Putting yourself out there for your writing success: can it ever be too much?
I think the answer to the above (from me) is pretty given: yes, there are limits to putting yourself out there! It can definitely be too much. But what is too much and in the eyes of whom? I have a business acquaintance who once tried to cover up a major online fuck-up of sorts by posting suggestive imagery of himself on Facebook, with all the necessary pleasure trails and a sheet just barely covering the – as my Indian friends would say – needful. Did it help him? I don’t know. It certainly felt panicky to me. Others have chosen different strategies (or tactics rather), and have disappeared for a while, or simply rolled over and apologized profusely.
But screwing up online is one thing (and sadly can lead to loads of attention, particularly in a small industry) and doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing, despite the original fuck-up. Alas, most of us try to stay clear of screw-ups. We just go about our days and wonder silently: how much of putting yourself out there is necessary for fans to like you? We watch others who put out nudes (or almost nudes), tons of pictures of themselves and their loved ones. People who complain openly about their families and struggles, others talk openly about medical procedures, their struggles at their day jobs etc.
Strategy, what strategy?
My social media strategy (if I have one) is relatively straightforward. I use Twitter to share my blog posts (little else, although it seems the odd Facebook post gets tweeted, too) and those of my Triberr friends. I use Instagram as a mostly personal thing to share – what I consider – beautiful pictures. I also primarily follow accounts of nature/architecture shots. My Facebook is split into an author page (which no one really seems to see things from) and my personal profile, where WYSIWYG. I have *real* friends there, family, and of course my followers/readers/fans. I also have a tiny YouTube channel, although I haven’t posted anything in a while.
It’s primarily my Facebook I will focus on, here on in. Because of its personal nature, it’s where most of the putting yourself out there happens as it is. I find it a difficult balance to strike. I don’t want to censor myself or deprive my friends and family of important moments. I also don’t want to censor myself for my political beliefs and convictions, despite the current climate. My writing is very political, me being who I am is highly political, it speaks to my core to be vocal about my convictions, so that’s rather important.
Putting yourself OUT there…
It gets more complex with regards to my family: “do I share this picture of my son or not?” Trust me, there are so many pictures I’ve NOT shared because of this thought process. Now you’ll say “but you can define your privacy settings” and “who gets to see what”. The problem with this (I find) is that you have to think about this, every time you post. And I have a policy of “what’s on the Internet is public” and rarely share stuff to just a circle of people. I did when our son was a newborn and I’ve found it doesn’t help. People will share anyway. Instead, I use specific, separate channels for some family concerned things (primarily because not all of my family is on Facebook.)
Here’s the other side of the medal: does it help you to share pictures of you in your doctor’s office? Kissing your partner? Posting half-naked pictures of yourself in all kinds of settings? I understand that loads of celebrities make millions just doing that (famous Hollywood Armenians for instance) and that vloggers thrive on that sort of stuff. I’m just not sure it is a road I even wish to entertain. Authentic is better, as well as being “me” as much as I possibly can. Having worked in what they call “corporate America” for a very long time, I kind of grew tired of having to check my person at the door. To become this corporate drone, void of emotion and convictions, spewing corporate speak all day. It’s the one thing I always despised in the corporate world.
Don’t get me wrong; I understand the need for some of it, consistent communication etc. If you’ve just learned that e.g. (I’ve seen this IRL) the love of your life divorces you, you don’t need your manager to tell you to check your emotions at the door. Not THAT day. Maybe tomorrow, but that day, you need to be a hot mess. But that’s just me.
I’ve been thinking a lot about marketing creating a Patreon account, primarily to help me finance more audiobooks. The creation of a high-quality audiobook is very expensive and I just don’t have that amount of money to front. It scares the hell out of me to think about what I’d “offer” to patrons. Because you have to put the work you put into in relation to what you get in return. . And most of us are busy as we are…
What’s your take? As authors? As readers? How do you draw the line? Is there a limit to putting yourself out there? I really look forward to your comments… If you DO follow me on social media, what’s your take on my approach? Too little? Too much? A tad personal? Not enough?
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