About a year and a half ago I opened my Facebook (FB) account. My initial motivation for having a presence was to keep tabs on my two teenage boys. They both had accounts and I felt the best way to monitor their activities was to be their FB friend. To date, I’ve only had to suggest one son de-friend a kid—a potty-mouthed teammate. My son’s reaction? “Oh, he’s a jerk anyway.”
Through my personal FB account, like many people, I’ve reconnected with old friends and connected with others who share my interests.
A couple months ago, we added a fan page on FB for What Women Write. In that short time, well over 300 people have been able to keep up with our posts and some, who might never have discovered our blog, are linking to it and leaving comments.
Here are a few ways I’ve found FB to be helpful to me as a writer.
I’ve found favorite authors on FB and have asked a few to contribute here on What Women Write. Although most authors have websites, I find the intimacy on FB to be particularly conducive to reaching out and asking for interviews.
If you’re not a writer but love to read, I’d encourage you to look up your favorite authors on FB. You can learn about their day-to-day happenings, find out about their current books, obtain book tour info and more. (Some have Fan Pages maintained by others, so you might not be getting posts by the author, but you’ll still get updates on releases and such.)
I’ve joined writers' groups via FB and now receive writing prompts, news about workshops and conferences in addition to meeting people in my area who write. I’ve become a fan of local bookstores that regularly announce book signings plus offer occasional discounts.
I’ve also found it helpful when needing an expert to interview for my writing—whether I need to verify a fact in my manuscript or get a quote for an article I’m writing. A simple: Hey, anyone know a family attorney in the Dallas area? can elicit enough responses to point me in the right direction.
In addition to finding experts, I’ve also been able to pick the brains of my FB friends when trying to come up with a line in my work-in-process. For instance, after attending a writing conference, I decided I wasn’t in love with my first chapter. I saw my main character wrestling with the disparity between the girl her mother raised and who she ultimately became. So, I opened up FB and asked my friends: What was the best advice your mother ever gave you? I generated enough unique responses to help me rewrite my opening.
Also on FB, I’ve witnessed other writers utilize the opinions of their followers to weigh in on choosing book jackets, handling negative reviews, naming characters, selecting book titles and more. For example, one author was writing the final book in her trilogy and asked something along the lines of: My first book is Love’s First Kiss, second is Love’s Second Chance, and for the third I’m thinking either Love’s Last Hope or Love’s Final Promise. Within minutes she had a dozen comments from her followers, with some offering suggestions for completely different title ideas.
For me FB has also been a source of entertainment. I’ve found it fun to witness the interactions between authors and their readers, and some have provided valuable lessons in ‘what not to do.’ One author uses her FB presence to write insipient comments that must be hurting her reputation and causing her to lose readers. Maybe some find it attests to her authenticity, but I think political and religious opinions and even relationship interactions are best revealed in a more intimate environment—not where your 5,000 fans can read about them.
I’m well aware that Facebook has received its share of negative press recently, but security issues aside (and mine, in case you’re wondering, are as tight as I can set them), do you Facebook and why?