Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Facebook for Writers 101

All writers should be on facebook.

I always have trouble with universal statements like that. But I heard this one enough that I had to check out facebook for myself and draw my own conclusions. Are you ready?

I like facebook.

Why? Not entirely sure. Maybe it is the illusion that I have friends. Or perhaps it is the social interaction that makes writing a slightly less solitary occupation. Facebook has great potential for developing a network of advisers, colleagues, and a potential market--all those things I was promised going in.

But here is one thing that I haven't seen often enough: facebook is a social networking site, and NOT a professional networking site.

Why is that important?

Two reasons.

1. Writers going into facebook looking for professional contact may be perturbed by the social aspect of it.

People play odd games, take stupid quizzes, play Scrabble (I love Scrabble), tease, flirt, poke, adopt imaginary pets, and throw virtual pillows. Some applications I like, some I don't. But mostly it is fun.

I have, however, been really turned off by authors who, after "friending" lots of their fans, turned around and groused about people clogging up their home page with their status updates. Um...that's just stoopid.

For one thing, you don't have to friend everyone. You can always say no. Secondly, you don't have to see everything all your friends post. You can turn off the feed to certain friends and filter out certain applications if the content proves objectionable or the volume overwhelming. Thirdly, you can separate your friends into lists. I have one list for friends and relatives that I don't want to lose as the number of friends increases. I have another list for writers. Visiting that list reminds me of being at a writers' conference.

2. People going into facebook for the social interaction may be turned off by "professionals" zapping the fun out of it.

Facebook friends who use all their posts to promote and network professionally might be perceived as spammers--like that obnoxious person who came to the party and pigeon-holed them in the corner trying to sell them a timeshare.

So what is an aspiring writer to do?

Join facebook, but think of it as a party. Walk around. Meet people. Have fun. Make friends and contacts. Don't be obnoxious in marketing, and don't be annoyed by people having fun. Build a network slowly by being friendly. Post blog updates, but don't be pushy. And then when you have big news, like a new book, you'll have a network to announce it to. And if you never get a book published, you still have a network of friends and a place to play scrabble.

And friend me while you're there: Barbara Early on the Buffalo, NY network.


  1. I love Facebook, it's a place where I can be a pirate, farmer, celebrity, discover if I am a potato (I'm not, I checked) and it's always fun to make new friends.

  2. Hmmmm... I never checked to see if I was a potato.

  3. Barbara, I agree. FB is a great tool to network on an informal basis. It is all about having fun, and engaging through your personality, rather than through aggressive advertising.