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Social Network or Social No-no? How to Use Facebook: Guidelines for the Savvy Author
by Alice J. Wisler

I remember the day my cousin told me to join FaceBook. He claimed it was the best Internet social networking site out there.

“Really?” I mused. “What about the other six you told me to join?”

“This one is the best.”

I’m a social butterfly by nature and by degree a social worker, so people and their feelings are important to me. If I’m going to be part of a group of people and friend them, and have them friend me, I want to be accountable.

I also feel that there are usually two sides to making most decisions. My first novel, Rain Song, had just been released and I wanted to do my part in getting the word out.

Taking his advice once again, I joined. I heard from people I hadn’t seen since high school in Kobe, Japan, connected with long lost friends, fellow authors, and relatives. I commented on posted photos, woes, successes, rants, raves, and rather enjoyed this network of so-called “friends”. I also let everyone know about my baby... er... my novel.

However, the honeymoon ended when some of the folk were starting to irritate me. Believe it or not, it was not the high school friend who stole my boyfriend back in tenth grade, it was others like me—fellow authors.

Over a latte one day at a local bakery I had a discussion with my friend Geraldine. My question was simple, “How do you feel about authors who plaster themselves and their work on FaceBook?”

“What?” She hoped that I wasn’t referring to her. “I know I mentioned that my book on ecology and the sea was loved by my college professor.”

Before she could continue, I interjected, “Not you, not me. But others. What is too much?”

At last she sputtered, “Are you talking about shameless self-promotion? Like Bea who goes on and on only about herself? She never comments on what I post, even though I often say I like what she has to say.”

That was exactly what was bothering me. So, I compiled a few social etiquette guidelines specifically tailored to authors, with the hope that I always follow them. I don’t want any fellow Facebook friends to think that all I care about is selling my two novels.

  1. Be polite and treat others kindly. Remember words are powerful, and you can’t retrieve them once they are out there for all to read.

  2. Ask yourself why you are joining the site. What do you expect to get out of it? New friends or only a way to sell books?

  3. “Change your status often” says the staff at Writers Digest in their recent article on social networking. This shows you are a constant presence, serious about being “present“, as well as an active participant.

  4. Think about being a respected expert,” is advice given by those who feel that Facebook will get you more visits to your personal website if you have something noteworthy to say. I write for a website on grief, and hope that by sharing that link, fellow Facebook friends will read the articles, and learn how to reach those with broken hearts.

  5. “Getting others to gain an interest in your work takes time,” the team at my publishing house tells its authors.

  6. You are part of a community. Always be willing to lend a helping hand.

  7. Show that you are more than what you’ve had published. True, you might have joined to push your books, but if that’s all you do, others will soon tire of you. They might even “unfriend” you.

  8. Have fun! Others will see that you are an exciting and caring person and then might be interested in heading out to purchase your novels or read your articles. Think of your presence on Facebook as you would if you were at a party or family reunion. Bring some life and laughter, compassion and encouragement, and show others who read your words that you are someone worth getting to know.

Even if you aren’t sharing coffee time at the local bakery, you still need to be a good cyberspace friend to those you come in contact with.

© Copyright 2010, Alice J. Wisler

Alice J. Wisler, author of the Southern novels Rain Song, How Sweet It Is, Hatteras Girl and A Wedding Invitation (Bethany House), lives and writes in Durham, NC. On sunny days, she places her decorative tri-fold poster board with pictures and information about her novels out by her mail box. Email her for more ways to build your sales at wisler@mindspring.com. Visit her website at http://www.alicewisler.com

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