How Much to Share Online

social mediaWith everyone going so crazy over social media today, many have legitimate questions about “how much is too much.” How do you share information and conversation on your blog, Facebook, and Twitter while still having personal and professional boundaries?

I’ve noticed two separate issues with this:

1. The professional aspect.

What if you’ve queried 150 agents and had no success yet? What if you have an agent and your project is about to go out on submission to publishers? What if you just received a publishing contract?

Do you blog and tweet these things? How do you know where to draw the line on sharing professional information? I can’t answer every single variable here, but I can say this:

Always be thoughtful and discerning when deciding what professional information to share publicly.

In other words, don’t just dash off Twitter and blog posts without thinking. Be strategic.

You may use your blog to chronicle your efforts to get an agent, but always ask yourself what your blog would look like to one of those potential agents. You may be sharing your publishing journey, but you never share details like the fact that your agent is about to submit, or what publishers have made offers, or specifics of a contract that has a confidentiality clause in it.

Even with getting an agent, or getting a publishing contract, never share the information until it’s official (with publishers, this means the Publishing Agreement is signed) or until your agent gives you the go-ahead.

2. The personal aspect.

Many writers are concerned about their privacy, and that of their family. Privacy isn’t the same for everyone—some people are more concerned about it than others; some people have more at stake than others (for example, young children in their home).

If privacy concerns you, then let me assure you it’s not difficult to have a robust online presence, full of personality and wit, without ever giving away personal details that you’re not comfortable sharing. You’re not required to post about your kids or your dinner menu or where you live… or anything you don’t want to share.

Just remember the cardinal rule in blogging, Tweeting and Facebooking: It’s about creating relationships, not selling. It’s about offering something rather than trying to get others to do something or buy something. There are plenty of ways to do this without divulging too much personal information.

If you hesitate to be too personal online, just don’t forget: You still need to have personality and humor.

What are some ideas for using social media while avoiding giving away too much? Any tips for your fellow writers?

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  • http://neuroticworkaholic.blogspot.com Neurotic Workaholic

    I am mostly anonymous on my blog for safety reasons and also because I work as a teacher; I’ve heard of other teachers who lost their jobs because of what they wrote on their blogs. So I think about how I would feel if one of my colleagues or students came across my blog and recognized me; that keeps my blogging in check, so to speak. I do write about my personal life, but I’m vague enough about it that no one could figure out which neighborhood I live in, what schools I’ve taught at, etc., etc.

  • http://www.stephanie-mcgee.com Stephanie McGee

    This is one reason I finally created a facebook page for myself. I was getting too much crossover on there, including a lot about just where I was living, based on who I was friending and such. I know it seems odd to have a page for myself as a writer long before I’m published or even with an agent, but it works for me as far as the privacy thing goes.

    At first, though, I had two facebook accounts (which is against the terms of service, but that’s the one thing people universally lie about, isn’t it?), one which I’d had for years with lots of personal stuff, pictures of my family and such, and the one I started for networking with writers which would not have anything personal on it. Then I deactivated the old account and kept the current. It was a while before I split it into the account and the page, with separation between writers and friends, though there is some cross-over.

    When I first started blogging I was anal about the privacy issue. I didn’t want anyone knowing my identity, where I lived, and at first even what gender I was. The gender thing didn’t last long and after a while I realized people needed to know me as me and not a persona so I dropped the anonymity thing. I’m still wicked protective of things such as where I live and such. I think most people know the state I live in, but within that I try not to put too much out there as far as the exact city/town/village.

    • http://creativitylifecoaching.blogspot.com Sherrie

      Stephanie,
      I am curious about how you did that. I recently separated into 2 FB profiles and am trying to get all the people I actually know to move to my personal profile. Some do but still do not remove themselves from the one with 5K friends. Which is another problem. The way you did it, is there a limit. I thought of making a fan page, but like you, I am not published yet so I will probably save that until I am.
      I would love to see your FB page if that is o.k.

