Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Real Author Versus The Person on the Page

Last Sunday, the Passive Guy posted a snippet of Drew Hayes' blog post titled "Image Management." Drew talks about some basic, common-sense rules for portraying yourself on social media. He also made a couple of very good points that readers expect to interact with writers these days and that it's exhausting maintaining a fake persona.

Cal Rogers, one of the commenters at TPV, became very irate with Drew's statement concerning writers "whose entire image is just their body of work. It feels like trying to shake the hand of a cardboard cutout." Cal felt Drew dismissed a life's work in favor of a tweet about breakfast.

There's really two problems here:

1) Some writers are very uncomfortable with ANY social interaction. Let's face it--most of us are introverts. Not that there's anything wrong with that, as Jerry Seinfeld would say. But some folks get just as freaked about social media as they do attending a formal dinner.

For folks like Cal, please remember that you do not have to use social media. No one's holding a gun to your head to tweet about what you had for breakfast. If you find it uncomfortable, it will show in your interactions and will probably make your readers uncomfortable as well. Honestly, you don't have to do anything just because you think the everyone else is doing it.

2) Drew, on the other hand, makes a good point that writers who only talk about their books can come across as one-dimensional. This is true of any profession. Haven't you been to some social function where there's this one guy who can only talk about his job? The other people at the function avoid him because his stories about asphalt or stocks or whatever becomes repetitious and boring.

That's what social media is for professionals. It's the cocktail hour where you don't drink too much, avoid politics and religion, and try to stick to chitchat where you can make a connection without going overboard. That is, you talk about the upcoming Avengers movie, but not the five-pound tumor that was removed from your stomach.

I knew there's probably someone reading this who's thinking, "But, Suzan, you write under two different names, and you don't reveal to people that they're both the same person. How do you call that honest?"

As Shakespeare said, "A rose by any other name would smell as sweet." I'm a geek girl who likes love, romance, and freaky sex. The geek aspect is emphasized under the Suzan Harden name. The rest is emphasized under Alter Ego. That doesn't mean the two don't meet.

This morning, Alter Ego and one of her readers had a long, online discussion about last night's season premiere of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. As for Suzan, take a closer look at the Bloodlines and Seasons of Magick series. A lot of my characters get busy and fall in love in those books. In neither case, do I come out and say I love fishing and hunting because I don't. On the other hand, both personas mention ice cream. A lot.

What it comes down to is if you plan to use social media to further your writing career, be yourself. Trust me, you're cool and readers will love you for it.


  1. Always be yourself. That's the best way to roll.

    1. Unless you can be Jedi Betty White. Then do that.

      But yeah, be yourself.

    2. I hear bloggers who are really only there to promote their writing and some of them sound miserable. They can't get into the fun of blogging and live by all these rules.