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The time has come as with all things to move on. In this particular case I want to use the next few posts to examine the utility of Facebook for writers. To be honest I spend little time on Facebook. Instead, I am more occupied with Twitter and blogs. I feel certain that social media experts would tell me I am under utilizing a valuable tool. This is why I thought it appropriate to ask a knowledgeable social media person to start a discussion about Facebook. I naturally turned to someone I trust to write a guest post. I am extremely appreciative to Nancy Burke Barr, aka Mentor Mama. She agreed to share her some wisdom Nancy is both a professional and a sincere person. I know this because I relied on her mentoring during my first few, frustrating months of learning social media. After reviewing her submission for this post I realized that I need to have missed Mentor Mama’s friendship and should make the time to get her help to step things up to the next level. I think you’ll feel the same way after you read Nancy’s post, Facebook: Une Génération Perdue?
“You are all a lost generation.”
–Epigraph, The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway
In the years following World War I, the term, “the lost generation”, believed to have been coined in France, came to represent a generation of young writers and artists travelling abroad, connecting with other creative pioneers. Counted among these “lost” youth, were the likes of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, Ernest Hemmingway and Gertrude Stein.
Like Jean Paul Sartre and the era of existentialists before them, these budding geniuses centered their activities around the excitement of Paris. Writers, in particular, flocked to Paris for the intellectual interaction, the inexpensive cost of living and the ease of publication. While Paris served as a muse for some, the decadent lifestyle of cafés and cabarets functioned as the undoing of others.
Throughout history, talented sorts have always loved to gather together to share ideas, to debate, to challenge each other, to collaborate, and to change the world. Think of the distances that scholars traveled to work together at the ancient Library in Alexandria. This is a vital part of the creative process.
With the amazing technology available today, it is no longer necessary to travel great distances to commune with other intellectuals. A modern day “Alexandria” or “Parisian café” is as close as your computer, where you can exchange ideas with like-minded people from around the world.
An important part of that paradigm is the social media platform, Facebook. Facebook is, according to its own site, “a social utility that helps people communicate more efficiently with their friends, family and coworkers. . . . Facebook is a part of millions of people’s lives all around the world providing unparalleled distribution potential . . . and the opportunity to build a business that is highly relevant to people’s lives.” (http://www.facebook.com/press/info.php?factsheet) It is the hub of the online social scene, the “Paris”, if you will, for today’s creative elite, with intellectual interaction, inexpensive access, and ease of exposure.
Not unlike the artists of the “lost generation”, your strategic use of this hub affords you the ability to interact with people who have a specific interest in the products or services that you offer. Whether you are creating an online presence, offering consulting, or self-publishing a book, use of Facebook is a critical piece of your online strategy.
Used correctly, this platform establishes an opportunity for you to open a window into your life. This glimpse behind the scenes affords a level of authenticity that was missing from commercial interactions in the decade preceding online social media. During that time, TV and radio commercials essentially told the consumer what to do if they wanted to be smart, beautiful, healthy, or enlightened.
Despite its seeming anonymity, today’s strategy strives to return to the model where a buyer knew the vendor well, and could base his buying decisions on trust. Using Facebook as a place to develop real relationships with people in your industry is a long, tedious process, much as it must have been in ancient Alexandria or early 20th century Paris. The difference is that your social circle consists of 400 million active Facebook users. The potential is staggering.
Obviously, you cannot personally interact with 400 million users. You can, however, develop serious friendships with hundreds of those people. Thousands of others can follow your Facebook group or community page and gage whether you are a person with whom they want to interact or do business. You have the opportunity to reach out to people around the globe, offering them the kind of information, interaction, and support that builds lasting bonds. Those bonds will encourage a person not only to buy your ”product”, but to follow your career, tell others about you, and to ultimately help you change the world.
Used indiscriminately, Facebook can be your undoing, as addictive as alcohol was for F. Scott Fitzgerald. It can become an obsession, causing you to disengage with the real world and live in a Facebook fantasy. If you are a writer or other artist, you must limit your Facebook time, ensuring that you spend adequate time pursuing your craft. Facebook is, after all, only one online tool, not the product itself.
