When I sold my first multibook contract, back in the Dark Ages, the immediate response from my new publisher was a multipage questionnaire asking me what I would do to help them publicize my books. Would I reach out to local media? Would I do signings? Would I tour?
This was so long ago that they weren’t even asking if I had a website or a newsletter. I have both now, along with a fan page on Facebook overseen by four dominatrix managers. It’s the best online book club I’ve ever seen. I recommend books there myself.
And I have a Facebook author page. I don’t think Facebook sells books but, algorithms willing, it allows at least some of my followers access to news of when one is coming out and where. And it gives readers of my books a place to go, to say hi and for me to say hi back.
I’m very conscious that my name is at the top of the page and that it is de facto my responsibility to keep it as welcoming and as civil as possible. Security protocols are set at the highest level Facebook allows. I am the only one who can post to my page, although everyone can comment. Along with news of my books I post photos of my garden, news of Alaska and subjects that interest me or make me laugh, and links to posts on my blog.
I have a grab bag mind and that’s how I post. Like that time I linked to an article about community colleges being free. That was a lively discussion. Or that time the Wrangell-St. Elias Park posted to their Facebook page about visitors to their park looking for locations only found in Kate Shugak’s Park. Or that time I posted a sample query letter featuring a make-believe crime fiction series starring Laura Ingalls Wilder. Or when I posted a link to Ginger Hipszky’s A Cultural Database of Kate Shugak References. It is a very personal page.
I have fun on my Facebook page or I wouldn’t bother. But it’s work, because I read every. single. comment. anyone ever posts there. If a comment is in any way abusive or offensive, that person is blocked and their comment deleted the instant I find it. There are no second chances.
I have noticed that when a post lights up that invariably the trolls and the scammers come out to play. They’re easy to spot. They almost invariably target women. They’re invariably nonspecific, a simple “Hi,” or they go on for a paragraph about how beautiful that woman is and wish oh so much to meet them. Sometimes it’s an outright sales pitch for a product or a political candidate.
When I find them, I block them and delete their comments. Sometimes I’m not sure they’re bogus, sometimes they almost sucker me in, and that’s when I click through to their Facebook page.
The page of a scammer or a troll never looks like a real human being is behind it. They post photos of celebrities and pretty flowers and cute animals. They never write anything original. They follow forty thousand people and have four friends. They often claim diplomas from schools in Nigeria, and sometimes Texas. I know, right? What’s that about?
They’re gone as soon as I find them, but finding them takes time. I’d rather be writing. Which is why I’m not on Instagram any more, and why I’m not ever getting on TikTok.
Author and founder of Storyknife.org.