Is Facebook of any use? by Judy Alter

darkerbackgroundMy teenage granddaughters never use Facebook. They’re constantly texting, and I think they’re on Instagram, though, Luddite that I am, I have only a vague idea about Instagram and what it does. One of my youngest daughter’s friends tried earnestly to explain it to me one night but it went in one ear and out the other.

I hear authors say that they no longer think Facebook is effective, it doesn’t boost sales, it’s a time suck, etc. I’m here to say that I’m a big fan of Facebook, even after more years than I care to count. I try to comment on several posts each day, to leave a post on my personal page and author page, and to post my daily blog. Yeah, I really do try to blog daily, though I miss some days when the well runs dry.

Here’s what I think Facebook can do for us as authors: give us a chance to connect with fans and to enlarge our pool of potential readers.

The wrong way to post on Facebook, to my mind, is to push your books constantly, to make your posts repetitive sales pitches or, should you get a good review or an award, endless BSP (blatant self-promotion). I rarely mention my books, although more often on my author page. My goal on Facebook is to present myself as a likeable person, someone people want to be friends with, someone they might go to lunch with. So I post about my dog, about a day at an antique mall, about something clever my local grandson said to me. Sometimes I post deep thoughts about things that concern me, from spiritual matters to economic and political.

I know both religion and politics are no-no for a lot of Facebook people and on a lot of blogs. But I feel it’s important, personally, to express my point of view. It doesn’t quite come to the evangelical tradition of witnessing, but it’s along the same vein. I have a friend who is vocal on Facebook about women’s rights, liberal politics (and the folly of conservatives), and matters of the Episcopal Church, in which she is deeply involved. But she also posts pictures and comments about her wonderful and extensive gardens, which include a chapel; pictures of her grandsons and dogs and cats; pictures of especially beautiful plants. She explained to me once that she didn’t want people to see her as just a harsh liberal but also as a nice person with a soft side. I’ve adopted her stance.

One of the nicest things I ever read in a review of one of my Kelly O’Connell mysteries was that the characters were comfortable, friendly, like people Desperate-for-Death-JAlter-MDyou’d meet in the grocery store. That’s the image I aim for on Facebook—friendly, casual, so that readers might say to themselves, “I like her. I think I’ll try one of her books.”

My blog is particularly important, and I’m pretty sure almost all my blog readers (150-200 a day) link to it through Facebook. People I know only casually stop me and say, “I enjoy your blog so much.” It took a long time to build to the point that I got comments but now I almost always get comments and likes. I do think that’s a great marketing tool, although I also hear some say blogs are as outdated as Facebook.

Some people say an author page is not worth the effort. I maintain one, though I suspect there is much audience overlap with my personal page. But I try to post on it several times a week, and I’m pleased with the statistics (if they can be trusted—many people claim they cannot, citing click farms in Asia, etc.). I get enough comments that I think it’s worth maintaining, and my comments there tend to be more about books, reading, etc. and less about my last trip to the grocery store. Do you really care?

As authors, most of us lead a fairly reclusive life, but I think it’s important to us and to our writing to stay in touch with world events. That’s another advantage of Facebook. It is a source of information for me. I once told my son-in-law that I wouldn’t buy pre-grated cheese because it has wood slivers in it. “And where did you hear that?” he asked. When I said Facebook, his sarcastic reply was, “Oh, of course. That makes it gospel.” I realize you have to take things on Facebook with a grain of salt and a huge dose of skepticism, but it’s sometimes the place where I first learn about major news events—such as the conviction of the Boston Marathon bomber or the horrendous doings in Ferguson, Missouri or the recent tragedy in South Carolina.

Facebook also provides moments of amusement and chances to catch up with friends. Some of the stuff on Facebook is silly, but a lot of it is downright funny, and I enjoy sharing posts, cartoons, and the like with individual friends that I think will enjoy them. I first got on Facebook as a way to keep in touch with my children—they’ve abandoned it, all except a couple, but I’m still there. Yes, it’s a time suck—but we all need self-discipline.

‘Scuse me now, I have to check Facebook before I go to sleep.


Coming May 5, 2015! Desperate for Death

Just when Kelly’s life has calmed, she faces yet another of life’s puzzles. Except the pieces in this one don’t fit. First the apartment behind her house is torched, then a string of bizzare “accidents” occur to set her off-balance. Who is stalking her? Where does the disappearance of a young girl and her disreputable boyfriend fit in? And why are two men using the same name? Is the surprise inheritance another part of the puzzle? At a time when she is most vulnerable, Kelly can’t make the pieces fit, but she knows she must protect her daughters. Before Kelly can get the whole picture, she helps the family of a hostage, rescues a kidnap victim and attends a wild and wonderful wedding.


2 thoughts on “Is Facebook of any use? by Judy Alter

  1. Polly Iyer says:

    I love your Facebook posts. Keep them up. I love that I got to know you through Facebook. We’ll keep that going.

  2. amreade says:

    I’ve met some of my readers on Facebook and now a day doesn’t go by that I don’t share something with them. It’s a great way to connect with both old and new friends.

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