Do you Facebook?

facebookfacebookThe following article appeared in the UK on November 5th, “Facebook Users Spend Three Solid Days a Year on the Site.”

Three full 24 hour days on Facebook per year! Or nearly two full work weeks if you count a work week as 35-40 hours a week. And I suspect the statistics hold true in the U.S. as well.

Not all writers are full-time. Some must juggle day jobs or home-life responsibilities around their writing. So let’s say the average writer is cramming 20 hours a week of actual writing into their craft.

Thus if you are a writer AND you “Facebook” (is that a verb now?) this would mean the average writer is spend nearly a month’s worth of work time…on Facebook.

Yes, I know Facebook is a wonder of technology and allows for an incredible way to connect with lots of friends and readers at once. (Of course we have to redefine the word “friend,” don’t we?) But what would you have done with that time before you discovered Facebook?

In 72 hours a “nose-to-grindstone” writer could produce 10,000 words on their next work-in-progress (that is about 1/2 page per hour). A motivated person could memorize the Constitution. An avid reader could consume at least six of their favorite books. Or a die-hard fan could watch all 158 episodes of the “Dick Van Dyke Show” or all three seasons of “The Dog Whisperer with Cesar Milan” and still have time left to walk Fido!

I discovered first-hand the potentially addictive nature of Facebook’s lure.  But I quickly learned to shut off all notifications and only visit the site periodically and see if there is anything of interest. Much like I do with selected blogs and news sites.

Don’t get me wrong, I know there are tremendous benefits for the author in connecting with their readers via social networking. And I’m not criticizing Facebook or Facebook users. My concern is with the amount of time authors spend on something other than making their next book a masterpiece.

Next time you enter the social networking world, time yourself. Then ask if it was beneficial to you personally, professionally, spiritually, emotionally, or otherwise. As with all things, use common sense, discipline, and moderation.

It will also keep your agent or your editor from posting a comment on your wall like “What are you doing here? You are on a deadline!”

For a laugh enjoy Rhett & Link’s hilarious “Facebook Song“on YouTube.

17 Responses to Do you Facebook?

  1. Avatar
    Cindy Thomson November 11, 2009 at 12:48 pm #

    You are so right, Steve. Thanks for the reminder and that video was really cute. Great voices, btw.

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    Lenore Buth November 11, 2009 at 2:54 pm #

    Thahnks, Steve. You express just what I’ve been feeling. But so many experts say we must Facebook, we must Twitter, because we must have a platform in place first.

    What’s your take on it? Suppose we turn in an excellent manuscript. Would a CBA publisher–or agent, for that matter–ever take us seriously if we don’t have 5,000 Facebook “friends” and don’t tweet?

  3. Avatar
    Krista Phillips November 11, 2009 at 6:23 pm #

    I use twitter more than facebook, because it’s almost seamless for me… I update my status there which takes two minutes… 1 to type it and another to glance through recent tweets. It feeds to my facebook, and I only check it once a day if that. What I DON’T do is any of the other “applications”…

    Blogs are what sucks up most of my time (See? I’m reading yours… can you hear my time being slurped away??)

    Must find a balance, I know.

    Now, off to write!

  4. Avatar
    Steve Laube November 11, 2009 at 8:54 pm #

    Krista makes a good point…but most folks are not this disciplined.

    72 hours a year equals 23 minutes a day, six days a week. I suspect many spend much more than that per week on Facebook.

    To Lenore’s question. Expect a prospective editor or agent to look at your web site, your Facebook page, MySpace, etc. They will Google you without exception. So the more professional and exceptional your web presence is, the more appealing you will be to a prospective agent or editor.

    But ultimately it is about putting great words on a page, telling a great story, or addressing a pressing need.

    Steve

  5. Avatar
    Cindy Woodsmall November 12, 2009 at 7:45 am #

    I’ve honestly wondered if the way I do Facebook causes friends and fans to feel slighted, ignored, and perhaps offended. I certainly hope not. It’d be awful to lose friends and fans over socializing faux pas when one hasn’t even left the chair in their office.

    I enjoy Facebook a lot more than I thought I would. But it appears competition doesn’t just take place in the writing and selling of books; it’s now a part of who can socialize the most. That puts people like me, who tend to “socialize” as often as I take a night off, at a disadvantage.

    But the flip side of that is it can be rejuvenating when on deadline to go to Facebook and chat with friends for a few minutes…or come by Steve Laube’s site and say hello to my favorite agent. Now, after I’ve said that, how can you say to me, “What are you doing here? You are on a deadline!”?

    Deadline: this Tuesday
    Current word count:83,755
    Expected word count: 106,000
    What am I doing here leaving a comment?! You must stop posting interesting blogs! Yeah, that’s it, Steve, this detour I’ve taken is all your fault.

    She submitted the comment while mumbling something about faux pas and agents and hopeless deadlines.

  6. Avatar
    Georgiana Daniels November 12, 2009 at 8:29 am #

    Great point!

    I closed my FB account because it was such a time waster. Besides, chucking turkey legs at my friends was only fun for so long.