  • Suzanne

    Speaking only as a reader: Unless a writer is trying to sell themselves as the vanguard of a particular region (ie, “a Southern writer” or “the portrait artist of the desert”), I don’t really want to know where they live or why. I don’t want or need to know if they are married, how many kids they have, what sort of domicile they have, what was for dinner, or their favorite haunts.

    I am interested in their ideas. Share what is between your ears! Get me hooked on the way you bring an idea to life! Draw me in with your observations about creation, recording, and dissemination!

    The authors I am most interested in use their blogs to offer a little something more than what is in their books. I don’t want to read the blurb from the back flap again.

    • http://esthersdestiny.blogspot.com Sherri

      I’m kind of the opposite Suzanne. I DO like to know lots of stuff about people – especially the authors whose books I read. I’m just curious and like to get a well-rounded picture. Of course, I’m not going to stalk anyone or use that information maliciously – just curious. I want MY private stuff private though. I think you have better boundaries than I do! :)

    • http://www.lauramatsonhahn.com Laura Matson Hahn

      I’m with you, Suzanne: Ideas, perspectives, notions …. these are things I can’t get enough of … from thoughtful sources, I mean. Much of what I see on twitter and facebook is drivel, personal updates or semi-inspirational or self promotion.
      I am reminded of a quote from the movie (and book) PAINTING CHURCHES “When you can invade your own privacy,” the artist father said to his aspiring artist daughter, “you’ll be very good.”
      Understanding how deep one must go to invade our own privacy is little known (IMHO) Cheers!

  • http://www.scootercarlyle.blogspot.com Scooter Carlyle

    Authors that spam me via a direct message on Twitter are promptly unfollowed.

  • Melissa Pearl

    Thanks for the advice. I don’t share any personal details, it’s all about my writing journey, but maybe I share too much of that. I will keep this post in mind when I compose future posts. I know I always appreciate reading the blogs I find helpful or make me feel as though I’m not the only person out there who feels the way I do about writing.
    I haven’t had to market a book yet, but if I ever get to that point, I want to make sure I do it in a way that makes me charming and witty as opposed to pushing myself and my books onto people.
    As writers I feel as though we are here to serve people, not the other way around.

  • http://ardeeeichelmann.livejournal.com Ardee-ann Eichelmann

    Rachelle, regarding the professional aspect of my work I play things VERY close to the vest. My business is MY business and until something is in print I tend not to share it. That included when I used to write for several e-zines. Only my editors knew what I was writing until it went live.

    As for my personal life, well I tend not to announce my whereabouts at any given moment or photograph my dinner for posterity but there is only one Ardee-ann Eichelmann around and I am easy to locate and learn things about on a personal level. I am comfortable about this and have been since I first got online in 1997. For about 3 weeks I used a pseudonym but that was a hassle so I am just me and easy to track down if someone is so inclined.

    So my advice to other writers, keep your business to yourself until something is a SURE thing and if you are not comfortable sharing who you are online you might want to consider how you deal with a web presence.

    Cheers,

    Ardee-ann

  • http://merceyvalley.blogspot.com/ Mercey V

    This is such a great post today! Finding the balance on a blog is so necessary and is most beautifully done when the reader comes away edified instead of filled with a bunch of gossip, or condemned because of everything they’re not because they haven’t achieved the same status or benchmarks in life.

    When I blog, I try to keep it relevant to the issue at hand. If I want to say something personal, I do my best to keep it on the meat not the vegetables. If I’ve a story about a friend, I change their name to suit or don’t even use a name. Whatever gets said needs to be something I KNOW the other parties will be happy with and won’t crush toes.

    A little “Holy Ghost” consult never goes astray either – just a pause to see if my inner man is happy with what I’m writing. There’s been more than one occasion where I’ve hit delete instead of post because a vent is not necessarily an indication of an edifying blog. Pick up the phone and test your words on a friend… Looking like a dork online is bad ;)

  • http://mrhmccann.blogspot.com/ McKenzie McCann

    I just remind myself that my grandmother reads my blog, and that answers every question I have.

    On the other hand, I like to share as much as I can. I want readers to see my triumphs, failures, and join me on my roller coaster. I’m a teenager after all. Teenagers have to deal with drama.

