Rachel Hauck

Best-selling author and award winning author Rachel Hauck lives in central Florida with her husband and loving pets. She earned a B.A. degree in Journalism from Ohio State University and spent seventeen years in the corporate software world before leaving to write full time. Rachel loves to teach and mentor writers.

She is a Book Therapist at www.MyBookTherapy.com, a daily craft blog and community for writers. In the past, Rachel is the president of American Christian Fiction Writers and now servers on the Advisor Board. Visit her blog and web site at www.rachelhauck.com.

Facebook - Revisited

What’s the big deal about Facebook? Didn’t our mamas tell us not to do something simply because everyone else was doing it?

“Would you jump off a cliff . . .”

Yet the rules have changed a bit from Mama’s day. If you’re not on Facebook, you’re missing out on the hottest Internet commodity since Google. You need to be on Facebook because everyone else is doing it. And you can assure Mama it’s not even close to jumping off a cliff.

Developed in 2003 by Harvard dropout Mark Zuckerberg (Who needs Harvard to become a billionaire?), Facebook was intended to be an electronic “yearbook” and cyber hangout that reflected real-life relationships.

Instead of calling or e-mailing, friends could connect by Facebook messages or posting notes on one another’s “Walls.”

In Facebook’s early days, members had to have a high school or college e-mail address. But since opening to the public in 2006, Facebook boasts over 175 million members. And its largest demographic is not the eighteen to twenty-four crowd, but middle-agers. Like me.

I joined soon after Zuckerberg opened the site. I invited other writers to be my “Friend,” as well as readers. I “friended” kids from church who’d gone off to college.

This year, my family joined—even my seventy-something mom. I’m in contact with a cousin I haven’t seen in thirty years. And thanks to the wizardry of scanning, millions of people can find the most hideous picture of me at fifteen posted on Facebook by one of my brothers.

How popular is Facebook? Very. In 2008, presidential candidates joined Facebook as part of their campaign strategy. Political parties post events and meeting times on Facebook pages. Any organization or company with a message to the public is on Facebook.

Artists, writers, musicians, and celebrities have Facebook pages. Ministries, churches, and businesses are joining this cyber community.

What does Facebook mean for writers and publishers? With so much oral and visual noise in the world creating competition for books, it’s critical to have a cyber footprint. I expect to find my favorite authors there.

Here are five observations.

1. Facebook is easy to use. Unlike MySpace or Xanga with customizable pages, Facebook member pages look the same. I don’t have to spend valuable minutes trying to find the Add Friend button because the user changed the background and the commands are white and invisible. 

2. Authors and publishers can create “Fan” pages as a way to target Facebook users who are truly interested in their books. I

created a fan page to target those who would be most interested in hearing about my writing milestones and book releases. Posting book and writing updates to my entire friend base is sort of like sticking a flyer on the windshield of every car in the parking lot. Some will be interested, but many will be annoyed. While I still have my main Facebook page and continue to add friends, I used my fan page to blast book updates. 

3. Research! Several times I’ve asked for ideas or help on some aspect of my current project from my Facebook friends. The answers were almost immediate, fun, and helpful. Writing late at night, I was happy to learn that there are people out there ready to talk and offer help. I learned how a convertible top worked on a ’66 Cadillac via midnight Facebook advice. 

4. Facebook posts let me keep up-to-date on what readers, reviewers, and other authors are doing. While I’m looking to build a fan base, I also want to be a fan. Commenting on friends’ walls about their experiences and news deepens our two-way relationship. 

5. Online book clubs, reviewer sites, promotional information are all there. Join a reviewer site or a Facebook book club to spread the word about your own work or to learn about others.

The main question is “Do I need to join cyber communities? Isn’t it time consuming?” Yes, you need to join. And, no, it’s not time consuming once you learn the ropes and develop a routine.

But do consider that online communities are a two-way relationship. It’s not simply about promoting your work, books, or publishing house, but also about meeting others and developing a relationship. It’s rewarding and interesting. Yes, I’ve gained readers through Facebook, but I’ve also gained friends.

Love Starts With Elle