?

Edie Melson said...

Jim, you have just voiced the process and conclusion I've come to. The whole fan thing isn't working and I agree—I don't want to be a fan. I want to be a friend. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, this post was just what I needed to move forward! said...

I'm with Edie! And I find the Pages are too constricting. They're perfect for a business with coupons and daily specials. But I'm not a business and I don't want to be.

Marti Pieper said...

I've listened to conference speakers tell me why I need an Author page and never been convinced. I'm all about relationships, and from what I understand, the best marketing runs on relationships, too. Thanks for speaking out on this topic, Jim. I appreciate you!

Jim Rubart said...

" abundant political postings ..."

I love that you're being your authentic self, Nicole.

Jim Rubart said...

Yeah, I hear you, Ron.

Jim Rubart said...

A friend of mine says, "friends are the juice of life."

Jim Rubart said...

Edie, since I have great respect for your wisdom and knowledge in the social media world, I appreciate your opinion on this!

Jim Rubart said...

Yep, well said.

Lena Nelson Dooley said...

It's very annoying when you hit 5,000 friends. I have to go through (very time consuming) and delete the most inactive ones. But the most happens on my profile, not my fan page.

Jim Rubart said...

Appreciation back your way, Marti! :) " ... the best marketing runs on relationships ..." Exactly.

Michael Ehret said...

I just want two other people to sit down and play euchre with. People in Colorado don't even know what it is. Sigh. This was NOT a part of my moving deliberations, unfortunately.

Jim Rubart said...

Come to Seattle, M.E. Let's play!

Michael Ehret said...

One day ... for sure. Would love to visit Seattle.

Ian Acheson said...

Jim, your post had me thinking as I'm an FB novice. I tend to think people who've liked my page as taking as much interest in me as those who've befriended me. I don't think of them as fans but people who have a particular interest in me, my writing. Most of the people who've befriended me in recent times appear to to have done so for the same reason.

I think both avenues enable relationship to occur if this is a mutually desired outcome.

Rick Barry said...

I cannot count the number of times writers unknown to me have asked to be friends on Facebook, and I've agreed, only to have them followup with a request that I like their Author page. I did for the first dozen or so. But nowadays unless I truly know and like something (anything!) about that individual or his/her books, I'm afraid I quietly decline. I realize some people covet likes on an Author page, since it gives a semblance of a tribe of eager readers waiting to buy the next book. But experience says that isn't necessarily so. As a result, I am an author, but I've never created a separate Author page. My blog/website serve that purpose. On FB, though, I'm just an author guy with a lot of friends.