You’re probably wondering how in the world “professionalism in the workplace” has anything to do with being an author, or publishing, but I assure you it does. It means even more if you’re indie. If you’re traditional, you have the robotic mechanics down–someone else is posting on your website, sometimes your blog, but either way there is a vetting process. When you’re indie there is one vetting process–YOU. What I’ve seen time and time again is the fact that some forget that this really is a career to some people. I’ve had fights with my husband about this very same thing–why do I have to post on a regular schedule on my blog, why do I have to spend 3-4 hours a week marketing, but he never questions the actually writing. He used to tell me it was a hobby–he doesn’t anymore. Maybe it’s because I actually started to sell enough that it constitutes more than a $20 per month stipend from Amazon–or maybe it’s because he’s seen how seriously I take this. I imagine this as my sole career, with a marketing company to help indies on the side, someday and thus, I must always think about presenting myself in a professional way.
The Author Workplace AKA the Internet
Part A) The Blog
It’s a soft line in the sand, professionalism VS. way too much information in the author world. Every author is told you need to have a blog, but the guidelines from there get very vague. What do I put on my blog–what do I say? How do I present myself? The presentation is where things tend to get a bit, let’s say, soggy. As an author you do want to let your readers get to know you. It makes everything about reading the books you write that much cooler. It makes you that much more human. I’ve learned after countless times of explaining my two part job–one as a Retail Banking Operations Manager and then as a published Author, that no matter how insignificant you feel in the publishing world, the second you say I’m published, people go nuts. Their eyes widen and they say “So you’re like famous?”. The other reason I get a jaw drop is because I apparently look like I’m eighteen, that being put aside, being able to say I’m published usually leads into the conversations about where they can find you. The best place is your blog–and that’s the last place you want to put information that say, your main employer could find, that’s unsavory, or as I’ve seen just a tad bit odd. The sogginess of the blog dilemma is knowing exactly where the line is that crosses from letting your readers get to know you, to just way too much information. I’m not going to lie, I’ve read things I just didn’t want to know about authors on their blogs, or that frankly, I just didn’t care about. You want what you convey on your blog to be of value to your readers, because you might find some of those readers are solely readers of your blog and not your novels. I’ve made several business contacts in the business world that I know follow my blog, but would never read my books–they enjoy the content of the blog, especially my Saturday ramblings about sales. So how do you determine what to post on your blog? Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
- Would this fall under TMI to those who don’t know me?
- Am I portraying myself the way I’d like to be seen?*
- Does this add value to not only the readers of my novels, but the sole readers of my blog?
- Does this make a person want to go out and buy my book? (This doesn’t always have to be yes, but if it pertains directly to your book, it should be yes)
- Would I find this information useful or pertinent on someone else’s blog?
- Would I be comfortable with my grandmother reading this?
- Would I be comfortable with my employer reading this?**
*In thinking of portraying yourself you must also think about the content of your novels. I know several writers whose blogs are never serious, which is fine, but the question that occurs is–are your books jiving with the appearance that you are giving? If you are never serious on your blog, your books shouldn’t be serious either. The reason being, and some may disagree, that if you portray yourself as silly–then that is what the reader is going to believe your books will be. You create the image of your books by creating the “brand” of you as an author, so if your books are serious, but you never are, then your readers will end up confused. It will especially confuse those readers that have never read your novels, because you are the first stop on their impression of what that novel might be like.
**Yes, the big employer question. I’m not going to lie there are somethings I wouldn’t really want my employer to read on my blog–like the steamy excerpts, or the excerpts that contain swears, but there’s another line–one that’s harder to define. It isn’t really about professionalism in this case, because it’s a part of my job as an author to market my novel and it’s content. I would be doing an injustice to my readers if I let my stringent professionalism in my day job not allow my characters to swear! So there it is. My characters swear, and yes, they have sex, but I don’t think that’s a secret.
Part B) Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Ah, yes, the social media craze. I’d say that most social media follows the same general guidelines as your blog does. You want to ask yourself the same questions about each of your posts, and make sure that you are comfortable with your answers. There is, however, another very helpful hinter I can give you. I’m a part of an author group where an author got flamed by a parent who saw their daughter looking at their slightly provocative Facebook. The reason was that they didn’t have their settings in Facebook correct. Please, especially if you’re a New Adult or Adult author who posts pictures of half-naked promos, make sure these settings are correct.
Edit Page> Edit Settings> Age Restrictions
Edit Page> Edit Settings> Profanity Filter
Part C) Responding to Reviews
Now this, this, is a hot topic of debate across many boards. What do you do about nasty, unhelpful, ridiculous reviews? You LEAVE THEM BE. Do not respond. Do not attempt to delete them. Do not sit there and seethe like a child who just got their toy taken away. DO NOT have a friend or family member respond. Move on and keep on moving. It is extremely unprofessional to respond to a review of this nature, even if you “try” to do so subjectively. The end game is, your book is your baby, and you can’t respond subjectively. The most important part is that everyone is entitled to their opinion of your novel, and after some period of time you will get to the point where you see a bad review and you can laugh at it–not spitefully, but just in general, laugh. I finally got to that point, and boy, did it feel good! The other side of the coin is responding to good reviews. I’d say you can do this, it’s not unprofessional, but at some point you just won’t be able to anymore. I do a simple “like” on GoodReads and move on.
You’re a author, take it seriously, just like it were your day job. You represent the masses of authors that are Indie, and everything you say and do leaves an impression of how Indie authors are. Don’t be the bad apple that spoils the bunch.
If you’re indie, don’t forget to join the FBI!
- Five avoidable errors by Indie authors (peersofbeinan.wordpress.com)