  • http://esthersdestiny.blogspot.com Sherri

    I get lots of practice doing this with my job. As a social worker, when I was in the mental health field, the boundaries were much tighter and stricter. Now that I’m with hospice it’s a little different. We tend to get closer to our patients and families, but we still have to have boundaries. That keeps us healthy and effective and safe.

    I think the key here is to always keep your purpose in sight. People need personal interaction…just not THAT personal.

    It seems odd to me (and maybe this is just me) that with all the social media out there, we’ve become experts at throwing out all kinds of information (i.e. Wal-Mart & bathroom breaks) but not so great at really communicating at times (texting someone you’re sitting at the table with). Maybe we need to get back to the basics of communication, you know, before Jerry Springer made it “OK” to put EVERYTHING out there.

    Sorry for the soap box…just got on a roll! :)

  • http://en.gravatar.com/elenyalewis Elenya Lewise

    I’m not published yet but couldn’t resist a little blog post when I subbed my first piece – it was just so exciting! I didn’t say what it was or who too, just that I’d done it. That was enough for me.

    I follow a lot of authors and I love reading about their writing progress and their submission statuses and whatnot – ultimately it shows me that they’re like me, just further along in their writing career. Likewise, there are a lot of aspiring authors that follow me and I want to encourage them with my own journey, wherever I may be. I feel it’s really rewarding to know that people have been with me right from the beginning, as it were.

    Your comments are insightful and have (thankfully) confirmed that I’m going about the balance between professional and personal the right way. Thank you. :)

  • Joseph Baran

    Professionally, use the media to tell others of your work and to share your progress on your projects. Have excerpts and other clips that will wet the reader’s appetite, and potential agent as well, not only to follow the story as it comes to life, but also to let the public know when the book is, hopefully, published.

    Personally, release secondary personal information about your interests and hobbies only in order to connect with other writers, readers and people of similar interests. Bridge the gap of distance or of age with common elements to let people know you exist. But certainly keep all other personal information off line.

    Working on my second story, I intend to set up my blog and online site to promote the first finished novel, as I will be looking for an agent very soon, and let people know of my progress on the second one.

  • http://michaelseese.blogspot.com/ Michael Seese

    As an information security professional, I feel compelled to address the issue of how much personal info to post. While I agree that you can be yourself and share anecdotes, you do need to be careful about what you say. Many people choose their spouses’ or kids’ birthdays as passwords. Many people also post these details online. Guess what? The bad guys know it, too. To take that a step further, many banks ask extended security questions, such as “What is your favorite place to vacation?” And what do a lot of people post…their vacation photos. In fact, many infosec pros make up fake answers to these questions.

    Also, be careful about posting location info, such as when using 4sqaure. There is a website called pleaserobme.com It was set up by three European fellows who wanted to demonstrate just how dangerous posting geo-information is. It trolls through Twitter, Facebook, etc., pulls that kind of info, and posts, “John Smith is at Starbucks right now.” A perfect tool for someone who wants to rob your house.

    Let’s be safe out there, folks.

    My $0.03.

    • http://www.marilhazlett.com Maril Hazlett

      I totally agree, Michael. Location info – people should be VERY careful posting, if at all. Also travel plans. I worry about agents who have to post their conference schedules – especially if I know through the blog that the agent has kids at home. That means ANYONE could know it. What if someone thinks there might be a chance your kids are home alone for part of the day, like maybe after school…?

      I think the biggest mistake people make in sharing online – they forget that NOT ONLY YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE IS READING YOU. Anyone, anyone at all, could be reading you. Also, if you are posting about your profession – then you really have no choice other than to act like a professional. I know a few freelancers who post WAY too much client information on their blogs. If I were a potential client, I would run screaming.

      If you want to do anything personal, or if you even think there’s a chance you might overshare, (a) don’t hit the “submit” button, and/or (b) go get a livejournal account, stay anonymous, and get the personal stuff out of your system.

