How to Set Up Facebook Timeline for Authors


The New Way to Promote Your Book on Facebook

As we mentioned in a recent post called “How to Promote Your Book Using the New Facebook Timeline Features,” Facebook did it again—they’ve switched it all around on us practically overnight (well, maybe it was more like a fortnight). And, just like that, whether we like it or not, all Facebook Pages (including brand, author, and company Pages) will be updated to Facebook Timeline on March 30th.

Why YOUR website is more important than Facebook

There ARE some great new ways you can promote your writing career using Timeline, and we’ll cover those in a moment- but this strikes me as yet another reason why you shouldn’t put all your social media eggs in one basket.

By keeping your online promotion efforts principally housed on your website (as the hub) and pushing content OUT to the social networks, you’ll be protecting yourself from future Facebook changes.

If you’ve been concentrating on Facebook first and foremost (above your own website), then you’re at the mercy of new shareholders whose whims may make Facebook ever more ad-friendly, and less a place for YOU to promote yourself. Don’t be tethered to Facebook; use it wisely.

[To build a professional author website in minutes, visit HostBaby!]

So, what’s new with Facebook Timeline?

  • Your Timeline Wall is now the landing page.  Say goodbye to customized default landing pages or apps. Everyone is going to land on your Timeline Wall now when they visit your page. 
  • Large “cover photo.” Now you can post a header/banner-style picture of yourself, your writing desk, your favorite landscape, or whatever else you like (as long as it doesn’t contain ads, calls-to-action, or contact info) at the top of your Facebook Page.  The dimensions are 851×315 pixels, with a minimum width of 399 pixel—so you’ve got a lot of space to play with.
  • “Pin” a status update so it is featured at the top of your page for up to 7 days. Got a new book, published article, reading, or workshop you’re promoting? “Pin” it, and then you won’t have to worry about sending multiple reminders or updates.
  • Direct access to Page admins. Your fans can now write messages directly to all Page admins. Good for fan engagement and interaction. Bad if you have stalkers. In the coming weeks, Facebook will also allow admins to designate their role on the Page too (main contact, community moderator, etc.)

Marking time with Timeline

One important, and perhaps-obvious thing to point out is that all this Timeline business is about making your content viewable according to your writing career’s chronology. Since you can re-date photos, video, and posts—you can tell the story of the development of your career and work. It’s a way to tell your story year-by-year.

Should I get started on Timeline now?

Yes. Your band Page will automatically switch to Facebook Timeline on March 30th, so you might as well put the pieces together now.

How do I switch from my old author Page to Facebook Timeline?

Facebook, through their guided tour of Timeline, has made the transition process fairly self-explanatory. But if you’re curious, here’s some further info about each step, and how you can capitalize on the changes.

First, go to your Facebook page. At the top of the page you’ll see a little warning that says:

“Coming Soon: New Facebook Pages.”

This warning is viewable only to page admins.

To begin, click “Preview.”

Upload a Cover Photo

What’s the “cover photo?” It’s a huge banner-style image that displays across the top of your Timeline. This is the first thing fans will see when they visit your Page, and it’s a great branding opportunity.  The old Facebook Pages were lacking in terms of an effective visual branding tool on the wall itself. This helps.

But now that the same cover photo real estate is available to all, you’re going to have to catch peoples’ eyes. Make that image pop! Show off your creativity. Amazing press photo or head shot? Painting that inspired your latest novel? An image of all your books in a row? Bookshelf? Whatever it is, I can’t overemphasize the fact that you want this to be the most striking thing on your Page.

IMPORTANT: the cover image CANNOT contain advertising lingo. No calls-to-action. No sweepstakes announcements. No eBook-for-email exchanges. No asking for “likes.” No contact info. No URLs.

All the more reason why your cover photo must be striking and tell your story WITHOUT words.

And yes, it stands to reason that if Facebook has stripped away your ability to market directly to fans, they’d probably like you to purchase more Facebook ads. Here are some guidelines regarding the cover image, according to Facebook:

Cover images must be at least 399 pixels wide and may not contain:

  • Price or purchase information, such as “40% off” or “Download it at our website”
  • Contact information, such as web address, email, mailing address or other information intended for your Page’s About section
  • References to user interface elements, such as Like or Share, or any other Facebook site features
  • Calls to action, such as “Get it now” or “Tell your friends”

All cover images are public, which means anyone visiting your Page will be able to see the image you choose. Covers must not be false, deceptive or misleading, and must not infringe on third parties’ intellectual property. You may not encourage or incentivize people to upload your cover image to their personal timelines.

Adjust your profile picture

Your profile picture is displayed both at the top of your Timeline Wall and represents your Page throughout the Facebook network (news feed, messages, ads, stories, etc.)

Select an image that is square (180×180). A book cover? Head shot? Logo? But make sure it looks good when scaled down to 32×32.

