I’m not ashamed to say it: I love Facebook. Not everyone does, and I understand that. But Facebook has done so much more for me than reconnect me with long lost cousins, high school buddies, and old boyfriends. I think of Facebook as a tool for my writing life, and not just because I can check out my favorite authors’ pages or friend agents and editors. The most useful aspect of Facebook for my writing, I’ve found, is the ability to poll friends and get expert opinions.
Here’s an example of one way I’ve used polling: When my editor at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt told me that my novel needed a new title, I asked my Facebook friends, in the form of a status update, what they’d suggest as a title for a Young Adult novel that dealt with both crystal meth addiction and bird rescue. Dozens of friends commented with title suggestions, some of them great and some of them not-so-great. Even though the title we eventually chose, FLYAWAY, came from another source, I was glad to have a chance to involve my Facebook friends in the process. Hopefully, it gave them more of a sense of collaboration with me and more of a stake in the book.
Recently, I put out this request, again in the form of a status update: “Okay, theater friends. Have any of you seen or been in a show where a woman with a leading role has a quick backstage costume change? This is for a scene in a Young Adult novel, so it would have to be a show that could be done at a high school. Any suggestions would be appreciated!” I got a number of great suggestions, along with an invitation to further contact a woman whom I’m sure will be helpful as an expert on the topic I’m writing about.
So if you’re a writer, don’t think of Facebook as just a time-sucking distraction. Next time you need some folks to brainstorm with or give you expert opinions, call on your Facebook friends!