how a writer could get close and personal on twitter and facebook



The below is from Mark Cuban’s blog. He was thinking up ways you could use Twitter and Facebook as an incentive or reward:

I would create a new, private account on twitter and you would be the only approved follower. You could ask me anything and I would respond for some period, probably 24 hours. After which I would replace you with another follower. I could do the same on facebook. I would set up a private account and only friend this person. Using the wall, we could have an exchange about any subject.

I’m intrigued by how a successful writer could use this idea, either one-on-one or with small groups of readers: you could set up a Facebook page specifically for an ongoing meeting with a book club, for example. I was at a formal fund-raising dinner the other night, and it would be fun to see something like this — with Neil Gaiman or Stephen King or [insert name of desired author here] — presented at the silent auction.

Facebook fan pages perplex me a bit. I don’t think it’s effective to set one up under your own name, then send out invites to friends who are now expected to be your ‘fans’, or strangers who have no actual reason to care about you or your book (and are benumbed by all these invites in any case).

Just like I question the effectiveness of using an image of your book cover as your profile photo (although at one point I also did this). I can’t remember ever once finding this charming or persuasive; usually it’s a turn-off, like the only reason this person is friending me is to sell me on the book.

I do play with the idea of setting up a ‘fan’ page (can’t they change that name to something else???) for my work-in-progress, to use for feedback and research questions and general discussion on related topics. A facebook page like that could make — among other things — a fun sounding board. You wouldn’t need a lot of people, just a few with time and interest.

Nov 11, 2009

6 comments · Add Yours

I set up a fan page last week, and I must admit I’m already somewhat perplexed by it myself. I used to have a link to my “regular” Facebook page on my site, but only people who were already on Facebook could see it. They had to log in to do so, and then be my Friend to actually interact with it.

The fan page is public and indexed–anyone can see it. Facebook members can become a fan but don’t have to be a Friend, so it’s sort of one step removed from the normal show-me-your-profile-and-I’ll-show-you-mine interaction. It wasn’t really about building a “fan base,” like folks who are far more famous and talented than I am. I thought of it more as a way to provide some interactivity without requiring the…commitment?…of Friending.

But, given the Profile Privacy settings on Facebook, I’m not sure about what a fan page is actually good for. I’ve been thinking of Facebook Friends as something more akin to real-world friends who are friends with me, and Facebook “fans” people who are fans of my work…but I’m not at all sure how well that distinction holds up, in practice. Some of my Friends are fans. And some of my fans are strangers. Now I have two overlapping “lists,” and Facebook doesn’t make it particularly easy to manage the two of them.

I also have a sneaking and terrible suspicion that this is a generational blind spot: my mind just doesn’t instinctively grasp the social media thing the way that The Youth Of Today does, so I bumble around like a retiree wearing black socks with sandals and shorts and an umbrella hat muttering about kids today with their twitterbooks and facespaces and neurological implants.


I consistently reject every author who tries to friend me if I don’t *know* them.

I don’t think many authors/other people who use Facebook to promo care about the distinction between fans/friends. (I’ve heard that some have a Public Author one and a private, real friends/family one too.)

Regarding the fan page for your WIP etc, I know of authors who have, for instance, made it a privilege for people such as the moderators of their messageboards/loops, members of street teams etc to be part of the ‘elite.’


I don’t know if I want to think of it as the ‘elite’, or a ‘privilege’, just
‘people who are really interested’. :)

I don’t know if many writers ‘get’ that social media is not another way of doing promo business as usual — you don’t ‘spam’ people with announcements about your book — you shouldn’t be trying to ‘sell’ your book at all. You put yourself (and your books) out there for the appropriate people to find (and you understand that it doesn’t happen overnight) but that’s not quite the same thing.


I didn’t think about the open public aspect of a ‘fan’ page…That’s interesting.

In my mind the profile page is personal and not really about anything except, well, me, and the ‘fan’ page would have some other focus — I just don’t know what it is yet — something that would make for good writing-related conversation with a kind of real-time immediacy you don’t get on a blog…I’m not sure yet…But, now that I think of it, not unlike how I split my blog into the more personal & general, catblogging part (the livejournal) and the about-writing part (this one)…which I did when the old blog began to feel like it was containing two different aspects with two different (if overlapping) audiences…Maybe my Facebook page will reach a point where it feels natural to break off into a ‘fan’ page as well so I can accomplish something new & different with it.

“twitterbooks and facespaces and neurological implants”…my laugh of the morning. thanks.

are we friends on facebook? if not, why not? I will seek out your fan page. :)


I understood the part about ‘people who are interested.’ :) Though, people who are mods of her messageboard etc tend to be ‘people who are interested.’ Very good proxies.

If the amount of author/bookspam I get is any sign to go by, I think many authors/publishers really don’t get the bit about social media.

Honestly, the only sign anywhere I’ve seen that publishing really going to move into the 21st century are the books meant to be read on mobile phones in Japan. Which depresses me greatly.


Aye, we’re not, but should be. You can even be a Friend and a “fan!” :-D

There’s that fan/Friend split thing again…I’ve been thinking more about it since your reply. It seems to me that Friend is more directly “two-way” interactive than fan. As I understand it, Friend means we’d show up on each other’s Wall, while fan means my fan page posts would show up on your Wall, but not vice versa (unless you too had a fan page and I was a fan, in which case the distinction goes away).

Like you, my profile page is more me-centered. I’ve got another friend (real life and online) who has 1) a profile page, 2) a profile page for her upcoming nonfic book, and c) a fan page. It was the deluge of posts and messages and updates from all three of those (plus two Twitter accounts) that really made me want to separate my writing stuff from my me stuff.

You mentioned wanting to “accomplish something new & different with [a fan page].” I’ve already sent out a fans list-only announcement about an upcoming chapbook project, and specifically mentioned that fans are the only people who know about it right now (I didn’t announce it on the blog, or my FB profile page, but it will go up there later). I’m also exploring getting coupon codes set up so that fans get a discount for the chap. So my plan is to try to create some sort of sense of exclusivity or additional value–whether it’s expressed as information, discounts, or content–that the fan page has which my other platforms don’t.

I’m not sure it’ll actually contributes anything…and I’ve been thinking about all of this in the context of Vandermeer’s book, as well. I’ll be keen to see what you decide to do (if anything) with your Friend/fan page…



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