Over at the BookEnds blog this week, Jessica Faust wrote a post about Internet presence and how much social networking has changed in the past 3 years alone. She questioned as a professional, should an author have 2 separate profiles on places like Twitter and Facebook, a personal one and a professional.
While I've always been aware of keeping this blog strictly business based, never posting about my personal life, family problems, etc, I'd never thought about it in terms of Facebook or Twitter. I know that while I remain unpublished, this blog reads like a dry bit of toast. "Sent out a query, got rejected, did some more editing, wrote 4000 words, edited some more, entered a competition."
Very occasionally I've spoken about issues in the media, but even then I'm reluctant to say too much, because down the track when I 'make it' I don't want anything to come back and bite me in the proverbial butt.
I have a Facebook profile, but after wasting waaaay too much time on it when I first joined up, I banned myself from going on there and managed to kick my addiction. My Facebook account was all personal stuff, obviously and I never went looking to make potential agents/editors my 'friends'. More recently I joined up on Twitter and confess, once again, don't use it very much. There, again, I'm wary of saying anything not business related, so it read a lot like my blog, kind of boring.
This post that Ms. Faust wrote really got me thinking, its had me thinking all week. Those of you who regularly read this blog know that about a year and a half ago, I had a scare with some random crazy person calling me up in the middle of the night. This prompted me to wipe myself off the Internet as much as I possibly could and for a while I wasn't blogging under this name either. But then I accepted the fact that by choosing this career, I'm putting myself out there, making myself available to people I don't and will never know.
One of the reasons I never talk about my personal life here is because that's what it is, my personal life. I have a family to protect. In fifteen years, when I'm a best selling author (wink wink) I don't want people to be able to go back and read this blog, find out how many kids I have, their names, where I send them to school, what my husband does for a living, where we've moved to a new house, etc etc. I might be totally over-reacting, but its like filling a gun with ammo. Its something bad waiting to happen. I will respect my fans, but that's no guarantee my fans will respect me or my privacy. The more they think they know you, the more they think they have a right to invade these places.
I think a lot of would-be authors forget this when starting out. Their personal selves are so invested in these books they write, they can't see where the separation needs to occur. I've always been big on treating this as a career, not as me putting my soul onto a page. This is just one more aspect of that.
Once something is on the Internet, it spreads like dye in water. You can't take it back, you can't erase it. Its there forever and somehow, if someone wants to, they will find it (and use it against you...! Ok, now I'm being paranoid.) So with every word I write, every time I click that publish button, I'm trying my best to be aware that one stupid comment, one dumb word, could spell disaster for my career somewhere down the line.
I think the post over at BookEnds is something ever aspiring author needs to consider very carefully.