Can the number of Facebook fans an author has generate book sales? It seems not

Authors who think they have found the answer to boosting sales via Facebook might be disappointed to learn that although author, Gregory Levey went from having just 700 fans to 692,000 in a matter of months — more than  George Clooney fan page (613,000) he didn't see any corresponding spike in sales.

Levey, 32, quickly realized that his book, now two years old, had not catapulted to the best-seller list or landed on Oprah’s Book Club. Rather, somehow, people had fastened onto the book’s title — “Shut Up, I’m Talking” — and taken it in an unintended direction. People weren’t telling their friends that they “Like” his page because they were avid readers; instead, they were fans of the catchphrase.

Then Mr. Levey started examining his new online entourage: they were the same people who say they “Like” pages such as “Shocking: Tattoo misspellings you have to live with!” Worse, many of his fans unabashedly proclaim on their own Facebook pages that they don’t read books.

Mr. Levey’s book — whose full title is “Shut Up, I’m Talking: And Other Diplomacy Lessons I Learned in the Israeli Government” — chronicles the story of how he landed a job as a speechwriter on the staff of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon while he was a 20-something law school graduate.

His publisher says any exposure, even accidental, can be good. “Facebook is a medium that fascinates thousands and is a curiosity even to those folks who don’t subscribe to it,” said Carisa Hays, vice president and director of publicity at Simon & Schuster/Free Press.

Levey has a new book, scheduled for release on Sept. 7, “How to Make Peace in the Middle East in Six Months or Less Without Leaving Your Apartment,” also from Free Press. He has started a new Facebook page, Peace in the Middle East, which he hopes will draw a more thoughtful — or at least book-buying — crowd.