Many people worry about this online generation. Will too much time online hinder their social abilities? Reduce their creativity? Will they become another “génération perdue”? If you use Facebook, will you become “perdu”?
This writer asserts that “the lost generation” was never really lost at all and neither is our generation of Facebook fanatics. The early era produced great genius, as will our present era. How and where these geniuses connect and share their brilliance simply changes with the times. Until the birth of the Internet, it was impossible for many to afford the luxury of travelling to the great cultural centers. Facebook now offers artists everywhere the opportunity to reach out and interface with the world. If you are disciplined and diligent, this can only result in a generation that is universally connected and perhaps the very first “génération trouvée”.
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Nancy Burke Barr
Click to she how three women overcame many challenges along the way to success: Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on Amazon.com.
Click to Living in the Heartland video preview to see stories of inspirational women.
Click to view my other blog Living in the Heartland
With more than a half dozen great reviews of my book up on Amazon and a successful book signing last weekend, I wondered if I should take John Austen’s advice to shop my book. I have had increasing evidence that I have produced a quality product. People appear to connect with Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories on a variety of levels. Maybe if I put together a press kit with book reviews and newspaper articles my book would be well received by a publisher. Having the assistance of a established publisher should make it easier to get Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories into bookstores and gain greater attention by national media outlets.
I queried Jane Friedman at Writer’s Digest. I was interested to hear her opinion? Can you guess her answer?
She recommended I keep focused on my indie route. Friedman’s counseled it wouldn’t be time to shop the book until I could claim a couple thousand copies sold.
Question: When I sell a couple of thousand books should I consider a publisher? It seems too much like the story of the Little Red Head. Remember the story of the farmyard shebird who planted wheat, nurtured it, harvested and then baked it into bread before any other farm animal was willing to help. When the bread was baked they all volunteered to help the hen eat the bread.
Surrendering my book to a publisher after I’ve sold several thousand copies on my own doesn’t make sense. The primary reason is that many books are considered a success if they generate a couple of thousand sales. If that’s the expected limit why would I want to share any of the profit with people who haven’t done any of the work?
Kathleen Okeefe Kanavos, author of Surviving Cancerland: The Psychic Aspects of Healing, pointed out: “Big publishing houses are not in the business to publish books. They are in the business to make money. Until the day that you become an author of Dan Brown’s caliber, you will be required to show the steps of how you plan to market and sell your book beyond what the publishing houses can or will do.”
Okeefe Kavanos says authors need a business plan in order to interest an agent or land a publishing contract. One of the first steps in developing the plan is to identify the audience. Authors need to identify their target market and demonstrate that they are equipped to capture that audience. Those are the two most important components of a successful marketing platform.
Friedman responds to the obvious question: “Why don’t publishers market and promote the books on their list? According to Friedman the answer is that publishers don’t have enough money, time, or staff to target books to a variety of audiences. Publishers are good at putting books into physical and retail distribution. Once there the hope is readers will find the books.
In October I made the decision to pursue indie publishing. I believed in the power of the Internet, digital publishing, and the value of the message contained in my book. I hadn’t bargained on the amount of work and time it would take to make a success of Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories. I admit I was naïve in this regard. In the first two months after the book appeared on Amazon.com I experienced a number of frustrations with little success. I have just finished the third month. As I said at the start of this post the book has received good reviews, some media coverage, and I can attest to forward movement.
Marketing is HARD work. There is a LOT more work ahead. However, I see only two options: digging in for the long haul or shelving the book.
Find out about my new book which is the reason I write this blog at Amazon.com.
Click video preview to see the YouTube video of my book Living in the Heartland: Three Extraordinary Women’s Stories.
My other blog is Living in the Heartland.
Just received this email from a reader.I just wanted to tell you that I was really pleased when my husband Bob came home with a copy of your book – and signed yet! I have to say, it was one of the most well-written books I have ever read, and I read a great deal. The stories were very interesting, but they left me sad as well. However, the end tied everything together and left me feeling inspired and uplifted and hopeful. I thoroughly enjoyed it! I’ll have to go to Amazon and leave you a review (the very first one I will have ever written!).Linda Ditz