Author groups often post about the controversies of “Liking” fan pages, favorable book reviews, or “disliking” critical book reviews. As I mentioned in the article “On New Author Back Scratching” is this practice telling little lies or are doing innocent favors for struggling colleagues?
In my article, my suggestion was quid pro quo, since I’d been asked to Like so many pages via social sites. On hindsight, I wonder if further analysis will help address the above.
Let’s first think about what “Liking” a Facebook page means. Of course, with most all of social networking, there’s no precise definition, if there were, it would be “Orwellian” and not “social.” So if one Likes a page, such as a television show, does that mean that person watches it without fail, knows every episode, and would pass up any Superbowl featuring the New Orleans Saints to watch? Or is it a casual respect for the show, acknowledgment of its entertainment value and stop at that?
Now let’s move back to authors and books. You’ve heard of a book, familiar with it, network with the author, know the genre. Should you Like the page if asked? There’s certainly no obligation. What’s wrong, you don’t want to be a nice person? Who’s going to call you out if you choose not to? Will you be posted on a blog and blasted on a rant like some of the recent review/counter-review drama that’s recently happened? What are the consequences of perceived honesty/dishonesty, be it casual interest or comprehensive expertise?
So, to turn the wheel another way, let’s look at the new authors, like me. Should other writers/readers Like my page? Do they owe me? No. Am I going to come after he/she if a Like isn’t reciprocated? No, energy is better spent on most anything than spite. But what does it look like for potential readers when they happen to hit an author page and see very few Likes? Better question: Does Liking pages help promote books and lead to sales for new authors?
The muddiness of the article stems from the muddiness of the topic. In social networking, we don’t have an Emily Post, a Priest, or a Prosecutor. If one burps at a party, it may not look very nice, but unlikely would lead to an arrest. However, others may not want to hang around. That’s how social media works; if you reach out pleasantly, people reach back. If you pull back, only the non-conformists and the ones so big it doesn’t matter can make it and it really not matter. Though it’s up to the individual, it’s not all bad; who wants to be Like everyone else?