  • http://www.wizardofotin.blogspot.com otin

    My blog has always been about relationships. I actually met the love of my life through blogging. :)

  • http://byline.peterdehaan.name/ Peter DeHaan

    In a monthly column that I write, the ones that consistently get the best reader feedback are the ones about my family.

    However, there is a fine line between providing enough information to engage the reader and protecting the privacy of my family — and I fear that a couple of times I have crossed that line.

  • http://paulanthonyshortt.blogspot.com/ Paul Anthony Shortt

    I’m fairly open on my social media. I don’t go into specifics about where I work, however, because I don’t want my opinions to be reflected on the company, and vice versa. I want to be taken for the writer I am, not what my day-job is. I also don’t give out my phone number or home address publicly.

    I have no problem giving out my e-mail address, however. Spam or frequent e-mails have never bothered me.

    I’ll happily share a number of personal facts, and have shared some very emotional details of my life, especially over the last 8 weeks, on my blog, Twitter and Facebook since it’s the best way I have of keeping most people I know updated. I am, generally, a very open person.

  • http://www.edcyz.com ed cyzewski

    I really appreciate this post because I think boundaries are important for everyone to consider before publishing, but most of us will have different standards. I look for public figures who embody the way I want to manage my own social networking.

    For myself, I really like Jane Friedman’s approach (http://janefriedman.com/). She interacts with everyone on Facebook and Twitter, but she only shares a limited number of personal and professional details. I like how she is widely available to anyone on whichever network they prefer, but she is still conscious of not sharing too much from her personal life. She’ll toss in a few vacation pictures and updates about her work, but I always feel like she has good boundaries.

  • http://dianewbailey.blogspot.com/ Diane Bailey

    This is a question my husband and I have discussed many tmes. My blog and Author page on Facebook are open to the public, my personal Facebook is private. It is locked down as tight as I can get it.

    In all things I try to use caution and a little wisdom.

  • http://www.artesianministries.org Donna Pyle

    Thanks for the great reminders about social media interaction – especially when it comes to the business side of writing.

  • http://rsbohn.blogspot.com RS Bohn

    I’m in the camp that doesn’t share very much personal info. In addition, I do *not* care to read about the personal lives of those I follow. I’m interested, as Suzanne said, in a person’s ideas. Musings on writings, sources of inspiration, writing exercises, anything like that.

    I unfollowed Neil Gaiman on Twitter because he talks constantly about his personal life. I found it extremely annoying. I also unfollowed Joe Hill, for two reasons: He used Twitter incorrectly (writing what are essentially blog posts in a hundred 140-word tweets, thus spamming my timeline constantly) and also because it turns out his political views and mine are very, very far apart.

  • http://www.dianadart.com Diana Dart

    Great info, Rachelle. It’s a fine line and obviously nudges people in different ways. Two questions – should author blogs be predominantly about the work or the author? And, as an aspiring author, how can one build up sufficient content without blowing the lid off of his/her work? Any numbers, guidelines, advice? Thanks in advance.

  • http://rmabry.com Richard Mabry

    Just a couple of random thoughts on the matter–I never post about a trip until I’m back from it. No need to alert everyone that we’ve left behind an empty house.

    I try very hard not to use the social media exclusively to advance either my books or my blog. The rule is supposed to be 20% marketing, 80% “value” and personal. Don’t always hit that, but I try. And I get really ticked at some of my writing friends whose only tweets are about their books or their contest.

    It’s tough to walk that fine line Rachelle talks about, but it can be done without revealing too much personal info.

  • http://www.sevenoaksconsulting.com Jeanne Grunert

    I’m the author of The Art of Effective Online Social Networking, and I always recommend a few tips. First, make sure your profile is professional yet warm and friendly. Think 80% professional, 20% warm and fuzzy. Unless you write about religious or political topics, keep them down to a minimum in your professional profiles as a writer and in your posts (if that’s your angle for your writing, then it needs to be more in the forefront.) Many people do not realize that Twitter and other social networking sites actually create a unique URL for every post you make, and it lives on LONG after you’ve made it, so think twice before venting your frustrations online or saying something you might regret. Keep a sense of humor, relax, and remember that people use social media for fun and engagement with others.

