Facebook. . as an author your friend or foe?

Facebook logo in words

Friend or Foe?

This post may rattle some cages, but that’s okay.   Controversy oft makes for good journalism.   Facebook, the hugely successful, social media platform can be an author’s friend or foe.   There are many advantages to utilizing Facebook as an author.    Mainly, it gives you a free platform to post a fan page, a small Indie press page, even individual pages for your book.    Free is great.   Electronic exposure even better.   But you have to understand Facebook’s limitations.   Unlike Twitter, not everything you post is going to be available to all of your friends at the same time.    In fact, some of your “friends” may never see your posts at all.

Despite how public or private you make it, Facebook randomly determines which “friends” it thinks should see your material.   Example, you may have close to 500 friends or fans, but not all of your posts will populate their newsfeeds.    You can customize your newsfeeds, in order that your material is seen frequently by key people posted, but many folks on facebook do not take the time to choose these preferences.   The Harvard Business Review posted an interesting article on this fact.

Another drawback of Facebook is legitimacy.   Anyone can post almost anything on Facebook.   It’s validity, however, may not be guaranteed.   Prime example recently?   The Morgan Freeman death hoax.    Many received notice via Facebook newsfeeds that Morgan Freeman had died of an abdominal aortic anuerysm on Sept 6th.  Within minutes, like rampant wildfire,  Facebook and Twitter exploded with posts.  There even was a RIP Morgan Freeman page on which thousands posted memorials, retweeted, and reposted on Facebook.  Interestingly enough, despite Morgan Freeman’s publicists’ staunch and very public denials that he was alive and well, this rumor persisted for more than seven days!     Yet, no major news outlet was reporting the story.

Point?   Many people rely on Facebook as their official report of news.  They don’t bother to check out their sources before reposting like wildfire on the gossip grapevine.    Reliable news sources simply were not verified.   Folks were just keen to “share” the juicy gossip.   Thus, the danger of facebook.    Not one of these people who tweeted and fb’d bothered to check a real news source prior to hitting “share” or “like.”    The problem with that?   Rampant gossip without validation of fact.    Wendy Bauder, a columnist for the Independent Voice warns that frivolous facebookers will end up eating a lot of crow.

How does that harm you as an author?    Another case in point,  the Lend Ink debacle.   Lend Ink was a legitimate lending site.   But when a few fearful and uninformed facebookers grabbed hold  accusing them of piracy of their ebooks,  Lend Ink was dismanted within days.  Many were  guilty of not checking their facts.   As backfire, bloggers launched an counter assault.   Many authors as a result, negative reviews that cannot ever be removed were posted on author’s Amazon and Goodreads pages.

The same wildfire inflation occurs with mutual author “like” pages.    Authors go down a list and randomly “like” everyone’s Amazon, Facebook, and website pages.    As an author, you are working to establish your brand.  By randomly “liking” each book posted on these pages,  you are watering down your brand and word.    Be careful!!  Only “like” books which you are sure are well written.    Also, only “like” books which are in line with your brand.    A woman’s Christian fiction writer certainly wouldn’t want to be “liking” a sadistic slasher novel.   You get the idea.

The concern with all of this?    Superficiality.    Authors should indeed support authors.   As small Indie press authors, you could be at risk to water down the Indie press brand.    Only back quality!    But remember, first and foremost, your buying public are readers.

Make sure you are spending your time wisely on Facebook, doing what you can to research and find means to reach and grab the fleeting attention of your readers.    Book clubs,  genre specific events.    Unusual places to do book signings.   That is where your time would be well spent.   In the end, that genuine word of mouth pathway will make all the difference in the success of marketing your book.

Strength through adversity at 90 shines through in June Clark, Belle of Steel # 3

June Clark, age 90 and still perking along!

