Social Networking Sites

Outskirts Press has its sights set on social network publishing this January as we launch our first ever “Facebook Anthology” set for publication this quarter.  This is an opportunity for our Facebook Fans to submit material for free publication, just for being an Outskirts Press Facebook Fan.  In my last posting I referred to this as an “experiment” and it is one.  In fact, any social networking initiative or engagement is something of an experiment because it evolves in real time, with real participation by real people. It’s impossible to duplicate that in advance within a “testing environment.” 

Engaging in social networking sites was one of my New Year’s Resolutions last year and it continues to be equally important this year.

So we are launching our Facebook Anthology experiment this month and we don’t know how successful it will be, or how engaged we can get our Facebook Fans to be.   But it looks promising so far. Since announcing the Anthology on January 1, our Facebook Fan base has increased by 10%.  Now it remains to be seen how many fans actually submit material for the anthology.  Of course, it doesn’t help that Facebook makes the submission process somewhat convoluted.  You see, in an effort to engage the “social” part of this anthology, we wanted to encourage our fans to submit their material directly through Facebook (as opposed to submitting it to us via email, for example).  But, as a result, submissions are victimized by Facebook’s character limitations:

A “Wall Posting” has a character limitation of 1,000 while a “Status Posting” has a character limitation of 420.  Since our fans are only allowed to post “Status Updates” on our wall, that means their submission is limited to 420 characters — not very many at all.

So the solution to this was to encourage them to Post a “Status Update” announcing their submission, and then Comment on their own Status Update to submit their actual creative content.  You see, for some reason, Facebook allows 8,000 characters in the comments section, even though the status posts are limited to 420.  Why? That’s a question for Mark Zuckerberg.  While this is relatively easy to do in practice, it sounds overly complicated when just reading about it on a blog posting.  It’s my hope we can encourage our fans to participate by stressing the “free publication” part and the fun social aspects of this anthology.   It’s a fun, free, fast way to get published by Outskirts Press — and perhaps will allow new authors the chance to “dip their toe” into the self-publishing pool to see how it feels.   

It is also my hope that many of our Facebook fans will appreciate the opportunity to donate to a worthwhile charity. You see, the royalties of this Facebook Anthology are going toward a charity that our Facebook fans themselves will vote on.  And more on that next time….