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I am a Facebook addict. I have checked, and there is no 12-Step program available to me. I spend my days working on the computer, writing books and finishing editing projects for my job, and invariably, my attention will wander for a nanosecond and my fingers will begin to tap and somehow lead me to my Facebook wall.

As of this moment, I have 33 Facebook pages. Yes, 33. I can defend myself on a few of them. I started a few years ago with just my personal account, but I realized my charming and delightful animals from my home rescue were taking over my page. So I named my rescue Pixie Dust Ranch and gave Dale the Big Red Pony, Buttercup and Daisy the Pygmy Goats, and Titan the Hedgehog their own Facebook page, so I could share cool stuff about music and writing and environmental topics on my personal page and not compete with big white dogs and fluffy rabbits. (Lily the Pig now has her own fan following. She is better at PR than I will ever be).

So then I had two Facebook pages. And after that I realized that my young adult novel The Time Traveler’s Apprentice at Hollywood High needed a Facebook page. So that was three. Then my other book Epona’s Gift (not published yet) needed one also. Four. Then my soon-to-be-released fantasy novel The Fairies of Feyllan also needed a Facebook page. Five. And our publishing company, World Nouveau, needed one. Six. And then all of our authors at the publishing company needed one for each of their books, and since I knew Facebook pretty well by then, I was nominated (self-nominated!) to be administrator of those Facebook pages.

But it didn’t end there.

I started a tree protection group with some local residents, so PV Tree Society needed its own page. I got involved with a production project that didn’t have a Facebook page, so I made one for that company too. When my daughter and I went vegan, I didn’t like how all the vegan pages shared graphic images of suffering animals, so I started The Friendly Vegan–no judging!–and I mostly post pictures of fruits and veggies and recipes. No dead animals. (Maybe some sad-looking live ones).

I knew I was in trouble when I started creating more pages; for local environmental issues, for a local dog park I had never even been to before, for my daughter’s rock band that never happened, for books I’m thinking about writing but haven’t written yet. I realized I needed self-discipline, so I started a Facebook Regimen.

Now when I find myself on Facebook several times a day, I am on a tight mission. I scroll down not just to catch up on my friends’ news, but also to capture any photos that might be useful on some of my other pages. I save the pictures using words or initials to indicate which page I might later use it for so I can find it again quickly: fairy, pdr (Pixie Dust Ranch), tree, tta (Time Traveler book), etc, so I always have a stockpile of at least a dozen photos or memes to post on any given page.

Because I am able to track how many people see any one of my posts, I feel obligated to share on each page regularly (daily or at least once a week). I don’t have thousands of followers on any one page, but I do have hundreds on most of them. Which adds up to a lot of people I have access to for marketing books. For example, one post on The Fairies of Feyllan page recently reached 38,393 viewers. The post went “viral”, being shared over and over again. As a result, the fairy book page gained almost 100 new followers in less than a week, an unheard of number of new likes for a little-known author’s not-yet-published book.  There was also an offer from a book reviewer to read and review The Fairies of Feyllan, someone who happens to be a fairy enthusiast and saw the viral post. Our company has paid for marketing gurus in the past, and for several thousand dollars maybe we could have achieved similar success. But with time, patience, perseverance, focus, and less than an hour a day, any writer can achieve the same thing, for free.

Here’s what I have learned from my varied experiences on Facebook:

  • Pictures and memes (pictures with words) are more likely to be shared than words
  • Profound photos do not need your words to accompany them
  • Sharing other people’s photos is the easiest way to post
  • Go “like” George Takei’s page. Otherwise you are missing out
  • If you love it, someone else will too. Post it!
  • Links do not equal “likes”.  Links make people LEAVE your Facebook page, often without “liking” your link first
  • Posting book signing events are necessary if you are an author, so back it up with a great photo in your next post to keep people interested in your page
  • Post once a day on pages where you want a lot of interest
  • Never post more than five times a day; then you are just annoying
  • Never post anything on Facebook that you wouldn’t tell your teacher, parent, minister, or acquaintance (because that is who you are sharing information with).  (Side note: I say this with experience; I may sometimes hint at weekend shenanigans, but I never TELL).
  • Keep aggressive politics, controversial subjects, and the like off your main Facebook page. Remember, you are building yourself up as a celebrity of sorts, as a writer. Keep it fun and interesting. Don’t piss people off. (I have a separate Facebook page where I can be controversial, anonymously).
  • As a writer, “like” your nearest family-owned bookstore and share the store’s events with your friends on Facebook. Supporting your local bookstore is key. Then when you are ready for a book signing, they will support you.
  • Link your Facebook account with Twitter, Good Reads, Instagram, and anywhere else you can think of if you only post once a day and your posts aren’t too specific or personal.

Use this link for more info on how to connect Twitter and Facebook: https://support.twitter.com/articles/31113-using-twitter-with-facebook

Many would say that Facebook is a waste of time, but it isn’t. Not in the least. By now you should recognize that with every post on your Facebook wall you are building up your persona as a writer, so you can push the Facebook guilt aside. Embrace Facebook for the amazing social media tool that it truly is. Go forth and Facebook!  I’ll see you online. We will chat about Tumblr another day.