  • http://www.tendergraces.blogspot.com kathryn magendie

    There are things I consider completely private that are no one’s business – yet that goes for people In Real Life and on Social Networking. Other than that, I’m pretty open; however, I do try to be positive and supportive. If I’m having a bad negative day, I try not to post about it unless I do it in humor or in a way that maybe helps someone else going through the same thing.

    And mostly, if something feels “wrong” or as if I’m divulging too much, or I feel weird or “should I?” – then I don’t do it. I trust those instincts!

    Mostly I just am myself. But, I do sometimes worry I err on the side of caution so much when it comes to not mentioning my books (I hate the me me me sell buy buy buy me thing), that I don’t mention them enough. I suppose not enough is better than too much!

  • http://www.robynbradley.com/ Robyn Bradley

    Your point #2 is one of the main reasons why I encourage writers to create a Facebook page instead of using their personal profile.

    Of course, one argument against this strategy goes like this: if you’re an “unknown” writer, how can you get fans? My response: it’s not about the number of fans; it’s about the quality.

    Building slowly is okay (and using FB ads is a relatively cheap way to grow your fan base to a “respectable” number). But it’s important to remember that your fans aren’t your friends (and not all friends are fans), so it makes sense to keep ‘em separate.

    What you share on your personal profile will probably not be stuff your fans need (or want) to know. Privacy is important.

  • http://www.sarahanneloudinthomas.wordpress.com Sarah Thomas

    A great piece of advice I got early on was to avoid oversharing about rejections/frustrations and to NEVER vent. If an agent or editor checks out your blog and sees that the MS you just sent them has already been rejected 40 times, I’m thinking that may influence their opinion at least a smidge. Same goes for endless posts about writer’s block or your inability to get POV right. And if they see you being critical of someone who rejected you–yikes! As for personal info, I keep that to a minimum. You can say a lot without using identifiers.

  • http://www.sueharrison.com Sue Harrison

    A great reminder for all of us, Rachelle. Thank you.

    I love what Robyn said that fans aren’t friends and all friends are not fans. What a great guideline for social media. It’s so easy to be caught up in believing “they like me” when it’s really about your books and what you’ve written, which is wonderful, but is not the same thing as friendship.

  • http://www.maythek9spy.com KC Frantzen & May the K9 Spy

    While May the K9 Spy travels incognito when in character, she does have a personal life and posts this on FB. :)

    Thanks for the excellent post and comments!

    (“”) (“”) That’s 2 paws up!

  • http://lyeland.com M.R. Anglin

    So, is it appropriate to tell readers things like “I’m turning in my re-writes” or “I’ve received my edits”?

  • http://www.nebraskagraceful.blogspot.com Michelle DeRusha

    I tend to be an over-sharer, so this is helpful to me, Rachelle. Thanks.

  • http://acleverwhatever.blogspot.com Tirzah

    I have a pen name, my blog, facebook and twitter are under that. I don’t post personal photos online. I may talk about a family member but never by name. I don’t list my hometown or the town I live in, only the generalized area of the country. I have a separate email set up just for my blog. I don’t post pictures of family, friends or my home on Facebook either. The dog is on there but hey, he’s pretty generic looking for an EWOK cross. But I still think my blog and FB are very me. My personality shows through even if my personal google info does not.

    Tirz

    • http://www.FaithfulChoices.com LP Court

      Tirzah,
      I’m beginning to do the same thing. I’ve recently chosen a pen name but have come across a challenge and maybe you could help with it.

      For my email list on the blog the law requires an address. How can I deal with this and still create an email list?
      I write about marriage, family and living our faith and have already encountered my first hate response. In the interest of my children, boundaries need to be in place. I’d love ideas.

  • http://rickbarry.blogspot.com/ Rick Barry

    This isn’t online information, but concerning business cards: At the Blue Ridge conference last year an attractive female writer offered me her business card, and I was surprised to see it included a Glamour Shots type portrait plus her exact street address, plus home phone number. I quietly urged her to redesign her cards so that potential nut cases would not have a simple time stalking her. Ladies, you simply never know who might end up with one of your cards. Be professional, but also be discreet for your own sake.

