As much as I’m online, I’m still a very simple girl when it comes to finding people online. I use Google. I don’t necessarily look for people’s dot com address but when I’m looking for writers, I tend to think I’ll find at least something out on the regular, open interweb.

And as much as y’all see stuff I post to Facebook, I don’t actually read much on Facebook. I recognize it is a timesuck and yes, I know this means I probably miss out on lots of updates from people I really want to know about. I can’t tell you how many times someone tells me I posted it on Facebook and I never had a clue. Plus, I have a hard time finding actual people on Facebook because let’s face it, there are dozens of folks out there with the same name.

I suspect there are many people out there who, like me, either use Facebook as a tool or who avoid it all together. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great place to create groups and to reach out to potential readers. But when everything a person has is on a personal Facebook page (not a fan page, which I’ll get to in a minute), then said potential readers have to have a Facebook page to read it. They can’t find your contact info or any other way to connect with you unless you have an external website and if you don’t, they’ll have to create a Facebook account of their own, which many won’t do.

Facebook is a great way to stay connected. I’ve reconnected with friends from high school who I never would have found outside on the world wide web, simply because I would never have had the time to sit and google everyone in my class. With Facebook suggesting people I might know, it saved time and brought people back into my life. I’m glad for that. But as a writer, I’m not going to put all my eggs in a single basket.

Which brings me to Facebook Fan pages. Press a like button and you’re a fan. You can leave messages on the wall. You can catch up on all the latest news. But what I haven’t figured out is how to leave the person you’re a fan of a message that the entire world can’t see. And if its difficult to find, people won’t do it. So as an author, do you need a fan page? Not necessarily. Is it useful? Probably but considering Facebook’s recent crackdown on author contests and promotions, I suspect we may see somewhat of an exodus back to self hosted websites in order to run contests and other promotion.

It is because of Facebook’s restrictions and weird, sometimes arbitrary enforcement of the rules that I urge all authors out there to yes, have a Facebook presence but not to cull all interaction on their own websites. Yes, Facebook is easier but what happens when the day comes that you suddenly have to start paying to maintain your Fan page? Or they change the rules and stop allowing something you’ve depended on, such as author promotions.

I recommend maintaining a personal website. If you’re going to post to Facebook, do it through your own website and feed it into Facebook. That way, people see fresh content on your own website and people in Facebook will see it, too. You end up keeping a solid presence at your own website as well as staying connected in Facebook. Plus, if Facebook ever changes the game and you’re no longer willing to play, you’ll have a home with a warm fire ready to go back to whenever you decide to leave the Facebook village.