When I first started BookEnds everything was done via snail mail. The Internet existed (I’m not that old), but in a limited way for individuals. Most websites were big companies or successful authors. There was no Facebook or Twitter and unpublished authors didn’t have websites, although some had blogs. In those days you were truly judged on your work. Times have changed. In the same way they say Abraham Lincoln never would have been elected in the era of TV, readers, agents and editors no longer judge a book solely on the merits of the writing. They are also looking at marketing potential by reviewing an author’s social media, website and blogs.
It’s no different for me. Back in the day authors picked agents from a book, from a printed and outdated guide to literary agents. Now you are searching through Internet guides, reading reviews from other authors, reading this blog and getting a feel for me on Twitter. You have a pretty good idea of who I am and the kind of agent I’ll be before you even query.
It’s why we all need a professional face when we decide to link our social media to our professional career. If you like to post a lot of half-naked drunken photos of yourself or complain a lot about the stupid agents who rejected your work go ahead and do that, but keep it private. There’s a time and place for everything. If you wouldn’t want a future agent or editor to see the photos of you dancing in a nightclub then post those to a private friends and family only Instagram or Facebook account. If you wouldn’t be comfortable having the conversation with them or in front of them at a conference than post that conversation to a private Twitter account.
When putting yourself out professionally you want to think conference. How would you dress? How would you talk? What impression do you want to make? It doesn’t mean you can’t be fun and casual and lively, it just means you need to know your audience.
We all have two sides to ourselves. We have work us and we have private us. I am a different person at a work event than I am hanging out with a group of my friends. Well, I’m probably the same person, but I’m less guarded when I’m with my friends. And that’s what it really is. It’s not being a different person, it’s just being more conscious of your audience.