  • http://www.lettersfromvalentinahepburn.blogspot.com Valentina Hepburn

    The personality of a blog should come through the writing voice. Sometimes, revealing too much can be off putting, but as long as any personal stuff included adds flavour and isn’t too in-depth, I think it can make a blog more interesting — and safer for the writer.

  • http://www.authorcynthiaherron.com Cynthia Herron

    It’s unfortunate that we have to think of safeguards when we want to be approachable and transparent as writers, but it just makes good sense.

    Rules of thumb for me are:

    *If someone follows me on Twitter and I see that their tweets (or websites) are linked to spam/profanity, I will not only NOT follow them back, but I WILL B-L-O-C-K them. There’s absolutely no redeeming value in that kind of content for me.

    *Same goes for blog comments. I love engaging with readers, but I’ve recently had a few comments that I didn’t approve because of the content on their blogs/sites. I’m a Christian, not a Pollyanna Perfect, but I won’t knowingly allow a link back to someone’s blog who has a stream of cursing/profanity/etc. Again, my personal conviction.

    *And if I have approved comments in the past by someone, and suddenly the tone becomes argumentative, odd, rude, or off-the-wall, again I will delete and block.

    If we get a weird sense about something, it’s generally for a good reason.

  • http://reflectionsbykrista.blogspot.com Krista Phillips

    I’m probably an over-sharer as well. On the personal point, I think everyone needs to decide what is right for THEM and their family. I have small kids, and I don’t share specifics on WHERE they go unless it is obvious (they go to school in the morning, duh!) :-)

    On the professional side, totally agree to be intentional about what you post.

  • http://www.victoriablackwell.blogspot.com Vickie in Texas

    This has been a real concern of mine, but once we’ve posted more information than we should have, it is already out there, somewhere. I was going to post a remark on E-How the other day, and noticed after pushing the post button that it pulled up my name on my facebook user name,and my high school was listed. I immediately deleted the post. I guess I’ll go to my facebook account and take off all of my status information. I thought it was private, and only available to friends. Any intense amount of thought on this issue causes me to get panicky. I’ve tried not to think about it, because I think it is all about to hit a very serious level for everyone, but that is just my own personal opinion.

  • http://thejaimereports.blogspot.com Jaime Wright

    Twitter and my Writer Page on Facebook remain personal without mention of my family, state, children etc. My Facebook personal page is very private and difficult to find with a mere search. I used to be non-concerned with privacy until my birth family found me and started showing great interest in my child – in which case, I shut down every public everything known to man for about a year. But, you’re so right – you can be VERY personal without being … personal.

  • Vera Soroka

    I have given this a lot pf thought. I don’t tweet or use facebook. I really don’t like either one. I do like to read blogs but again I don’t really want to do that either so where does that leave me? I decided that I would create a website to post my writing and art for people to just drop by and read and look at the art. That’s it.

  • http://www.peaceforthejourney.com elaine @ peace for the journey

    There have been a few times when I’ve been concerned about sharing family photos, especially ones of my young children. On one occasion, I removed a picture of my daughter because it kept coming up on search engines…CREEPY!

    Along the lines of talking about my publishing adventure, I keep most of it private. I’ve known others who throw it all out there, and it makes me a bit uneasy for them.

    As always, such valuable insight here.

    peace`elaine

  • http://www.ink-spells.blogspot.com Susan Kaye Quinn

    Great, succinct guidelines to live by in our digital world! Thanks!

  • http://tcavey.blogspot.com/ TC Avey

    I am not very comfortable sharing much about myself, online or in person. I tend to be a very private person and blogging is helping me to overcome some of my fears about getting personal. It’s a great outlet for me to grow as a person and a writer.

  • http://www.katieganshert.blogspot.com Katie Ganshert

    I’m an over-sharer. Maybe it’s the result of growing up in a small city in the Midwest. I still don’t lock my car half the time. I’m very trusting. Or maybe that’s just stupid….