What would you do if you were widowed with eight children in 1979?   June Spitler Clark knows . . . find a way to survive.   June Clark was born as a child of the Great Depression in Tecumseh, Michigan on January 31, 1922.  In June of 1940, she married the love of her life, Jim, who became a dashing young pilot of the United States Army Air Corp.   Head over heels and ready for adventure, they embarked on a life of military service.

June was originally raised a Quaker, but then became Episcopalian.  She bore two sons under that religion.    She became a brave young pilot’s wife and boarded a ship to Japan with her two young sons.  The time was just post Hiroshima.   Countless lives lost from the bombing.  What a site it was to see the gorgeous country of Japan leveled.   She was called a round eye by the Asians, as she was one of the few Anglo women in that part of the world.   Despite the culture shock, June immersed herself in the traditions of this strange land, desperately trying to understand and relate to the differences during countless hours alone, while her husband flew missions.

They returned for a brief time to the United States and were at Spokane, Washington.   Her third son was born there.   But Jim’s overseas assignment then brought them to Guam.  During her travels as an expat with her pilot husband to these faraway lands, June was introduced to the concepts of Catholicism.  So distant from home, June began to embrace the staunch and solid beliefs of Catholicism, finding comfort in the rigors and rules of the faith.   She became a convert in 1956.   Dutifully following the Catholic traditions of natural family planning, June subsequently produced another five children,  two boys and three girls.  Interestingly enough, all of June’s children are have a middle name that is of an Air Force base.   She chose their first name and her military husband their middle names.

The family were then off to Spain.    It was exciting to be in Europe, but the first of several tragedies loomed to burst the bubble of her idyllic, exotic lifestyle.   In 1962,  one of her young daughters was stricken with spinal meningitis whilst being cared for by a Spanish maid.   In a matter of months, not only was the three year old’s life threatened, but her brain permanently damaged.   June’s previously healthy, beautiful, blonde, baby girl would live mentally retarded for life.  It knocked June to the core.    Could she?   Would she?  Ever forgive herself  for leaving her child with a caretaker?

Devastated, she turned to her faith;  resolutely determined to carry on for her other children.     By that time, her oldest became a Coast Guard communications expert.    Upon their return to the states, her second son, was sent off to Vietnam.   The 1970s were rife with unrest.    June experienced the horrors of the Vietnam conflict first hand, when she received her brilliant second son home as a shell-shocked, Vietnam vet,  suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder.    Not only that, but her ill daughter was in a state of massive decline.   At the same time, her husband’s military service became illusive and secret, with him becoming part of the CIA and cold war conflict.   Again, her husband’s assignments took him away to foreign lands.

June was left to care for her severely crippled daughter by herself.    Jim was away much of the time.    June’s children were now mostly teenagers;  all trying to find their way during the turbulent 1970s.    The burden of the care became too much, and her daughter had to be institutionalized.   One would think that life had brought her enough tribulation to endure.  But there were two more tragedies hidden in the wings.

In November, 1979, June’s young adult son was killed in a flying accident while joy riding in a small plane.   Her husband flew home from his distant and clandestine overseas assignment.   The family was photographed, symbolically as one, planting a tree in the young man’s name.   But there was more sadness to come.   Just one month later, June became widowed on December 14, 1979 when Colonel Jim Clark was fatally wounded in a terrorist attack while on duty as a government contract engineer in Istanbul, Turkey.   It was almost more than she could bear.    Abject and lost, it nearly did her in.   Christmas presents remained untouched.    A dark depression loomed.

She relied on the strength and fortitude of her third son, who was devoted to his faith within the Catholic church.   John and the rest of her children became her rock.   Her only source of survival.  She cottoned onto John’s mature strength of character as he navigated the complications of a CIA agent being murdered overseas.    Not willing to succumb to life’s devasting blows, June turned to inward to her talents.   At the encouragement of John, June enrolled in university and completed a Bachelor of Arts in Art Education.   By rekindling her cognition, she overcame her desperate grief.

