Ah, yes. Why else would editors and agents tell authors to get a web page even before they begin querying? Why else would it be one of the first things that publicity departments tell authors with books coming out?

But the biggest reason social networking works is because of: me.

Not me, me. You, me. The millions of me’s out on the net, cruising facebook and twitter and myspace. Maybe you learned about a new author from a friend’s recommendation on facebook. Maybe you see an author’s comments on Twitter.

But when I was walking through the bookstore yesterday, I was busy scanning for author’s names I knew. Authors I hadn’t even heard of before I hopped on line and decided to reach out to the writing world. Authors who would have been another name on the shelf now stand out to me. I turn books of authors I know, of books I love so that the cover is facing forward.

There is also an aspect of loyalty. Authors who have sent care packages and school supplies to Iraq, I remember. I look for their names.

The name is what matters. The author behind it and the books the author is hoping you’ll buy. This book or that will come and go, but building a brand is what social networking is all about. Building a name so that when a million other me’s go to the bookstore, your name is what they’re looking for, either consciously or unconsciously. When they see it, there will be a flash of recognition, followed maybe by a flash of a purchase.

But social networking works. It creates online word of mouth but it creates something more: name recognition. Maybe you’ve exchanged tweets with an author. Maybe you simply commented on someone’s facebook wall because they were having the same kind of day you were.

But social networking works.