    As far as what to share from a professional stand point – I did share when my book was awaiting pub board. Whoops! I never shared the publisher though….until I signed the contract, of course. :)

  • http://lindakwertheimer.com Linda K. Wertheimer

    Rachelle,
    Once again, you’ve written a wonderful, useful post and shown us by example how to use social networking as a great professional tool.

    I’m a former full-time journalist so was trained to keep my life fairly close to the vest. But now I’m working on a memoir and write a blog that spins off of that. And to boot, my memoir has a religious bent to it. So I cross lines I never crossed as a journalist. I write about my personal and spiritual life – as they relate to my memoir.

    I write more about my own journey but of course it brings in my young son and husband at times. I show my husband posts if I believe he might be concerned about something in them.

    In terms of Twitter, I use it mostly as a professional tool. I network with other authors as well as agents and sources for articles I may be reporting. I follow people whose work I’m interested in. I don’t tweet to say, ‘Hey, I’m here at Starbucks writing now.’ I’m bored by tweets like that so why would I think anyone would want to read that?

    I try to avoid blatant self-promotion on Twitter, yet also use it to let people know when I’ve had a new piece published. I never post process stuff, like gee, I submitted this to this publication today or I got that rejection, etc. I may write something more general about the life of a writer if I think it would be helpful to other writers. I avoid whining.

    I also believe tweets should not just be about me. Have I read something interesting by someone else that’s worth sharing with a wider audience?

    My .02 cents worth.

    Cheers,
    Linda

  • http://davidatodd.com David Todd

    I’m using my Facebook author page and my author blog in ways that I think fans might like should I be a well-known author. They’d want to know what my work-in-progress is, and what kind of progress I’m making. They might want to know about book sales. They might like some insight into my characters, maybe some backstory that won’t be in the book itself. I suspect they might want to hear what ideas have popped into my head for future W-I-Ps, or what reviews I’ve had or what interviews are scheduled.

    They might also want to know something about my writing life. At least, I think they would. Maybe I’m fooling myself.

    Concerning withholding personal information, that’s probably a good thing. However, I think nothing is hidden, no matter how hard we try, to a determined stalker. Our caution might detere a less-determined stalker.

  • http://creativitylifecoaching.blogspot.com Sherrie

    Rachelle,
    I am writing to request that you visit my discussion in Writersdigest.com.
    We are discussing historical fiction and labeling genres and I would really love to get your on things. It might even give you an idea for your blog.

    http://community.writersdigest.com/group/historicalfiction?commentId=3114345%3AComment%3A459429&xg_source=ms

    Thank you for any assistance you can offer me.
    Peace,
    Sherrie
    P.S. We met the year you spoke at the La Jolla Writers Conference. I hope to meet you again one day. ;-) <3

  • http://www.karenadair.blogspot.com Karen Adair

    I’m one of those who have children and tend to be a little protective of them. Aside from wanting to have their own lives and privacy, it would be just my luck for something bad to come of my carelessness. For that reason I used a pen name for a while. Then I started reading wonderful articles like this and got a better idea for how it could be done and still maintain my true identity (so much easier to just be me). :) I have a facebook, but only share pics of family with family. My author page is becoming my new favorite as is Google+. I also think it’s wise to withhold various processes because it tends to discourage people who are trying to get published. It can be overwhelming to a new author instead of encouraging. Thank you for an insightful post. As always.

  • http://kristinlaughtin.blogspot.com Kristin Laughtin

    The professional aspect is something I’ve really been considering lately, as I plan to start querying next year as soon as I have grad school out of the way. (At least I should have a few manuscripts done, if the first one doesn’t succeed…) I’m finding myself reluctant to post when I actually start querying, though. There are plenty of authors who have taken years to find an agent and then been very successful, but I worry it will just look bad or whiny to anyone who stumbles across my blog while I’m in the same position–but before I’ve made it. Worse, it might make them doubt my skills if I’m constantly posting that I sent more queries, but never receive any requests for more, etc. You definitely want to present yourself in a good light while going through all the normal struggles, and then you can talk about how you overcame them later.

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  • Selina J.H.

