For a new author, an online presence is essential. You must be active in social media (Facebook, Twitter, etc), maintain a blog, market your published book, and still find time for writing. Face it—being an author is hard work. We all get busy with life and forget to blog, fail to Tweet, and slack off on our marketing efforts. I have a hard time balancing family, work, promotional efforts, and writing, and often find it’s been two weeks since I blogged, or discover I haven’t posted to my Facebook author page in a month. Life gets in the way. It happens. We’re human. We don’t have to be perfect.
While there’s room for mistakes when it comes to how often we blog or engage in social media, there are a few mistakes that can destroy your career as an author. While there are exceptions to every rule, there are a few guidelines you should always follow when it comes to maintaining a favorable online presence.
Rule#1 Curb those angry rants. Everyone vents on Facebook and Twitter, and that’s okay. We all get frustrated or annoyed occasionally. Not every day can be a good day. Venting frustration shows you’re human. We all need to rant sometimes. But, how often do you rant? Are all your posts venomous and angry? Are all your Tweets negative? Do you spew curse words that would make your mother blush? Don’t post when you’re furious. Think before you hit the ‘send’ or ‘publish’ button.
Rule #2 Never argue with a reviewer or rant about a review. This rule is an extension of Rule #1. Arguing with a reviewer or complaining about a review never ends well. If you must complain about a review, complain to a trusted friend or family member. Vent. Get it off your chest. Just don’t do it online. You’ll come off as a bad sport at best—or a raving psychopath at worst.
Rule #3 Steer clear of politics and religion. Obviously, there are exceptions to this rule. If you’re a political writer, discussing politics is part of your author platform. Likewise, if you’re a Christian romance author, religion is an essential part of your author platform and your life. For many of us, religion and politics are very important. Having an opinion is okay—belittling someone else’s opinion is not. Be sure to celebrate your beliefs without trampling on someone’s else’s.
Rule#4 Proofread. As authors, every post or Tweet we make is an example of our ability to use the written word. A horribly misspelled Facebook update is NOT going to make people want to buy our books. It only takes a few moments to self-edit your post before you publish it.
Rule #5 Pay it forward. When someone does something nice for you, you can’t always return the favor. I can’t begin to list all the nice things my fellow authors have done for me. I couldn’t begin to pay them back, nor would they expect me to. So, I pay it forward. I try to help people when I can—not because I hope they’ll do the same for me, but because it’s a nice thing to do. Paying it forward creates a sense of community among writers, and since writing is largely a solitary endeavor, we all need to stick together and help each other out.
Rule #6 Be nice. This is an extension of the last rule. Be a nice person, whether that’s sharing a link for a fellow author’s new book, tweeting about a blog post you enjoyed, or just liking someone’s celebratory post on Facebook. The click of your mouse or a quick, encouraging comment might mean the world to someone else. We’re all busy, but never too busy to spread niceness. Doing nice things not only helps other people, it makes us happy. Happy people are creative people. Spread niceness everywhere!
(For the BEST advice on creating and maintaining an author platform, visit Kristen Lamb’s blog. She’s a social media genius and offers practical tips in bite-size, down-to-earth posts I thoroughly enjoy reading. I recommend her blog and her books.)