In this age of social media, it can be easy to fall into a “letting it all hang out” mindset. But if you’re engaging in social networking as a way to help your writing career, you can’t afford major missteps in your online persona. The trick is to be a real person without over-sharing.
As an author, there are specific things you should avoid in your blogging, Tweeting or Facebooking. Here are some of them:
This one seems obvious, but many authors don’t realize how many things are covered in their contract and hence are subject to the contract’s confidentiality clause. Any of the following are typically off-limits for discussion (public or otherwise) unless you have your publisher’s permission to disclose.
If you’re a published author and your agent is shopping a manuscript to publishers other than your current publisher, you need to keep silent about this. Don’t talk about how you’re so excited to move beyond XYZ Publisher. Don’t tweet your excitement to be at ABC Conference telling all the editors about your new book. Keep it to yourself. Saying the wrong thing in a public forum can have real-world ramifications, possibly negative, because editors at the various publishers can see you online, and they also talk to each other. You can literally blow a potential deal this way.
If you’re unpublished and your agent is shopping your manuscript, again, don’t share publicly about it. Not one word! Your agent is strategically managing the process, including what information to share with whom. A careless slip-of-the-fingers on the keyboard can hamstring the agent’s ability to sell the manuscript.
Similarly, if you’re seeking an agent, it’s best not to go into detail about your rejections. Sharing the process in a general way is fine, but with everything you write, imagine a potential agent reading it. Would it turn them off from representing you?
Your blog, public Facebook page or Twitter stream is not the place to complain about the people with whom you are doing business. This is something you need to take directly to the offending person, and if you need to discuss it with others, do it privately with close friends.
This is a sticky one. You want to be “yourself” online as much as possible. Yet if you’re online as a way to create relationships with readers as well as potential business partners (agents, editors) you may need to temper your instinct to make your social and political views an important part of your online persona. There’s no need to alienate people who don’t agree with your views, yet might very well love you and your books.
♦ Ranting or venting
I’m not saying you can’t have a rant now and then. (I’m guilty!) But I recommend you don’t make venting a regular feature if you’re trying to connect with readers or with the publishing community. Be yourself — the best version of yourself! Be someone that others would want to work with or learn more about.
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