Unfortunately, there was one more funeral in which she had to attend in 1983.  The demise of her brain-stricken daughter.     Bittersweet relief was realized.   June wrote a poem, entitled Tiny Tita about how her daughter, who once loved to dance, now finally could in heaven.   Her child’s pain was over.Yet again, June turned to her faith.    The power of prayer got her through.

Donw the lane book

Published at age 80!

By this time, her children were grown adults, navigating their own trials and tribulations.   June continued with her art and creativity.  In the early years of the millenium, around 2000, June wrote and published a book.  Down the Lane is about her childhood, describing the Great Lakes legend of the Ogo Pogo.   That book is still in publication today.  June’s large family has grown.  She is now is the grandmother of  10, great grandmother to 11, and has one great-great grandchild on the way.  Just this month, at age 90, June was the featured author at Benbrook Library, doing a special reading to children on her book.   She still attends Catholic mass each week at St. Peter’s in Fort Worth with one of her children in attendance.

For her strength and fortitude; sheer determination and courage. . . AgeView Press names June Elizabeth Clark as Belle of Steel number three.    To read about Belles of Steel number one and two, click the link Belles of Steel in the category margin to the left.

Humility and the high road for Indie Authors

FLYING SOLO in the window at Barnes and NobleShock and disbelief are the two verbs that resonate related to the “angry mob mentality” that has characterized the recent LendInk debacle.   It illustrates how the exponential power on the internet placed into the hands of a crazed set can be turned spiteful.   Two bloggers,  one an Indie author herself,  recently blamed the dismanting of LendInk, a questionable book lending agency, on Indie Authors.   Soley, on Indie Authors.   Yet, many of the authors who complained about the fact that they were not informed of about their books being lent on this site were in fact published in the traditional fashion.

Myths and mayhem ensued;   including libelous comments and infantile name calling.    The community of authors, whether self published, Indie published (and there is a difference) or traditionally published should ignore this blatant, angry rant.   Unfortunately, when the livlihood of their sales is threatened, as is in the recent blog post by A.B.DADA that is hard to do.

Any author knows the painstaking work they applied to their material.   Their book is their baby.  Cherished and held in a hopeful regard that a reader will find it interesting.   How cruel, for a few bloggers to slam and threaten Indie authors as a whole by posting on their blogs how they intend to post bad reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble, put pictures of writers books on their blogs and recommend not to buy them.   There have already been such postings.

Here is my attempt to take the high road.    All the facts need to be on the table.   Authors were crying out to the owner and manager of LendInk and other such sites to come clean about their business practices, inform authors how they were able to obtain the books.   Some bloggers quoted the FAQ section of Amazon Kindle (KDP) Select and Amazon Prime.     These electronic sections give very little explanation to exactly what is considered a “lend.”    Is a “lend” from one KDP user to the next?  A one time thing?

It appears for many authors, me included, that was our understanding.   If misinformed, we quickly got the facts.    When royalties are so scant on ebook formats, sure the hair is raised on any author’s back when hearing about a site possibly lending books without permission.    Most were horrified.    Despite the valiant efforts of some bloggers to explain the “lend” phenomenon, it is still not clear.

What is clear, is that  higher road must be taken.   I sincerely apologize if I was misinformed.   What I sought was answers.  Concrete explanations from the owners of these sites.    If I was wrong, I am the first to admit it.    Do Indie authors as a group deserve to labeled an angry mob?   “Ax wielding, #ssholes?”   A resounding “NO!”    Just FYI, slander is of the spoken word in a public forum,  libel is degradation in a written domain.     Blogs that have slammed and childishly called Indie authors by name degrading adjectives are committing libel.

Stop.  Just stop.   Let’s work together as a cohesive and worthy force.   For none other reason than to bring together delight in a reader’s eyes at your written word.    Take a deep breath.   Pause.   Hug a fellow writer.    Let’s better understand copyright, and lending policies.   There are some good people and great writer’s out there.