We’ve all heard how you need to be careful on social media and watch your privacy; we’ve all heard the stories about celebs who say the wrong thing at the wrong time. But I’ll bet you rarely consider how the things YOU post affect your reputation as a writer.
It’s all well and good to have separate pages or accounts for your personal posts and your career posts, but do you really think people can’t connect the dots?
Now, if you’re as politically incorrect as I am, you might not care too much if your opinions are being sent around the Internet. Sure, I censor myself sometimes, but then again, look at my genre: dystopia. Government collapse, survival, etc. I can get away with a lot, but I really don’t want a convoy of black SUVs showing up at my door.
It was bad enough when two guys in camo stopped by one day, supposedly looking for a fellow soldier, and when the lady who worked for the US government wanted to talk to me about certain groups in the area. But I digress . . .
If you write in a certain genre, people, readers, expect you to say and do certain things. If you say or do something out of character, that could be detrimental to your sales. If you say or do something that’s offensive to the majority of your readers, that could also affect sales. Ditto for misinformation.
A fan once mentioned, to my husband, that a Glock didn’t have a safety—as I’d said in Reduced; without missing a beat, my husband said, “Well, the book IS set in the future . . .” Nice save! Always remember, if you’re writing fiction, you don’t have to be 100% accurate, but you better be pretty close.
Another reader complained about a character in Recycled; this reader thought Jules should have done more for the women in the story. I responded to her email, and she kept it up for a few more exchanges and ended saying, “I’ve wasted enough time on this.”
Okey dokey then—I’m not a feminist by the strictest definition, and I gave her a truthful explanation. You can’t please everyone all the time . . .
Remember how I’ve talked about your target reader? The ONE? That’s who you should focus on when you’re posting online, regardless of platform. Yeah, sure, you can get away with personal posts, but you might have to employ that internal censor now and again.
For instance, if you write for children, you probably wouldn’t want to get involved in a discussion on spanking, particularly if you believe that sparing the rod spoils the child. You don’t have to compromise your personal belief, just don’t discuss it online.
Ever heard the old adage, “Don’t discuss money, religion, or politics in polite company?” Yeah, that. Not that the Internet is very polite, but you get my drift.
And finally, once again, don’t make stupid grammar and spelling mistakes on the Internet. There are edit buttons, you can delete and try again, whatever. Just fix them. They make you look stupid. For some reason, readers enjoy well-written books—they often think authors are smart, smart enough to write an entire book!—and if you slip up, well, you could lose readers. And sales.
If you don’t know that you’re making mistakes, take a remedial course or ask a friend for help. Everyone makes mistakes, no one is perfect, but if you constantly say things like “noone” for “no one” and “had ran” instead of “had run,” you have a problem. Admit it and fix it.
Wait a minute—you aren’t an author? Freelancers, all of this can apply to you too, particularly the grammar and spelling errors. Do you think companies who hire you to write aren’t going to check social media? Think again.
If you’re constantly confusing “your” with “you’re” and mixing up all the varieties of “there” and capitalizing random words, this could be the reason why your career has either stalled or hasn’t taken off in the first place. Check your words before you post—it can make a real difference.