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Facebook Groups for Writers—The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly

If you haven't read the most recent Facebook statistics provided by Brandwatch, take a seat. Yes…that's right, take a seat. They're THAT staggering.

  • With 2.375 billion monthly active users (as of Q3 2018) and 1.49 billion daily active users, 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook and 51% of them use it several times a day.
  • In fact, out of everyone in the world who is online, 26.3% use Facebook. In the U.S. the numbers are exponentially higher.

There's little doubt that Facebook is the most popular online social media platform, with massive potential for indie authors looking to spread the word about their latest published novel. Rather than focusing on Facebook marketing, however, let's discuss an aspect of the gargantuan social media player that offers marketing, education, feedback, collaboration, and more. Yes, I'm talking about Facebook groups.

Facebook groups offer marketing opportunities, education, feedback, collaboration, and more
Facebook groups offer marketing opportunities, education, feedback, collaboration, and more. Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash.

If you've ever been a member of a Facebook group, then you know that these groups can range from being full of valuable information to nothing more than a place for spammers and scammers to sell their wares or services. So, for this article, let's discuss the good, the bad, and the ugly when it comes to Facebook groups—and in doing so—sift through what is important and what isn't when marketing yourself as an indie writer on these forums.

The good

The good that you need to focus on are the ways in which you can use social media, including Facebook groups for writers, for your benefit as an author:

Social media is a gold mine of unlocked potential to build a following, showcase your writing ability and gain exposure… Facebook groups are yet another creative way writers can use social media to get noticed and inspired.

Joining a Facebook group aimed at writers is a fantastic way to meet and collaborate with other writers. You might even find your next writing gig!

Facebook writing groups range from small and intimate, to enormous and robust. Topics and focus vary, but the main benefit remains the same: comradery with other writers.

Kelly Gurnett, The Write Life

There are, however, important details to notice as you join and participate with these groups on Facebook. The first to highlight is that each group has its own individual rules regarding what can be posted or shared with the community at large. For example, The Write Life Facebook community is a public group, which means any writer can access it and see its posts without asking to become a member. However, this group only allows self-promotion on one day of the week (Monday, currently), and only within one thread (meaning, you can't post a separate thread to the group to advertise your latest novel that's available).

Other groups, such as this closed group for Calls for Submissions (Poetry, Fiction, Art) are more targeted to a specific purpose for joining it, and might be more worth the time it requires to scroll through posts that are made. Currently, the group above has over 58,000 members, so obviously, it's a good resource for writers looking to find publishing opportunities.

Simply put, as you reach out to various Facebook groups in order to join them, choose carefully by exploring their mission statements, rules, and community standards for posting. If your primary intent in joining Facebook groups is to receive advice from other authors in the industry, your choices of potential groups is more expansive. In fact, consider looking at the groups your favorite writers have joined (you should be able to see this by joining their own individual writer page), and observe the activity those writers participate in within the community.

However, if your intent is for self-promotion, there are fewer groups that allow this. Do your research. For example, this one allows self-promotion, so if self-promotion is your intent, it's a good one to join (with over 15 thousand members).

The bad

Let's talk for a moment about some of the reasons why Facebook groups can be bad for writers. As mentioned previously, without honing in on the purpose for joining a Facebook group, you might be left with posts popping up in your Facebook feed that are full of useless information that does little more than distract you from your goal, which is writing more. And let's face it—who needs more of that?

Most groups are extremely upfront about their purpose, mission, and rules. In fact, you don't even have to join to read it. For example, this Indie Author Group prints the following on their group intro:


The Indie Author group is designed to be your trusted first stop for information about Indie writing and support.

It's a place for Indie writers to interact and become better writers. By improving the overall quality we can gain the respect our hard work deserves.

We welcome all writers, whether traditionally published, self-publishing or a hybrid (a blend of both). Our resources are designed around offering suggestions and tips for all aspects of the writing life.

Requests for review exchanges are a form of promotion, and are not allowed.

Indie Author Group, Facebook

Obviously, this group doesn't want self-promotion, either, and only wants to provide tips and suggestions to indie authors about the writing and publishing process. Therefore, if you join it and start trying to promote your work, you'll likely be booted out—or at the very least, reminded of the rules. Groups that have efficient moderators are good at keeping unwanted material from showing up on the page and hold every right to delete a post that doesn't agree with the community standards.

If you want to achieve the most good from Facebook groups, you'll need to do a little research and determine a few important things:

  1. What do you want out of a Facebook group? Is it an opportunity to self-promote? Is it help from other published writers? Is it a community that will review your material before you publish it?
  2. Next, which Facebook groups offer what you are looking for? Narrow it down to get the most out of your group participation.

The ugly

As promised in the title, there is also some sheer ugliness that comes along with joining a Facebook group for writers, and it starts with human psychology while online.

Dr Ciarán Mc Mahon of the cyberpsychology research centre at the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Institute of Leadership, explains it like this—rising right alongside of social media is narcissism in its worst form. He notes:

If you put something on Twitter [or Facebook], it can be seen by upwards of 250 million people, but you probably wrote it in silence and in physical privacy. So, there is quite a gulf between instantly public global communication and these very, very private thoughts. So, a private thought—That guy is an idiot—can easily become an undeletable public announcement: You are an idiot. People have been calling each other idiots for a very long time but never before in such epic terms.

Dr Ciarán Mc Mahon, Irish Times

The author of the above mentioned article, Patrick Freyne, puts it like this:

People argue passionately. They argue creatively. They argue compulsively. There are misunderstandings and lapses of humour. Minor differences of opinion spiral into incivility—and, to be fair, pleasant arguments often stay pleasant. Nowadays, even the most debate-averse people find themselves engaging with online arguments vicariously, sucking up dubiously sourced opinions and counteropinions as if by osmosis.

When I ask internet arguers if they argue more now than they did in the past, they don't hesitate: "Definitely."

So is there a point to arguing with strangers? That's a muddier issue.

Patrick Freyne, Irish Times
Online arguments happen more often, and more easily, than face-to-face ones.
Online arguments happen more often, and more easily, than face-to-face ones. Photo by Gratisography on Pexels.

This leads to an important point that we should all take note of—writers and non-writers alike. What is posted online is posted for the world to see. It's also posted in a way that is undeletable. Sure, we've all seen news stories of celebrities who posted something and then quickly deleted it, but did you catch the fact that the world still knows what was posted?

The simple fact is, when you post something online, it is forever. This means that if you are in a heated argument with a fellow writer over—I don't know—something as simple as a favorite author, or a presumed intention of that favorite author, and you make a derogatory comment that could be construed wrong…that comment is there for everyone to see, both now and in the future. Are you that confident in your stance to engrave a comment in proverbial stone? Is the argument really worth that risk?

If not, it's perhaps best to leave the online arguments alone. I know very few people whose political or social stance hasn't changed in the past decade, so imagine seeing your own stance printed in a permanent form 10 years from now. What if it changes? What if that one comment isn't how you want to be remembered?

These are very real considerations to keep in mind when joining an online community and participating in what is often a rude, politically-charged discourse that would rarely happen if the commentators were face to face.

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