    But now that you mention it, I could watch all 158 episodes of Dick Van Dyke and feel it was time well spent 😀

  7. Avatar
    Becky Steiner November 12, 2009 at 9:19 am #

    Thanks Steve for these insightful, and freeing comments regarding Facebook, and even social networking in general! As a beginning author, I’m inundated with advice to “get my name” out there through Twitter, Facebook, blogging, etc…. Though I agree, social networking is crucial, but not when it takes away from my time of perfecting my manuscript and reading/studying the works of gifted authors.

    BTW, I’m learning a lot about the publishing industry by following your blog. Thank you.

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    Lynnda Ell November 12, 2009 at 10:14 am #

    Oh, Steve, you did step on my toes. The two “Ps” – priorities and procrastination – are my down fall and social networking knocks down my priorities and reinforces my procrastination.

    Thanks for permission NOT to try doing everything.

    Be blessed,

    Lynnda

  9. Avatar
    Brandilyn Collins November 12, 2009 at 1:13 pm #

    I find Facebook very effective in connecting with readers and finding new readers. I update through Twitter.

    Facebook is also a wonderful way to procrastinate if one is so inclined. On the other hand, using it as an effective marketing tool doesn’t have to take all that long per day.

    The general arguments I hear against social media go along the same lines as the article you mention, Steve. “If authors didn’t use up all that time on social media, they’d write more.” For me that’s not true. I think back ten years ago when I didn’t run a blog, Twitter and Facebook. Did I turn out books any faster? No. Today I still have daily word counts and manage to turn in my books by deadline.

    For me it’s not a matter of using the time to write more because I can only create so many hours a day. Then I need to do something else. So the best choice for me is to use that “something else” time marketing what I’ve written.

  10. Avatar
    Steve Laube November 12, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Brandilyn makes an excellent point. But she is one smart whipper-snapper and obviously disciplined enough to set and meet daily word counts.

    What spurred this blog was simply wondering how authors were going about prioritizing things. Since social networking is something new it has become something “added.” And if something is added, something is usually subtracted. My question is “what has been subtracted?”

    I’m not necessarily arguing against Facebook or Twitter. Only that it be used wisely.

    Some of us have “addictive” personalities and the snare of social networking can become an addiction if one isn’t careful.

    Loving the discussion here. I hope that my words cause each reader to pause briefly and ask themselves the appropriate questions.

    Steve

  11. Avatar
    Brandilyn Collins November 13, 2009 at 11:56 am #

    Steve, you make a great point about what’s been subtracted. For me—it’s kids at home. Ten years ago our daughter was ten and our son was 17. My work had to be scheduled around taking to school, picking up from school, afternoon activities, just hanging out with the kids. etc. Now we’re empty nesters. This is a way different time in my life, when I have all day to work. Never had that before. In those years I couldn’t have done all the marketing I do now.

  12. Avatar
    Mary Hampton November 17, 2009 at 2:22 am #

    You’re right Steve. I just joined FB a few months ago (shortly before Mt. Hermon; I felt like it was kind of required!). It’s been a good thing for lots of reasons, but I can definitely spend unwarranted amounts of time checking in. I’m trying to set reasonable parameters for it like I ultimately did with blogging/visiting blogs.

    This quote made me laugh though:

    “It will also keep your agent or your editor from posting a comment on your wall like ‘What are you doing here? You are on a deadline!'”

    It works both ways–there’ve been a few times I’ve seen FB or Twitter activity and I’m thinking “I know you’re there–answer my email!”

    (You in the general sense, not the specific YOU, Steve Laube sense, lest anyone confuse my quest for email replies from the unknown ‘you’ with their own quest for replies from the specific YOU.)

  13. Avatar
    Margo Carmichael November 17, 2009 at 8:56 am #

    Yes! And maybe not. I keep a window open on FB a lot of the time and think of it as the watercooler. I even have it filed in my Favorites under Watercooler, along with some others.

    I’m a people person and I have to have a sip and a hi every so often in this secluded work of writing.

    My dot may be green, but I may not be there. I may be watching Cesar. : )

  14. Avatar
    Roxane B. Salonen November 17, 2009 at 5:46 pm #

    Greetings Steve, I’m new to your blog but what an interesting post. In fact, I’m due to publish my “Writing Wednesdays” post on my blog tonight and I think you’ve just given me fodder for that essay. You’ve brought up some excellent points, something all writers ought to consider and most likely have grappled with. Appreciate the spark!

  15. Avatar
    Jessica November 17, 2009 at 8:31 pm #

    Great post! I like Brandilyn’s comment. We all waste time, there’s just different ways to waste it. LOL! I got really sucked into the blogging world and I LOVE it so much that when I joined facebook I was careful to keep my networking there sparse. Kind of like how Krista does.

  16. Avatar
    Jeanette Sharp November 20, 2009 at 8:41 am #

    Oh my! You voiced what I’ve been thinking for weeks now. Your post convicted me mightily! As of right now, I’m going to adopt your thoughts on Facebook and kick the habit! I’ll measure my former frittered away time with the productivity of my writing accomplishments with the before and limited Facebook time. I’ll let you know how it goes.

  17. Avatar
    Sharon Ball November 24, 2009 at 9:56 am #

    It’s amazing how addicitive Facebook and Twitter can be if a person isn’t careful. When I first started social networking I kind of overdosed on tweets and notifications, but thankfully I came back to my senses and have found balance. Reading your post gave me that extra pinch I needed to keep my mind focused on the bigger picture–writing.

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