Squirrel Rant: Group Rules

foamy_by_foamy_the_squirrel

Turns out I haven’t done one of these since 2012, though I’ve probably written a few posts that qualify.

Here’s the basic rules for reading this:

  1. Read this entire post in a high-pitched chipmunk like voice a la Foamy. Here is a relatively SFW outing from Foamy to demonstrate the format.
  2. Assume the contents are due to a particular bout of crankiness and are not directed at individuals unless specifically mentioned.

So I’ve been joining a lot of Facebook groups lately as a way to broaden my circle, make new writing connections, get advice, and do a little *shudder* self-promotion.

Now at the outset I’m going to say that I HATE spam. One of the reasons I don’t love my twitter feed, and need to make adjustments to it, is that I feel like I’m being barraged with book ads. Twitter is particularly aggravating because I get little context other than the picture, and many of the ads are pretty badly constructed.

But this rant isn’t about Twitter, it’s about Facebook.

Now I’ve been trying to read the rules of these groups pretty carefully. I don’t like to step on toes, and I don’t want to do something spammy. If a group doesn’t like self-promotion, or isn’t geared to selling things, then I won’t try to sell there. That’s a good way to get banned.

Some groups broaden promotion out to anybody who is selling anything.

Here’s the context. I was answering a question about self-publishing and the need for freelance editors. I stressed some rules for choosing good editors (i.e. Make sure they give you a free sample edit, and see if they’ll work with you on price or edit a smaller portion of your book). At the very end of my post I shared a link to an editor friend of mine who edits my books and who I know does a good job (and is willing to work with at least some self-publishers). A few minutes later somebody commented that the link was probably not allowed. Not being a fan of how Facebook does previews, I cut it, but left the pertinent details to find said editor in the post.

Later on somebody said I should remove the editor’s name because any mention would still be promotion. Since I’m not on Facebook all the time, I didn’t do this till this morning, but I did remove the pertinent part of the post (sorry Brian). At the same time I made the comment that I draw a distinction between SPAM (i.e. trying to sell you something) and NETWORKING (i.e. trying to help you get in touch with somebody who will help you professionally). In this particular group, however, there is no such distinction.

Here’s the thing. I get the idea of groups that don’t want to be sold to, and I’m largely in favor of it. In fact, even as someone with several things to sell, I find self-promotion tacky. Marketing is the hardest thing any writer needs to learn how to do. At the same time I feel like intent should be taken into consideration. My post did several things:

  1. It addressed the actual question in detail and from experience.
  2. It suggested someone who might be a good editor at the very end.

If me promoting someone bothered you, you can just ignore it. Since I was able to remove it from the post without subsequent editing, obviously it wasn’t content critical. And as a self-published author it can be hard to find a freelance editor who does good work and is willing to work with you, especially without paying the big upfront costs. My intent was to help someone out, and yes, maybe throw my friend some work. I fundamentally feel like there’s a difference between that and just someone who posts their services without engaging with the discussion.

As someone who is trying to advance in the business and craft of writing I want to meet actual people. I want to build connections and get advice from people farther down the road. Again, I get the idea of rules, but fundamentally I’m against legalism. Intent matters.

I realize I’m letting myself get bent out of shape about a largely peaceful Facebook discussion (hence the title Squirrel rant). But the takeaway for me is I want to find groups who can have substantive discussions, and will also make some suggestions on who does a good cover, or an edit, or who they’ve used for marketing that’s helped, and will not get worried that people are promoting or being sold to.

Know any groups like that?

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2 Comments

Filed under Writing

2 responses to “Squirrel Rant: Group Rules

  1. This is a tough one. Most such groups are closed ones with clearly defined rules set by the admins. In the broader groups, it seems like everyone is promoting and it is just serial spam — everyone posts, few if any read and respond. In these groups, I’ve had people post replies totally unrelated to a post promoting their product–the ultimate in spamming. It may be that you have to be the one who starts the group with clearly defined admin rules that you rigorously enforce. Good luck!

  2. I recently left most of the author groups I had joined on Facebook. Writer groups are simultaneously zealous in preventing spam and yet totally uninterested in anything other than selling their own books. So, neither much thoughtful discussion nor selling occurs.

    In general, I’ve found FB to be largely worthless for sales/promotional purposes. It seems to be the least effective of the major social media platforms (Facebook/Twitter/Blogs).

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