Tabs and Apps show what’s most important at the top of the Page

Your Page will display 4 tabs/apps directly beneath the cover photo towards the right hand side of the page. The photo tab appears first; it doesn’t seem like Facebook will be making this negotiable.

Besides that prime placement for photos, you can change the order of other apps/tabs according to what content is most important. 4 apps will appear on the Timeline Wall page, but visitors can scroll through up to 12 apps. So highlight the vital stuff first!

Note: When fans click on one of the apps, it will open as a new page.

You’ll also be able to customize the appearance of each app/tab. According to Facebook, you can:

Adjust the way your custom apps appear on your Page by going to “Manage” from the admin panel and choose “Edit Page” in the drop-down menu. Under the “Apps” section, click “Edit Settings” for the specific app image (111 x 74 pixels) you’d like to adjust.

 Take advantage of larger app width: Page app width can now be adjusted to be “Narrow” (520px) or “Wide” (810px) in the Developer App under “Edit App”. The Developer app can be found here: http://developers.

How do I change the order of apps/tabs in Facebook Timeline?

If you don’t know the answer to this, don’t beat yourself up; Facebook did NOT make this function very intuitive.

  • First, to the right of the 4 featured apps/tabs, you’ll see what looks like a scroll bar with a number (the number of your remaining hidden apps). Click that number.
  • The app screen will expand to display all your apps/tabs.
  • Decide which app/tab you’d like to remove from the Timeline Wall.
  • Click the pencil icon in the top right of that app/tab.
  •  Choose from the “swap postion with” dropdown menu the app/tab you’d like to move to this position.
  • Bam! It’s done.

Review how your Page Timeline gives you more control of content

Facebook Band Pages used to act almost like fan forums. Now you have the ability to shift the visitor’s attention towards the stuff you want them to see most of all. Unlike the old Page setup where a post was a post (uniformly sized and chronological), Timeline gives you flexibility to draw more visual attention to the good stuff. How?

Highlight/”Pin” a post-

Hover over a story and click the star icon (“highlight”) to make it wider (the width of the Timeline)—a great way to draw fans’ attention to that post.

Click the pencil icon to “pin” the post (no, it has nothing to do with Pinterest), which features it at the very top of your Page for up to 7 days. Pinning works particularly well if your post has a picture in it, since it’ll be even more eye-catching. After the 7-day period is over, the post will return to its place in the Timeline according to its date. Make sure to pin a new post every week.

Hide, Delete, or Re-Date a post-

The pencil icon also allows you to hide, re-date, or delete a post.

Re-dating is useful when reorganizing your content to tell your story chronologically in the Timeline.

Familiarize yourself with the admin panel

The new admin panel is where you’ll keep track of your activity on your Page. It will notify you when people write on your Page Timeline so you can respond accordingly. You’ll also see the number of new likes and a basic insight graph.

Notifications about new messages (yes, people can contact you privately using messages now) will also appear in your admin panel and you can respond from there.

There’s also a “Build Audience” tab that allows you to easily increase your likes and fan interaction. From here you can:

  • invite friends directly through Facebook
  • send invites to your fan-list of email contacts
  • share the page
  • create a Facebook ad

Publish the new Page!

If you’re not smashing your computer against a brick wall by now, you might be excited about this new Timeline stuff. If so, press that bright “Publish Now” button and get started!


So what do I need to have ready before making the switch?

A Facebook Timeline Checklist:

1) Cover photo- 851×315 pixels. This is the first thing anyone will see, so make it look amazing! The image can be resized and repositioned after you upload to Facebook.

2) Profile Image- 180×180 pixels

3) Tab/app images- 111×74 pixels. Yep. They can now be customized! 4 tab/apps will appear on the main page, but you can click to view up to 12 tabs.

4) A blurb about you- Your “About”  section will display up to 150 characters. That’s barely more than a tweet, so describe yourself succinctly!

The Timeline clock is ticking

I know these changes are a lot to take in at once. But Facebook is forcing everyone to switch to Timeline by March 30th, so we might as well start working on our new Timeline Walls now!

We’re learning as we go at BookBaby, too, so if you anyone has questions or suggestions that would help authors better use Facebook’s Timeline on their band page, please feel free to comment in the section below.

-Chris R. at BookBaby

Sell your book for iPad, Amazon, Nook, Kobo, and more!


Chris Robley is an award-winning poet, songwriter, performer, and music producer who now lives in Portland, Maine after more than a decade in Portland, Oregon. His music has been praised by NPR, the LA Times, the Boston Globe, and others. Skyscraper Magazine said he is “one of the best short-story musicians to come along in quite some time.” Robley’s poetry has been published or is forthcoming in POETRY, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, Beloit Poetry Journal, RHINO, Magma Poetry, and more. He is the 2013 winner of Boulevard's Poetry Prize for Emerging Writers and the 2014 recipient of a Maine Literary Award in the category of "Short Works Poetry."



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.