    I think a good blogger understands the art of being a great conversationalist. They’re up on current events or info, know how not to talk too much about themselves and best of all, knows how to draw others into the conversation.

    I saw Rachelle’s online interview the other day and she applied those very things. She listened well, was engaging and had great relative info. No rabbit trails. There were definitely not a lot of “I”s in the interview. You know….I think this or when I or I just don’t do that etc. etc. She wasn’t being the person you hoped to get away from at a party.

  • http://e3write.com Elizabeth Everson

    Don’t forget the SOCIAL in social media, it’s a friendly chat, not an informercial. A constant stream of blather about what you’re trying to sell is a turnoff. Applications that regurgitate the same sales lines or rotate the same five great quotations are boring.

    Don’t share anything you wouldn’t want to see on headline news. Better write what happened on vacation after it’s over so your house doesn’t get robbed.

    Finally, express political and issue opinions with tact.

  • http://www.everydayruralty.com patrice

    I was really open when I started blogging, but I saw that I was getting some creepy traffic. I took my blog to private while I re-worked the whole thing. I pulled every picture of my family that was identifiable. Fortunately, I never narrowed down my location too much. I set really strict guidelines for my teens on their blogs and any social media. All is well now, but I was scared for a while.

    I don’t have an abundance of social media. Blogging is fun, but all the other stuff gets a bit ridiculous. Some folks give so many updates on their lives that I’m surprised they have any time to live them! Unplug and spend some time being real!

  • Nancy Petralia

    Thanks Rachelle for another great post. I’ve been struggling with just how to create my author online identity and the comments here have been very helpful.

    Thanks everyone!

  • http://www.jamespiper.com James Piper

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  • http://writingisablessing.blogspot.com June

    Some people share more than is appropriate for ANY public venue. I’ve unfollowed two authors because of their tweets. I was annoyed at the salacious comments, but I hoped they would stop and that it was a fluke. They seemed to be fairly regular though and I came to the conclusion that they just have unclean minds. When one tweeted about a morning sexual episode she had, I had enough. I didn’t want to visualize that. Eww!

  • http://laurenspathtopub.blogspot.com/ Lauren F. Boyd

    I set up my blog before I was published and kept the posts strictly professional. I didn’t want a publisher basing their opinions of my submitted work on what they might learn personally about me on my blog. Once I got my first publishing contract, I did put my photo on my blog. But I still try and keep my posts mostly professional because that’s my personal preference.

  • http://www.dianebohannan.com Diane Bohannan

    Thank you for writing this post! Very informative and I loved scrolling down to read all the comments! What a great discussion!

    I share a little of this and a little of that. (I’ve already had my identity stolen so I’m not that worried about bad guys gleaning any passwords for my posts.)

    Social media is for relating and promoting. I enjoy reading fun stories about a person’s every day life when it isn’t too revealing. And I don’t might helping promote them with a RT or a mention on my blog.

    Let’s have a little common sense. I try to tell myself, “This can’t be deleted,” before I post online. But, then again we’re human and we all make mistakes. :)

  • http://www.dianebohannan.com Diane Bohannan

    And that folks is why I wrote “might” instead of “mind.”Mistakes. Gotta love them!

  • http://twitter.com/#!/wordsmithwesson Wordsmith & Wesson

    Great advice in the original post, as well as comments.

    When writing a book, I write as though my parents were dead. With social media, I write as though they’re all alive and well, having dinner with my boss and future publisher, getting a live stream of everything I do and say online.

    Cheers for the great advice!

    Wordsmith & Wesson

  • http://www.thehahnhuntinglodge.com Nikole Hahn

    Be interested in your readers. Love them. Ask about their day. Pray for them.

  • http://girlseeksplace.com Brianna

    It’s hard to strike a balance. When I blog, I try to keep it professional and share my writing and book reviews, but I know that’s boring for the people who read my blog that aren’t writers. But I don’t want to get too personal, because you never know who’s reading.

  • http://www.meghanward.com/blog Meghan Ward

    This is great advice, Rachelle, especially the part about when agents are sending your manuscript out on submission.

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