Terri Bruce has been making up stories for as long as she can remember and won her first writing award when she was twelve. Like Anne Shirley, she prefers to make people cry rather than laugh, but is happy if she can do either. She produces fantasy and adventure stories from a haunted house in New England where she lives with her husband and three cats. Her first novel, HEREAFTER—a contemporary fantasy about a woman’s search for redemption in the afterlife—will be released by Eternal Press this fall. Visit her on the web at www.terribruce.net.
As a soon-to-be-published author, I’m dipping a toe into the strange new realm of going from a “private” person to a “public” one on social media. Up to this point, I’ve had a long, lovely, and, above all, private online life/presence. I have a personal Facebook page where I am friends with only people who I know (and like) in real life (I’m not even friends with my coworkers – not because I don’t like them, but because I believe in keeping my personal and professional lives separate). I also have a personal Goodreads page where I’ve rated and reviewed books—as a reader. But these are things that “public Terri” the author does not want “the public” to access. Goodreads book reviews in particular seem troubling—as a reader, I have personal tastes, same as anyone. But as a writer I know how subjective reading tastes are (and how hurtful negative reviews can be) and I have made it my policy not to formally review books as a professional courtesy to my writing peers.
So, what is one to do? How have you handled the transition from private citizen to public persona on social media? When you moved from a personal to author profile on Goodreads, did you delete your ratings and/or reviews? Did you open up your personal Facebook profile to industry contacts and writing peers and, if so, did it change the content of what you were willing to post/share? Or do you now maintain two sets of pages on a variety of social media sites—one personal profile for your private life and one professional profile for your public life?
10 thoughts on “Writer’s Craft #68 – Going public on web 2.0”
It’d be great to read an on-going series from you where you negotiate these thorny questions.
I started my adventures on the interwebz with the knowledge that everything I did would be ‘public’, which effectively sidelined any decisions I might’ve had to make about the issue.
I think it’s dangerous to consider any interactions on any social media to be anything other than public anyway, but I do understand your dilemma about the consequences and responsibilities of having a public persona.
I think the only thing we can do is when we express an opinion, is to be prepared to stand behind it, or gracefully accept that we boo-booed.
Hi Terri-Great post! I’m a new writer, too. My experience is a whopping 2-3 months of being public. Still trying to figure it out. My FB is currently mixed with my professional and private friends. It seems my professional writing friends will come and visit and comment on posts, interviews, etc., while my family and friends shy away. Most do not understand how to post a comment. To be honest, it is hurtful that they won’t learn. I’ve explained how to sign up for Blogger in three easy steps…What do you do? With my very insignificant experience, strangers from the writing world will come out of the closet and write words of encouragement. Makes me feel as if I could really do this on a regular basis. I am also not looking forward to the dreaded “bad” review. It’s inevitable the longer you stick around in this business. Anyway, congratulations on getting published! Hope your new book is a huge success! Dina Rae
I agree with Widdershins–it would be an interesting series if you continued to write about how you worked out these issues.
I’m still trying to get my Facebook account straightened out. It keeps defaulting to my personal page instead of my author page, simultaneously making it difficult to build a fan base and annoying my friends and family who aren’t so interested in all things writerly. Ah well. 🙂
Some human beings are more amenable to corporate “branding strategies” than others. Social media policies set in the entertainment industry require the employees of game development studios and TV production teams to have separate social media accounts for their “brand personas”. If they post to Facebook, Twitter, etc. they must use the separate account that fans/consumers have access to, and never allow the fans/consumers to have access to their personal accounts, where they are being “themselves”.
I don’t use this method myself, but it sounds as if this strategy is the one that might work best for you. You can certainly try to keep the public out of your personal accounts; you can even change the name on your personal accounts to something that is known only to those close to you, as Nettle Greenman does. Create a separate identity for “Terry Bruce, Author” on Facebook, Goodreads etc, and do not use your personal accounts to connect with fans or to discuss professional matters.
The one caveat, of course, is to keep in mind that the more people are looking at your work, the more people will be interested in your life. Determined prying will make it through your firewall, no matter how careful you try to be; there are people that specialize in this kind of thing. This is why I do not bother to create separate accounts, and why I do not worry about my opinions, political views, jokes, book reviews and essays offending anyone. I assume that everything is public, or will be public as soon as someone cares enough to make it so.
This being said, I have never posted a single picture of my children, partner or pets to any of my Internet accounts. I have been stalked in the past by a real live schizophrenic, as well as a variety of obnoxious hate-trolls. My work and life already put me in the targeting reticule for a few crazy people. I do not need a child or an aging dog to join me.
It is very different and sometimes overwhelming to be on lots of blogs and have a different Facebook site. It is a happy time when you launch your book but a lot of work just starts when your book launches. I can truthfully say your work is never done.
Like Widdershins, I have never posted anything to any social media site that I wouldn’t want to see reprinted on the front page of the NY Times. If it’s private, it doesn’t go on the Internet. In fact, the only reason I started with FaceBook in the first place was to make connections and get my name out there. Although I do interact with friends and family through social media now, my personal relationships have never been conducted online. They are conducted, well, personally.
Let’s face it — the idea of privacy on the Internet is an illusion. As soon as you dip your toe into the eWater, your data starts being sucked up and marketed, usually without your knowing it. You can fight it all you want, but it’s a losing battle. Plugging in means becoming public property. It’s part of the unspoken deal.
You are so right about your privacy on the Internet being an illusion. You had better watch what you say because you will run into it anytime and anywhere. There is no taking it back either so we all must play nice.
My Angel, My Light As Darkness Falls
Great points ladies! It’s definately true that privacy on the internet is an illusion; it will be interesting to see if I can maintain the “firewalls” or not. I was going to make a joke about my plans to be an obscure writer and therefore not need to be overly worried about my privacy, but then I was afraid my publisher would see it and not be amused. Wait…that was a joke….}:-)
This is so exciting and interesting. I really enjoy hearing about my fellow authors and their books. This looks like a great read. I wish you the best of luck.
My Angel, My Light As Darkness Falls
Terri, you know, Linda is right, you have to be careful. For example, if a writer has already established her reputation for throwing temper tantrums and smearing lots of good people for purposes of revenge by trash talking, shamelessly lying, and generally practicing known forms of defamation on various Internet chat boards, off and on for months, both with her own name and anonymously, then she has to eventually live that down somehow. It will follow her around as she grows into becoming a real public figure. Karma will be a b.i.t.c.h. Just saying, girlfriend.